Volume 122, Number 10
New local resort owners close major real estate deal
BY RICHARD PETERSON
What was probably the largest transfer of city real estate in Benson County’s history was consummated March 21 when the assets of Spirit Water Inn of Minnewaukan were sold to three relative newcomers to Minnewaukan.
Steven Jensen Chase, who purchased various properties in Minnewaukan to form the city’s first resort business, sold Spirit Water Inn, lock, stock and barrel to Wisconsin natives Lisa Wold and Mark and Julie Zillmer.
A native of Minnesota, Chase came to this area for the first time in 1998.
He began purchasing property here and by 2002, when he purchased Minnewaukan Residences, a 21-unit apartment complex, he already owned several houses. He hired Lisa Wold to run the resort business for him in 2002. She was a librarian in Sparta, Wisc. for 13 years before changing occupations to work at a resort. Lisa and her daughter, Audrey, came to Minnewaukan on Labor Day in 2002 and worked for Steve until August of 2003 when they returned to Wisconsin. Changing gears again, she went to school to be a massage therapist and graduated a couple months ago. She’ll be taking her national certification test April 29.
But Lisa had a taste of Minne-waukan that she found hard to shake. She liked the beautiful setting on the big lake and enjoyed the rural life here and its people. Although not a big city, her hometown of Black River Falls, Wisc. has a population of about 3,500, so it’s ten times the size of Minnewaukan.
Her friends of more than 25 years, Mark and Julie Zillmer of Black River Falls listened to Lisa tell about Minnewaukan and it awakened a dormant dream the three have had for years. They had always wanted to operate a resort and had actually looked into purchasing one even before Lisa came to Minnewaukan. After thinking it over, Lisa telephoned Steve and asked him if he was interested in selling. He said he was interested and the negotiations began. It took about six weeks before the deal was made on March 21.
Mark and Julie both worked for Mosser Lee, a processing plant for sphagnum moss, which is used as bedding material for garden centers and nurseries.
Julie ran the office for 21 years and Mark worked there 32 years in all aspects of the business from harvesting the moss to packaging it. He did a lot of maintenance of machinery and plant at Mosser Lee, experience which will serve him well in the tasks he will now face.
The Zillmers have only one regret about moving to Minnewaukan. They have three grown children and two grandchildren back in Wisconsin. But just think about how much fun those grandchildren are going to have visiting Grandpa and Grandma at the resort!
At present Mark is on crutches recovering from broken bones he suffered in a fall March 19. He was carrying firewood into the Helberg House, when he slipped on some ice and broke both his tibia and fibula just above the ankle. He’s got rods and screws holding his leg together and the bone is growing over the rods. "If I fall again, I’ll bend that leg, but it can’t break with that rod in there," Mark says.
While Mark is laid up Leonard Laber and Allan Nord are volunteers who do the heavy work for him. Leonard is a fishing guide and the ice is still on the lake, but it’s not strong enough to support a fisherman. So he hasn’t got anything better to do anyway. He’ll be providing guide service for people staying at Spirit Water Inn.
Cleo Bachmeier and Cathy Nord are housekeepers who will keep the 32 one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units clean.
The three resort owners have a pretty good idea of what they own in Minnewaukan, but sometimes they’re surprised to find that they own this lot or that lot. Chase accumulated a significant amount of property.
The crowning jewel of their purchase is the Helberg House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house of fieldstone, glass and pressed straw built in 1959 by banker V.A. Helberg. Larry and Gert Berg lived in the house several years and made additions to it, but it will probably always be known as the Helberg House. This beautiful house will be used for clients of the resort.
They also have a bed and breakfast license which will be put to good use.
Mark and Julie live in the big blue house at the corner of US 281 and Main Street. They call it the Blue Carriage House for the carriage emblem which adorns the shutters. This was the home of Henry and Anna Kolsrud for many years and locals naturally call it the Kolsrud House. Old-timers refer to it as the Cubbison House. Cubbison was an early day druggist in Minnewaukan.
Lisa and her daughter Audrey, a junior at Minnewaukan High School, live in the house south of Randy’s Bait Shop on US 281. This building also serves as the resort’s office. It was originally the Aaker House and some of the residents in the past 50 years were Supt. and Mrs. Eugene Wallestad, Les and Laura Strand, Vic and Hildegarde Eberhart and Todd and Shelly Laverdure, among others. The new owners just call it The Yellow House, although it’s not really yellow.
The largest complex is the former Minnewaukan Residences which was originally built for low income people. It’s perfect for use as a motel.
Some of the apartments are occupied by long-term residents, and that’s fine with the new owners. Lisa is planning to use unit A, the most southerly unit facing US 281, for her massage therapy practice.
Another house they own is the big white house on the east side of US 281 on Main Street. Originally known as the Hegge House, it was the home of V.A.
Helberg before he built his new home in 1959. The Vernon Sturlaugsons lived there for many years. It’s presently occupied by long-term renters.
The complex near the water tower has several apartments that can be filled with resort guests. Across the street is what they call "Dad’s House." This was the former home of Judge O.D. Comstock. Barber and beautician B.A. and Frances Mellum lived there many years and in later years Gertrude Gregor lived there when her daughter, Gertrude Berg, lived in the Helberg House.
The parsonage house on US 281 beside the stone church, which now houses the Minnewaukan Museum, is another house which can be used by resort guests.
Property owned by the resort on Main Street includes the former Minnewaukan Motors building, the former Waukan Inn and the cafe building, which was occupied by a number of operators. Ira and Eva Butters probably were there longer than any others.
They also own an RV park in the south part of town and several parcels in town with RV hookups, to say nothing of many lots with no water or sewer.
There’s absolutely no question the three partners are the largest property owners in Minnewaukan.
They’re really happy about coming to Minnewaukan to make their longtime dreams come true. Mark says he’s just floored to find so many people being so nice to them. "I never experienced such care and concern as demonstrated by your ambulance people when I broke my leg," he says. "Everybody’s been so nice to us," he exclaims with some surprise.
April is generally a slow month for resorts, but they’ve been surprised to be providing housing for construction workers finishing the outlet to Devils Lake. This summer five contractors are expected to be working on rerouting US 281 west of Minnewaukan, so they should help keep the facilities occupied.
Reservations at Spirit Water Inn Resort are available by calling toll-free
877-305-1528 or 701-473-2587. They will pick up guests coming by airplane or train at Devils Lake. They also have three boats for rent and provide full guide service for hunters and fishermen.
The new owners of Spirit Water Inn Resort in Minnewaukan are Lisa Wold, left, and Mark and Julie Zillmer. The Wisconsin natives moved to Minnewaukan and completed what is probably the largest transfer of city real estate in Benson County’s history.
Stevenson earns Eagle rank
Matt Stevenson, son of Sid and Paulette Stevenson of Maple Grove, Minn., has earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. Matt is the grandson of Boyd and Della Stevenson of Leeds and Lois Harrison of Detroit Lakes, Minn. Matt has been a member of Boy Scout Troop 531 since 1998.
To achieve this honor, a Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges including
12 required badges and complete an Eagle Service Project. The Eagle Scout project demonstrates leadership skills by planning, organizing and completing a project that will benefit the community or charitable organization. Matt worked with the city of Maple Grove to organize adults and Scouts on a service project of the removal of a noxious shrub, buckthorn, from a community park and pathway. On Sunday, April 10 he was presented his Eagle badge at an Eagle Court of Honor at the Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove.
An avid outdoorsman, he has enjoyed countless outdoor adventures and has logged over 100 nights of camping. His adventures have taken him to the
2001 National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Many Point Scout Camp (five times), winter camping at Okpik in Ely, Minn., canoeing in the BWCA of northern Minnesota for a week, hiking Lake Superior trails and many weekend campouts with his troop.
He is a senior at Osseo Senior High and an honor roll student. After graduation he plans to attend either the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology Engineering or Iowa State University’s College of Engineering.
Attends funeral for Pope
This area was represented at the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome by James Lease, grandson of Bill and Elaine Godman of Churchs Ferry. James, a student at the Pontifical College of North America is studying to be a priest. He is the seventh person from the left with the beard. He is pictured with priests and future priests who participated in the choir at the funeral. James is the son of Ed and Judy (Godman) Lease of Catawissa, Pa.
The annual Named Endowment Recognition Event was held Feb. 17 at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake. The Named Endowment Recognition Event is sponsored by the Community College Foundation, which supports Lake Region State College. One of the recipients of the Olger Sandven Scholarship was Krista Beausoliel (center), a 2002 graduate of Pekin High School. She is the daughter of Anne and Ron Goff of Minnewaukan. On the left is Dorothy (Mrs. Roger) Sandven and on the right is Roger Sandven, brother of Olger Sandven.
The other recipient of the Olger Sandven Scholarship was Loretta Wangler of Leeds (center). She is a native of Austin, Tex. and is enrolled in the practical nursing program. On the left is Anne Longnecker, representing the scholarship, and Dean Wangler, husband of Loretta Wangler. In spite of, or maybe because of his own formal education’s end at the eighth grade, Olger loved to provide scholarships for others. With brothers Kenneth and Roger, Olger established this scholarship which aims to serve Benson County students in their second years at Lake Region State College.
4-H ribbon winners
The 2005 Benson County 4-H Communication Arts, Consumer Choices and Project Expo events were held Saturday, April 2 at the Maddock School. There were more participants this year than in the past. Judges were Flo Kallenbach, Gloria Kleven, Karen Mitzel and Donna Rice. Project Expo winners, left to right, were Anne Backstrom, grand champion, teen; Kristine Keller, blue ribbon, preteen; and Janna Rice, grand champion, preteen. Not pictured is Andy Backstrom, blue ribbon, teen.
Consumer Choices winners are pictured left to right, back row, Preston Gilderhus, reserve champion, preteen; Anne Backstrom, reserve champion, teen; Jordan Backstrom, blue ribbon, teen; Elliot Gunderson, grand champion, teen; Joshua Blegen, red ribbon, 8 to 10-year-olds; Cody Hoffert, grand champion, preteen; Zachery Johnson, honorable mention, preteen; and Jaden Kallenbach, red ribbon, 8 to 10-year-olds. Middle row: Megan Wald, reserve champion, 8 to 10-year-olds; Katie Rice, grand champion, 8 to 10-year-olds; Ben Backstrom, blue ribbon, preteen; and Jesse Hoffert, blue ribbon, 8 to 10-year-olds. Front row: Kristine Keller, blue ribbon, preteen; Janna Rice, blue ribbon, preteen; Jessica Johnson, blue ribbon, 8 to 10-year-olds; Kya Knoke, red ribbon, 8 to 10-year-olds; and Logan Gunderson, blue ribbon, preteen. Not pictured are Paul Rice, red ribbon, teen and Jenae Johnson, red ribbon, 8 to 10-year-olds.
Communication Arts winners are, left to right, back row, Cody Hoffert, blue ribbon, preteen, interpretative reading; Jenae Johnson, grand champion, preteen, interpretative reading and honorable mention, preteen, demonstration; Ben Backstrom, reserve champion, preteen, commercial; Anne Backstrom, grand champion teen, interpretative reading and grand champion teen, short take; Janna Rice, grand champion, preteen, commercial; and Kristine Keller, grand champion, preteen, commercial. Front row: Cooper Knoke, cloverbud ribbon; Katie Rice, blue ribbon, preteen, interpretative reading; Jessica Johnson, honorable mention, preteen, interpretative reading; and Kya Knoke, honorable mention, preteen, interpretative reading.
Not pictured are Andy Backstrom, grand champion, teen, broadcasting and reserve champion, teen, short take.
The Maddock Economic Development Corporation Gaming Trust presented donations to several organizations April 8. A $150 donation was given to the Maddock Public Library for operating and book expenses. Pictured is Donna Rice accepting the check on behalf of the library.
A $150 donation was given to the Kids on the Block child care facility for operating expenses. Pictured are Logan Gigstad, Madyson Sears and Kevin Johnson.
A $75 donation was made to the Benson County Amateur Radio Club. Pictured is Mark Motis of Minnewaukan accepting the check on behalf of the club.
A $75 donation was made to the Minnewaukan School’s O.W.L.S. Project.
Pictured are Brandon Cartier, Elizabeth Cartier, Jordan Every, Sydney Every, Austin Erickson, Emma Thompson and Evan Thompson.