Keith's episode from Snowmobile Radio Talk Show.
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Snowmobiling in Minnesota with Keith Twombly
February’s Great Event Brings Snowmobilers Together
This year’s MnUSA Winter Rendezvous and the Second Annual Veteran’s Appreciation Ride was downright excellent. For those who thought about attending and didn’t, you missed another unbelievable MnUSA event. The Hinckley-Pine City Flames, the Rush City Sno Bugs, the EC Riders and the Northern Pine Riders did an excellent job planning and the executing of this event. Their groomers were out each night and the trails were nothing short of perfect. From start to finish the event was excellent and they got a standing ovation from the 300 attendees at our banquet Saturday evening.
MnUSA Director At Large Terry Hutchinson together with Larry Shepherd, the president of the Minnesota Snowmobile Education and Advancement Fund, and Nancy Hanson, MnUSA business coordinator, organized the second annual Veteran’s Appreciation Ride, which took place in Pine City on February 11. I had the opportunity to ride with over 50 veterans. Thanks to all the veterans. We would not enjoy all the freedoms we have without the sacrifices you have made. Thanks to the VFW and American Legion in Pine City for their hospitality.
On Friday morning, Gov. Tim Pawlenty made his scheduled appearance and spent about an hour with our membership before broadcasting his weekly radio program from Grand Casino Hinckley. I had the opportunity to “Get Out There” as Gov. Pawlenty and his staff asked me to be on the second half of his program. After his radio broadcast, Pawlenty spent a few hours snowmobiling with us, something that he truly enjoys.
When talking with the Governor during his radio show, there were two points that I wanted to make. The first was that snowmobilers pay their own way and that our dedicated account is funded three ways: with the registrations, the fuel tax that is refunded to us by the state of Minnesota and the trail pass that we purchase. The second point was that over 21,000 of our 22,000 miles of trails are maintained by volunteers who pay dues to belong to a snowmobile club then go out and work on snowmobile trails.
We had a very nice dinner and reception Friday evening. Thanks to Track Inc. for sponsoring dinner. After dinner, the Department of Natural Resources presented Nancy Hanson with its Director of the Year Award. Congratulations Nancy! Those of us who work with her on a regular basis know that she is very deserving of this award.
Saturday evening’s banquet was spectacular. There was incredible camaraderie and four members were presented awards for their standout volunteer service to snowmobiling. Congratulations to Jack Speckel, who was named Snowmobiler of the Year. Jack is the nominee from Minnesota for the American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA) Snowmobiler of the Year. Larry Moses was awarded the Unsung Hero Award for all he does behind the scenes. And Christopher Geray and Sabrina Teetzel were awarded as Young Snowmobilers of the Year.
Next year’s Winter Rendezvous is already being planned and there is no reason why you can’t plan to attend next February. This is yet another great way to Get Out There!
February 2010 - Get Out There!
This past month I chose to “Get Out There” in a fun way. Being that MnUSA is about snowmobiling and I felt that your Executive Board’s ratio of meetings to rides was leaning in the wrong direction, I pulled a play from our director-at-large’s playbook and invited them to bring their sleds to our last Executive Board Meeting. After our meeting, our first stop was the Merrifield Marathon’s clubhouse, as I am a member there, where we took part in their annual trailside open house.
I had invited my state representatives, Representative Larry Howes and Senator Mary Olson, to our open house. Representative Howes has been a very good friend to snowmobiling and MnUSA. Senator Olson and her husband are avid snowmobilers and chose to trailer their machines down so that we could ride together that afternoon. Speaking for our Executive Board, we thoroughly enjoyed our ride with Senator Olson.
That leads me to pose a question to you. Have you contacted your legislator, maybe inviting them on a ride or maybe to chat over a cup of coffee? If not, this is your chance. Maybe when you meet with them, you can mention that snowmobilers pay their own way. In fact, snowmobilers generate revenue. Our friends at the American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA) just generated a fantastic publication called “Multiple Use Trails For Winter Recreation; Facts and Myths about Snowmobiling.” Your Region Directors have access to this and it will be distributed to our legislators, both at the state and national levels. The cost to produce this was formidable so we are trying to be sure they are used both efficiently and effectively. If you should need a copy, please contact one of your region directors or the MnUSA office.
A great event to invite your legislators to is MnUSA’s Legislative Reception, which will take place February 24 at the Kelly Inn in St. Paul. This is a great opportunity to sit down and share a few chicken wings with your legislator while talking about our great sport. Our membership has turned out in great numbers in years past. I am looking forward to another great Legislative Reception this year.
Recently MnUSA held a meeting where your region directors, the Minnesota Snowmobile Advisory Committee (MSAC), MnUSA’s Legislative Committee and MnUSA members were invited to attend. At this meeting the Minnesota DNR gave a presentation of its 10 and 25 year vision plans as mandated by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund legislation. The DNR also took place in a discussion where the possible streamlining of snowmobile registration was the topic. Legislative Committee chairman Terry Peterson and I will be scheduling a meeting where we will continue that discussion. All region directors will be informed of the date and place of that meeting. Once again, if you should have any questions, please feel free to contact one of your Regional Directors.
One final note, I am once again looking forward to another MnUSA Winter Rendezvous, which is taking place at Grand Casino Hinckley February 11-14 and is being hosted by the Hinckley/Pine City Flames Snowmobile Club, along with the Northern Pine Riders, Rush City Sno-Bugs and EC Riders. Snow permitting, my “Getting Out There” will begin with a ride to Rendezvous and will include the Veteran’s Appreciation Ride along with the Governor’s Ride. I’m hoping to see many of you at our Winter Rendezvous so Get Out There!
January 2010 - Get Out There!
Recently Terry Hutchinson, Doug and Christian Franzen, Nancy Hanson and I chose to Get Out There by attending a meeting with DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten and Deputy Director of Trails and Parks Forrest Boe. At our last Executive Board meeting we composed a list of items that we wished to chat with Commissioner Holsten about.
One item came from your Legislative Committee, which was that MnUSA will be requesting a change in the state metal traction device statute. The current statute reads that the DNR commissioner has the capacity to allow metal traction devices in areas as he sees suitable. The change that is being supported would allow the DNR commissioner to disallow metal traction devices in specific areas as he sees appropriate.
Another item that was discussed was the question of purchasing permanent easements for snowmobile trails. Per our discussion at that meeting, if you as a club member would like assistance in the acquisition of land for a permanent trail easement, please contact your Area DNR Supervisor.
During our meeting Commissioner Holsten presented some ideas on how he feels the snowmobile registration process can be streamlined. We talked about his ideas casually and will be holding a meeting in which your Legislative Committee, along with the Minnesota Snowmobile Advisory Committee (MSAC), will be discussing this concept in great detail. The commissioner indicated this might be pursued in the 2010 Minnesota Legislative Session.
Personally, one way that I have chosen to “Get Out There” is through my local club. It holds an annual open house in January where we grill up brats and serve hot chocolate trailside, show off our clubhouse and trail maintenance and grooming equipment. I have invited my state legislators, as well as other local legislators, to our open house and to ride with my daughters and I either prior to or after the event. This will give me the opportunity to show them how important our sport is to our club and to our local economy, to remind them that snowmobilers pay their own way and exactly how our dedicated account is funded. While we are chatting, I will remind them of MnUSA’s annual Legislative Reception, extend a cordial invitation stating the date and inform them it is held in St. Paul very close to the Capitol.
With that, I would like to encourage all reading this to invite your legislator to our Legislative Reception. Details on our Legislative Reception will be released soon. The Legislature begins their session February 4, which makes this the perfect time to contact your legislator.
One last item I would like to address in my column is MnUSA’s Winter Rendezvous. I know I mentioned this great event in last month’s column and I feel it needs to be mentioned again. It will be held February 11-14 at Grand Casino Hinckley. The Hinckley-Pine City Flames Snowmobile Club, Northern Pine Riders, Rush City Sno-Bugs and E.C. Riders are working hard at putting this event together and there will also be activities for the teen riders. Please look for details later in this issue.
December 2009 - Sharing a Common Goal
It’s that time of year where there are so many things to get excited about. We are at the very start of winter and have the potential of four months of riding here in Minnesota. I hope there is enough snow in your neck of the woods to accommodate the opening of your trails.
Another thing to be excited about is that you have a new Executive Board. Congratulations to Mark Steinmueller, vice president, Chuck Doherty, treasurer, and Janet Widness, who is now serving her second term as secretary. Terry Hutchinson is your director at large and is now enjoying his fifth year on the Executive Board. Thanks to Terry for his years serving on the Executive Board, for making my transition to president smooth and for continuing to help whenever I ask. A special thank you needs to go to both Curt Berg and Bruce Bekkerus as their terms have expired. Their input has been very valuable and they have served you well. Thanks to all those who ran for office this year. Your willingness to serve is greatly appreciated!
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as vice president for the last two years. I now look forward to serving in this position. One question that has been asked many times of me in the last few weeks is what am I planning on doing as president. Part of my answer has been to get more people out there and get them involved. I want to see more of our membership at our quarterly events, including our committee meetings. I feel that a membership that is more engaged makes for a much stronger organization. Our events are held all over the state giving many the opportunity to see what we are about and to make their voice heard. The other part of my answer is to continue to increase visibility of the office of president and of MnUSA at various events.
I know from my business that if I am not out there my presence begins to fade, and MnUSA is no different. My family and I were able to work the MnUSA membership booth at both the State Fair and Haydays and heard from many snowmobilers that it was nice to chat with the face that they see in the magazine each month. When I am able to chat with people they realize that MnUSA is real and that they have real representation when it comes to MnUSA and snowmobile issues. I always try to show them that I am approachable, in anything but an ivory tower and, most importantly, that I’m a snowmobiler just like they are. We all share the one common goal, to keep snowmobiling alive and well for generations to come.
One way that I hope many of you choose to Get Out There is MnUSA’s Winter Rendezvous, which will be held February 11-14, 2010. The Hinckley-Pine City Flames Snowmobile Club, Northern Pine Riders, Rush City Sno-Bugs and E.C. Riders will be our hosts this year and have been hard at work putting this event together. Please put this on your calendars, as I’m sure this is going to be another can’t miss event. I would love to see record attendance this year. MnUSA’s Winter Rendezvous is one of the most fun ways to Get Out There!