History of the Sartell Senior Connection

In June 2006 St. Cloud State University conducted a survey of Sartell residents to determine their desires for the Sartell community of the future. The response included overwhelming support for an organization, programs and a Senior Center for a senior friendly community.

In Fall 2007 many local seniors and community leaders attended the first publicized senior informational meeting at the Sartell City Hall. The enthusiastic efforts of many and a “name contest” created the “Sartell Senior Connection” in March 2008. Sartell seniors achieved the beginning of a dream.

Under the umbrella of Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education, the Sartell Senior Connection is now in the next phase of development. It is promoting programs and activities independently and with community partners. Programs use existing community buildings and talents as resources to provide the most efficient environment for senior activities.

Due to increased enrollment in the School District's classes, the District renovated the District Service Center to accommodate preschool/early childhood classes in addition to District Offices.  Because of the renovations the Sartell Senior Connection Center (SSC Center) was vacated for six months from June until November 2012 and the furniture and other materials were put into storage. 

On the last day in October SSC items were removed from the storage facility and moved to the new SSC space.  Even though the new space is much smaller than the former SSC Center, there are several multi-purpose rooms that seniors may utilize when they are not being used for District purposes. Since school enrollment is still increasing the SSC Center located on School District property may be temporary. 

There are approximately 700 members in the database and many regularly attend SSC activities. 

In 2013, the Sartell Senior Connection reactivated its SSC center planning committee to promote the need for a "Sartell Community Center" for all residents.  The mission of this group is to move the process of building a center along. 

Shortly after the SSC center planning meeting in 2013, the Sartell Senior Connection Board met and voted to sign a lease for space at DeZurik Company.  The two year lease for 2014 and 2015 was signed. This allowed for storage of items donated to SSC.  The items are book shelving from a former Borders Book Store, chapel chairs from Country Manor, and exercise equipment. Some SSC activities take place at the DeZurik SSC space. 

In November 2014 Sartell voters approved an extension of the half-cent sales tax. Plans for some of these funds will include a community resource facility (community center) that includes senior center space. These are exciting times for SSC!

 The future is bright as the Sartell Senior Connection strives to enhance the creative, health, educational and social endeavors for seniors. Everyone is invited to join in the excitement and meet people attending SSC activities. 


Armistice Day blizzard comes to mind after storm!
Submitted by Bill Morgan

As I sat by my window Monday watching the blowing snow, I was reminded of another blizzard — on Nov. 11, 1940, when I was in second grade. Our house in Pipestone stood across the street from the school. On the afternoon of Monday the 11th, WCCO radio had just announced that schools were closing due to what would later be called the Armistice Day blizzard.

When I got home, my mother was on the phone. From the sound of her muffled voice I sensed the call concerned an emergency having to do with my oldest brother, Stan. I soon learned that Stan and three companions had left town early that morning to hunt ducks some 30 miles away. The men had gone but a few miles north on Minnesota Highway 23 when misty rain turned into sleet and then a raging storm.

An hour later, my brother's car radiator hose burst, and with snow drifting over the stalled car's hood, the four men started out on foot to find shelter. Luckily, the hunters reached a fence they followed for a quarter of a mile until it ran into a barn. Inside, the men found a warm room filled with cows. For two nights and three days, Stan and his friends lived in the farmhouse basement, "trying to stay out of the way and making life at least a little less strenuous for this fine family," my brother wrote in 1985 for William H. Hull's "All Hell Broke Loose: Experiences of Young People During the Armistice Day 1940 Blizzard."

The hunters' journey did not end there. On Nov. 13, the men walked 12 miles atop snowdrifts to Tyler, where a friend from Pipestone drove them home. Stan said the drifts were so high that only the telephone-pole cross arms could be seen above them.
My brother's story is but one of several that author Hull included in his book:

  • In Watkins, a passenger train and a freight train collided in front of the town depot. Both engineers were killed and several duck hunters returning to Minneapolis on the passenger train suffered broken noses. Townspeople formed a chain brigade and took the men to the local doctor, who treated them by lantern light. In 1985, at age 80, Watkins' resident Amanda Ellering said she "could still hear those train whistles, blowing in that storm until all the steam was exhausted."
  • Max Conrad, a pioneering light plane pilot, and his student, John R. Bean, flew along the river between Winona and La Crosse, Wisconsin dropping supplies to stranded hunters. Bodies of 14 duck hunters were found the next day.
  • Turkey raisers lost 1.6 million turkeys during the storm.
  • At a bar in Minneapolis, stranded motorists and bus passengers slept in chairs, on beer cases and kegs, on the floor and the bar.
  • Stranded on a train at the edge of Farmington, a group of University of Minnesota students danced all night in the baggage car.
  • Sister Elvan Dragna, OSB, was teaching young children in a school near Little Falls. Following the storm warning, parents began picking up their children at 3 p.m. Sister Dragna and two of her colleagues made it safely home to Sobieski. The sister later wrote: "For three consecutive days and nights the blizzard raged and howled, creating high drifts, stranding farmers trying to get to dairy farms."

Minnesota's death toll from the Armistice Day blizzard stands at about 49 — about one-third of the U.S. total of 150 deaths. Snowfall totaled 26.6 inches at Collegeville.

Looking out my window Monday at a foot of snow, 74 years seem just like yesterday.