Quotations of the Year

Published 10:30 pm Saturday, December 26, 2009

You’ve seen it before. Here are the favorite quotations of the Tribune reporters from stories in the paper in 2009.

“I’m attempting to reorganize and still make something happen with the asset because I still believe in it.” — 1981 Albert Lea High School graduate Scott LaFavre Jan. 3, after his company Eagle’s Rest Development declared bankruptcy in December.

“I fail to understand how the present condition of Bridge Avenue is a hardship on any person living in Albert Lea. If anybody wants to see some real traffic problems, come with me. I’ll take you to Minneapolis. I’ll show you what some traffic problems are. We don’t have them on Bridge Avenue as what I can see.” — Albert Lea resident Warren Jensen, of Hale Drive, in January during a public informational meeting to discuss options for development of Bridge Avenue. At least 75 people were in attendance at the meeting.

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“It’s still amazing to me that she’s here. I don’t know how to describe it.” — Jocelyn Padilla, mother of Albert Lea’s Baby New Year in 2009, after the birth of her daughter, Jaelani Lenaiyah William, on Jan. 7.

“This is such a great accomplishment for our community. Our community is such a giving and caring community. You can see that by exceeding this goal. We’re just so thankful to everyone that has helped us get there.” — Freeborn County United Way campaign chairwoman Sue Berg on Jan. 9 after the organization announced it reached its 2008 campaign goal of $592,000.

“We do need to plan for the future, and I think all of us are taking that seriously.” — 1st Ward Councilor Vern Rasmussen on Jan. 12 in response to the future of the Bridge Avenue corridor.

“We are pleased to be chosen for this project, and ready to go to work to make Albert Lea a healthier place to live and work.” — Albert Lea City Manager Victoria Simonsen Jan. 14 in response to Albert Lea being chosen for the pilot AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project.

“It’s not that we didn’t see it, but we were directed to think it was part of the disease. We trusted the professionals.” — Albert Lea resident Jan Reshetar, daughter-in-law of an alleged victim, in January in response to the alleged abuse at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.

“I simply as a lawyer and a prosecutor have to follow the law. I think (the charges are) very serious and they have every reason to be dealt with seriously.” — Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson Jan. 21 in response to the reaction from the public about the nature of the charges against two former nursing assistants in the alleged elder abuse case at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.

“If we get more people walking and biking, we will have quieter, safer, cleaner streets. It’s not an exercise. It’s not a diet. It’s changing how you are in your everyday life.” — Albert Lea Community Education Director Chris Chalmers during a meeting Feb. 26 to pinpoint gaps in the sidewalks and bike lanes around the city.

“I think that too often we tend to see changes coming and sit back and don’t go to things like this or participate in the solutions. Then, after the fact, we’re disappointed. It’s much better to participate in the solutions and feel that you’re part of the process. I would encourage people to come. With all these challenges come opportunities.” — Third Ward Councilor Ellen Kehr in March encouraging people to attend ward meetings regarding budget strategies for 2009 and 2010.

“We are calling this a budget crisis. The City Council is facing one of their largest budget cuts from the state in our history.” — Albert Lea City Manager Victoria Simonsen on March 2 during the first of three planned meetings for a citizen task force to plan for budget cuts.

“We’re not trying to scare you. We’re not trying to make you run and hide.” — Albert Lea Police detective Frank Kohl in a March 6 article announcing the move of a Level 3 sex offender to Albert Lea.

“I will tell you we did not all agree on every issue, but every member of the committee was dedicated to helping our city solve these problems in a thoughtful, common sense manner without detracting from our quality of life we have all come to enjoy.” — Local businessman Michael Moore, giving an overview April 27 of the findings and recommendations by the citizen budget task force.

“It woke me up out of a dead sleep. When I woke up I heard it, ‘Boom!’ It just exploded.” — A neighbor at 1425 Academy Ave., who was next door to the house that burned down after a natural gas explosion April 28.

“It is our reality today that disasters happen, and children are affected by disasters. No one was wanting to do any harm to children by this coloring book. It appears it was taken out of context.” — Freeborn County Crisis Response Team coordinator Rose Olmsted in April after a Federal Emergency Management Agency-endorsed coloring book produced by the Freeborn County Crisis Response Team was pulled from FEMA’s Web site. The government agency received criticism about including drawings of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in the book.

“There’s going to be some tough things that will have to be done, but we didn’t take this job knowing it was going to be a cakewalk.” — Albert Lea City Councilor Larry Anderson during a council budget retreat in April 30.

“I have never been as taken with a town as I am of Albert Lea.” — Nancy Perry Graham, editor and vice president of AARP The Magazine, May 14 at Albert Lea High School during the kickoff for the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project.

“I think we have done our part in preparing for change, but for the legislative session to end without an agreement that results in the governor proceeding to unilateral unallotment is unacceptable to me.” — Albert Lea Mayor Mike Murtaugh in a May 22 article covering a bipartisan press conference calling on Gov. Tim Pawlenty to minimize cuts to local government aid.

“She repeatedly changed what she said throughout the interview. It was clear she was not being entirely honest because of the changes she had made to her statement.” — Albert Lea Police detective Deb Flatness in May, speaking during a contested omnibus hearing for defendant Brianna Broitzman, one of the two young women charged with alleged abuse of residents at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.

“There’s no way we are going to balance our budget without reducing services.” — Albert Lea Finance Director Rhonda Moen June 16 after Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced his official unallotment plans. He announced Albert Lea would see a $337,500 cut in 2009 and a $778,700 cut in 2010.

“She was the kind of woman that if you needed milk for your children, she’d buy you milk. If you needed gas for your car, she’d buy it for you. She’d go out of her way. People who were homeless, she would empty out a room and let them stay for a while.” — Albert Lea resident Heather Bigelow in June following the murder of her close friend Jody Lee Morrow at 730 Larimore Circle on June 21.

“Mr. Morales had said that he was very sorry, but she had disrespected him and he had to do it,” the statement says.” — A unidentified witness’ statement to authorities following the slashing of a woman’s neck by Marco Antonio Morales in mid-July.

“We need to look at this as an opportunity. We are setting the wave for the rest of the country.” — Albert Lea City Councilor Vern Rasmussen July 27 during a City Council meeting. During the meeting, Rasmussen and the other councilors asked for the help of the public in committing to and inviting more people to be a part of the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project.

“You have the ability to make some decisions that can have very long-term effects on people.” — Blue Zones Health Initiative Director Joel Spoonheim Aug. 6, before the Albert Lea City Council was set to vote on implementing some of the proposals of the Vitality Project.

“There were no improper inducements or promises made by the investigating officers. As such, the statements were voluntary and admissible.” — Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab in a written order in the case against Brianna Broitzman filed Aug. 12. The order denied the motions made by Broitzman’s lawyer that his client’s statements to authorities be thrown out. The case alleges elder abuse by Broitzman at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.

“For us, it’s just disappointment. Given the economic situation and the cut we took to LGA (local government aid), to not get the grant was disappointing because now we have to potentially lose personnel.” — Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels following the announcement Sept. 10 that the Police Department did not receive a federal or state grant that would have allowed the city to keep all of its officers working over the next two years.

“As a member of the council, it’s obvious to me that we need more discussion about this. We could sit here and talk about this all night and we’re not going to solve anything. It’s like everything else, everybody has a different opinion, different perspective. You hear both sides of the fence and there’s got to be a common ground somewhere in between.” — 2nd Ward Councilor Larry Baker, who is an ex-officio member on the Albert Lea Planning Commission, on Sept. 15 during a public hearing about developing a design standards ordinance.

“My art is my life, that’s what I do. I just feel fortunate that I’ve been able to make a living at doing this because it’s not always easy.” — Albert Lea native David Nordahl, who worked as a personal artist for pop star Michael Jackson, in a September Tribune article. Nordahl currently lives in Santa Fe, N.M. and has also gained notability for his paintings of Apache Indians.

“Every day I thank them. Words can’t express it. I’ll be forever grateful for the impact they had and for the hands that touched the house.” — Susan DeVries in an Oct. 7 Tribune article, which was a year after ABC TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” unveiled her new home.

“I do believe that as we sustain this lifestyle, the people of America will want to learn from us.” — Albert Lea City Manager Victoria Simonsen during a celebration of the Vitality Project Oct. 13. At the celebration, Simonsen announced plans for a Vitality Center in Albert Lea’s historic downtown.

“You have pulled off something in this town that no other city in the nation has done.” — Nancy Graham, editor of AARP The Magazine, during a celebration of the Vitality Project Oct. 13.

“Even to the end, he did really well. He led a balanced life, but he worked awfully hard. He had 100 years of caring.” — Albert Lea resident Dr. Lowell W. Barr about Dr. Harry Neel, 103, who passed away Oct. 21.

“I appreciate the fact that the commission took the time to listen and make some changes that I think are flexible and yet do set a tone for what we want to see in the city.” — Randy Kehr, executive director of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, during a public hearing before the Albert Lea Planning Commission for a design standards ordinance Nov. 3.

“Becoming part of the Vitality Center is our attempt to say we want to promote a healthy community.” — Albert Lea Medical Center Chief Adminstrative Officer Steve Waldhoff Nov. 12 after making an announcement that ALMC would donate $27,000 toward the Vitality Center in downtown Albert Lea.

“He had foresight enough, he always seemed to look toward the future in doing things for Albert Lea and Freeborn County. He’s always been a true leader in the community. As a community organizer, we’re truly going to miss his foresight.” — Albert Lea resident Mike Lee Nov. 15 after the passing of former Albert Lea Mayor Dr. Niles R. Shoff.

“He changed the face of underage drinking in Albert Lea.” — Julie Zamora, youth program specialist with the state chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, about the late Albert Lea Police Lt. Phil Bartusek Nov. 30. Zamora presented Bartusek’s family with the organization’s premiere award for his efforts to prevent underage drinking in the community.

“I know everybody’s having hard times right now. I really felt that I wanted to do this to get them into next year. We’re just in a tough spot right now, even here in Hollywood.” — Actress and Albert Lea native Marion Ross about donating $25,000 to the operations of the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center in December.

“I firmly believe we can save a police officer within ourselves if we can put our heads together.” — City Councilor Al Brooks after a public hearing Dec. 14 about the 2010 Albert Lea city budget. During the hearing, more than a dozen people spoke out in support of saving police officer positions from being cut from the budget.

“We’ve known from the beginning that this was a sudden medical event experienced by our driver. It was completely unexpected. We remain concerned about the passengers and the families of those who died in the accident.” — John Patton, lawyer with Patton & Ryan law firm, who is representing Strain Motorcoach, after Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson announced Dec. 18 not to file criminal charges against the bus driver involved in a fatal tour bus crash in November.

“Can you call 911? I just delivered my daughter on the bathroom floor.” — Randy Harig, describing a conversation he had with neighbor Troy Waldemar. Harig’s girlfriend, Nicole Everett, gave birth Dec. 4 to Addison Rose Harig in the bathroom of their home on South Shore Drive in Albert Lea.

“It was like the movie ‘Speed.’ I was just concerned about stopping, hitting my brakes and couldn’t believe what I saw.” — Tammy Eggum of Hayward on witnessing on Nov. 18 an eastbound 1989 MCI tour bus cross into the median ditch of Interstate 90 and across the westbound lanes before stopping in the north ditch near milepost 172. Two died and 21 were injured.

“Do the honorable thing and honor the contract.” — Elkhorn, Neb., bowling alley owner Steve Sempeck, going public Nov. 20 about how he and other parents paid the Albert Lea Thunder $12,500 each to play their sons for two years. His actions resulted in the North American Hockey League stripping the owners of the team. His son, however, was cut from the roster.

“There was a black cloud over everything we did. We had chattering criticism no matter what.” — Elks Club treasurer Judy Verdoorn in October, explaining how rumors and misinformation hurt the ability to grow members. It was one reason why the Elks Club, the state’s largest, closed and filed for bankruptcy.

“We’re good, people!” — New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva School District Superintendent Kevin Wellen on Nov. 3, announcing to staff, board members and other people at the NRHEG Secondary School that the district’s voters approved a 10-year operating levy.

“If he had gotten a rotten cold, I’m sure that would have been tough for him, too. H1N1 isn’t what killed him.” — Albert Lea resident Addie Rust telling in late October how her grandson, 5-week-old William Anton Cech, died from critical heart and lung conditions and an infection with the H1N1 influenza.

“We thought it was fun. Most people don’t understand why we call it fun.” — Scott Erlandson to the Albert Lea Noon Kiwanis Club on Sept. 14. He is a 41-year-old Albert Lea resident who participated in the 10-day, 600-mile Primal Quest, an adventure race that took place in South Dakota’s Black Hills and Badlands in August.

“I cooked for them. Food was on the table, and I waited.” — Waterloo, Iowa, resident Bouakham Khemphomma, whose husband and two children died Aug. 19 in a quadruple fatality on Interstate 90 on the northwest edge of Albert Lea. The results of the investigation remain pending.

“Life throws some strange curves at people, but you got to roll with the flow sometimes.” — Steve Oman, who on Aug. 14 suddenly lost his job as a radio announcer at KATE after working there since 1982.

“No doubt I was the favorite going into it, but I had to deliver. I worked my tail off.” — Dave Aeikens in March on what he had to do at a Society of Professional Journalists convention in Chicago in 2006 to get elected secretary-treasurer, an office which eventually led the Albert Lea son to become SPJ president for the 2008-09 term.

“Hamilton Island was amazing! The locals said the weather wasn’t very nice, but I saw nothing but silver linings! It was a lovely change from the 90-degree weather I have year-round in Singapore, and seeing the beautiful islands, meeting the welcoming people, and experiencing the Great Barrier Reef are stories I’ll be telling for years to come!” — Singapore teacher Greg Reynen, who grew up on a farm near Hollandale, on being a finalist in the spring for The Best Job in the World contest held by tourism division of Queensland, Australia.

“We all got a laugh out of that because we had the same offense: Get the ball to Woody.” — 23-year-old Stephen Thorn of Albert Lea in March recalling playing high school hoops with Ben Woodside, whose North Dakota State coach Saul Phillips said: “I’ve been working on my offense for a while. It’s called ‘get the ball to Woodside and get out of the way.’ It’s been effective.”

“It was incredibly close.” — Albert Lea school board member Bill Villarreal in February on how the board voted 4-2 to select Mike Funk, superintendent of the Bird Island, Olivia, Lake Lillian School District, over Cathy Bettino, superintendent of the Pine River-Backus School District, to be Albert Lea superintendent.

“You live it. You breathe it.” — Southwest Middle School Principal Marsha Langseth on how she was glad to hear a superintendent finalist talk about strategic planning.

“I thought, ‘If we don’t do the transaction in a few years, there might not be anyone who wants to buy it.’” — Kent Erlandson in January on why he sold Erlandson’s Inc., the John Deere dealer for Albert Lea and Kiester, to Steve and Ron Kibble, owners of Mankato Implement.

“What they are offering is awesome. It really is. At the same time, I personally feel loyalty to Green Lea for being accommodating to all of us.” — Golfer Ron Freeman in February, on new golf course Wedgewood Cove Golf Club and 60-year-old Green Lea Golf Course.

“People running into parked cars is a symptom of a greater problem. These no parking signs are ugly. They say to go faster. It’s OK.” — Traffic expert Dan Burden on Jan. 15 after seeing no-parking signs lining Bridge Avenue during a “walking audit” of Albert Lea’s streets and sidewalks in 13-below temperatures.

“It was an instant success, an absolute triumph the first time out.” — Gardener Bob Sherman, in mid-July, referring to the first time he planted potatoes with his family.

“I had someone throw water at me once at the end of the game leaving, from the other team.” — Karington Widmer, Albert Lea High School mascot, said Dec. 7.

“No one knows it’s you and if you’re a shy person it don’t matter.” — Paige Marline, Glenville-Emmons High School mascot, said Nov. 19.

“It’s awesome you know, wrestling in front of all your friends and family up there and a bunch of other families from different teams and students, it’s just awesome you know, you just go out there and you wrestle that much harder.” — Ethan Reed, Albert Lea High School wrestler, 215-pound class, on wrestling at the state tournament, said at the end of February.

“We still have people who think we’re just a bakery and don’t know about the restaurant portion of it.” — Karl Milliron of K&K Bakery in October on the place becoming K&K Bakery & Restaurant after closing altogether for the summer months.

“It might as well freeze. It’s time to freeze the corn and get the harvest going. It’s kind of normal this time of year. We need the corn to start drying down. It doesn’t need to be green this time of the year.” — Loren Lair, who farms corn and soybeans east of Hayward, on wet weather the region received in the autumn during what normally would be prime harvest weeks.

“If you have 30 percent of your workforce out, how are you going to continue your work day-to-day? We want people to think about setting priorities about what things they have to do. Is there something in your business that has to be done 24-7, and how would you be sure that that function stays open.” — Freeborn County Public Health Nurse Lois Ahern in September on preparing for the H1N1 flu to strike.

“My message to you people — not that you all should become astronauts, although I would encourage any of you who are interested — but that you should set your goals really high because you can attain more than you think.” — NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson to students at Albert Lea High School on Sept. 9.

“It’s like night and day. It’s been so neat to see the progression of it and then the final project. It’s just wonderful.” — Londa Arnfelt, a saleswoman with Learning ZoneXpress, in September, speaking about a cafeteria makeover at Glenville-Emmons High School.

“We’re going to be doing whatever we can to bring another industry in.” — Lake Mills Chamber Development Corp. Director Marilyn Hoffman in September, a week after the announcement that Cummins Filtration would lay off 400 workers at its Lake Mills, Iowa, location.

“We just got a letter warning us that can’t be done because it’s not a game of chance, so to speak. They thought the potential for manipulation was there.” — Rick Herman, a member on the board of the Wells Chamber of Commerce, on why cow plop bingo returned to Kernel Days this summer after a few years without it because the Minnesota Gambling Control Board had fears.

“A lot of these drivers work very hard and don’t receive a huge amount of compensation, and this is the one time of the year where we get to make them rock stars.” — Lynn Frank, Roadeo coordinator and a Minnesota Department of Transportation employee, on the Roadeo held in July at the Albert Lea High School parking lot.

“I am kind of a guy who paints the vision — paints the outline: OK, here’s where I want to go. Then we have smart people working around me that can fill in how we’re going to get there. I don’t have all the answers.” — Mike Funk, in a July interview. He began his job as superintendent of Albert Lea Area Schools on July 1.

“I’m leaving my position, but my calling has always been to work with kids. My job is ending, but my calling isn’t.” — Dave Prescott, in a June interview. He ended his job as superintendent of Albert Lea Area Schools on June 30.

“By the time it’s usually done, either the wood’s split away so bad, or the bolts are sheered off.” — Jake Petersen describing Fugleskudning, a shooting contest that takes place in June during Morin Lake Days in Alden.

“We deal with such a diverse clientele here, and you’re seeing them at their worst time. And through the grieving process, I think I’ve learned over the years to have compassion for those people that are in need. The United Way is definitely dealing with those people that are in need.” — Bonnerup Funeral Service director Steve Merfeld, who served as the campaign chairman of the 2009 fund drive for the United Way of Freeborn County.

“I didn’t feel that we would, but then again, you never know.” — David Christensen, owner of Motor Inn Co. on East Main Street in Albert Lea, in May on GM closing dealerships but not his.

“It’s just been wowing people. They say, ‘Are we in Albert Lea?’” — Jim Hoium, food and beverage director for Wedgewood Cove Golf Club, describing reactions to the opening of the clubhouse in May.

“They, I think, tend to expect the big German lady with braids and the horns and the helmet, and I tend to not necessarily fit that stereotype.” — Angie Keeton, a teaching artist with the Minnesota Opera, on performers from the Minnesota Opera and the Albert Lea High School concert choir in May performing sections of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” for students in the elementary and middle schools.

“I’m very relieved and very excited. We can finally move ahead.” — Humane Society of Freeborn County Director Christa Stieler Dec. 15 after the Albert Lea City Council had approved at 30-year lease agreement with the Humane Society at the Albert Lea Animal Shelter the night before.

“When I was little my mother always told us we need to remember when Maria was looking for shelter.” — Lola Gutierrez Dec. 22 on why she attends the annual Las Posadas celebration in preparation for Christmas.

“I think about how for 25 cents a day, we could be feeding a child a meal. For the price of a soda, they could have two meals. If everyone would think this way, I wonder how long it would take to stop this hunger.” — Meagan Hickman Feb. 11, who organized a Kids Against Hunger campaign in the community.

“Healing is not just physical, but spiritual and emotional too.” — Rachel Christensen, on Feb. 22, on why she plays her harp for residents of the Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.

“I don’t know how I could not do it. We become part of their families.” — Albert Lea licensed in-home daycare provider Debbie Baas, May 3, on why she’s spent more than 30 years in the business.

“The kids went nuts, the crowd went crazy. It was a good atmosphere. They thought they won the Super Bowl or something.” — Glenville-Emmons football head coach Derek Nelson following the Wolverines’ 34-12 victory over Lyle/Pacelli on Sept. 3, which ended a 21-game losing streak

“First of all, it was a phantom call because there was nothing over there that would have demanded a free kick.” — Albert Lea girls’ soccer head coach Rick Barnhill after Mankato East was awarded a direct free kick on a call made by a linesman in the Section 2A semifinals Oct. 20. The Cougars scored on the ensuing kick and the Tigers lost 1-0.

“It’s a shame that Albert Lea had to have been embarrassed by two owners who probably shouldn’t have been in this in the beginning.” — Paul Contreras, director of marketing with the Albert Lea Thunder, Dec. 8 following the NAHL’s termination of its ownership agreement with Jim Perkins and Barry Soskin.

“Some people are alcoholics, I’m a fishaholic and a workaholic.” — Orien “Hi Lo” Loe, a member of the Fountain Lake Sportsmen’s Club, in August.

“My dad helped me. He just told me to keep my elbow in and follow through.” — Oakley Baker in early May. Baker won the National Elks Hoop Shoot free throw contest in the 8- and 9-year-old division.