Glenn Kaufmann will serve as grand marshal of this year’s Fourth of July parade in downtown Chanhassen.
The parade, at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in downtown Chanhassen, is the centerpiece of the city’s big Fourth of July activities and attracts thousands of spectators every year.
The Rotary Club of Chanhassen recently selected Kaufmann as its 2019 Distinguished Service Award recipient, who is also honored as the grand marshal of the Fourth of July Parade, organized by the club. Recipients are recognized for volunteerism that makes Chanhassen a better place to live.
On June 24, Rotary Club President Ann Voas introduced Kaufmann to the Chanhassen City Council as the Distinguished Service winner.
Past recipients include Al Klinglhutz, Bob Meuwissen, Ladd Conrad, Cy and Madonna Kerber, Curt Robinson, Terry Kemble, Mark Undestad, Tim and Ginger Mulcrone , Vernelle Clayton, Tom Furlong, Michael Brindisi, Barbara Nevin and Bob and Cheryl Ayotte.
Influencers across the community are invited to suggest candidates who exemplify “the passion of serving others and making a difference in the quality of life here. Many of these volunteers really stand out. They go above and beyond what is expected of a good neighbor. They set the bar high and become models for so many others,” according to the Rotary Club.
Maybe it’s his military background, maybe it’s being the oldest of 10 children.
Whatever the reason, if you’re having a meeting with Kaufmann, you can count on the fact that he’ll be punctual, said Jill Sinclair, Chanhassen environmental resources specialist. She got to know Kaufmann when he served on the Chanhassen Environmental Commission.
“He has a great sense of humor; he’s kind to everyone; he’s open to new ideas; he’s creative; and he’s always, always on time,” Sinclair said. “Better than on time — he’s early. He likes to say, ‘If you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late.’”
“The very first time I met Glenn, I have to admit I was taken aback by his humorous brashness and willingness to jump into things,” Sinclair said. “People are usually a little shy at their first commission meetings, but not Glenn. It honestly surprised me and I quickly learned that his style was a huge asset to the commission since it puts everyone at ease and encouraged everyone to be engaged and say what they think.
“That’s one of his best qualities — the ability to be there 110% and bring everyone with him to that point.”
No matter the project, Kaufmann was always ready to volunteer, Sinclair added, “like planting trees, working at the July 4th celebration, or clearing buckthorn. He was a commissioner you could count on. I think service is in his bones. And he does it with grace, humility and dedication. He makes a difference in the world whenever he can, and our little corner is a better place thanks to his endeavors.”
Kaufmann grew up in Gaylord, Minnesota, then joined the U.S. Air Force — “I thought I wanted to be a pilot,” he said, but plans changed quickly.” Instead, he served for 20 years in aircraft maintenance, retiring as a captain. His service took him all over the world, from South California, Okinawa, Japan, the Azores, Hawaii, North Carolina, Washington, D.C. and again to Hawaii. Ask him his favorite location — naturally, Hawaii, “especially the first time when I was young and had less responsibilities.”
The Azores in Portugal sounded like an adventure. Was it?
Kaufmann laughed, “It’s an island 800 miles off the coast. It’s almost a third world country. Back in the ‘90s, they still were using donkeys to deliver milk. So yes, it was interesting.”
After living all over the world, he chose Chanhassen, “because I wanted to live in Carver County. It’s close to the Twin Cities and not too far from my hometown which is 45-50 minutes away. I like the Twin Cities and all it has to offer.”
He also chose the Chanhassen Lions Club.
His reasoning — he was new to town and wanted to get involved with the community and he saw it was a way to give back to his new home. And he was also emulating the way his parents served their community.
“My parents — Gary and Sherri — got a similar award in Gaylord about eight years ago, a community volunteer award,” Kaufmann said.
Looking back at his childhood and family life, there was a lot of service that included the Boy Scouts, being an altar boy at church. His parents took in foster children, in addition to raising their own brood of nine. When they adopted a foster child, the total came to 10. Growing up in a family of 10 siblings wasn’t really that big a deal, Kaufmann said, since there was a 20-year age difference between the oldest and the youngest. But he did concede that there was occasional chaos.
Kaufmann just turned 50 and about to celebrate his fourth wedding anniversary. He is employed as a contract administrator for a defense contract management agency in the Twin Cities. His team inspects bombs and bullets.
Although he works full time, he has carved out time to be a mentor in the Carver County Veterans Court, usher at St. Hubert Catholic Church, participate in city government as a member of the environmental commission. And take a leadership role in the Lions Club, both locally and on a district and regional level.
“What I like about (the Lions Club) purpose is that we are able to reach and touch all different parts of the community. We have the vision project, we pick up trash, we volunteer at Feed My Starving Children, and we’re starting a project around pediatric cancer. As a local club and through Lions International, we offer our hands to all different kinds of people.”
Kaufmann is an active member of the Chanhassen Lions Club where he’s a popular volunteer in its Christmas tree lot and raconteur in the warming trailer.
“He fits right in with the crusty old Lions guys,” said Dave Hess, Lions Club secretary. “He’s one of the ringleaders and he’s in his element. He’s full of jokes, but he’s also a hard worker and does a lot of the heavy lifting.”
What Kaufmann didn’t mention but Hess was more than happy to talk about is Kaufmann’s advancement in the Lions organization.
“Glenn is all about service, which is what the award is about,” Hess said. “He served his country, and now with the Veterans Court. He joined the Lions looking for a service club. He joined seven years ago and quickly shot up as a member of the board, then took on the presidency for two years when the upcoming president was unable to take office, making him a two-term president.
“Since then, he’s gotten into Lions at a regional level. Currently he is zone chairperson and oversees 8-10 clubs. As July 1, he’ll be 2nd vice district governor for 5M2 (65 clubs in south central Minnesota).
“So he’s knee-deep in Lions. He’s really taken on a responsibility there. I’ve seen him from a new member to a 2nd vice district governor. His wife Lisa (Kaufmann) is also a Lion and she’s taken right off too, as a board member. They’re quite the Lions team. They’re a great example of what a husband and wife can do.”
Can Chanhassen’s Lotus Lake accommodate wake surfing, as well as other recreational watercraft, fishing and swimming?
Dozens of residents attended a June 24 Chanhassen City Council meeting and work session to weigh in on the issue.
Some Lotus Lake residents say deep waves created by wake surfing boats erode the shoreline and make it less safe for other recreational users.
Wake surfing enthusiasts say that Lotus Lake is a public recreational lake and shouldn’t be banned or regulated, outside of normal Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recreational boating rules.
Wake surfing is similar to wake boarding behind a boat. But wake surfers use a tow rope only to get up on the board, then release and surf freely on the wave created by the boat. Wake surfing boats have ballasts filled with water to weigh down the back of the boat, to create bigger waves.
At the work session, Mayor Elise Ryan explained that the wake surfing was first brought to the City Council’s attention in February, by Lotus Lake resident JoAnn Syverson. Syverson addressed the work session, as did Laurie Susla, president of the Lotus Lake Conservation Alliance (LLCA).
Syverson has asked the council to create an ordinance regulating wake surfing on Lotus Lake.
“I am not asking you to regulate or ban wakeboards, but the sport of wake surfing,” Syverson said, at the work session.
“Surfing wakes need special restrictions, because of their increased energy above and below the surface of the water which causes property damage, as shown by the Carver Park shoreline damage, and causes injuries to other people on the lake. I am asking that you uphold the law, which ensures all users the right to the lake,” she said.
Lotus Lake Conservation Alliance President Laurie Susla, also expressed concerns about wake surfing boats at the work session.
“Wake surfing boats are big and heavy, built to produce very large waves, causing shoreline erosion and creating recreational issues,” Susla said. “The LLCA has been receiving complaints for the past three years,” Susla said, which prompted the LLCA to conduct a survey earlier this year. There were 96 responses, of which 71 came from lakeshore households.
“The no’s are very adamant and strongly held,” Susla said. “The surfboard owners are keen on it, the non-boat owners are not. It’s split down clearly between boaters and nonboaters.”
Susla said the key takeaways from the survey are: Most boaters and lake residents are unaware of current boating regulations on Lotus Lake — the 100-foot wake zone and the time restrictions for motor boats on the lake, one hour after sunset to sunrise.
“Our members have learned a lot about each other,” Susla said. “That education has been beneficial. Boating etiquette means keeping big wake boats to the center of the lake, not cutting between boats.” Susla pointed out that all recreational users should also use common sense when wake surfing boats are present.
After the survey, the LLCA formed a task force, Susla said. One of its recommendations to work with the city to install a sign at the boat launch posting DNR regulations.
Jill Sims, a boating lobbyist representing the National Marine Manufacturers Association, spoke at the council meeting. “Minnesota is the No. 2 boating state in the nation,” she said, adding “Minnesota doesn’t have private lakes. We have public lakes with public access to make sure everyone has the opportunity to use the lakes.”
At the work session, Chanhassen City Administrator Todd Gerhardt outlined how DNR laws and enforcement work.
In Minnesota, the DNR’s boating regulations and guidelines for 2019 cover recreational boats and personal watercraft, like jet skis, as well as water skiing and wakeboarding. The DNR sets water boat safety laws; the county sheriff offices enforce them.
The city of Chanhassen contracts its policing with the Carver County Sheriff’s Office for all misdemeanors by the city’s liaison officer, Gerhardt said. More serious crimes are taken on and investigated by the Sheriff’s Office.
“Water patrol is a baseline service provided with the city’s policing contract,” Gerhardt said. “If we wanted more enforcement, we would request more water patrol, but they (Sheriff’s Office) would determine if there is a need,” Gerhardt said.
The council didn’t take any action on the issue at its meeting.
“It’s not going away in our city or our state. We will continue the conversation among the Lotus Lake Conservation Alliance (LLCA) and homeowners. The conversation is not closed,” Ryan said, at the work session.
Councilor Jerry McDonald admitted limited knowledge of wake surfing and the types of boats used for it, and suggested the council learn more about it before making any decisions.
“We shouldn’t create laws that are more restrictive than the DNR’s,” Gerhardt said, “and to have the DNR as the rule maker and the county as the law enforcement agency, because every lake is different and you want to be consistent.”
Following the meeting, Gerhardt followed up with a letter to all who attended the meeting. The letter noted that the council would defer taking action “until the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) creates a law or regulation that prohibits surfing/wake boats on Minnesota lakes or rivers.” He also noted that fliers regarding rules and regulations will be distributed to those launching boats on Chanhassen lakes.
Andrew Weigman, of Mound, describes himself as the local leader of the wake surfing community. He’s currently organizing the 2019 Minnesota Wake Surfing Championship on Lake Minnetonka, which takes place at Surfside Park in Cook’s Bay, July 17-20. This will be its fifth year.
“Wake surfing is the fastest and most popular form of recreation,” Weigman said, in a phone interview. He’s familiar with the wake surfing issue at Lotus Lake.
“It’s unfortunate that these residents chose to live on a recreational lake,” Weigman said. “They’re unjustly targeting the most popular form of recreation … if you regulate one type of boat, are you going to start regulating others? The only people who suffer are families who made a significant investment. Instead of having a cabin, they’ve invested with a wake surfing boat. It’s a sport the whole family can do which is something.
“Compared to wake boarding, it’s a lot less dangerous,” Weigman said. “You’re going 11 mph instead of 21 mph. My dad had a ski boat and we took up wake surfing because we were tired of getting hurt. You can be on the boat and talk to family because the speed of the boat is half of what it is for wake board and skiing.
He feels wake surfing is being unfavorably targeted at Lotus Lake.
“I’m looking at a group of people who chose to live on a recreational lake,” Weigman said. “Then why are they targeting a form of recreation; that’s the crux of why I’m fired up …
“Is it because of wake surfing boats; or is it that a younger generation are now wake surfing?” Weigman asked. “Why are folks who chose to live on a recreational lake, protesting recreation?”
“How I would solve the problem is by informing all boaters and all those participating in wake surfing to obey the same rules. This is more than just the punk kids. Like in any group, there’s always a small faction that is uninformed, or badly behaved.”
Daryl Ellison, a supervisor with the West Metro Area Fisheries office in Shakopee, has been aware of the wake surfing controversy for several years.
“I’ve been aiming to bring it up with the DNR,” Ellison said. “It’s been on my hit list for years. I know the damage that is going on.”
He is getting more complaints from homeowners about big boats on small lakes.
“They have great drafts and increase the chance for erosion and damaging for habitat,” he said.
“These small bodies of water — the increased size of boats and the activities that have increased over time — these lakes just cannot handle this kind of activity with higher water levels, without erosion. These things didn’t go on 50 years. We can love our lakes to death and this is one example. People want to wake surf on small lakes. Even Lake Minnetonka can’t handle shoreline erosion.”
However, Ellison notes that the lakes are public waters. “The public has legal access to public waters. It’s up to the local government to make changes if there is a problem.”