Six years of memories and fun mixed with hard work and some difficult decisions have been boxed up, hauled to Columbus and now await the arrival of their owner, Fr. Ross Burkhalter.
Earlier this year, Fr. Ross was notified that he was being moved to St. Anthony Catholic Church in Columbus. Fr. Ross visited Tuesday morning with The Elgin Review, looking back on his years serving the communities of Elgin and Raeville.
“I didn’t really know much about Elgin,” Burkhalter said of when he first came to town. He did know ‘of’ Elgin which, being a self-professed ‘city boy’ he considers an accomplishment he said as he laughed.
According to Burkhalter, the combined parishes of St. Boniface and St. Bonaventure “probably tie for the smallest parish I have served.” St. Anthony’s will be bigger and is one of the two older parishes, made up predominantly of people of Polish descent. “We have a Polka Mass,” he explained. “I do know some polish - not a lot but enough to get by.” He also mentioned that the priest from Schuyler travels to Columbus to do the Spanish Mass.
Did the size of Elgin present any particular challenges?
“The challenges were typical,” he said. He then went on to point out what he considered the more difficult projects he had to address.
“We had the moving of the two schools into one building, the demolition of the St. Boniface school building and, of course, the asbestos challenge with the gym,” he said.
Those challenges pale though when he compared them to the positives he found in the two small communities.
“The memories… I have been amazed by the generosity of the people,” Fr. Burkhalter said. “The general friendliness of the people in Elgin and Raeville. Once they (people) know you like them, they warm up to you.”
He noted that the Elgin Q125 celebration will long be remembered by him. “It’s a big deal for a community, the pride that went into that celebration.”
He also has been impressed by the determination that he has found in the small communities. “In Raeville, I was so impressed-the way they banded together to do the work on the interior of the church. It’s amazing, the generosity it took to be able to get the money, to do the window work… it looks like it did when it was built.”
Fr. Ross revisited a statement he made at his farewell gathering several weeks ago as he tried to sum up his years in the community, “This doesn’t happen everywhere,” he said.
“I’ve been blown away by how good people were - to me, to the churches, to the schools. Their faithfulness is amazing. They have a good sense of community. They are so supportive of the schools, of their teams.”
It’s been said that each priest and person in ministry brings a specific talent to the people they serve.
“Probably my ‘talent’ was being able to listen - what is our need? How do we do this? I would say that I like people to have as much ownership as possible in their churches,” he said. “I’m just there to guide them.”
Fr. Ross’s last masses will be this weekend in the two parishes.
As he prepares to head southward out of Elgin for one last time, he wants to thank the people.
“Thanks for a wonderful six years and all the memories I take with me,” he said. “Thanks for all the kindness.”
The last weekend in June is always one of anticipation in Elgin. Simply put — It’s “Alumni Weekend.”
Elgin High School and St. Boniface High School will hold separate alumni banquets.
For St. Boniface alumni, they will gather at the Knights of Columbus Hall. It will mark the 73rd annual banquet. The evening will begin with Mass at St. Boniface Catholic Church at 5:30 p.m. Social hour will start at 6:30 p.m. with dinner to follow. No tickets will be sold at the door. Honored classes are 1941, 1946, 1951, 1956, 1961 and 1966.
The public school’s alumni banquet will be held in the air-conditioned Elgin High School gymnasium. An open house will be held at the school from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. EHS alumni are invited to join St. Boniface alumni for social hour prior to the evening banquet.
The EHS banquet will begin promptly at 7 p.m in the school gymnasium. Honored classes will be 1936, 1946, 1956, 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996, 2006 and 2016.
Each event promises to be a time to exchange warm embraces and share memories of another time, not that long ago, when they walked the halls of their respective schools.
Welcome Home Alumni!
Long anticipated and never duplicated, the annual Elgin Vetch Days celebration is just days away. Activities begin Saturday and will conclude Wednesday night. Some events will be new, some are favorites from past years. All will provide entertainment for all ages.
A new event to be held in conjunction with Vetch Days will be the first ever Elgin T-N-T (Treasures-N-Trunk) on Saturday, June 25. To be held at the Elgin United Methodist Church south parking lot, it will be similar to a flea market with items, vendors and more. It will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Garage sales begin at the end of this week (Friday and Saturday in most cases). The annual community-wide garage sales are held on St. Boniface/Elgin High School alumni weekend.
The official Vetch Days activities begin on Sunday.
Rise and shine early on Sunday to take part in the Ron Wilkinson Benefit Breakfast. Beginning at 8 am at the EPS gymnasium, organizers will be serving a breakfast fit for kings. Proceeds at the free will offering breakfast will help offset medical costs for the Wilkinsons.
An Antique Tractor Pull & Northeast Nebraska Pullers will be competing Sunday afternoon in Elgin.
Being held at 405 Myrtle Street, behind the Steepleview apartments, at least four bounce houses will also be set up at 11 am with all day (until 5 pm) wristbands available for $5.
Antique tractors will pull the Little Red Sled at noon. Following that, around 3 p.m., the Northeast Nebraska Pullers will compete, pulling the Big Red Sled.
During the afternoon, also for children, there will be a kids train as well as a kids pedal pull. The Kiddie Pedal Pull is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. A food stand will be on site for those wanting a delicious lunch.
Another activity during the afternoon, Boomerang’s will host a co-ed sand volleyball tournament at Elgin City Park. Competition begins at 2:30 p.m. The volleyball court has been a popular spot during Vetch Days in past years and will be again this year.
Sunday evening activities will take place at the Elgin KC Hall. Members of the Young-N-Lively organization will be hosting a wine tasting benefit for the Elgin Swimming Pool. Tickets are nearly sold out for the event which is scheduled to get underway at 6:30 p.m. Jim’s Fine Wines of Norfolk will be serving up and discussing wines for the event from which all profits will go to the Elgin Swimming Pool Fund which, to this date, has risen more than $1.2 million for a new pool.
For the complete story, see the print edition of The Elgin Review.
June 17, 2016 by lmorgan · Comments Off
Two men with local ties to the Elgin area were among more than 500 who flew to Washington, D.C., last week as part of the Vietnam Honor Flight.
Marvin Meis of Elgin and Jerry Stamp of Clearwater boarded a flight to our nation’s capital early Monday morning, June 6. Once there, they visited the Vietnam War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and other monuments in the city before returning home to a hero’s welcome at Eppley Airport later that night. Meis served in the Army and Stamp was a member of the Marines.
When the honor flight landed in D.C., there were two lines of people 1.5 blocks long to greet them. One of the first people Meis met in D.C. was Tara Dinslage, a 2007 graduate of PJCC who happens to be the daughter of Brian and Kathy Dinslage. She works at CHI Health Bergan Mercy Medical Center as a medical laboratory scientist. She was there to assist veterans making the trip in wheel chairs. Later, Meis recognized former Elgin resident Bruce Dinslage as one of the veterans on the trip.
Honor flight participants then received a police escort to the Lincoln Memorial.
Meis, making his first trip to our nation’s capital, said Monday night his favorite part of the trip was to visit the Vietnam Wall. The Wall has the name of every man who died in Vietnam inscribed. Meis said he took rubbings of two of names of men he knew who never came home.
On the trip, he joined many whom he served with in the war. One other person he met in D.C. was Vietnam veteran and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. He described Hagel, a native Nebraskan, as “very gracious” when Meis shook his hand and introduced himself.
Another part of the trip was a visit to Arlington National Cemetery where they saw the changing of the guard at The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. “I was impressed with the discipline of the guards at the cemetery,” he said. He said the precision was incredible, noting that it takes the soldier six hours just to get ready (shoes, clothing, etc.). Honor flight attendees were allowed into Arlington in buses, something that is strictly prohibited except for rare instances such as the honor flight. Everyone else enters the national cemetery on foot.
Other monuments the delegation visited included the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial and Air Force Memorial before boarding planes to return to Omaha.
Meis, part of the white delegation, said the “welcome home” the soldiers received was “unbelievable.”
“It was unbelievable the number of people who were on hand to greet the returning veterans.
“It was a big difference from what it was 50 years ago (the welcome home),” he said.
Meis was accompanied to Omaha by his wife Jodine Meis. Their children include Eric and Ben Meis, both of Elgin; Bart Meis of Winside; and Monica McMahon of Omaha.
Trip “Emotional” For Stamp
Stamp’s tie to the community is that he is the father of Chris Stamp of Elgin.
For Stamp, 70, the trip was both very enjoyable and very emotional, according to his son Chris Stamp. “It was always something he wanted to do, to see the Vietnam Wall,” the younger Stamp said about his father. “Being around others (who served in Vietnam), he liked that.”
Stamp was part of the delegation of Vietnam veterans wearing red shirts, others wore white or blue shirts as part of the honor flight.
Like Meis, Stamp was moved by the emotional “welcome home” when they flew back into Omaha.
For many of the soldiers the “welcome” was far different from when they first came home from the war. Jerry spent approximately 13 months on active duty in Vietnam during the mid-1960s.
“He told me it was better late than never,” Chris Stamp said about the hero’s welcome they received late Monday night.
Stamp was accompanied to Omaha by his wife Sharon. They have three children: Chris of Elgin, Brett of St. Paul, NE; and Geri Jo Dyrdal of Omaha.
June 17, 2016 by lmorgan · Comments Off
Meeting last week, the District #18 Board of Education moved forward on one project and put off “til next year” another project.
The school board, on a five to zero vote (board member Steve Busteed was absent) voted to go forward with construction of a parking lot to be located on the east side of the school gymnasium. As reported last month, the parking lot will be approximately 60’ by 200’ and will have stairs. Entry to the gymnasium will remain on the west side of the structure.
Earlier this month, the Elgin City Council approved a building permit for the parking lot.
Work is expected to begin on the parking lot in the coming weeks.
Then there’s the project which won’t get done this year. As previously reported, the school district had planned to remove sod from the football field and do dirt work which would lessen the crown and fill in low spots. The plan was to remove the sod one day and have the dirt work done, then re-install the sod the following day. Originally scheduled for April, the weather did not cooperate and it became too late in the season, according to Superintendent Dan Polk.