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KIM KUECHENMEISTER rode in her first TRAM (The Ride Across Minnesota) from July 14-18. Kim is pictured above wearing the T-shirt that each participant received. The ride started in Pipetone and finished at Welch Village in Red Wing.

Kuechenmeister rides in this year’s Ride Across MN

The Ride Across Minnesota (TRAM), a five-day bike tour that was held on Sunday, July 13, through Friday, July 18 had a local connection with Kim Kuechenmeister of Odessa taking part in the ride.

The approximately 300 mile ride started in Pipestone, with stops in Marshall, Redwood Falls, St. Peter, New Prague and ending at Welch Village in Red Wing.

Kim stated that she became interested in the ride after Sheila Hoernemann of Ortonville, who has participated in previous rides, spoke at her church about how good of an experience it is.

“Sheila gave a presentation and showed pictures of the TRAM Ride and I thought that would be a terrific experience,” said Kuechenmeister. “So, I decided to try it and it was a lot  of fun. I didn’t do the camping experience, but all in all, it was fun.”

Although she hadn’t done a lot of biking, she relied on the wisdom of those who have rode the TRAM and borrowed a bike from Tom Dorry of Ortonville to use on the ride.

“I had a Mountain Bike that I was going to use, but was told that they had too wide of tires for the ride, so Tom’s bike had narrower tires and it worked great. No bike breakdowns,” said Kim.

Over 700 bikers participated in the TRAM this year and Kim stated that she left early in the morning and went at her own pace.

The weather was good for the entire ride. The only rain was on that Monday night after everyone had completed the first day. From then on, the weather was perfect. Not to hot, just very comfortable.

Along the route, Kim met a couple from California, that she met most evenings at supper time.

“It seemed whenever it was time to eat, I would run into them. They were very nice people.”

Kim commented that the communities and people along the way were very hospitable. There was lots of food and entertainment and everyone was very kind.

The trip uses a combination of paved bike trails and selected, scenic highways, and is host to a large number of families and bicycling teams who make this their summer vacation.

Kim went on to say that the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society does a wonderful job of organizing the event.

“They have the route mapped out where you can stop along the way with snacks, water and other items you may need,” said Kim. “They also have Ride Marshalls that ride along to make sure everything is going well for the riders. I can’t say enough about how well the ride is organized.

The last time the TRAM started in Ortonville was in 2009. Kim stated that she doesn’t know where TRAM will start next year, but she highly recommends that people give it a try.

“If your up for a challenge, I would recommend to ride the TRAM,” said Kim. “It is a great experience and I am glad I did it.”

Kim said she plans on riding in next year’s TRAM no matter where it starts.

Ortonville School Board approves teaching, coaching contracts

Ortonville School Board members approved teaching and coaching contracts for the 2014-2015 school year at their monthly board meeting on Monday, July 21.

Joan Foley and Jason Barse were hired as Co-Head varsity volleyball coaches. Superintendent Jeff Taylor stated that both had applied for the position, and after meeting with both Joan and Jason, they agreed to share the position. Taylor stated that they will still need to hire one junior high volleyball coach.

School Board members then approved the hiring of Aaron Knutson as ninth grade football coach.

The board approved contracts for Kimberly Quast as High School Counselor and Raquel Martinez as Art Instructor.

The Ortonville School will be sharing the art teacher position with the Wheaton School again this year. Martinez had been student teaching in New Zealand and according to Taylor was highly recommended by the Wheaton School. The art class schedule will remain the same, with classes held in the afternoon.

Quast will be a first time counselor and  has been doing her internship this past school year at Frazee High School

A contract was approved with Jon Fellows to teach two periods of Social Science classes. Fellows was previously teaching four classes, but they were able to make adjustments to cover two but not four. This contract is similar to other contracts the district had with former retired teachers.

The contract of Ivy Lovgren was amended to add two periods as an Instructional Aide in the junior high area for math. She will be teaching one period of eighth grade math.

The Board designated the Ortonville Independent as the official district newspaper and also designated the official depositories for district funds. They include CenBank, Minnwest Bank, Wells Fargo, First State Bank of Big Stone City, SD, Fransdsen Bank and Trust in Clinton, Minnesota Liquid Asset Fund, US Bank Corporate Trust Services, Bank of America and the State Bank of Bellingham.

Participation fees will remain the same, as the board approved the fees of $30 for junior high and $60 for high school, with a family cap of $240.

The board approved the Holiday Station Store as their gas vendor, Western Consolidated as diesel vendor and Dean Foods Land O’ Lakes as the dairy vendor. Also approved was an agreement to participate with the SW/WC Service Coop program for bakery products.

Per Diem wages for school board members were approved. They will remain the same as last year, with board members receiving $40 for in-town meetings and the board chair receiving $50. The out of town meeting rate is $70.

Lunch prices for the 2014-15 school year will remain the same as last year. During this past legislative session, a bill was passed that will treat all reduced priced meals as free. Families will still have to fill out the papers to determine if they qualify for free or reduced meals because this is a federal program. The State of Minnesota will pay the costs of the reduced meals. this will require the school to track those that qualify for reduced meals and get that information to the State for payment.

In other business, the board approved the Public Employees Insurance Program (PEIP) as the Ortonville School Districts health plan provider. Last month the board reviewed and discussed three options for the school’s group health plan. If was felt that PEIP was the best option.

A tuition agreement with the Big Stone City School was approved.

The board approved an agreement with Big Stone Physical Therapies for their services for the upcoming school year.

The next meeting of the Ortonville School Board will be held on Monday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. in the school library.