Take a look back at some of the memorable quotes of 2016

Published 9:00 am Sunday, January 1, 2017

Editor’s note: The news staff selected its favorite quotations from the past year and present them here for you to recall.

“There’s very few of us left anymore.” — Richard Thunstedt, an Alden resident and World War II veteran on the dwindling number of living World War II veterans during a November interview with the Tribune.

Email newsletter signup

“One of his friends called me and said, ‘You need to get out of the house now. Take the clothes on your back and get out. He’s strung out on heroin and he’s talking about killing you.’” — Diane Lenway, a domestic violence survivor who works in Albert Lea who spoke with the Tribune for a domestic violence awareness series in October.

“We’re losing so many men now. People need to know what they went through. Some of them went through hell and high water.” — Russell Pasczkowski, an Albert Lea native and World War II veteran who sat down with the Tribune in January. At the time he was being interviewed he was also sharing his story for a Library of Congress project.

“He made it seem so easy, like he would just kill me. And I just wasn’t going to let that happen. I was not going to die. I wasn’t going to die like that.” — Albert Lean Stephani Adams, a domestic violence survivor who spoke with the Tribune as part of a domestic violence awareness series in October.

“This country is embedded in every part of my identity. It’s who I am. I’m an American. I think like an American, I live like one, so I can’t change that. There’s no place for me to go back to, so saying ‘Go back to where you came from’ — there’s no place for us to go back to. This is it, this is home.” — Albert Lean Amna Rahman on being Muslim in contemporary America during an August interview with the Tribune.

“You walk away from them, and he won. Don’t give up on them. They need you to be in their corner regardless of how frustrated you are.” — Andrea Hall, a probation officer with Freeborn County court services whose caseload specializes in domestic violence, during an interview with the Tribune as part of a domestic violence awareness series in October.

“I realized that working together with people is so important. Our actions and reactions speak volumes to people. It isn’t about ‘me, myself and I,’ it’s about helping people.” — Richard Thunstedt, an Alden resident and World War II veteran who sat down with the Tribune for a prairie profile interview in November.

“When you get into an abusive situation, you start noticing — even if you don’t have words for it — you start noticing a spiral.” — A domestic violence survivor who could only be referred to by “Beth” for safety reasons during interviews for the Tribune’s domestic violence awareness series in October.

“The U.S. and Britain were sleeping between World War I and World War II. While they were sleeping, Japan and Germany were preparing for war.” — Russell Pasczkowski, an Albert Lea native and World War II veteran during a January interview with the Tribune.

“We wish we could help every single person that came through the door. We can’t always do that, but we wish we could.” — Salvation Army bell ringing coordinator Kathy Belshan on Dec. 20 of the Salvation Army’s philosophy toward people who seek help.

“If it goes up another foot, it will get to the windows and the cellar door, then it will keep coming in. As long as the lake keeps rising it will go into the basement then I start losing things, like the furnace, the washer, the dryer and water heater, stuff like that.” — Lyle Lichliter of possible repercussions from flooding Sept. 23.

“It’s just a lose-lose situation for all of us.” — Darlene Federly, after Dustin Chenevert was sentenced to nearly five years in prison July 8 in the fatal overdose death of her son, Colton Poplow, in 2015.

“I’ve never been more proud that I’ve pissed off so many (expletive) in my life.” — Rock ’n’ roll artist Ted Nugent in an Aug. 5 concert at the Freeborn County Fair, appearing to reference opposition to his appearance, which sparked a Rally for Civility earlier in the day at New Denmark Park.

“I think it comes back to the basic needs of humans. We need to know that we are loved, that we are part of a community, that we can give something back to the community and that feeling of acceptance and value.” — Mary Goetz, the executive director of The Arc of Freeborn County, during an interview for the Tribune’s 2016 Progress edition. She referred to the importance of inclusion when it comes individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and finding ways they can participate in the communities in which they live. 

“Claire and Ruth have always been willing to roll up their sleeves to do the work. We lost Claire way too soon, but we continue to treasure Ruth.” — Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Kehr about the contributions of Claire and Ruth Vermedahl to the community of Albert Lea for a story in the 2016 Progress edition. Claire Vermedahl died in July 2015.

“Most of the kids I work with just want to be who they are. They don’t find autism to be a negative thing or something to be tolerated.” — Albert Lea High School special education teacher Carrie Troe in an article encouraging acceptance over awareness in April, which was Autism Awareness Month.

“It’s just crazy. It’s crazy it’s over, and I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.” — 2016 Albert Lea High School graduate Parker Mullenbach June 3 after the high school graduation ceremony.

“It’s very clear God saved him for a purpose. He’s overflowing with love, and he knows that God still has a work for him to do.” — Alden resident Evon Johnson in January about her husband, Doug, who suffered from a massive stroke tied to a high-grade form of brain cancer. Doug Johnson went from being paralyzed on his right side and not being able to talk to being able to do both again. He died later in the year in October.

“Bonding should be for meat and potatoes essential projects — not desserts. I do not believe we should be leveraging our children’s financial future for things like snow-making machines. Not only that, it takes away from money that should be going to more essential projects.” — District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett in January after Gov. Mark Dayton released a $1.4 billion bonding proposal.

“I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t go back in. I ran back in there. It was pure adrenaline. By this time, fire was shooting out my door four or five feet.” — Albert Lean Garth Conklyn in January about saving the family’s rabbit, Flippers, during a fire at his home at 515 Pillsbury Ave.

“Being in real estate in Albert Lea as long as I have — to be a part of easily one of the biggest transactions that professionally is as exciting as it can be — it’s something I’m very proud to be a part of.” — Licensed real estate broker Robert Hoffman in February about the announcement that farm and ranch supply company Bomgaars would move in to the former Walmart building in western Albert Lea.

“I am not telling you your spouse is perfect. She’s probably not. But you can only control what you do. You can only control how you react. You can only change yourself. Once you start doing that, it should start falling into place.” — Andrea Hall on domestic violence perpetrators in a Dec. 27 article.

“No one ever expects that the person they love is going to end their life. They love them. They have blinders on.” — Albert Lean Tanya Fure in February after her sister Trisha Nelson, an Alden-Conger High School graduate, was shot and killed by her boyfriend in Plymouth.

“In the blink of an eye, your world can change just like that.” — Albert Lean Gloria Lashbrook in March after a fire destroyed one of the homes she owns at 803 Bridge Ave.

“This is not a hunting case. This is poaching, plain and simple.” — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Tina Shaw in April after a dead bald eagle was found the month prior on Minnesota Department of Transportation property south of Albert Lea.

“To me, Prince was inspiring, electrifying, otherworldly, mystical, mysterious and a pure genius — a wise sage giving his advice.” — Albert Lea native Stacia Lang at the end of April after music sensation Prince died April 21. Lang worked as Prince’s designer for three years in the early 1990s.

“I was absolutely floored when I saw that sign.” — Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag in September after a controversial sign criticizing him was placed on the side of Dima Corp. on West Front Street.

“I was in total shock — devastated. It just feels like a knife has gone through my heart. I still have a hard time believing that he’s not here anymore. It still doesn’t seem real.” — Denise Brown, mother of 23-year-old Spencer Brown, who was shot and killed in August at Myre-Big Island State Park.

“Knowing how a person who’s panicked like that can react in the water, it was a potentially dangerous situation for her, and she didn’t hesitate. She just went for it.” — Albert Lean Bob Steffl in October about the rescue of Kris Springborg by kayaker Jackie Carstens. Springborg capsized his sailboat on Fountain Lake and suffered hypothermia.

“Lori Volz has personally benefited every employee, business owner and individual taxpayer in this community with her financial expertise.” — Albert Lea Area Schools Superintendent Mike Funk in October after school officials announced Deputy Superintendent Lori Volz had accepted a position with Mankato Area Public Schools. Volz later decided to stay in Albert Lea.

“Nine years of ups and downs, and it is all worth it in the end.” — Albert Lean Laura Cunningham after almost 72 percent of voters approved the Shell Rock River Watershed District’s half-percent sales tax renewal.

“The community support has been so amazing — it made me reflect and reconsider the wonderful relationships that I have with this school district and community.” — Albert Lea Area Schools Deputy Superintendent Lori Volz after opting to stay in Albert Lea.

“It’s a corridor that we all really want to reclaim in our community, and I’m excited about the opportunities that hopefully it will give some of those business owners that maybe have been teetering on the fence, We’ve seen some renewals down there already, and it’s really starting to take a little bit better shape. I’m excited about the possibility of this moving forward.” — Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. on Dec. 27 before the Albert Lea City Council unanimously approved implementing a new grant and loan program intended for South Broadway Avenue.

“I think that he brings a lot to our team, and I don’t understand why you would try to replace someone who shows dedication.” — Soccer player Rachel Rehnelt during a March 28 Albert Lea School Board meeting discussing the future of girls’ soccer coach Rick Barnhill. Barnhill’s contract was not renewed.

“We just like to bring people together, especially for music.” — Wicked Renegades band member Alex Talamantes in a July 3 article on the band’s mission.

“We’ve had quite a few situations in the last year alone, where if we would have had a drone it would have been a game-changer.” — Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag in a Jan. 5 article about the necessity of a drone.

“Law enforcement is an extremely dangerous profession, and when we can’t afford to keep supplementing our manpower we need to implement tools to help us be successful and keep us safe.” — Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Deputy Glen Strom in a Jan. 7 article on the need for Stalker, a K-9 in use by the Sheriff’s Office.

“We need to get away from these stupid politicians who don’t know what they are doing.” — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in a Jan. 9 speech at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. Trump ended up capturing the Republican nomination and defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election.

“I think this move has been a positive move for our students. Being on a college campus gives our students a sense of the importance education plays in their lives. They see adults continuing their education, and it gets them thinking about their future careers and what they need to do to achieve those goals.” — Albert Lea Area Learning Center English teacher Paula Olson in a Jan. 15 article on the benefits of the learning center’s move to Riverland Community College.

“People are scared that their ability to buy a firearm to protect themself is going to be taken away.” — Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag in a Jan. 17 article about an increase in permits to purchase guns. 

“Every so often you find out something you did actually makes a major difference for people in their everyday lives. … It was great to talk to the experts here in Albert Lea and see how it’s actually saving their customers money, how it is more energy efficient, how it is better for the community and our energy use in our country.” — U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minnesota, in a Jan. 18 article about her visit to Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services about a bipartisan measure that enabled rural cooperatives to continue using large, energy-efficient hot water heaters for conservation programs.

“If a dog park is going to be successful, it’s going to depend on how the people of Albert Lea handle it.”    Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member Vern Rasmussen Jr. in a Jan. 20 article on the dog park, which was instituted last summer near Brookside Education Center.

“The accomplishment that I could finish something that I started and that I did have enough sense to do that because I was always told I wasn’t going to be anybody or amount to anything. … I have proven otherwise by just doing this.” — Verla Eilers in a Jan. 26 article on her motivation to make thousands of quilts and other quilted items.

“We have a beautiful community, and this is just an added attraction.” — Albert Lea Convention and Visitors’ Bureau Executive Director Suzie Petersen on Feb. 8 after the Albert Lea City Council approved fundraising to begin for a splash pad. 

“God gives us what we can handle.” — Darcy Nielsen on Feb. 12 after a fire destroyed her family’s house in Albert Lea.

“It’s the only way I’m able to heal from this.” — Tanya Fure in a Feb. 19 article about why she felt it was necessary to publicly speak about domestic violence in the wake of her sister, Trisha Nelson’s, death in a domestic violence incident in Plymouth.

“I am just so impressed with the leadership.” — Gov. Mark Dayton on March 16 during a trip Albert Lea leaders took to the Capitol.

“We have great joy as Byron’s parents and continue to be amazed by his compassion and drive each and every day.” — Dara Getchell in an Aug. 4 article about an all-school fundraiser at United South Central for her son, Byron Getchell.

“I really like the statement of mutual accountability and communication. The watershed and the city have now publicly stated their intent to work together, and that says a lot to our community.” — Shell Rock River Watershed District Administrator Brett Behnke on April 25 after the Albert Lea City Council approved final legislative language for the Shell Rock River Watershed District’s request for a half-percent sales tax extension.

“It’s kind of sad to see, but all good things must come to an end.” — Larry Shaunce on May 7 during the 44th and final Freeborn County Bike-A-Thon.

“Sometimes it brings tears to my eyes. It makes me feel good that I am helping other people.” — Laurie Neff in a May 13 article about her plans to go to Africa to give shoes to under-served Africans.

“I never considered myself a hero.” —  Albert Lea Firefighter Dennis Glassel in a July 20 article about filling in for Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Laskowske after he was diagnosed with cancer.

“In the end, it’s all about the people. It’s all about how we work together and treat each other.” — Hawthorne Elementary School Principal Judi Vitito in a July 28 article about her introduction as the school’s new principal.

“It is a place steeped in faith. It is a place that is a vibrant place for children. It’s not huge, but it’s solid.” — The Rev. Wendy Anderson, pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in a Sept. 9 article about the church’s 150th anniversary.