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Dunkin Donuts opening in May (Print only)

Cold temperatures haven’t stopped construction work in Chaska.

The sound of drills and hammers could be heard at local development sites, such as a brewery and donut shop, on a recent sub-zero afternoon.

However, the month-long government shutdown in January — the longest in the nation’s history — has delayed some projects. Congress passed a temporary measure that provided government funding for three weeks in late January.

Affected owners hope their applications will be approved soon, or that Congress and President Donald Trump agree on a fiscal budget to keep the government going.

Lawmakers and Trump have until Friday to pass a budget, to prevent another shutdown.


Construction is well underway for Schram Haus, previously known as Defender Brewing.

Owner Aaron Schram hopes he will be able to open the venue by April or May and general construction of the building may be completed by the end of the month. Schram acquired the brewery last April after Defender Brewing withdrew its application. The building, at 3700 Chaska Boulevard, was once used by Carver County Public Works.

The opening date is contingent that the soon-to-be brewery is able to obtain a federal license. Schram submitted the company’s Federal Brewer’s Notice late last year, hoping they would receive approval in a month. It has now been nearly three months.

“We have to get this brewer’s license and right now they are backed up,” Schram said.

The government shutdown in January, halted the application process. Now, Schram is hoping Congress and Trump will be able to agree on a spending deal to prevent another shutdown and delay the brewery.

“I feel some of this is out of our control,” he said. “When I started this process, I didn’t think that would be one of our bigger issues.”

Once the brewery receives federal approval, Schram would be able to apply for state permits to run it.

Right now crews are working on painting and coating the floors, Schram said, adding that they will soon put in plumbing and toilets.

When operable, Schram said they will be working on creating brews unique to Chaska. The plan is to have 10-12 taps and serve a variety of drinks, from German inspired beers to IPAs.

Schram also owns Schram Vineyards Winery and Brewery in Waconia.


Prepare yourselves donut lovers, Dunkin’ Donuts is opening in downtown Chaska in May.

Construction on the site, which includes the building of two other new buildings, started in late fall, according to the project’s Design Lead Matt Borowy, of Bright Pixel Design. The outline of the Dunkin’ Donuts building is nearly complete.

“They’re working on getting the equipment laid out in there,” Borowy said, adding that crews will soon install brick and glass on the exterior of the building.

The long-awaited project will replace the old Hot Spot gas station in downtown Chaska, just north of Walgreens.

“The winter was warm and dry, so things really worked well for all the concrete work and wood framing, Borowy said. “The only construction hold up was bad soil — that was a site with a lot of history.”

Passersby may have noticed the site looked like a big pit for some time — that’s because crews had to remove everything from old gas tanks to old pipes and building foundations. Workers also replaced bad soil, Borowy added.

“That’s one of the surprises in a site that wasn’t just farm land, but part of a city, he said. “We got to unearth that history.”

Besides Dunkin’ Donuts, there will be room for four other retailers. So far there’s been a lot of interest.

Borowy said he couldn’t mention any specific company slated to go into the new spaces, but hinted one is “healthcare-like.”

“We’re confident it will be a real asset to the community, and it’s so nice to see that site turn into something that’s not a dead eyesore anymore,” he said. “It’s going to be a really neat place in an already neat neighborhood.”


Downtown Chaska will soon be home to a manufacturer that creates coating for medical devices.

Walls have gone up for a two-story 31,840-square-foot building that will be the new location of Savage-based Formacoat. The site is adjacent to Cuzzy’s Brick House and will provide approximately 30 jobs.

However, the government shutdown has created financial issues for the $8 million project, according to Formacoat owner Mark Gross. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration loan, that covers 40 percent of the project, has been put on hold.

“It’s messy,” Gross said. “We’ve gotten this far because the bank has committed to the funding.”

Gross hopes they will be able to get to his application soon, in case the government shuts down for a second time.

The company also ran into unforeseen issues on the site. After digging about 4-6 feet into the ground, workers found broken bricks and a 200-square-foot plot of soil contaminated with petroleum.

The company is now looking for funding to remediate the petroleum issue and is planning to use some of the old brick in its landscaping.

For Gross, a Chaska resident, the project is a long time coming. He has been looking for years to open a plant in Chaska.

“Now we’re at the point where if we don’t expand, it will limit the business,” Gross said. “Buildings seemed to get filled up quickly throughout the southwest metro, and after three years it became apparent that I would have to build — backed by my desire to work and live in the same community.”

Gross said he doesn’t know when the building will be completed, but hopes crews will be able to work on the parking lot by June.

“It’s going to be a dramatic change,” he said.

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Presidential candidate Klobuchar’s earliest footprints were in west metro

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced her presidential campaign Sunday, Feb. 10, to thousands of supporters, as heavy snow fell down on “Amy for America” signs in Minneapolis’ Boom Island Park.

The senator grew up 10 miles away, in an angular, dark-colored Plymouth home, with a single-car garage and white front door. This was back when the city still had grain silos dotting its outer borders.

Image courtesy of Wayzata High School  

One of Amy Klobuchar’s yearbook photos at Wayzata High School.

Klobuchar graduated from Wayzata High School in 1978. She was class valedictorian, received the Wayzata High School Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999 and spoke at both the 2013 and 2017 high school graduations. She also spent time in Carver County, at Camp Tanadoona on Lake Minnewashta in Chanhassen.

“I am excited to see what she can do,” said Klobuchar’s high school activities director, Connie Lewis. “I think that locally, we know so much about her assets and her abilities. I’m excited to see her on a bigger national stage.”

Klobuchar writes about her childhood in her book “The Senator Next Door.” She attended Beacon Heights Elementary, where she was once sent home because she was daring enough to be the first girl to wear pants to school. Her mother Rose taught kindergarten in Wayzata schools, and was named Wayzata’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year in 1993.

On committees, Lewis watched Klobuchar’s work in student council and National Honor Society. She said the senator challenged herself to take on difficult courses and do well in them. Her husband taught the future senator American history, and would come home talking about Klobuchar’s contributions in class that day, which included “unique” questions and precise work.

Lewis and her husband were friends with Rose.

Klobuchar faced her parents’ divorce in high school, Lewis said, but she always found a way to be lighthearted and persevere.

“I’ve never seen her look dejected about something,” she said. “She looks for ways to resolve things.”

Lewis said in student groups, Klobuchar propelled projects forward. The same abilities are there in Klobuchar’s work across the aisle, she said.

“She has that Midwest attitude of come on guys, we’re in this together,” Lewis said. “I’m just disappointed that her dear mother isn’t here to see where she is. Because she was ever so proud of Amy and proud of her background.”

Outside of school, Klobuchar biked back and forth to her first job as a root beer mug washer and carhop at the Wayzata A&W, and later as a pie-cutter at Poppin’ Fresh Pies. She had a run-in with the Plymouth Police Department after a senior class prank went awry. They put a coin-operated ride you’d find outside of a grocery store in front of the high school.

In her speech to the Wayzata High School graduating class of 2013, Klobuchar said the friends she made in high school are still close.

“I can tell you education matters and Wayzata High School meant everything to me,” she said. “My friends that were my best friends are still my best friends, now, 35 years later.”


In “The Senator Next Door,” she writes about some of her Chaska and Chanhassen memories.

Lois Klobuchar, 72, of Chaska, was married to Amy Klobuchar’s father, Star Tribune journalist Jim Klobuchar, for about 12 years. She believes Amy was college-age or older when they married.

Lois’ first husband, Dick Lura, was a District 112 School Board member and part-time Carver County Sheriff’s deputy. They had three children. Lura and fellow Deputy Ronald Kalkes died in 1973 while responding to a call, when their squad car collided with a railroad engine.

“Jim wrote about my husband, and many years later we started dating, and eventually married,” Lois said.

“I was very proud of her when she was elected to go into Congress, because she just has so much going for her, and I just was impressed by her capabilities,” Lois said. She also noted Amy’s “subtle humor.”

Lois said it’s hard to hear criticism of her stepdaughter. “I think to myself, it’s easy to make the comments when you don’t know them,” she said.

“I’m very proud of her,” Lois said.

And, in her youth, Klobuchar also spent lots of quality time at Camp Tanadoona on Lake Minnewashta in Chanhassen, as a member of the Camp Fire Girls. (The organization is now Camp Fire and open to both boys and girls.)

“She’s one of our best and brightest alums,” said Camp Fire Minnesota CEO Marnie Wells. “When we think of Sen. Klobuchar, it’s an outstanding example of our work and approach in mentoring young people — introducing them to new experiences or having them become that courageous young leader,” Wells said.

Klobuchar writes in “Senator Next Door” that “Camp Fire Girls taught us to serve others and have a little fun while doing it.”

Klobuchar wrote that “Each summer we would spend a week at Camp Tanadoona on the shores of Lake Minnewashta, where we would learn how to use a saw, build a campfire, hunt for fossils, horseback ride, and swim on our backs.”

“Every night we sang around the open fire. My favorite round from that time was: ‘Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.’”

When she visited the camp in 2010, Klobuchar still remembered the lyrics (and hand motions) to one of the camp songs, singing: “At night ‘round our campfire, we laugh and we sing. Give a cheer for TANADOONA, and let the echoes ring!”

“I know Sen. Klobuchar has always embraced and celebrated and been a champion for inclusion, and that is one of our core values at Camp Fire. We value everyone,” Wells said. “I’m just over the moon and I’m just so excited to see her run.”