Archive for Gabe Licht

Fire destroys Waverly home

A fire destroyed this home at 6611 Crofoot Ave. SW in Waverly early Friday morning.

A fire destroyed this home at 6611 Crofoot Ave. SW in Waverly early Friday morning.

WAVERLY, MN – No one was injured as a fire destroyed a Waverly home early Friday morning.

According to Waverly Assistant Fire Chief Mike Cody, the department was called to the fire at 6611 Crofoot Ave. SW. at about 1:35 a.m.

“We arrived to a fully engulfed house fire,” Cody said.

It appears the fire started in the front of the house, Cody said. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal Office.

Montrose and Howard Lake fire departments provided mutual aid. A total of 28 firefighters responded. The Wright County Sheriff’s Office, Ridgeview Ambulance, and the American Red Cross also assisted at the scene.

The Waverly Fire Department was on scene until about 10 a.m.

Cody emphasized the importance of smoke detectors.

“Smoke detectors save lives,” he said. “That made the difference. It woke them up and allowed them to exit the home. From the time they called 911 to the first engine, it was about 7 minutes. Fires grow quickly.”

Donations are being collected for the Zehowski family, which was displaced by the fire. Contact Emily Zehowski on Facebook for more information.

A GoFundMe campaign has also been established at

Crash in Hollywood Township kills motorcyclist

HOLLYWOOD TOWNSHIP, MN – A motorcyclist is dead following a Saturday afternoon crash in the 2600 block of Carver County Road 21 in Hollywood Township.

According to Carver County Sheriff Jason Kamerud, motorcyclist Dean Hecksel, 49, of Mayer, was northbound when he lost control of the motorcycle and swerved into the way of a southbound vehicle

Hecksel was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The driver of the southbound vehicle, driven by Mary Ardolf, 61, of Silver Lake,suffered noncritical injuries and was treated by Ridgeview paramedics.

According to a witness statement provided to the sheriff’s office, the front end of Hecksel’s motorcycle jiggled when passing another motorcycle and then Hecksel lost control, resulting in the crash.

The matter remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office, which was assisted by the Minnesota State Patrol, Ridgeview Ambulance, and Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.

The crash occurred around 3:18 p.m.

Health officials confirm first COVID-19 death in Wright County

BUFFALO, MN – Wright County Public Health has received confirmation from the Minnesota Department of Health of the first confirmed death of a Wright County resident due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“We’ve sadly had our first COVID-19 death in Wright County,” said Christine Husom, chair of the Wright County Board of Commissioners. “It’s an especially difficult time to lose a loved one and we send our thoughts and prayers to the family.”

The death occurred Thursday, April 9, in a Wright County resident in their 80s who was tested for COVID-19 two days earlier.

This death underscores the importance of protecting Wright County’s vulnerable population during this pandemic. Anyone can contract this disease and pass it on to others; every person should be taking steps to protect the community.

“We must do everything we can to lessen the spread of this virus,” said Sarah Grosshuesch, director of Wright County Public Health. “Abiding by the Governor’s ’Stay at Home’ order and physical distancing guidelines is critical in slowing the spread and allowing our healthcare systems to prepare for a surge. We strongly recommend we all take steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community from further devastating consequences.”

As of Saturday, Wright County had 16 confirmed COVID-19 cases, in people ranging in age from 26 to 89. While the virus does not discriminate, individuals older than 65 and those with chronic health conditions are at higher risk of severe illness and negative consequences.

Guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19 can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health’s webpage.

More information about COVID-19 in Wright County can be found on Wright County Public Health’s webpage. Questions about the disease can be directed to the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-3920.

There are local resources related to food, medication, transportation, mental health, and other services available to support people during this time. Click here or text/call 763-682-7607 for more information.

Wright County Board adopts emergency declaration in response to COVID-19

BUFFALO, MN – The Wright County Board of Commissioners adopted the following emergency declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

WHEREAS, Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019, commonly known as COVID-19, a respiratory disease-that can result in serious illness or death, is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is a new strain of coronavirus that had not been previously identified in humans and can easily spread from person to person; and

WHEREAS, the CDC has identified the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19, and has advised that person-to-person spread of COVID-19 will continue to occur; and

WHEREAS, Wright County has had a positive test for COVID-19; and,

WHEREAS, on January 31, 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency for COVID-19, beginning on January 27; 2020; and

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020 President Donald Trump declared that the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States constitutes a National Emergency; and

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020, Governor Tim Walz declared a Peacetime State of Emergency to authorize any and all necessary resources to be used in support of the COVID-19 response; and

WHEREAS, the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Public Health recommend that any individual with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low; and

WHEREAS, during this pandemic, it is possible that individuals who are not diagnosed with COVID-19 will be placed in quarantine to control or prevent further spread of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, the necessary resources to respond to and recover from this pandemic will exceed those resources available within the County, and additional resources will be needed from Wright County, and state and federal sources;


  1. Under the authority given in Minnesota Statutes 12.29, declares that a local emergency exists within Wright County, effective March 16, 2020, with all the powers and responsibilities attending thereto as provided by Chapter 12, Minnesota Statute.
  2. Directs County departments to review ordinance and regulatory requirements, operations, civil and legal proceedings, events, and resources that can and should be adjusted or suspended, or to enact emergency regulations to support the residents of Wright County during the pandemic.
  3. Directs the Wright County Public Health Director/Community Health Services Administrator and the Wright County Director of Emergency Management to request and coordinate appropriate aid and resources from surrounding jurisdictions and the State of Minnesota, as needed.
  4. Declares, under Minn. Stat. 13D.021, that in-person meetings of the County Board of Commissioners and other public bodies under the County Board’s jurisdiction where members of those bodies have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are otherwise in quarantine or isolation in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are not practical or prudent because of the COVID-19 health pandemic and the emergency declared under Minn. Stat. Chapter 12 by Governor Walz.
  5. Orders that this declaration be given prompt and general publicity and that it be filed promptly by the County Clerk.

In addition, all Wright County government public counters – with the exception of the sheriff’s office, court administration, and court services/probation – will be closed until April 1. All departments will begin implementing telecommuting to the greatest extent possible. Furthermore, the commissioners requested that all nonessential committee meetings be postponed until April 1.

First case of COVID-19 in Wright County confirmed

BUFFALO, MN – The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed the first COVID-19 case in Wright County, a person in their eighties.

The individual has a history of out of state travel. The individual started to feel ill upon their return and was hospitalized, but is feeling well. The individual will be discharged home for isolation.

MDH is working with Wright County Public Health and health care partners to identify and contact all those who may have come in contact with the infected person. These people will be evaluated for risk and, if applicable, asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

Wright County Public Health is actively working in partnership with MDH to manage an identified COVID-19 case in the county and it is important to remember that the risk to the general public is low. Please consider taking these steps:

Covering your cough and sneezing

Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Stay home if you have cold or flu-like symptoms, and avoid close contact with people who are sick. We encourage you to talk with your employer about how to how work remotely.

Prepare for the event that you might have to stay home.

If COVID-19 begins to spread in Minnesota communities, state and local public health authorities would consider community interventions such as temporary workplace social distancing measures, replacing in-person meetings with teleworking, and modifying, postponing or cancelling large gatherings.

These measures are taken during a disease outbreak to slow the speed at which the disease spreads and reduces the overall number of those who become sick. This slow progression reduces the risk of the healthcare system becoming overwhelmed and resources being depleted.

MDH has set up a public hotline that will be open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. The hotline number is 651-201-3920.

Wright County won’t enforce new gun control laws

BUFFALO, MN – On a unanimous vote, the Wright County Board approved a resolution declaring the county a “Second Amendment dedicated county” Tuesday, making it the sixth Minnesota county to approve such a resolution.

There are two primary components to the resolution, in which the board “expresses its intent to oppose any unconstitutional infringement on the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”

As part of its opposition, the county will “use such legal means at its disposal to protect the rights of the citizens of Wright County to keep and bear arms.”

Furthermore, the board “will refuse to directly appropriate any Wright County resources to enforce any mandate, law, policy, or any directive which unconstitutionally infringes on the right of the law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”

The action followed receipt of a letter and sample resolution from five Republican state legislators who represent Wright County: senators Bruce Anderson and Mary Kiffmeyer; and representatives Eric Lucero, Marion O’Neill, and Joe McDonald.

A standing-room-only crowd of about 70 people attended the meeting, with many of them sporting “Guns Save Lives” stickers, and only one voicing opposition.

Sheriff Sean Deringer joined the majority in support of the resolution.

“I believe it is the Second Amendment that allows us to enjoy the other God-given freedoms in this great country,” Deringer said. “I will stand with you today and, as long as the good people of Wright County continue to elect me in, I will stand with you.”

Deringer said some people have taken to social media to speak for him on the issue. He encouraged anyone wondering where he stands on issues to call or email him, and he would be willing to speak with them.

He called the board room full of gun rights supporters “by far the safest room in Wright County” and said he takes pride in the fact that the county has more than 13,000 permit-to-carry holders.

Gloria Caballero, a retired deputy US Marshal told the board to “do what the citizens elected you to do.”

“After weeks of speaking with Wright County residents, it is clear that we the people of Wright County want the resolution passed,” Caballero said. “We also have the opportunity to be a leader. Other counties are watching this vote today. Let us use this opportunity to grow and to send a strong message to our lawmakers at St. Paul that senseless gun control laws that ultimately infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens will not be tolerated.”

On the other end of the spectrum, John Dietering cited a Fox News poll from August 2019 that showed 90 percent of Americans in favor of background checks, 81 percent in favor of red flag laws to take guns from at-risk people, and 67 percent in favor of banning assault weapons.

“What we’re in short supply of is common sense,” Dietering said.

Before the floor was opened for public comment, Commissioner Darek Vetsch moved to amend the resolution to add the paragraph regarding the use of county resources, and that motion was approved unanimously.

Following public comment, Vetsch read a prepared statement in which he called the pursuit of happiness a key foundation of the country.

“That foundation is protected by our Constitution and our Second Amendment rights are a key, invaluable part of maintaining that foundation,” Vetsch said. “The effort here today is just one step we need to make as a grass roots effort to make sure that we continue to be cognizant of our Constitutional rights and to protect them every day, not just the Second Amendment, but all of them.”

Chair Christine Husom, a licensed peace officer, said, “It’s very reassuring to me to know that law-abiding citizens are out there and can help protect because peace officers cannot be everywhere.”

She added that she has studied Constitutional law.

“I know a lot of reasons why these rights were given to us, why we have the Bill of Rights,” Husom said. “It’s important that we stand up for them.”

Commissioner Charlie Borrell agreed with that sentiment, citing other countries where guns have been banned.

Commissioner Mike Potter suggested such an approach does not work, quoting Gene Wilder as saying “Do criminals obey the law?” with an inference that they do not.

“They’re not going to listen to it anyway,” Potter said. “How is a red flag law going to do anything? They’re going to violate it anyway. We need to make sure law-abiding citizens can protect themselves.”

Commissioner Mark Daleiden said he has a responsibility to protect his property, his business, and his employees.

“I stand firm that we all have our rights,” Daleiden said.