Teens welcome at TreeHouse

Every teenager needs an upbeat place where they can feel safe and cared for. A place where they can talk about the issues that matter most to them, a place where they belong, and a place where they can connect with their peers and caring adults. 

At the Mahtomedi TreeHouse, we are on a mission to end hopelessness among teens, and let every one of our teens know they are lovable, capable and worthwhile. Teens face a wide array of issues, and hopelessness doesn’t look the same to any two teens—it could be that their significant other broke up with them, it could be drug use, it could be academic troubles, depression or bullying in school. 

The common thread is that at TreeHouse, we provide a place for teens to find self-confidence, form healthy relationships and, most importantly, believe in the fundamental truth that they matter. 

What I’ve seen is teenagers grow tremendously after coming to TreeHouse—and possibly no greater example was earlier this spring when we were driving and came across a young woman on an overpass about to jump. My TreeHouse teens didn’t hesitate. They jumped out of our vehicle, helped pull her down as she sobbed, and immediately started comforting her, telling the woman she is loved and not alone. 

What was a traumatic event showed how much strength teenagers have. At TreeHouse, we teach hope; they in turn passed that hope along to another in need.

At TreeHouse, every teen matters and we provide support groups, mentorships, service work and fun activities year round. 

I welcome anyone interested in finding out more to visit treehousehope.org or email me at hhall@treehousehope.org. All teens are welcome—we’d love to have you!

Heidi Hall

Area Director,

Mahtomedi Area TreeHouse


High school enrollment numbers too high  

In last week’s Press there were two articles about the upcoming vote requesting $326 million to improve and change most of the district's schools and administration buildings. It was also suggested that if there were questions, to visit www.isd624.org/bond2019 for further information. I went there and got additional information, which actually created more questions.

According to Google, White Bear Lake has approximately 2,500 high school students as of last year. If we have a growth of 25% within 10 years, as Dr. Wayne Kazmierczak predicted in the article, that would put our high school at 3,125, which would almost maximize the proposed building. Given these numbers, I started to wonder what do other schools look like? About 10 years ago Woodbury went through this discussion and decided they wanted smaller schools, so Eastridge was built. Today they have enrollments of 1,933 at Woodbury High School and 1,801 at Eastridge.  I looked at other communities and here is what I found for high school enrollment numbers: Stillwater – 2,259; Tartan – 1,651; Park in Cottage Grove – 1,784; Eastview in Apple Valley – 2,207; Maple Grove – 2,295 and Wayzata – 3,436.

Other than Wayzata, school sizes seem to be much smaller than what this bond proposal would suggest. It seems other districts have decided that 1,500 to 2,500 students would be better. Am I missing something?

I’m all for keeping our buildings in top condition and providing our students with tools to not only succeed, but to excel. If in fact White Bear Lake hasn’t done any renovations on a secondary school since 1974 as Dr. Kazmierczak stated, I’m amazed these buildings are still standing. We must keep our buildings safe, welcoming, comfortable and a great place to learn. I’m not exactly sure how much renovations of existing buildings would cost, because it’s all mixed in with expanding North Campus.

It seems to me that we have this all wrong. School sizes are too large. Renovations need much more clarification and maybe we need to step back and look this plan over and ask some tougher questions: Is our district boundary correct? Maybe we need to build schools where the growth is happening. Perhaps a priority list needs to explain what must be done ASAP and what would be nice to be done. These questions have probably been addressed by the 90 members that looked at our schools, but I don’t see anything in the school district’s website covering these basic issues.

Patrick Collins

White Bear Lake


Shuttering of Warner Nature Center despicable

I am writing to express how disappointed I am in the Manitou Fund and its trustees, Greg McNeely and his siblings, the sons and daughters of Don McNeely. They have decided to “shutter” the Warner Nature Center. Though Don McNeely, the fund’s creator, should be praised for his foresight and generosity in making it possible for the Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center to exist and thrive over the past 50 years, I am sure he would be extremely disappointed in the decisions of his children. There may be pressing business reasons for the change in the Manitou Fund’s objectives, but the way in which this is being accomplished is despicable. The fund has left no room for negotiation or for alternative funding plans and won’t divulge the Manitou Fund’s future plans following the closure of the Warner Nature Center. One can only assume they are planning on making additional money at the expense of the Nature Center.

Though the bulk of the funds supporting Warner over the past 50 years have been from the Lee and Rose Warner Trust and the Manitou Fund, many people have directly contributed and donated to support the objectives of the Warner Nature Center. The fund’s trustees have now negated all of that. How many future generations of schoolchildren will not have the opportunity to explore the trails at Warner and gain an appreciation for the great outdoors? I suppose those same children can read about the history of Warner on their smartphones or iPad.

There appears to be no way to salvage the Warner Nature Center. The Manitou Fund and its lawyers have made sure of that. I am not sure how the trustees can sleep at night. I know I couldn’t after destroying a 50-year-old institution which has done so much good and positively impacted so many lives.

Paul Liedl



Stopping in versus at crosswalk

In response to “Cops & Courts: White Bear drivers learn to stop for pedestrians,” Sept. 11:

I’m all in to educate drivers about stopping for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, however the first sentence of the article states “All drivers stopped for pedestrians at a crosswalk...”. Stopping for pedestrians AT a crosswalk is not the law, stopping for them IN a crosswalk is. 

Kim Wightman

White Bear Lake


Aren’t you offended?

I read Gene Johnson’s Sep. 11 editorial column multiple times to actually believe that he wrote “Our current president is really no different than many others over history.” Which other president on a daily basis has attacked mainstream media as fake news and enemy of the people or tried to suspend press passes of reporters who disagree with him or has a senior advisor who promotes alternative facts? As the editorial said, Walter Cronkite and Martin Kalb “took the risk to fight government censorship.” Wouldn’t it be nice if current members of the press weren’t endlessly denigrated by the president for doing their jobs? As a longtime owner and publisher of newspapers, how can you not be offended and concerned, Gene?

Kathy Hoelscher

White Bear Lake


Vote yes on bond referendum (Endorsed Letter to the Editor)

We are proud to be longtime White Bear residents. We live in a very special community. One of our great attributes is the excellent public education kids receive in the White Bear Lake Area Schools, and the spaces in which it is provided. I truly believe that the experiences our own children received in the White Bear Lake Area Schools helped them develop into young adults who care not just about our own community, but who have an appreciation for the world around them. The academic opportunities are excellent, but the district buildings are 50 years old, on average, and need to be updated to accommodate recent and anticipated growth and to continue to provide spaces for students in a safe and secure environment.

Communities benefit from their outstanding public schools; housing values are enhanced and local businesses thrive. We are excited about the enrollment increases and projections White Bear Lake Area Schools has reported to the community in recent years. Our school district is growing and we, as a community, have the opportunity to invest in the future of our students and our community by voting in favor of the bond referendum.

Successful passage of the bond referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot will ensure that the students of today and tomorrow will have adequate space and quality facilities throughout the district. Please join us in voting yes to update existing school district buildings throughout the district and build new spaces to address growing enrollment needs.

Jim and Lori Rathburn

White Bear Lake

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