Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Jeff and Deanna Vichorek named grand marshals


Lois E. Johnson

Deanna and Jeff Vichorek are this year's Moose Lake Fourth of July grand marshals.

Deanna and Jeff Vichorek, 51-year residents of Moose Lake, have had a hand in creating the community that Moose Lake is today. Because of their roles in the community, the couple has been chosen as grand marshals of the city's Fourth of July parade by the Moose Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

"We moved to Moose Lake in August 1966 with our five kids and bought the only house in town that was available," wrote Jeff in the notes about their lives. "We bought the house as a temporary residence but we are still in it 51 years later."

Deanna added during an interview that they have remodeled and added to the home over the years.

Jeff also owns other properties outside the city, where he has tree farms, providing Christmas trees to buyers during the season.

Jeff told many stories about the accomplishments for the community that he had been a part of as he served two terms on the Park Board and one four-year term on the city council.

"When I was on the city council, we had nine coffee cans catching water during a meeting," he said. "The city offices were in the old hospital at that time, and it needed a new roof.

"We had no money and we were looking for sources of funding a new roof. We asked the water and light commission for funds for a roof.

"Warren Weske was in charge at the time and he said that the city couldn't have any money. Jon Brown dug in the achieves and found something that said the city could get money from them. We got $25,000 from them and got the roof replaced.

"We did all kinds of things. We got windows replaced in the city hall and got a lift station replaced. Sometimes, there would be conflict between us councilors, but Clayton Hartman (mayor at that time) laid the law down. He was an excellent referee."

Another big project was to replace the air-filled bubble that housed the hockey program at the time.

"Clayton and I took trips to Buffalo and Sauk Rapids, where we looked at what they had," said Jeff. "I liked the one in Buffalo and that resulted in the arena that we have today.

"If Clayton could go there now and see all of the events that are going on, he would be pleased. The smartest thing that the city did was to hire a manager. Guyal Nelson does a great job of bringing events to the arena."

During his years on the city council, Jeff was assigned the sewers and acquired a nickname.

"I was known as the Sewer Czar," he said. "Chuck Armstrong was the head of the street department and he knew about sewers because he had worked with that in Mankato. We ended up replacing almost 1,000 feet of force main pipe. We also set up a plan to continue sewer replacements, but that fell by the wayside over the years."

Deanna saw the same thing happen when she served on the Moose Lake School Board from 1978 to 1981.

"We approved repairs and maintenance for the school and we set up a plan and set aside money for an ongoing maintenance schedule," she said. "But that wasn't continued by later boards. They were talking about an elevator and the athletic cooperative when I was on the board."

Jeff said there had been a plan to build a new school on property just west of the city.

"It would only have cost $6 million," added Jeff. "That was the most logical plan that I've seen. It was the perfect site. But that referendum lost by just a few votes. People were afraid that the school buses would get hit by trains on the Soo track. They didn't consider the kids coming from Kettle River."

Deanna was employed by the state hospital for seven years and worked the night shift, according to the notes. She was also a legal secretary for the Newby-Dodge Law Firm for eight years.

When the state was de-institutionalizing treatment methods, the state hospital was threatened, which would have meant the loss of jobs. A Coalition of Concerned Citizens was formed to save the state hospital. Deanna was secretary of the coalition.

She was last employed by Carlton Saw as a jack-of-all trades until her retirement.

Both Jeff and Deanna have been involved in other community organizations.

With five children in sports, the couple attended all of their games, from grade school to college.

They had a lasting impact when they got involved in the hockey program.

"The guys had a team when I came to town," Jeff recalled. "They asked me to see if I could find out how to start a hockey association. I got in contact with someone in Cloquet, and he headed us in the right direction. We had 17 kids the first time.

"Today the arena sits down there. So many people were involved, and it was so much fun. It was all charity."

Deanna told a story about a time she was able to help. "I had bought a piece of fabric," she said. "They had an old Zamboni and there was a pipe on it that needed a cloth attached to it. I took that fabric and made it to fit and they used it that way for many years."

Jeff summed up their involvement by saying, "We exploited every opportunity that we were given."

Deanna and Jeff Vichorek will be celebrating their 60th anniversary on July 29 at their home on Second Street.

They expressed their feelings about being chosen as grand marshals. "We appreciate this from the chamber," said Jeff. "This is really an honor."


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