Star News The Star News covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for Elk River, Otsego, Rogers and Zimmerman, Minnesota and their surrounding areas. Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:38:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A year after apartment fire, new building rises Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:38:04 +0000 by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

Larry Klein still thinks about that cold December day one year ago, when a fire raced through an apartment building in the Evans Meadows complex he manages.

“It’s still sad, what happened,” Klein said. “I still feel bad that it did happen and all the lives that it affected.”

A new apartment building is under construction on the site where another apartment building burned on Dec. 5, 2013. Photo by Joni Astrup

A new apartment building is under construction on the site where another apartment building burned on Dec. 5, 2013. Photo by Joni Astrup

No one was hurt in the Dec. 5 fire. But the 16-unit building at 365 Evans Ave. in Elk River sustained significant damage and was uninhabitable, displacing several dozen people.

The building was demolished in February and now a new apartment building has risen from the ashes.

The targeted move-in date for the new apartments is Jan. 2, Klein said. Several families that were displaced by the fire are expected to be among the residents of the new building, he said.

The new building will have 17 apartments — one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.

Fire ‘raced across the top’ of the building

Unlike the old building, which was built in 1989 and had an alarm system but no sprinklers, the new one will have a sprinkler system. Elk River Fire Chief T. John Cunningham sees that as a critical element.

“Had there been sprinklers on the first floor, that fire would have probably been extinguished or contained pretty quickly,” he said of the Evans Meadows fire.

He pointed to the recent example of a fire Sunday, Nov. 23, that started in an apartment kitchen at 1105 Lions Park Drive in Elk River. The fire activated an automatic sprinkler in the apartment, which extinguished the fire before the fire department arrived.

Things unfolded much differently a year ago at the Evans Meadows fire.

Cunningham was home getting ready for work when the call came in at 6:26 a.m. He was the first firefighter on the scene.

The fire had started on a first-floor patio and spread quickly, fanned by winds that gusted up to 28 mph that day. Once the fire reached the common attic space that ran the length of the building, it caused significant damage to the building’s upper portion.

“The fire just kind of raced across the top,” Cunningham explained. “Once it got up into the third floor, into the attic space, it just took off.”

A December 2013 fire caused extensive damage to a building in the Evans Meadows complex in Elk River.

A December 2013 fire caused extensive damage to a building in the Evans Meadows complex in Elk River. Star News file photo

Firefighters fought the fire under difficult conditions. In addition to the wind, the temperature was 5 degrees when the call came in and dropped as the day wore on, Cunningham said. Firefighters rotated in and out and warmed up in two buses brought to the scene.

Cunningham said they worked to contain the fire and to prevent it from spreading to other buildings.

Eleven fire departments, including Elk River, responded to the scene or covered other fire stations. The last firefighter left the fire scene at 3:44 p.m.

An investigation later determined that the fire was caused by a discarded cigarette, Cunningham said.

Overall, Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe said the fire demonstrated the importance of various entities working together to enhance the effectiveness of the response.

“In an incident of this type there are so many things that need to be done simultaneously it is essential that the involved entities have strong working relationships established before an incident occurs,” Rolfe said, noting that the Elk River police and fire departments have an excellent working relationship. Additionally, the response from area fire departments was critical to fighting a fire of that size, he said.

Rolfe also said that Evans Meadows is one of the better managed apartment complexes in the city, which aided authorities in accounting for all the tenants. Klein provided ready access to residents’ names and contact information as well as floor plans of the building, Rolfe said.

The police chief said he was very proud of his staff that day, from the first officers on the scene, to the detectives, the captains and the staff members working behind the scenes. “Each rose to the occasion as they always do,” he said.

Rolfe said the building was rapidly evacuated by residents and responding police officers, and both he and Cunningham are thankful no one was injured or died in the fire.

“No one was hurt and … every firefighter went home safe,” Cunningham said. “Buildings can be replaced. People can’t.”

Lessons learned

Cunningham revisited the details of the fire recently in preparation for a presentation to the state fire chiefs conference, where he talked about the fire.

He has given some thought to the lessons learned. Among them:

•If you see any type of fire, even a small one, call 911. Cunningham said the investigation into the Evans Meadows fire suggests that some of the initial reporting parties were trying to contact others to see what they should do, rather than immediately calling 911. “We do believe that there was a delayed notification,” he said.

•Sprinkler systems are invaluable. “Our firefighters did an absolutely terrific job in managing this incident,” Cunningham said of the Evans Meadows fire. “But it brought to light the importance of having sprinkler systems.” He said sprinklers can be especially important in cities like Elk River that have on-call firefighters rather than fire stations manned 24 hours a day by full-time staff who can respond to a fire within a few minutes. In the Evans Meadows case, Cunningham said he arrived in 10 minutes and the first engine was on the scene in 13 minutes.

•Tenants should make sure they have renters’ insurance. Not everyone impacted by the Evans Meadows fire did.

•You can’t be too careful with cigarettes. The safest way to extinguish a cigarette is to put it in water, Cunningham said. Smoking is the leading cause of fires in Elk River, he said.

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Gifts Anonymous drive begins Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:26:47 +0000 Gifts Anonymous has begun collecting presents for the upcoming Christmas season.

“We are expecting to serve as many families and children, if not more, than last year,” said Michelle Eder, one of the Gifts Anonymous organizers.

Donated gifts were arranged for distribution in Elk River during a previous Gifts Anonymous season.

Donated gifts were arranged for distribution in Elk River during a previous Gifts Anonymous season.

New, unwrapped children’s gifts may be dropped off at the locations listed below until Thursday, Dec. 18. Collection barrels will out as early as today (Wednesday, Nov. 26) and no later than Friday, Nov. 28, Eder said.

Cash donations are accepted any time at the Gifts Anonymous account at The Bank of Elk River.

Gifts Anonymous is designed to help area families who are financially unable to provide Christmas gifts for their children. Last year the program provided gifts to 671 children, benefiting 257 families.

Where to drop off gifts


•KleinBank, 15751 87th St. NE

•Bank of Elk River, 15800 88th St. NE

•Denny’s, 9020 Quaday Ave.

Elk River

•American Legion, 525 Railroad Drive

•Anytime Fitness, 19437 Evans St.

•Bank of Elk River, 630 Main St. and 846 Freeport Ave.

•Coborn’s, 19425 Evans St.

•Cub Foods, 19216 Freeport Ave.

•First National Bank of Elk River (downtown office and Elk Park Center)

•Kemper Drug, 323 Jackson Ave.

Menards, 19521 Evans St.

•Olde Main Eatery, 313 Jackson Ave.

•River of Life Church, 21695 Elk Lake Road

•St Andrew’s Church, 566 Fourth St.

•Star News, 506 Freeport Ave.

•Zylstra Harley Davidson, 19600 Evans St.

•Eagles Club, 824 Railroad Drive

•Light House Learning Academy, 19027 Proctor Road

•Wal-Mart, 18185 Zane St.

•AT Repair, 17119 Highway 10

•Union Church, 1118 Fourth St.

•Open Reel Media Inc., 708 Main St.

•RB’s Computer Service, 19112 Freeport St.

•Renew You Medical Spa, 19021 Freeport St.

•Sunshine Depot, 701 Main St.

•AJ’s Complete Automotive, 279 Carson St.

•Oakwood Insurance Agency, 649 Main St.

•Guardian Angels by the Lake, 13439 185th Lane

•Marcus Theatres, 570 Freeport Ave.

•Re/Max Results, 650 Dodge Ave.

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Elk River’s proposed levy shows 1.66 percent increase Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:20:02 +0000 After months of review, the city of Elk River is tentatively looking at increasing the property tax levy by 1.66 percent in 2015.

Notices that were sent to property owners showed a maximum levy increase of 2.05 percent, but the city has trimmed that down.

The city’s overall tax rate is projected to decrease approximately 2.96 percent.

The city’s proposed general fund budget for 2015 totals $13.3 million. It includes a new drug task force detective who would be assigned to the Sherburne County Drug Task Force.

A public hearing and presentation on the proposed 2015 budget is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, at Elk River City Hall, 13065 Orono Parkway.

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Basketball: Thunder fend off Princeton 66-65 in opener Wed, 26 Nov 2014 07:04:24 +0000 Kody Dwyer (55) works his way toward the basket. He had 24 points for Zimmerman. (Photo by Erik Jacobson)

Kody Dwyer (55) works his way toward the basket. He had 24 points for Zimmerman. (Photo by Erik Jacobson)


Kody Dwyer led with 24 points as the Zimmerman Thunder held off a Princeton rally 66-65 in their season opener at home Tuesday evening.

The Thunder, with an all-new starting five making its debut, led by as much as 18 in the second half, but the Tigers caught fire from long range, making eighth 3-pointers in the half.

Taylor McEachern drives for two of his 14 points.

Taylor McEachern drives for two of his 14 points.

The Thunder’s lead was trimmed to one before Dwyer sank two free shots, and Derek Williams one of two, to seal the win.

Dwyer, 6-foot-7 junior, scored 14 in the first half, leading the Thunder to a 30-24 edge. He made eight of 10 free shots in the second half.

Matthew Jacobson hits a 15-foot jumper.

Matthew Jacobson hits a 15-foot jumper.

Taylor McEachern scored 14 points, and Matthew Jacobson and Williams eight each, for the Thunder.

The Thunder will host Monticello on Tuesday.

Zimmerman scoring — Kody Dwyer 24, Taylor McEachern 14, Matthew Jacobson 8, Derek Williams 8, Austin Wiemeri 6, Chandler Wellman 5, Mack Riley 1, Thunder Heyer 1

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Hockey: Royal girls tie Orono 2-2 Wed, 26 Nov 2014 04:24:12 +0000 The Rogers Royals are still looking for their first win after tying Orono 2-2 on Tuesday evening.

The Royals (0-2-2) grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Paetyn Levis and Sami Scherling, with Olivia Olson assisting on the latter.

Rogers still led 2-0 after two periods, but Brianna Bren pulled Orono even with two third-period goals, the tying shot coming with 1:09 left.

Ellie Anderson stopped 37 of 39 shots for Rogers. Ava Lambert saved 24 of 26 for Orono.

Rogers will play at Cambridge-Isanti next Tuesday.

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Hockey: Murray hits OT game-winner as No. 5 Elks tip No. 3 Wayzata 6-5 in opener Wed, 26 Nov 2014 04:16:03 +0000 Jax Murray delivered the game-winner in overtime as Elk River clipped Wayzata 6-5 in a season-opening duel of two highly-ranked teams in Wayzata.

Miurray, sophomore forward, struck 3:34 into overtime, unassisted, for his second goal in his varsity debut. He also had an assist.

The Elks are ranked No. 5 and Wayzata No.3 in preseason by Let’s Play Hockey.

The Elks trailed 3-1 after one period and 5-4 after two. The equalizer came from Ben Johnson with 6:31 in the third period, assisted by Matt Kierstad and Reggie Lutz.

Peter Jones had a power play goal and an assist, Jack Geissler a goal and two assists, Kierstad three assists, Jake Jaremko a goal and assist, Lutz two assists, and Johnson a goal and assist.

The Elks used two goalies, with Joey Grillo give up four goals on eight shots, and Chase Gauthier one goal on nine shots. The Elks had a 37-19 edge in shots on goal and were 1-for-4 on power plays with Wayzata 0-for-2.

Scoring for the Trojans were Billy Duma, Max Zimmer, Dillon Riley, Alex Stevens and Nathan Dingman.

The Elks will host Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Saturday, 7 p.m.

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Hockey: Maple Grove snaps Elk girls win streak 2-1 in overtime Wed, 26 Nov 2014 04:14:20 +0000 Elk goalie Michaela Gould stops a shot by Maple Grove's xxxxxx. xxxx

Elk goalie Michaela Gould stops a shot by Maple Grove’s Payton Olson (20).  (Photos by Bruce Strand)


Undefeated Maple Grove withstood a barrage of shots by Elk River-Zimmerman and beat the Elks 2-1 in overtime, snapping four-game win streak by the Elks, on Tuesday evening.

The Elks (3-1 conference, 5-2 overall) outshot the Crimson 43-21 in regulation but got just one past sophomore goalie Breanna Bleski.

Haley Williams advances the puck in the second period. She had the Elks' lone goal.

Haley Williams advances the puck in the second period. She had the Elks’ lone goal.

Haley Williams notched the Elk goal, 4:45 into the first period, assisted by Raelyn Korinek. Bailey Wendt scored for Maple Grove on a power play in the second period.

The Elks had a great chance in the final minute of regulation when, with Maple Grove in the power play, they sprung Shae McLean for a wide-open one-on-one opportunity. McLean fired from close range but Bleski made one of her 44 saves.

Katie Denecky got the game-winner 1:28 into overtime for the Crimson (5-0), hitting the near upper corner of the net from six feet away, after a nice crossing pass. Abby Larson and Haley Herdine assisted.

Michaela Gould stopped 21 of 23 shots for the Elks.

The Elks face Armstrong-Cooper on Saturday, 3 p.m., at New Hope Arena.

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Basketball: Keller leads Elk comeback against Buffalo in 40-34 opening win Wed, 26 Nov 2014 04:13:14 +0000 Trent Pink drew a shooting foul from Buffalo's Dustin Willert (22) and made the free shots. (Photos by Bruce Strand)

Trent Pink drew a shooting foul from Buffalo’s Dustin Willert (22) and made the free shots. (Photos by Bruce Strand)


Matt Keller was the only player on target for either team with 22 points as he led Elk River past Buffalo 40-34 in the season opener for each team Tuesday evening in Elk River.

The 5-foot-11 junior point guard nailed a 3-pointer from the corner after the Elks had fallen behind 21-9 late in the first half.

“That was a really big 3-pointer for us,” said coach Randy Klasen.

Matt Keller led the Elks with 22 points, 16 in the second half.

Matt Keller led the Elks with 22 points, 16 in the second half.

The Elks got back within 21-14 after a very choppy first half of basketball for each team.

Keller had 16 points in the second half, including 8-for-10 at the line.

Zach Ernst was next-high with five points as the Elks shot 12-for-39 from the floor and 12-for-19 at the line. They struggled in the first half against the Bison’s tightly-packed zone, shooting only 22 percent.

The Elks were out rebounded 29-22 but had an 18-12 edge in turnovers.

“We played good defense, and we took care of the ball,” said Klasen. “I’ll take it (40 points) if it’s a win.”

Buffalo was led by Jared High and Taylor Spier with seven points each.

The Elks will meet Moorhead on Saturday at the Anoka-Ramsey High School Showcase at 2 p.m.

Elk scoring — Zach Ernst 5, Jarin Haywood 3, Matt Keller 22, Zeke Delain 3, Devell Miller 4

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Gryz Tue, 25 Nov 2014 23:16:03 +0000 Gryz

Kayla Provost and Chaz Gryz of Ramsey announce the birth of their son, Erich Jacob Gryz, born Oct. 7, 2014, weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces.
Big brother Ayden, 3.
Grandparents Loni and Shane Kern, Mary and Steve Gryz.

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Food co-op memberships now available Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:02:10 +0000 by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

Elk River Area Food Co-op memberships are now available.

The logo for the Elk River Area Food Co-op.

The logo for the Elk River Area Food Co-op.

They cost $100 for a lifetime membership, according to Kari Froehlich, a member of the co-op’s board.

Members will receive a monthly newsletter, a decal for their vehicle and discounted classes and events. The co-op is also working to partner with local businesses to provide a discount to members.

Once the food co-op store opens, Froehlich said if there is a profit at the end of each year, members will receive a rebate.

She said their goal is to open a store within two years.

Volunteers and donations are welcome.

For more information, go to or e-mail

Membership information is available on the website, or to join, mail a check to Elk River Area Food Co-op, P.O. Box 64, Elk River, Mn. 55330.

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