2018 quotes of the year

Published 9:06 pm Thursday, December 27, 2018

Take a look back at some of the memorable quotes of 2018


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


“How resilient they can be amazes me. They work really hard just to function and to get through what they need to get through in their school day and managing their emotions. They’re exhausted from it at the end of the day and they just don’t give up. They’re tenacious and I really admire that about them.” — Angela Braun in a Sept. 22 article talking about her two sons who live with autism.

“Our job is if something’s wrong in this community, our job is to make it better. If we have the time, we’re here to serve.” — Scott Hanna in a Sept. 4 article about him retiring from Albert Lea Fire Department after 29 years of service.

“Certainly not why I jumped in the water. Certainly not why I was there that day or did what I did that day, was for any of this kind of thing. But yeah, it’s nice to get recognition. I know a hundred guys who would’ve done the same thing. … It wasn’t anything terribly special. It was right guy at the right time.” — Paul Jensen in a July 31 article about him being awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Heroism for his efforts in responding to a helicopter crash while visiting Hawaii.

“The way I look at it, that’s all I got left. They took everything else. … It’s just not me to give up.” — Kari Nesje in a February Progress interview about keeping her sense of humor and maintaining a positive mindset. Both of Nesje’s arms and legs were amputated after she suffered a rare illness.

“It’s 65 years that we’ve been ‘going together.’ Life is good.” — Nancy Stoa in a Feb. 14 article on celebrating 65 years with her husband, Al Stoa.

“She’s just always there. Fourteen years of being there and being present, and you know, the last link to Pete, really. … She takes care of me, and I take care of her. … I think Pete would be proud.” — Jane Kepple Johnson in a Jan. 13 article on growing closer with her dog, Gracie, after the passing of her husband.

“‘Autism is a beautiful language that we all should understand.’ And it’s true, it really is. When you see the innocence of someone who is on the spectrum, even a kid … It really is its own language.” — Ryon McCamish in a Sept. 22 article on what a friend said to him while discussing his two sons who live with autism.

“People are struggling to make ends meet. Something unexpected happens, and people have to choose between eating, paying the utilities bill, paying rent or paying the extra bills. We are doing our best to help those in our community that need help, and we are only able to do this through the amazing generosity of our community.” — Albert Lea Salvation Army Maj. Sandy Hunt in December after the organization received more than $47,000 thanks to a $20,000 anonymous donation, along with donations from businesses and individuals.

“I was so excited because I was going to go the next day and bring them all this stuff, and then I woke to this.” — New Richland fire victim Anissa Carlson about her plans to give several items to an Albert Lea family whose home was destroyed by fire in December, a day before her own home was destroyed by fire.

“We are extremely excited to have Mortarr in the Freeborn Bank building. We’re looking forward to seeing what this great entrepreneurial team does in the future.” — Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. after the local company closed on the purchase of a portion of the Freeborn National Bank building in November.

“Tell your loved ones you love them before it’s too late. Let us be strong and show people there’s more good than bad in this world.” — 15-year-old Mu His during a community gathering in October following the death of her brother Pla Mo, a ninth-grader.

“Unfortunately, the changing financial landscape of our health care reimbursement system means that unfair advantages are continually being given by insurers to national chain pharmacies. This, along with Mayo Clinic’s decision to discontinue some services in Albert Lea, has brought about significant financial challenges for our family-owned pharmacy.” — Sterling Pharmacy President Sam Ewing in September after an announcement that the business would be closing in Albert Lea.

“I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time, and I’m just going to say it. Common sense tells me that if one of these two places had to cease inpatient hospital care, it certainly should have been Austin and not Albert Lea.” —1st District Commissioner Glen Mathiason to Mayo Clinic Health System leaders in a September meeting with the county board.

“The news is obviously disappointing, not only for our friends at Herberger’s in Albert Lea, but for the 22,000-plus employees of Bon-Ton across the country. The closing of Herberger’s will obviously leave a void within the trade area in terms of a department store. We’re optimistic we can promote the past success in Albert Lea to attract another retailer to occupy the store in the near future.” — Chad Christensen, regional director of real estate for Carrington Co. — which owns Northbridge Mall, after the announcement in April that all stores owned by The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., including Albert Lea’s Herberger’s, would close.

“I didn’t license them to keep them. I licensed them to save my life.” — Kim Jameson in a Dec. 21 article explaining why she needs cats at her house. The quotes were made at a motion hearing after 16 cats were seized from her house in November. She seeks to have some of the cats back.

“The basis for the appeal is that the board of commissioners, in setting such salary, acted in an arbitrary, capricious and oppressive manner, and failed to sufficiently take into account the responsibilities and duties of the office of sheriff, the sheriff’s experience, qualifications and performance.” — Sheriff Kurt Freitag in a Dec. 22 article in the appeal to his salary set earlier this month by the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners. Freitag took action after commissioners approved his salary at $97,020 on Dec. 11, a 4.99 percent increase from his $92,403 pay. Freitag requested a more than 22 percent increase to $113,952.

“We’re willing to partner as best we can and provide information. Might not be able to provide a lot of assistance, tax subsidies or anything for retail, but if it’s a massive project like Blazing Star Landing or Northbridge Mall where it’s much bigger than just one business, we might be able to do some things.” — Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams in a Dec. 20 article discussing possible city help after retail businesses expressed interest in coming to Albert Lea.

“I’m not sure that it’s easy or even possible to put all of that behind us. But, ideally, I’d like to think that the overwhelming bulk of the community would see that really high-quality health care services have been here and will continue to be here and have confidence that the physicians, nurses and other providers have their best interest in mind.” — Retired judge David Minge in a Dec. 15 article explaining his belief that Albert Lea residents will continue receiving quality health care as Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin transitions most inpatient services from Albert Lea Austin. Minge, the former facilitator of the facilitated dialogue sessions between the city of Albert Lea and Mayo Clinic Health System, announced he would step aside.

“We’re definitely doing this just to help our community, because our community needs it. I think this year it needs it more than most years. This town could use a little charity. We just do what we can do to help.” — Albert Lea Pizza Ranch General Manager Troy LaRue in a Dec. 7 article about 12 local families receiving consistent meals this holiday season, thanks to a partnership between Pizza Ranch and Security Bank Minnesota.

“If more local businesses are supported, more local businesses will thrive, and if more local businesses thrive, then we can add to those thriving local businesses. And then, one day, Northbridge Mall will be filled, instead of people thinking Northbridge Mall will be obsolete.” — Charmaine Tinsley in a Dec. 6 article expressing optimism Northbridge Mall will thrive and urging people to shop locally. Tinsley opened Couture Queen Boutique at the mall.

“This is something that the city has been looking at and talking about but doing nothing about for the last 20 years. And it’s time that the city does something about it. There’s definitely a need for it. That’s undeniable. There’s no park within 1.25 miles anywhere in any direction from that neighborhood.” — David Doppelhammer, who lives near Albert Lea City Arena, in a Nov. 28 article explaining the need for a park near the facility.

“We’ve tried to talk to our kids about that. This has just been a blessing. We’ve always had a place to stay. Everything just fell into place. God took care of everything along the way — the right contractor, the right place to stay, the community taking care of our kids.” — Heather Earl in a Nov. 21 article, emphasizing the blessings the family received after their Clarks Grove home was destroyed in a fire last year. The family planned to move into a new home built on the same property as the former house this month.

“If the high school and our community embraces this project, and the weather permits, we can unveil this memorial at a future Veterans Day event outdoors at our new stadium. Veterans have given us freedom, security and the greatest nation on Earth. It is impossible to put a price on that. We must remember them. We must appreciate them. Take the challenge I have presented today as an opportunity to honor them for future generations.” — Albert Lea Superintendent Mike Funk in a Nov. 10 article on a Veterans Day ceremony at Albert Lea High School, requesting the high school honor veterans in a plaza planned for the new athletic complex.

“I’m excited about the whole process. It’s been a great opportunity for our community to speak about the things that are important to us. It speaks volumes to me that the city supports what we’re doing.” — Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. in a Nov. 7 article after he bested challenger George Marin for his fourth term as mayor.

“That isn’t going to work too good for our community, because we are pretty technology illiterate. Our community is very upset about all of this. I’m checking into other options.” — Kiester Mayor Doug Trytten in a Nov. 2 article announcing his frustration with Mayo Clinic’s announcement it would no longer have on-site practitioners after Jan. 1 and announcing his intention to seek other providers.

“They have had heart attacks, strokes, a lot of bleeding ulcers from the stress level from dealing with this. There have been — we have not here — but there have been some offices that have been threatened, that they have had law enforcement come in because customers are so mad, citizens are so mad, because we’re the people, the face that they get to see. I don’t condone them threatening people, but I understand people’s frustration.” — Freeborn County License Center Supervisor Susan Wagner in a Sept. 26 article on the difficulties the issues with the state’s MNLARS system has posed to license centers across the state.

“I hear them. This whole proceeding that culminated today was about what are the facts. And the facts are that wind turbines do not cause health problems. The facts are our project was designed not only to not cause health problems, but to minimize any nuisances. So, nuisances or annoyances are not a health problem, but we’ve made significant changes to meet those concerns.” — Invenergy Senior Manager for Project Development Dan Litchfield in a Sept. 21 article after the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approval of site and route permits for the Freeborn Wind Farm in southeastern Freeborn County.

“There are several factors and dynamics that have come into play over the past few weeks that have been discussed by the Board of Commissioners at great length. These dynamics have had a very negative impact on the board’s opinion of this process and are the foremost reason for decision to withdraw from any further dialogue.” — Freeborn County Administrator Thomas Jensen in an email to Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams, Mayo Clinic Director of Government Relations Erin Sexton and retired judge and former state Rep. David Minge in a Sept. 18 article.

“Both departments are well-respected independently and want to retain their histories, so that’s what we’re looking for right now. I simply want time to absorb this. I’m quite honored and humbled with the opportunity, and I think ultimately I want to meet with staff and see what staff recommendations are and move forward from there.” — Then-newly-appointed Albert Lea Public Safety Director J.D. Carlson in an Aug. 28 article on his next steps in the position.

“There isn’t enough foam in southeastern Minnesota to be able to put this fire out once it starts.” — Albert Lea Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Laskowske in an Aug. 30 article on how much of a hazard a fire at Comeback Auto would pose for the community because of the abundance of tires the business has.

“It’s a bad thing for the community to lose another venue for kids to have something to do and parents to have something to do with their kids. Anytime a community loses anything, it’s bad, obviously … I don’t ever foresee Albert Lea having another bowling alley. It’s not a business model that people are getting into in the smaller towns.” — Former Holiday Lanes General Manager Dustin Barr in an Aug. 8 article on the bowling alley’s pending closure.

“When I walked through I could see the vision of how we wanted to set it up, and it actually is set up really well for what we want to do.” — Jeremy Jacobson in a Jan. 11 article on him and his wife’s purchase of the old Jordahl Meats building for their business Red Door Construction.

“We exist to enhance education when the traditional budget is lacking. We want to ensure that USC students get the best education possible, so teachers are able to come to us with requests for materials and experiences they might not otherwise be able to afford.” — Kirstyn Wegner, United South Central Education Foundation member, in an April 19 article on the foundation fundraiser The Price is Right.

“It’s a very positive thing for the kids and the community. It builds community and shows the kids that citizens are active, not passive.” — Teacher Gary Irons in an April 26 article on the Project Citizen class offered in Lake Mills.

“In anything you do in life, you want to take it to the next level.” — Dwight DeBoer in a May 31 article on why even those experienced with firearms should continue their training.

“The nature of everything you do changes. All your processes change. You can’t keep doing the same process when all of a sudden you’re doubling what you’re doing.” — Tim Shaw in a July 26 story on growth at Jensales due to its increased online presence.

“I want people to know and students to feel like I care about them more than just being a student in a classroom. I want them to flourish and do well there, don’t get me wrong, but I want them to have a good experience here, in the classroom, in the hallways, on the playground — just everywhere.” — Hawthorne Elementary Principal John Mahal in a July 25 article.

“We got to film in the great outdoors of Arizona every day for six months. Outdoors in the mountains, in the cactus, you name it. I got to dress up like road warrior Mad Max and drive a big, old 18-wheeler.” — Actor and Chapel Con participant Sam Jones in a July 23 article on his favorite role as an actor.

“Where he is … he can see it all. He can see the bright lights that we haven’t even noticed yet, because they’re out there, everywhere. It’s just, they have to shine a little brighter for people that are still here to see them, but he sees all of those bright lights. I just miss him so much.” — Ellen Kehr, the wife of former Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Kehr, in a July 21 preview of The Story Show, which honored her husband. Randy Kehr died in 2017. 

“He never talked about the action he saw, but given the time he was in — his birthday is in October, mine is in January. When my birthday occurred in January, I would then be exactly 20 years younger than Jake. And I always gave him a rough time. I’d say, when I was born in January 1945, Jake was running around Europe in a government-issued all-terrain vehicle.” — Casey Swenson in a July 18 feature story on his friend and fellow Rotarian, Earl “Jake” Jacobsen, who died earlier this year.

“If you’d say hell, it would probably be the closest to it that you would want to get.” — World War II veteran Art Christiansen in a June 28 article commemorating his receiving a Quilt of Honor from St. John’s Lutheran Community. Christiansen was speaking of his service in Europe during World War II.

“We want nothing to do with this. But I said, ‘If you do that, I will charge you.’” — Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag in a May 30 article on a controversy over the number of cats at Hartland resident Kim Jameson’s home, describing how he reacted when Hartland Mayor Deb Flatness allegedly told him if the city did not receive pet porters, it could get cardboard boxes, load the cats and take them outside the community. She reportedly said her son, who works for an excavation company, could dig a trench, line the boxes with cats and have them shot by people shooting at the boxes. If the guns were not available, Flatness allegedly said the bucket of the excavator could be used to kill the cats.

“It just showed that they put a lot of thought and effort into the bid process, and I think they are a real reputable company, and I think they’ll do a great job for us.” — Now-Shell Rock River Watershed District Administrator Andy Henschel in a March 30 article on what he said was a favorable bid from contractor J.F. Brennan to dredge Fountain Lake compared to Newt Marine and White Lake Dock & Dredge.

“Be compassionate. And you can do that in a small town or a big town.” — Manny Gabler, Holocaust survivor, in a Dec. 5 article on his presentation to Albert Lea High School students.

“We have lots of really hard-working teachers. The question is, are we doing the right work in how we’re doing that hard work?” — Tonya Franks, Halverson Elementary School principal, in a Sept. 26 article on standardized test scores from Albert Lea elementary schools.

“It doesn’t make sense to go sit in a room and either get stressed about a test or sit and answer questions when you know you have a lot of other stuff to do.” — Gigi Otten, student representative to the school board, quoted in a Sept. 26 article about why student opt-outs for standardized tests may be as high as they are at Albert Lea High School.

“Without the community support — small-town community, small school — there’s no way that we can ever hope to get some of these things accomplished unless we have the support of the community. And time and time again, the residents of Alden and Conger have stepped forward and said yes.” — Brian Shanks, Alden-Conger superintendent, in a Nov. 8 article on the passing of a referendum allowing the district to use surplus funds for future projects.

“It has been said our live Nativity is our Christmas card to our community.” — Vern Harris, New Life Christian Church pastor, in a Dec. 1 article on the 25th anniversary of the church’s drive-thru live Nativity.

“It’ll take a while to roll this out. It takes every school a while to roll this out.” — Jennifer Brevoort, a No Bully trainer working with Albert Lea Area Schools, in a Nov. 2 article on the district’s work with the No Bully program and efforts to step up bullying prevention in middle and high school.

“I’m not disappointed. The vote was I guess 150, 160 votes difference, so again, a lot of people out there said yes. A lot more said yes. I look at this and say, ‘OK, folks. We still need to resolve this and we will find a way to resolve this. … We will forge ahead and find a way.’” — Glenville-Emmons superintendent Jerry Reshetar in a Nov. 10 article on Glenville-Emmons’ failed referendum to purchase a new school bus for the district.

“One of the challenges that we have is working, you know, trying to tell kids and educate them that there are harms, because if they research it on Google or they listen to the big tobacco companies, you know, their perception is that it’s harmless because that’s how it’s being marketed.” — Freeborn County Partners in Prevention Coordinator Jenny Hendrickson in a Nov. 10 article on the rise of e-cigarette use among teens nationally and locally.

“My story is to think that I could have a dream and follow it.” — Marion Ross, actress, in a Nov. 14 article about her experiences in Hollywood and growing up in Albert Lea.

“(Carp) affect the whole ecosystem, from the bottom up, and to have a healthy lake, you need to start at the bottom.” — Scott Christenson, conservation technician for the Shell Rock River Watershed District, in a July 2 article on the Watershed District’s carp management strategies in Fountain and Albert Lea lakes.

“No acting this time. This is real life.” — Jason Howland, Albert Lea Community Theater actor, in a June 9 article on getting married to fellow actor Teresa Wilson at Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.

“Our goal is to build a facility that will sustain us for the next 60 years.” — Afton Wacholz, then-Albert Lea Area Schools activities director, in a May 5 article on then-proposed updates to Hammer Complex.

“The need exists, OK? People have different opinions on how solve it, but I think it’s pretty universal that we have to do something.” — Mike Funk, Albert Lea Area Schools superintendent, in a May 5 article on then-proposed updates to Hammer Complex to resolve ADA and Title IX noncompliance.

“If it isn’t challenging, you’re not learning.” — Northwood-Kensett High School Principal Keith Fritz in an April 26 article on changing the school’s grading to a standards-based system.

“Yes, it’s real. It’s on my itinerary, so it better be real.” — Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett in an April 21 article on the band’s April concert at Wedgewood Cove.

“Safety shouldn’t have to be demanded. It should be expected. If we are required by law to attend school, it should be required by law for school to be a place where we are able to feel safe and secure.” — Albert Lea High School then-senior Kiarah Cope, in a speech quoted in a April 21 article on Albert Lea students participating in the National School Walkout April 20.

“We’d probably drive a couple hours to go get something like that.” — Levi Wicks, then-Albert Lea FFA chapter president, quoted in an April 11 article on what instigated a 39-hour road trip to pick up a 1958 International Harvester 350 High-Utility tractor the group then restored and auctioned off at the Freeborn County Fair.

“For us, this is kind of a way of celebrating the pieces of what she has left in her.” — Robin Gudal in a Jan. 19 article on a family-compiled show featuring her mother’s work, painting her way through the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

“As a high school, our students have the privilege to be a part of athletics because they are students. And we have to reclaim that again, because it was getting lost.” — Afton Wacholz, then-Albert Lea Area Schools activities director, in a Feb. 2 article on adopting InsideOut, a “Why We Play” initiative intended to re-establish an education-based focus in high school athletics.

“To me, it stresses that they, anyone who has a mental or physical handicap, is the same and can have the same experiences if you let them.” — Lizzy Kunkel-Erickson, Albert Lea High School student, in a Feb. 10 article on Night to Shine, a prom-like dance thrown specifically to celebrate students with special needs.

“This feels good — you know, to feel strength.” — Polly Schiltz, a Northwood woman fighting metastatic breast cancer in a Feb. 27 article on her love of CrossFit.

“I might be the only person out of like, a thousand, but it’s still good to have a voice,” she said. “The only thing you have that’s, like, different from everyone else, other than your looks, is your voice. I just truly believe that one person’s voice can make a difference in the world.” — Dora Ogunkanbi, Albert Lea High School 2018 wall of inspiration inductee, in a March 24 article about her induction.

“There’s just something about being able to express yourself, it just — it feels good,” he said. — Ethan Eriksmoen, Albert Lea High School 2018 wall of inspiration inductee, in a March 24 article about his induction.

“You are a two-building school on a one-building budget.” — Glenville-Emmons Superintendent Jerry Reshetar in a March 27 article on the district’s efforts to move forward with aging buildings.

“I know it’s silly to say, but at 4 months old she is the snuggliest, sweetest thing ever, and I feel like if she grows up around children that are just like she is plus the children that she is already around who love her, I think she is going to feel very welcome in this world. As she should.” — Jodi Hestness in a March 26 article on the creation of a local support group for moms of children with special needs.

“I don’t expect any miracles. I don’t. But I do expect change. And I think Halverson is ready to be that change.” — Tonya Franks, Halverson Elementary School principal, in a Sept. 26 article on standardized test scores at Halverson.

“I do think it’s got to get worse before it gets better, but now that it’s getting more national attention, I do think that helps our local efforts.” — Freeborn County Partners in Prevention Coordinator Jenny Hendrickson in a Nov. 10 article on the rise of e-cigarette use among teens nationally and locally.

“Now that I’m proud of myself and not thinking that I’m, you know, not going to get anywhere, that this is the way to be. And I see — that’s the wonderful thing about growing up is you look at what you left behind and say, ‘I am that, and I want to be that, and I don’t want to be somebody else anymore.’” — Marion Ross, actress, in a Nov. 14 article about her experiences in Hollywood and growing up in Albert Lea.

“Taxpayers, what do you want to do? This is your district. This is your school. Where’s it going to be in 20 years?” — Glenville-Emmons Superintendent Jerry Reshetar in a March 27 article on the district’s efforts to move forward with aging buildings.