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You might think Deon Roth was handling plutonium with the precautions he takes in running his operation. It is not radioactivity that Roth concerned, it is viruses in his hog barns. Modern livestock production relies on volume, and volume is increased with a good, safe environment. Roth's Pigs-R-Us hog operation near Wadena is geared to producing breeder-feeder-gilts. His two hog barns are built to house 5,000 hogs at one time. In a normal year, 30,000 hogs are shipped to commercial pork producers.
What is going on out there? "It's changing all of the time," Leaf River Ag Service manager Scott Dau said of the agricultural scene in Wadena County. The days when a family could live on a quarter section of land by having a dairy to go along with it had plenty of charm -- and a fair amount of hard work. These farm families may not have piled up big bank accounts but they became part of the land and they shared the good times and the bad.
Whitetail Run Golf Course opened Monday for the 2011 golfing season. The 18-hole, 5,266-yard public course, located five miles north of Wadena on U.S. Highway 71, is a par-72 layout. Club pro Kevin Ross called the date of the 2011 opener a typical one for the Wadena County course. Last year's March 18 opening was one of the earliest in the club's history. "Our greens came through the winter pretty good," Ross said. The course operates seven days a week from 8 a.m. until dark. Carts are in use but winter rules are in effect as conditions on the ground are still damp.
Dan Johnson sees a dogfight ahead for his Verndale Pirates this spring as they tackle a Park Region Conference schedule loaded with talent. Six of the PRC's teams had better seasons than the Pirates last year and Johnson heads into 2011 with only five returning letter winners and four returning starters. "The conference is very tough -- top to bottom," Johnson said. "We will have to have some underclassmen step up and fill the holes." Senior Jenny Swenson will be back to handle some of the pitching load.
Spring may be late this year but the Wadena-Deer Creek's Kevin Ross has 18 players out for the 2011 boys' golf season. The numbers ballooned last year when New York Mills joined Wadena-Deer Creek. Seven of the 18 players on this year's WDC club are from Mills. Leading the Wolverines this year will be four players who saw their share of time on the links last season -- Michael Wing, Tyler Fix, Bryan Silvers and Bryce Pazdernick. There are 10 players vying for the last two starting spots.
Logan Meyer took first place in a field of 100 shot putters Tuesday at the Little Amik II track and field meet. The Wadena-Deer Creek junior put the shot 47-11.75 to win his second straight title at Bemidji State. Meyer won the Little Amik I title with a toss of 47-5.75. "He's been showing promise since the first day of practice," WDC head coach Terry Olson said. Meyer was a member of the WDC weights crew last year but it was senior Dane Hoffman that was regarded as the club's top shot putter. "I think he's faster than Dane," Olson said.
Craig Klawitter is out to lead his Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines to their sixth straight winning season on the softball diamond this spring. The veteran skipper saw his Wolverines win 13 of their 20 games last year and place third in the Mid-State Conference after two straight championships. Inexperience will be WDC's biggest problem as they wade into the 2010-2011 season. The club had only four players back that played varsity ball last year.
Senior guard Courtney Volkmann earned honorable mention on the Class AA All-State team for the 2010-2011 girls' basketball season. Volkmann was second on the team in scoring with 279 points. She led the team in assists and steals with 95 and 74 respectively. Volkmann was also chosen to the Mid-State Conference team along with Emily Miron, the team's top scorer (336) and rebounder (201).
Wadena-Deer Creek lineman Nolan Johnson will play football this fall for the M State-Fergus Falls Spartans. Johnson, who is 5-10, 200 pounds, played on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Wolverines last fall. "Nolan was one of our leaders both on and off the field," WDC head football coach Tom VanErp said. "He is a very fierce competitor." Johnson was a team captain in his junior and senior years. He earned the Wolverine Award for his attitude.
Melissa Tabery has six letterwinners back this season for a run at the Mid-State Conference title. The Wadena-Deer Creek girls' golf coach will have senior Kelsey Browne, juniors Amanda Kramer and Breanna Speed, freshmen Heather Theisen, Ella Harrison and Paige Hartman to anchor her squad. The rest of Tabery's team will be made up of junior Jenna Ludovissie, sophomore Jackie Imsande, freshman Hope Theisen and eighth-grader Rachel Wing. The Wolverines placed third in the Mid-State last year.