Even though the opening of the Tilden Avenue Bridge was held Tuesday, July 1, it isn’t open!

Shannon looking over the Road Closed sign on Tilden Avenue bridge in Champlin, MN

Road Closed sign on Tilden Avenue bridge in Champlin, MN

The bridge is closed. Driving over the bridge and through the “Road Closed Signs” can earn you a $140 ticket and your car will be towed at your expense.

Champlin resident Laurence Johnson last Friday rode his motorcycle across the bridge. “I saw a police officer blocking a car from crossing. Soon enough, I was pulled over by an officer waiting for me at the other end. ”

Johnson had read an article in the Champlin-Dayton press about the bridge. “Apparently, many residents, like me, thought the bridge was open to the public.”

“It was anticipated that the bridge opening would occur shortly after the ribbon cutting,” said Deputy City Administrator John Cox. “However, the contractor still has some punch-list items to complete and has the right to keep the bridge closed while they are working on those items. Under the terms of our contract, the bridge must be open by this Friday, July 18th.” Until that day, you will be fined if you drive across the bridge.

The Tilden Avenue Bridge is the largest public works project in Champlin’s history, and The Hayden Lake Road/Tilden Avenue Road and Utility project cost $21 million. The project included reconstruction of Hayden Lake Road, construction of Tilden Avenue and the bridge, as well as adding two miles of sanitary sewer pipe and a regional pumping station to serve the northeastern section of Dayton and the northwestern portion of Champlin.

For more information, contact the Champlin Deputy City Administrator John Cox at jcox@ci.champlin.mn.us or 763-923-7104.

Beans for sale at the Champlin's Farmer's Market

Beans for sale at the Champlin's Farmer's Market


Visit Champlin’s Farmer’s Market every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from July 9 to October 15 at the Ice Forum at 120th Avenue and Highway 169, near Life Time Fitness. 

Special Event Days:
  • July 16: Free Bottled Water Day
  • July 23: Business Apprecation Day
  • July 30: Kid’s Day
  • August 6: Market Bingo Day
  • August 13: Taste of Champlin Day
  • August 20: Mom’s Club Blood Drive Day

The Little Gym to open in Champlin, MN. Little Gym, a 30-year-old franchise providing activities for infants to 12 year olds, will soon open in Champlin. 


About Little Gym
Little Gym has “professionally developed, non-competitive curriculum designed to build motor skills while having fun, and simultaneously fostering enhanced emotional, intellectual and social skills.” Classes include movement, music, gymnastics, sports, exercise, games, listening and cooperation. Each child receives individual attention and progresses at his or her own pace.

Cost: Who knows?
How much does it cost? It’s not listed on their web site. Instead, you must fill out an online form to set up a free introductory class visit to a Little Gym.

Champlin’s Little Gym will open on Business Park Boulevard North in the Town Center retail building next to Dr. B’s Sport Cuts and Kai Salon. 

For more information, visit http://www.littlegym.com or e-mail The Little Gym of Champlin at tlgchamplinmn@thelittlegym.com.

Otto Nelson of Champlin is a World War II veteran who shared his experience with Champlin Park High School students in 2008. Stories and storytelling lie at the heart of human experience. They make us who we are, preserve our memories, shape our perceptions and some even believe they heal us.  Currently in the midst of a vibrant and exciting revival, storytelling is being applied in performances, mainstream writings—and through oral history projects, such as was recently offered to Champlin Park High School’s (CPHS) Honors Block students.

Champlin Park High School Honors Block students meet World War II veterans
Champlin Park High School Honors Block course, which pairs required history and English courses, studied World War II history recently, and as part of their studies, they took a field trip to Champlin Shores retirement home to speak with World War II (WWII) veterans. 

Paul Darda, CPHS social studies teacher, said the trip provided students with an opportunity to speak to some U.S. veterans of WWII after studying the conflict. “Unfortunately, future students will not have this opportunity,” said Darda. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 1,056 veterans of the war are dying each day, and that’s why students also videotaped the interviews—to save these stories for future students.

Another purpose was for students to hear eyewitness descriptions of history and contrast it with what they have read in their history books. 

Since the class has more than 60 students, the tour was split into five groups. CPHS 10th grader Caleb Hamilton met with Otto Nelson, who at 89 years old is one of five WWII veterans now residing at Champlin Shores. Hamilton’s step-dad Laurence Johnson tagged along.

“I’ve watched many WWII shows on the History Channel; however, this was a little different. Instead of listening to the stories of war heroes from past generations on TV, I was lucky enough to be in the audience of the real thing-face-to-face with an actual veteran of the war in the Pacific,” said Johnson. 

Story patterns and characters intertwine with the hard-to-perceive forces that shape our lives. And, the most important stories may be those we share with family and friends, but all help preserve memory, explain our present, and imagine our future.

Otto Nelson: World War II Veteran, and Paratrooper 
Otto Nelson sat at the head of the table with his daughter and gave an oral account of his World War II experiences, beginning with the Great Depression to his military enlistment and to the end of the war in the Pacific in 1945.  

“I was particularly impressed with his sense of humor, considering what he had been through, and the terrible things he had witnessed. Some of his stories really brought home to everyone the realities of war, yet he always seemed to end each war story on a high note,” said Johnson. 

Paratrooping and Negros Island
Nelson was drafted into the military and shipped from Northern Minnesota to California for basic training. It was there he was offered the chance to become a paratrooper. Being a Parachute Infantry Regiment (PRI) offered better pay, and more prestige, so many of the General Inductees (GIs) signed up, that is, until they saw a movie on what to expect. “You better cross your name off that list,” Nelson recalls another GI telling him. “Not me.” Otto left his name on the list, joined the PIR, and landed in Negros Island in the Philippines. 

The island, like most of the other islands in the Pacific, was volcanic and desert-like, and therefore, water was at a premium. When water finally arrived, soldiers were told to sip it slowly, or they would get sick. “Not me,” said Nelson. “I must have drunk a gallon right there and then!” 

Losing his buddies to war
A lot of his stories involved his lost friends—his buddies; it’s something that veterans mention in many stories. The brutality of war seems to foster the sense of belonging and companionship between soldiers. 

After days of constant battle, Nelson said they would be filthy from sweat and the dirt from living outside. Some of his fellow soldiers decided to bathe in a nearby river. Nelson knew this was a bad idea because there were still many “Japs” inhabiting the area. “Take a guard along, at least,” is what he told them. They didn’t listen, and not long after, Nelson heard gun shots. He and a few other soldiers found all the GIs were shot dead.

Many psychoanalysts argue that just as stories have the power to enrich our lives, shape the way we perceive and interact with the world, and reveal the wonders of the human spirit, they can play an important role helping people develop the skills to cope with and survive myriad life situations (Burns). Nelson didn’t glamorize the war stories. “With such a young audience present, you would imagine he might tone down the stories a little,” said Johnson. “Well he didn’t. He told it how it was, and made a point of letting everyone know of war and its terror.” Nelson wanted the students to know war is hell.

Nelson recounted a day when he went to the beach to see some of his wounded men. One of the men looked up at Nelson, his leg blown off, and asked: “Am I going to be okay?” Nelson noticed the man’s leg wasn’t bleeding, which is unusual for this type of injury, so he rolled the guy over to check his backside. The man had no skin from the base of his back to the top of his head. The medic arrived to take the injured man to get help, but he died only a few yards away as they walked down the beach.

The Greatest Generation: Share your stories
“WWII veterans are often referred to as the Greatest Generation—and for good reason. We owe so much to the men and women who sacrificed so much in order for us to enjoy our ‘freedom,'” said Johnson. “It would be a travesty for us not to appreciate and remember what they sacrificed.”

Please share your stories, particularly about WWII, in the comments section—whether it is your own story or someone else’s.


 NOTE: A special thank you to Otto Nelson and his daughter for sharing their stories, and for spending time with Laurence Johnson after the meeting with the students.  

Donie Galloway Riverside Park is tucked away in the northwest corner of Champlin and Dayton. The park, located at 1333 Dayton Road, offers:

  • Soccer/lacrosse fields
  • an open play area
  • walking trails
  • and a tree nursery

Although the park has no playground equipment, it provides lots of space to play soccer or lacrosse (Champlin Park High School’s lacrosse team practices and hosts games there regularly), and there is a trail that follows along the banks of the Mississippi River.

Originally, it was called North River Park; however, in March 1993, the City of Champlin renamed North River Park as Donie Galloway Riverside Park in honor of former Police Chief Donie Galloway. A bronze plaque was erected under the park sign at the park commending his accomplishments with the Champlin Police Department.

For more information, contact Parks and Public Works Director Lisa Becks at 763-923-7132  or Lbeck@ci.champlin.mn.us.

Cycle through Elm Creek Park Reserve in Champlin, MNIt didn’t take long for me to devise a personal list of my top-ten things to do in Champlin. Take a look and think about your favorite things to do in our community—and then post it in the comments section.

  1. Bicycling in Elm Creek Park Reserve
    I grew up in rural Sheridan, Wyoming where bike trails are nonexistent. I had to ride on gravel roads or on the side of the road hoping I didn’t get hit by passing trucks and horse trailers. This is one of the top-ten reasons I love Minnesota; bike trails are everywhere! I feel so fortunate.
  2. Walking along the Mississippi River in Donie Galloway Park
    Donie Galloway Park isn’t your traditional park. It’s a big, open field with trails that follow the Mississippi River—a hidden gem really. 
  3. Swimming at the Elm Creek Reserve swimming pond
    It’s so clean! I love riding bike through Elm Creek Park to the swimming pond on a hot day, and then jumping in. It’s worth paying $20 for a season family pass. Or you can pay $2 per person per day. It is open Memorial Day through Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  4. Walking to Caribou Coffee for a cappuccino
    I love walking, and now there are sidewalks from my house to Caribou Coffee. I get exercise and a cappuccino. What more could I ask for: more trash bins along the path, perhaps. 
  5. Having a beer and miniburgers at Maverick’s Woodgrill 
  6. Taking my dog to the Elm Creek Off-Leash Dog Park 
  7. Picking strawberries at Bauer’s Berry Farm
    Bauer Berry Farm offers the finest in strawberries, blueberries, and sweet corn; pick your own, or purchase picked fruit fresh from the field!
  8. Watching a movie at Champlin Mann Theatre
  9. Ice skating at the Champlin Ice Forum
  10. Visiting the observatory at Jackson Middle School 

“Dolly, want to go to the park?” That’s all I have to say, and our Parson Russell Terrier is running in circles, in a hurry to get out the door. She can’t wait to go to the dog park (or the “dog off-leash area”) in Champlin’s Elm Creek Park Reserve.

We adopted Dolly more than two years ago from the Animal Humane Society in Coon Rapids. She was rescued from a puppy mill in Le Center, and as a five-year-old female, she’d obviously had a lot of babies (thus her name: Dolly Parton)—and was never walked or exercised. In fact, when we first adopted her, she could only walk a few feet without stopping to catch her breath. Slowly, we added a few more steps to her daily walks, and after a few months, we took her to Elm Creek Park Reserve’s Dog Off-Leash Area, part of Three Rivers Park District

29 acres of off-leash fun!
Three Rivers Park District offers several opportunities for exercising dogs, including designated dog-walking trails, dog off-leash areas and skijoring/dogsledding trails. 

Elm Creek Park Reserve, which is part of the Three Rivers Park District, has 29 fenced acres for dogs like Dolly to run around without a leash. There is a pond, for those dogs who love jumping in the water and running after tennis balls, and there are many other areas for dogs to explore.

Purchase a pass or pay a daily fee
You will need to purchase a $30 annual pass, or you can pay a daily fee of $5 available via a drop box. Envelopes at each drop box will indicate the required fees and will include a Use Agreement, which must be signed. Make sure you display this on your car because it is patrolled quite a bit, and people are fined (Note: In the comments section below, a woman said she was fined more than $125 for not having a pass).

And most important
Don’t forget to bring a sack to pick up after your dog! Sometimes, others will leave extra sacks hanging on the fence for you to use, but don’t count on it. Bring a few plastic sacks to pick up the poop!

A tour of Elm Creek Park Dog Off-Leash Area courtesy of Dolly Johnson

Dolly says, \
Dolly says, “Hurry up! Let’s go!” when she gets to Elm Creek Park Reserve’s dog park.

Dolly forges ahead at the dog park
She enjoys the shady spots and takes her time sniffing everything.

Dolly at the pond in Elm Creek
Many dogs enjoy jumping into the pond, but Dolly just walks along the edge greeting the dogs and owners.

Dolly near the picnic table
Halfway through the loop, Dolly’s tongue droops.

 Is Shannon waiting for Dolly or is it the other way around?
Is Shannon waiting for Dolly or is the other way around?

Dolly meets other dogs
Dolly meets and greets others along the path.

Time to head home
It’s the end of the road, and time to head home.