News Writing

Calling all votes to go digital

 By Katie Lofrano

Have you noticed that technology is constantly trending? From the Motorola Razor to the Blackberry, and from the iPhone to the galaxy, we are constantly upgrading our systems to the latest technology fashions. Some of you may have been heartbroken when you found out you cannot get a simple cheap phone without an internet data plan anymore, which now costs you hundreds of dollars in additional charges a year.

With the world advancing in technology day after day, Hennepin County is due for an upgrade with their voting equipment, which has been in use since 1999. Without parts being available to replace the old system anymore, it was seen as essential that Hennepin County jumped onto the new technology bandwagon. Secretary of State Mark Richie confirms that “This is the newest model of the same equipment Edina has been using for decades. It will seem no different to the voters themselves and it will make it easier for those who are administrating our elections.”

The next time you cast a vote in Edina, you will be greeted with the new fancy technology, the ES&S’ DS200 ballot counter. Edina residents will be using the new election equipment for the first time Nov. 5, 2013. Voters will still cast their votes on paper ballots and then insert them into the ballot counter. It is hoped that the advanced new voting equipment will enhance the voting process. The AutoMarks, which assist those with disabilities to vote independently, were purchased in 2002 and will not be upgraded at this time, confirms Deb Mangen, Edina City Clerk.

The ES&S’ DS200 ballot counter combines a paper-based balloting system with a digital environment. Some of the new technology features include: transmitting votes directly from the voting place, processing a variety of ballot sizes, being lightweight, compact and easy to set up in the voting area. The ballot counter uses mark recognition which determines a specific candidate. The system also improves voter communication with a 12-inch LCD touch screen that delivers messages necessary to voters. The equipment also has the capacity to support multiple languages.

Edina will lease the equipment from Hennepin County, whom purchased the equipment so no capital costs impact. Instead, Edina will be responsible for all maintenance, storage and insurance on the equipment confirms Mangen. “We are hoping that the reliability of the equipment is improved, and we are excited to put the new equipment into service and see how it will serve our citizens,” she said.

Richie explains that, “Edina has one of the highest turn-outs in the region of the state. Edina excels in the amount of engagement in elections. The new equipment will make it easier for administration to continue providing excellent service.”

For Head Judge Colleen Creu, this change is no big deal. She has seen three generations of voting technology come through the City of Edina. “I have seen the new machine and it will be absolutely fantastic. With the new LCD screen, people will be able to see whom they voted for and if there is something wrong with their ballot,” Creu said. “We used to have to run results after voting ended. Now the machine has a signal that will be able to send results directly. These results will automatically be sent, and we won’t have to worry about having a signal, they will be able to send without it.”

For citizens interested in seeing the new equipment operate, equipment demonstrations will be available at the City Clerk’s Office located in Edina City Hall from Sept. 3- Nov. 3 during regular business hours.

Feeling like you have been just dropped into the future with all these technology updates? Do not worry education for voters before Election Day will include public demonstrations, information distributed via the city newsletter and a video on the City website. On the day of election, directions will be provided by the head Judges whom have been trained on the new voting equipment in each polling place.

For more information contact your City Clerk or Deputy Clerk at 952-826-0408 or 952-826-0409.

Edina’s dog park is creating quite the bark

By Katie Lofrano

Taking a stroll along a large area of green grass without a leash is nothing less than the icing on the cake for the dogs of Bruce Aamoth and Swede Olson, Edina residents and dog park members. Living in a large city that can fall short of yard space is nothing less than a nightmare for city dogs until now. Edina has expanded their parks to fulfill the dreams of dogs with yet another dog park. For now, there are two different park locations in Edina where residents can bring their dogs to roam about, without a leash.

For Aamoth and long-time friend Olson, making a stop at Van Valkenburg dog park has been on their schedules almost daily since it opened years ago. The two met at Van Valkenburg Park years ago and continue to meet at the park during the same time. Residents are able to visit the parks during open hours at any time. Many residents choose to bring their dogs during certain daytime hours to ensure both residents and dogs get to see their friends. “The parks let our dogs play and run in a safe area while residents get to socialize with one another as well,” claims Aamoth.

Swede loves the fact that Van Valkenburg is so epileptic. He claims, “You get CEO’s of huge companies, retired residents, residents from France to people who are unemployed. Everyone is incredibly friendly.”

Many dog parks in the area contain no grass. They have been overused and cannot keep up with all the traffic. The nice thing about Edina’s dog parks is that “They have lots of green grass compared to Minneapolis dog parks. In the winter there is gravel put down on the walkway for traction which is really nice,” admits Maggie Trenkmann, Edina resident and dog park member.

In both park locations, Van Valkenburg and Strachauer, dogs are required to have a special off-leash area collar in their possession. These collars can be purchased at Edina City Hall, 4801 W 50th St, and they also may be purchased online. The collar may be used in both locations which are conveniently located on the east and west sides of town for all residents.

Officers monitor both locations, ensuring proper use of the parks and to make sure residents are safe. Timothy Hunter, Animal Patrol Officer, ensures that there have not been any reports filed on either dog park, and that they will continue to monitor them.

Van Valkenburg dog park has been open in the area for five years, while Strachauer dog park has recently opened its doors to residents and their dogs. The two off-leash areas will be evaluated based on use and issues that arise to see if more OLA’s may be added around the town of Edina in different locations, reports Susan Faus, Parks and Recreation Assistant Director.

Van Valkenburg Park, 4935 Lincoln Dr., is open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. Strachauer Park Hockey Rink, 6200 Beard Ave, is available from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.  Susan encourages those who have suggestions that you feel will enhance your experience, to please email her at  

Cutline (Photo by Katie Lofrano):

Another beautiful day at the dog park for these loyal dog park customers. Pictured here is Bruce Aamoth(left)  with his dog RagMuffin, Maggie Trenkmann with her dog Henri and Swede Olson with his dog Corgi. 

Golf Dome in full swing

 By Katie Lofrano

As we are well into summer, we begin to see fall and winter in the horizon. The only thing many golfers who rely on the Dome during the winter are beginning to ponder is, “Will the Golf Dome be ready this year?” We have those answers for you.

Golfers all around the state of Minnesota come to the golf dome in Edina during the off-season to keep their wits about them, as they are still able to swing their clubs. For over a year now as most of you know, the golf dome has been nothing but rumbles after a fire leveled it in February 2012. The dome was set to be opened early this year, but with insurance company setbacks, the process was delayed, but that delay is no longer. “The dome is scheduled to open Nov. 1 confirmed City Manager Scott Neal.  “We appreciate the patience of the golfing community while we worked with the insurance carrier to maximize our insurance reimbursement,” said Ann Kattreh, Director of Parks and Recreation.

In the new and improved dome, you will notice a fire suppression system, which will help prevent another fire to spark in the dome, which will be constructed of steel and concrete. Insulation will have been improved as well which will bring heat up to the driving deck and to the top of the dome which will help melt snow when snow begins to fall. The insulation is projected to significantly improve energy savings, claims Todd Anderson, General Manager at Braemar Golf Course.

Besides the structure, when you enter the dome, you will notice other improved qualities as well. You will see a separate lobby that is not connected to the dome, and a fabric cover that will shed snow and ice .The City worked with the local watershed district to also upgrade their drainage system. The storm water will be stored in containers that are located under the parking lot.

Joe Greupner, Head Golf Pro claims that, “The structure is not going to change. The original structure we had for the old dome worked well.” Greupner is excited to see the dome become brighter now that it will allow more light to come in. He is also excited to see the field become a “real field,” as it will be made out of thicker turf so people will no longer get hurt when they fall on it. “We are all excited to get a completely new building. The dome needed to be re-built, but this is not the way we would have liked to see it happen.”

Anderson claims that he is the most excited for the new and improved second-story deck. The original deck was unstable and people were uncomfortable on it. He feels that people will enjoy the new deck much more and that they will really want to use it.

Greupner is looking forward to getting the year-round facility back and running. “The golf course has been affected in almost every way. The dome is used as a year-round facility. People would visit the dome in the winter and come to the course after to buy patron cards, visit the Pro Shop and eat at the Grill. Many people also sign up for spring lessons early at the dome. With the long winter and no dome, some of those who did sign up for lessons had to be cancelled.”

Neal is convinced that, “We’re going to make a big comeback from this loss. I have a pretty good idea about how the new dome is going to look and function.  Our customers are going to love it.”

During off-season, some people visit the dome as much as everyday Anderson stated. “People are becoming really anxious to get back into the dome.”

Greupner confirms that, “It’s really going to be the best dome anywhere around for golf.” And with that dome news, lace up your golf shoes and pull out those clubs. The golf dome is just about back.

Julia Allen hits it big in Duluth

Moving from her childhood home in Big Lake, Minnesota, to attend college at St. Cloud State University for a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Communication Studies was part of Julia Allen’s dreams of becoming a reporter, but her real dream was to land a job in Duluth once she graduated.

Prior to graduation in May 2013, Allen began sending out her demo reel and resume in April. She was one of the first to get on board with the job hunt, Allen said. When school came to an end, Allen admitted that she felt lost. “You are living in the college life for so long, you don’t really know any other lifestyle. All of a sudden you are pushed into the real world,” said Allen.

Upon graduation Allen was nervous she was not prepared enough for the real world. But when she took some time to compare herself to other YouTube demo reels of other students, Allen gained her confidence back. After watching those videos, Allen said, “I realized that my education and my experience are above and beyond others in the entire Midwest.”

“I didn’t want to seem like a failure because I didn’t have a job to move to right out of school,” said Allen. Duluth was only three hours away from home, and it had great winter weather and quality news; this is why Allen dreamed of going to Duluth her whole senior year.

Fox 21’s news director had been watching Allen’s work, which Allen had no idea about. The production manager at UTVS is an SCSU alum and knew Allen dreamed of working in Duluth, so he sent her work to the director of Fox 21 without her knowing. Receiving a call during finals week from the director offering her a part-time position without even applying was a dream come true, but Allen couldn’t settle for a part-time position.

After some time and applications, Allen got offered a job with KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa. She still dreamed of being an anchor in Duluth, however. The day after she was offered the job with KTIV, Allen went to meet with the news director at Fox 21. “He offered me the same part-time position with a full-time guarantee in two weeks. I turned down the Sioux City job with KTIV and took the part-time position in Duluth, signing my full-time, 2-year contract June 28,” said Allen.

Allen admitted the interview with Sioux City was a hard one, very competitive. She didn’t interview with Fox 21, she was simply offered the job with them knowing her education and talent.

As long as Allen found a job in Minnesota she would me happy. “I love the people in Minnesota and grew up here. I didn’t want that big of a change,” said Allen. She plans to stay in Duluth until eventually making a jump to Minneapolis.

Allen is currently working the night shift Monday through Friday at Fox 21 as a reporter. She is hoping to take over the position of the weekend anchor, who will soon be leaving.

Each day Allen receives an assignment. She never knows what her assignment is going to be until she goes to work. “It’s stressful but it’s kind of fun to play the guessing game,” said Allen. “I love how my job is different each and every day. Everyone has a story, and it’s my job to tell it.”

Allen’s boyfriend Landon accompanied her on the move to Duluth and is working at Target. After the move, Allen’s boyfriend became her fiancé and they plan on tying the knot Jan. 24, 2015.

An article I wrote for St. Cloud State University’s Chronicle is under “The University Chronicle’s Top 10 Most Memerable Moments in SCSU Sports, 2011-2012.”

SCSU student wins Cracked Ice competition

SCSU student experiences unexpected victory, Katherine Lofrano, Jan. 29

Flying down the ice at top speed during St. Paul’s Red Bull Crashed Ice championship was something Lakeville graduate and SCSU senior Cameron Naasz had never expected to do.

Wakeboarding, snowboarding, and playing intramural hockey at SCSU are activities Naasz does to keep active in his spare time. After witnessing this Red Bull event the year before, he was interested, but actually participating never had occurred to him.

The final prize was an invitation to join team U.S.A. and participate in the Red Bull Crashed Ice world championship tour including: the Netherlands, Sweden, and Quebec. All expenses are paid in full. He is scheduled to leave on the 31st of January.

The Full Article is found below:

SCSU student experiences an unexpected victory

Posted on 29 January 2012. Tags: , , , , ,

Flying down the ice at top speed during St. Paul’s Red Bull Crashed Ice championship was something Lakeville graduate and SCSU senior Cameron Naasz had never expected to do.

Wakeboarding, snowboarding, and playing intramural hockey at SCSU are activities Naasz does to keep active in his spare time. After witnessing this Red Bull event the year before, he was interested, but actually participating never had occurred to him.

This all changed after his girlfriend read about it in the newspaper and thought it would be something he would be interested in. Unfortunately, it was too late to enter the contest, so he put the idea to the side.

Luckily, a friend who worked for Red Bull got him a prospect pass, which enabled him to compete without participating in the qualifying event.

Check-in started on Wednesday, Jan. 11. By Thursday, participants were able to run the course individually. 97 participants stepped out on the track to practice and by the end of practice, only about 87 skaters were left due to broken bones and dislocations from the track. Safety regulations required all racers to wear full hockey gear, including an approved helmet to compete.

On Thursday night, time trials, also called the National Shootout, began. Other than a few quick falls to his knees, Naasz’s run was clean and quick. Each person was allowed two runs. With a time of 44.19 seconds, Naasz decided to take his chances and pass on his second run. He was later informed that an American and two Canadians had beaten his time, landing him in fourth place.

The International Shootout followed the next morning and then the skaters were ranked and seeded. The rookie Naasz took second place in his first race, advancing him to the next round, which took place Saturday evening. Naasz placed third in his second race on Saturday night, which eliminated him from the competition. He placed 24th overall, out of about 160. Despite the elimination, he was pleased with his performance.

Naasz explained that his favorite part of the whole the event was the starting gate.

Naasz said, “Standing high up on the starting gate next to the St. Paul Cathedral, bright lights, and cheers of 80,000 plus people, there is nothing like it.”

Aside from the experience of being able to participate in such an event, Naasz ended up in first place overall amongst the U.S. skaters and won the title of “Rookie of the Year.” His prize was an “iced out” golden rim trophy and a one year-lease to a Mini Cooper. In addition, he received various gear and apparel.

The final prize was an invitation to join team U.S.A. and participate in the Red Bull Crashed Ice world championship tour including: the Netherlands, Sweden, and Quebec. All expenses are paid in full. He is scheduled to leave on the 31st of January.

In the meantime, Naasz plans to continue working out and preparing for competition by putting in several hours a day in the SCSU Campus Recreation Fitness Center. He turned his recreational interest into a rare opportunity.

Earth Day Run right around the corner

Posted on 25 March 2012. Tags: 2012, fitness, march, march 2012, news, sports, sports and fitness

SCSU’s annual Earth Day Run presented by Scheels is right around the corner. Now is your chance to grab a spot in the line up for the race you always have wanted to try! On the weekend of April 20 and 21, there will be many events will be taking place Friday, followed by the annual Earth Day Run on Saturday. This year there is a new 5K course, which is located closer to the Husky Stadium so viewers are able to watch more closely. The course goes through the university and reaches Lake George. After Lake George, racers make their way back to Husky Stadium. All participants in Saturday’s race will be rewarded with an Asics running shirt. Runners in the 5K Race will receive a cinch bag.


These next articles are stories I wrote and had published in the Delano Herald Journal

Ashley’s Army

May 26, 2008
Brother creates foundation in his sister’s memory
By Katie Lofrano Staff Intern

Ashley Rose McGarry of Delano passed away March 11, 2007, at the age of 16 from tuberous sclerosis, which is a neurological skin disease that causes tumors in the large organs.

Ashley was only 2 months old when she was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis, and she fought through it for her whole life. Her family was there for her the whole time.

She would have to fight through seizures periodically. Ashley took medicine to help slow down the progress of the disease, but she still battled with it.

Ashley had brain surgery one year before she passed away to help remove tumors in her brain. After that, she was in and out of the hospital for about a year to keep an eye on how she was doing.

She also ended up having to get her colon removed after her family found out that it was not working properly. Her family had to bring her to a special home called Rolling Acres to help give her extra care.

Ashley’s brother, Dylan McGarry, said, “Ashley enjoyed listening to music, and liked to go for car rides. She would wait by the door till someone would ask if she wanted to go for a ride.”

Dylan McGarry started a program called Ashley’s Army by Pennies and Beyond in 2004.

Through this program, he hosts concert events to help raise money to donate to Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance to assist others who have the same disease, and to help find a cure for it.

Ashley’s first benefit concert took place in March, and Dylan and his crew raised $250 to donate. They will be hosting another concert Friday, May 30 to help raise additional funds.

The concert will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. at the old city hall in Delano on Bridge Avenue.

Performers at the concert event include bands Blood Root Mother, Mister Fister, Mass Madness, Meat Hook, Monkey Dog Party, and rappers Zach Daddy and Dustmann.

For more information

To learn more about Ashley’s Army by Pennies and Beyond, contact founder Dylan T. McGarry at (612) 716-0250.

The concert will take place Friday, May 30 from 7 to 11 p.m., and feature entertainment by Mister Fister, Blood Root Mother, Dustmann, and more.

Cost is $5 at the door.

Making syrup in Franklin Township

April 14, 2008
By Katie Lofrano Staff Writer

It’s not often that a hobby yields delicious results, but for a local couple, enjoying the finished product is only part of the fun.

MaryAnn and Bill McMullen of Franklin Township make homemade syrup every year as a hobby of theirs.

They usually start in the middle of March, and can collect sap for about six to eight weeks, although they usually do not collect for that long.

MaryAnn grew up in Massachusettes, and saw a lot of places making syrup. Since that time, she had always wanted to try making syrup on her own.

The McMullens give away their syrup as gifts, and also use it themselves.

When they started producing syrup, they received most of their syrup-making supplies from a friend who now no longer makes syrup, but still comes over to help once in a while. They now get all their other supplies online.

The McMullens think this is their seventh year making syrup, but said they are not sure because they have lost count.

There is a time-consuming process to syrup making, and there are are a lot of different steps to it.

It takes a large amount of hard work and careful handling to make even a small amount of syrup.

Forty gallons of sap equals only one gallon of syrup. The McMullens usually make about six gallons of syrup a year.

The couple starts every year by marking all the maple trees in the fall, so they are easier to distinguish in the winter.

In the middle of March, they drill a hole about one inch into the trunks of the maple trees. They replace the hole with a tool that has a special spout that allows the sap to pour out.

On this tool, there is a hook on the bottom where they hang either a bucket or a bag to collect all the sap. Bags keep the sap cleaner by keeping out bugs and other particles.

MaryAnn said they can’t be exact on how long it takes to fill a bucket or bag. They said it depends on the amount of sunlight, or if the weather is really cold, the sap will sometimes freeze.

When the bucket or bag becomes full, they will dump the sap into a larger bin that sits by the trees. They cover the bin with a sheet so the sap does not get heated by the sun and spoil.

When the bin contains a lot of sap, or when it is to the point where it needs to be taken out or it will spoil, it is transported to the fire.

The fire is surrounded by bricks to keep in the heat and works like a stove. On the top, there is a pan where the sap boils and gets hot, and a tin bucket that pre-heats the sap before it goes into the pan. People making syrup do not put cold sap into boiling hot sap.

A lot of the sap will evaporate when it is heated, so they have to refil the pan many times in order to get enough to make syrup. The sap will create a foamy looking substance on top of it when it gets extremely hot. They have to skim this off with a skimmer.

The McMullens check on the sap every so often to make sure the sap is boiling properly. This process is not one that would be easy to do inside a home, as it would make everything inside become sticky.

When the sap is almost done, it is heated until it is only about one inch high, so it does not scorch. At this point, they need to work fast because the more syrupy it gets, the more delicate it becomes. It usually takes about two full days for enough to bring into the house with the size pan and tools they have.

They pour the sap into a large pot on their stove and heat it very carefully. They know when it’s done by using a hydrometer, which measures the density of the liquid.

The hydrometer looks like a thermometer, but has a ball that will float in it to let you know when it is just right. The hydrometer will also stand up straight in the liquid as another sign.

When it is ready, they pour the syrup through a filter device that has a bowl on the bottom to collect the syrup once it goes through it.

Then, they take the syrup and pour it into jars, and it is finally finished homemade syrup.

The first cycle is a cleaner syrup, but it does not taste as much like maple as the cycles after it do.

The McMullens had a maple syrup event auction where people came to their home and learned how to make syrup, with them walking participants through everything step-by-step. The couple had a dinner for everyone after with everything homemade.

The McMullens say that, “Making syrup is a lot of fun, and we look forward to it every year. It is also something to look forward to, because it is the beginning of spring.

Adam Welz helps couples plan the perfect wedding

April 28, 2008
Katie Lofrano Staff Intern

Have you ever wanted to plan the perfect wedding, but didn’t have a lot of time to find vendors, a dress, or amazing wedding ideas? Finally, here is your answer.

Adam Welz has been a DJ for about 10 years. He performs at about 50 weddings per year.

“Weddings are my favorite part, but also being able to DJ for corporate dances is fun, too,” Welz said. “Since being a DJ, it has brought me to nine different states. Recently, I have found out that brides want to get out of the regular wedding entertainment of being sometimes boring, and have it be more fun.”

When Welz realized that there is no real resource for brides, he decided to create a web site. This web site is to lead engaged couples to higher quality vendors, and to make the process of planning the wedding easier.

On this web site, brides can talk to other brides, find vendors, get wedding ideas, and anything one could think of for a wedding, in a matter of minutes.

Welz is also part of Capture Video, a business that specializes in wedding videos and corporate e-commercials. These videos are 30 seconds to three minutes in length, and are videos posted on company web sites.

In 2007, Capture Video received the “knot best of weddings” award.

Wedding videos are getting more popular due to so many more options. Videos capture the emotions more than still photographs do, Welz said. Even a long time after a wedding, memories can still be shared via video with anyone, or the videos can be saved for the couple to watch.

“You will never forget the big day,” Welz said. “Eventually, vision wedding videos will take the place of still pictures. Just do not tell my buddy, Joe McDonald, that.”

Between two companies, Welz’s career in wedding business spans over 100 weddings a year. Welz has experienced and been through a lot of trends for weddings. Welz says,

“One trend I have seen a lot of is the bride and groom will have two outfits for the wedding,” Welz said. “A lot of grooms will put on a new tux for the reception, and the brides will put on a whole new dress.”

Another trend this year is the bride and groom personalizing the first dance.

“I have seen them dancing all nice and suddenly break into an old school move dance, just to be funny,” he said. “One last trend I think is cool is that the head of the party will sit at a round table instead of a square or rectangle one.”

Welz is the president of Central Minnesota Wedding Association, which is a group of dedicated wedding professionals that support and enhance the bridal industry in central Minnesota. The association provides networking and educational opportunities for engaged couples and its members.

For more information, contact Welz at or at (763) 972-6113. Visit for information on wedding planning, for information on the DJ services, and for information on video services.


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