While the last month and half has been challenging on so many levels, it has been inspiring to see how our community has found ways to make a positive impact.

I would like to give a huge “Thank You” to Michael Foods for all the food they donated to our community at their free food distribution at Chaska High School on April 18. The outpouring of generosity was a great example of how much our community cares for each other.

Our #ChaskaCares group was even able to deliver over 200 food packages to seniors and people in need who didn’t have the ability to make it to the distribution. Seeing how much this food made a difference to individuals and families, and how grateful they were to receive it, was a humbling and rewarding experience.

Many partners worked together to pull off this event flawlessly. Thank you to His House, Carver County, Eastern Carver County Schools, the city of Chaska, and obviously Michael Foods. What a truly amazing event.

Thank you to everyone who dropped off homemade cloth face masks at the Chaska Fire Department on April 25. We collected approximately 1,900 masks, which far surpassed our expectations. We have delivered these to our senior complexes, and now we’re are working on getting these out to our most vulnerable population. If you need a mask, please contact #ChaskaCares at chaskacares@chaskamn.com.

If you haven’t heard about #ChaskaCares yet, it is a new initiative led by our Parks and Recreation Director Marshall Grange. The goal is to better connect our community and highlight the positive things happening in our community.

The #ChaskaCares team has created a vulnerable adult check form. This form is available so loved ones can register their elderly or vulnerable adult family member to receive a check-in phone call from our #ChaskaCares team.

The plan is to keep this positive momentum going long after the pandemic has ended. What you’ve seen so far is only the beginning! We want it to keep growing from here. If you see something good happening, share it on social media with the hashtag #ChaskaCares.

BIRTHDAY PATROL

The Birthday Patrol has been extremely popular. As I write this, the Chaska Fire and Police departments have gone to 150 residents’ homes and have another 50 on the books delivering birthday wishes. This has been an amazing community program.

I have had the opportunity to ride along and the joy on their faces is hard to put into words. The fire truck and police squad car may to going to a certain house, but the whole block comes out smiling and waving. Thank you to Chaska fire and police for bringing joy to the community.

With the governor extending the Stay-at-Home Order until May 18 and moving schools to distance learning for the rest of the year, families have been under a lot of added stress.

If you are struggling in any way, please make sure to seek help. You can call the community help line at 942-361-1559 to find resources that can help you navigate the stresses of the COVID-19 outbreak.

SCHOOLS

I also really feel sad for the students, particularly the high-school seniors, during this time. Spring is typically such a fun part of the school calendar, and right now, the kids are missing out on spring sports, prom and graduation ceremonies.

We are working with the school district on a community celebration of some sort to honor the Chaska High School Class of 2020. We have a few ideas, so stay tuned for more information.

The Downtown Business Alliance, the Carver County Community Development Agency (CDA), and the city are working to find ways to continue supporting our local businesses. These businesses are the backbone of Chaska. Many restaurants are open for takeout, and some retail shops are open for curbside pickup. Check our website, www.chaskamn.com, for more details.

The city is still open for business, but just in a different manner. If you need to meet with anyone from the city, please call 952-448-9200 first. While many of our staff are working from home, we are still available and have become pretty good at conducting business on the phone or through a Zoom online meeting.

City Council and Planning Commission meetings continue to happen, but again, they are in a different format. Since the Council Chambers are closed to the public due to social distancing guidelines, we have moved our city meetings to the virtual world of Zoom.

The mayor or chairperson, city administrator and community development director are in the chambers, and the rest of the members are offsite. If you need to comment or participate, please check our website.

When the Stay-at-Home restrictions are lifted, we may hold future meetings at the Chaska Event Center to allow for proper social distancing. If you are planning to attend a city meeting over the next few months, please check our website for the most up-to-date meeting details.

THANK YOU

Thank you to everyone for following the governor’s orders. I know this has been difficult and will only get more challenging as the weather get nicer. I believe social distancing is working to slow the spread, but it takes everyone to make it happen. We will get through this together.

Thank you to the teachers, principals, and support staff at the school district. It has been amazing to see what you have all done to implement distance learning, feed students in need, and find creative ways to lift up our community.

Thank you to all the people working in the retail businesses, from the truckers delivering the products, to all the women and men working in the grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and other essential stores making sure we are able to get the necessary supplies we need daily.

Lastly, I want to say thank you to all the police, fire, paramedics, 911 operators, and healthcare workers. Also, thank you to all the medical personnel working on test kits, treatments, and a vaccine. You are truly putting your lives on the line every time you answer a call or see a patient.

As an elected official, I can’t forget to mention the 2020 Census. It’s not too late to respond to the 2020 Census while at home. Once you have responded, please encourage your family, friends, and loved ones to complete the census, too.

Today May 7 is National Day of Prayer. I think we need this now more than ever. St. John’s Lutheran Church has a prayer walk from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Stop by, walk through and say a prayer for someone in need.

Thank you again! Makes me proud to live in Chaska!

Be well and be nice to one another. Thanks for reading this.

Mark Windschitl is the mayor of Chaska.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.

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