In below-zero temperatures on Jan. 3, Dave Guenther was out on Pelican Lake trying to plow snow before last weekend's Breezy Point Ice Fest.
That won't surprise those who know Guenther, a Pequot Lakes High School art teacher who is well-known for his community involvement in Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point.
For that involvement, Guenther was named on Jan. 4 the 2009 Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point Citizen of the Year.
The annual award is sponsored by Echo Publishing & Printing.
Kevin Merschman, Breezy Point police chief, nominated Guenther, who lives with his wife, Barb, in Breezy Point.
Dave Guenther (center) was recently honored for his tireless efforts working with the students at Pequot Lakes School - and those throughout the Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point community.
"The first time I met Dave, 20-plus years ago, he was assisting a young mother who had car trouble by towing her vehicle into town," Merschman wrote in his nomination letter. "He is the art teacher and track coach for Pequot Lakes School. As I am sure you are aware, in those positions he has mentored many teens and volunteered countless hours. He also has devoted may hours and supplies to make signs for the various charitable organizations in need."
Guenther came to the Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point area in 1986 to teach art to kindergartners through 12th-graders and to coach track.
He's always enjoyed volunteering in the communities.
"A lot of people live in a community but don't realize all the opportunities out there," he said. "To live in a community, you have to be a part of the community.
"We are a destination. We are a place where people want to go because we do things," Guenther said, noting he has lived in communities where no one wanted to do anything.
To that end, he's been involved in Bean Hole Days in Pequot Lakes, two Governor's Fishing Openers at Breezy Point Resort, the annual Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous in Pequot Lakes and Ice Fest in Breezy Point.
"When you look at Dave, he's an excellent teacher and gives so much," said Pequot Lakes High School principal John McDonald. "I believe he perceives the community as his family. He's very well-known by people, so if something needs to be done, Dave is giving of his time and works well with others. He's always there."
Students in Guenther's advanced art class have the opportunity to enter wood carved fish decoys in the National Fish Decoy Association Championships in Perham each year. Guenther helped create a junior division for kids.
See GUENTHER, Page 2N
He is an integral part of the annual Festival of the Arts at the high school, and was on the Crossing Arts Alliance board in Brainerd this past year.
He's on the board of directors for the Ideal Sno Pros snowmobile club and is president of the Pequot Brush Pilots snowmobile club.
Guenther helped start the Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous 16 years ago, and he founded the Power Ice Auger World Championship at Ice Fest six years ago.
"It was just something fun and different. Some students and I came up with the concept talking in class one day," he said of the ice auger contest.
Guenther is editor of the Antique Snowmobile Club of America's Iron Dog Tracks, is on the board of directors of the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame in Eagle River, Wis., and is a member of the National Fish Decoy Association and the Minnesota Darkhouse Association.
Guenther has coached high school track for 30 years, and is a Minnesota State High School League official for the state track meet. He also has helped conduct snowmobile safety classes for youth for the past 16 years with the snowmobile clubs. He helps mark snowmobile trails, as well as helps with trail maintenance and cleanup.
"My other family is the snowmobile clubs - my extended family, so to speak," Guenther said.
Jim Oraskovich, former Pequot Lakes School superintendent, was the K-8 principal when Guenther was hired in 1986.
"Dave Guenther is the type of person that has been involved in so many of the community activities as an active participant that I think he's very deserving of the Citizen of the Year award," Oraskovich said. "It's just his nature - he wants to give to the community. He has the ability and skill to do it."
In his spare time, Guenther enjoys restoring and moving old barns, and playing with old tractors, old cars and old snowmobiles.
When asked if he ever sleeps, Guenther said, "I sleep very well. And I have a very understanding wife."
All in all, he thoroughly enjoys being a part of the Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point community.
"It's fun to be involved in a community that wants to do things," he said. "I volunteer because it's just fun to get out with people, and I can make a difference."
Past Citizens of the Year
2008 - Bob Spizzo.
2007 - No award given.
2006 - Forbes and Germaine Martinson.
2005 - Cathy Malecha.
2004 - Joe and Barb Bergquist.
2003 - Ron and Darlene Schaefer.
2002 - Erik Loge.
2001 - Bernice Rohde.
2000 - Dan Frank.
1999 - Dorothy Yund.
1998 - No award given.
1997 - Kathy Trees.
1996 - Laine Litzau.
1995 - Ed Larsen.
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