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Looking Back - Aug. 2 edition

Rick and Shirley Umberger stand on their dock on Hoffman Lake, next to the pontoon they use to take kids fishing at their new camp, called Feed the Fish. Marie Nitke/FOCUS

20 years ago

• TRAM-stop at the Sue and Mark Dombeck farm:

It was still early in the morning when the first bicyclists arrived at the Sue and Mark Dombeck farm. Two here, two there, then more and more groups trickling into their farmyard along Highway 60 north of Perham. Soon a trickle became a wave, then a chrome-rubber-and-sweat tidal wave that eventually numbered 1,400.

The TRAM had arrived at the Dombeck's...or "The Ride Across Minnesota," a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, their ninth annual.

Each rider raised pledges of $150 or more to be able to participate in the 310-mile event that began Monday morning and was to end Friday.

By 11 a.m. they were all gone, on to the next rest sto[pand eventually to Wadena for an overnight stay.

In between the starting and ending trickles, volunteers served up gallons of juice and cases of fruit to the thirsty/hungry crew. Many of the volunteers were members of the local MS support chapter, on hand to help with the state fundraiser.

The stop at the Dombeck farm came about for one simple reason, Sue explained. They were on the TRAM route that had left DL that morning and headed south to Vergas, then east along Highway 60, right past the Dombeck's.

"I got a call last spring from an organizer. They said our farm was about the right distance and was on the right side of the road. They asked if they could use our yard for a rest stop and if I could find some volunteers to serve Gatorade and refreshments."

Sue checked with Mark to make sure there would be no problems with the farming operation. "If there would be machinery coming and going, it wouldn't be a good idea," she said. "But Mark said it would be a good time of the year and it wouldn't conflict with the dairy because that's in another yard."

• Little Pine, Big Pine Associations purchase Hydrolab:

On-lake water sampling on Big and Little Pine Lakes is about to begin again, after the two lake associations, along with the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), joined together to purchase a sophisticate Hydrolab unit.

Two different types of water testing have taken place on Big and Little Pine Lakes in recent years:

Water samples have been taken at river inlets and outlets to the two lakes, such as in the Otter Tail and toad River. The sampling process is relatively simple because volunteers can gather them from the riverbank.

Water samples have been taken from various points on the lake, using a highly-specialized (and expensive) piece of equipment known as a Hydrolab. High school science students took these samples, under the guidance of Les Gunderson. The Hydrolab unit was on loan from the United States Geological Service for roughly two years and when the unit had to be returned the on-lake samples ended.

Now those on-lake samples will begin again, under the guidance of Gunderson.

Carl Annalora has been heavily involved in the water quality student of the two lakes every since the early 90's when a Lake Assessment Program (LAP) on Big Pine showed the lake was suffering from having too many suspended solids - nitrates and phosphates.

Carl was at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Lakes Association this spring and found out that the manufacturers of Hydrolab were offered the units to lake associations at a substantial discount.

Three bodies are sharing the $4,700 cost:

-$1,500 from Little Pine Association

-$1,500 from Big Pine Association

-$1,700 from BWSR

From the Thursday, July 30, 1998, Perham Enterprise Bulletin

5 years ago

• New camp helps kids 'Feed the Fish':

It's said that every amateur angler will at first "feed the fish" by losing their worms in the water before learning how to reel one in the right way.

That was the idea behind the name of Rick and Shirley Umberger's new camp for kids in rural Dent, Feed the Fish.

With many kids at the camp fishing for the first time, the couple said they figured there'd be a lot of "fish feeding" going on.

That's just fine with the Umbergers. In fact, that's the whole point - to help kids learn how to fish, and to give them the opportunity to swim tube, kayak, jet ski, pontoon, camp out and just have an all-around great time in the great outdoors.

Intended especially for kids who wouldn't otherwise have the chance to do these kinds of things, Freed the fish is the brainchild - and calling - of the Umbergers. For years, they talked about living on a lake in the area and they also wanted to give back to others. Feed the Fish is helping them achieve both these life goals.

"The idea of giving back led us to this," said Rick during an interview with the Umbergers last week. "Knowing that we're here to serve others; knowing that we need to do that - not just talk about it, but do it."

The couple recently moved to Hoffman Lake. This is their first summer offering Feed the Fish.

They've been focusing on getting the word out about their camp, distributing brochures in some local churches and to families who receive food assistance through a program at Northwoods Assembly. They've also created a website and plan to start working more closely with local schools and children's programs like Kinship Mentoring. Eventually, Rick said, they'd like to reach out to foster children and kids from all over the region, offering the camp as a place to have fun and be safe.

• Mike Kunza takes over as Principal at St. Paul's School:

The upcoming school year will be Mike Kunza's first as Principal of St. Paul's Lutheran School in Perham.

Kunza is a graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead and has 13 years of classroom experience - 13 years of which were spent in the third and fourth-grade classroom at St. Paul's.

Like outgoing Principal Bonnie Stohs, Kunza will continue to teach, splitting his time between the classroom and administrative duties.

In a telephone interview last week, Kunza said his main goal for the upcoming school year is "to get through the first year with the previous set-up and we'll look at implementing any changes after that."

Kunza characterized his leadership style by saying that he "lets teachers teach."

"I'm excited about the change in direction of my career," he said.

From the Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, Perham Focus

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