Shelter honors snowmobiler BrandtThe members of the Voyageur Snowmobile Club could think of no more appropriate tribute to John Brandt than a structure on one of the most beautiful overlooks along the Yukon Snowmobile Trail.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
The members of the Voyageur Snowmobile Club could think of no more appropriate tribute to John Brandt than a structure on one of the most beautiful overlooks along the Yukon Snowmobile Trail.
Brandt, an avid snowmobiler and dedicated employee of Lake County, died in a snowmobile accident last March at the age of 41.
“He was always talking about building a shelter on that part of the trail,” Brandt’s wife Sarah said of the location, a mile or so off Highway 2 just south of the Bailey Road. She is the administrator for the club. Although she doesn’t snowmobile, she got involved when her husband did.
“He was a very adventurous person and really enjoyed the outdoors. He is sadly missed,” Sarah said.
Club members and other volunteers began constructing the shelter in April and completed most of the work by May, but they’re still adding finishing touches like a plaque inside memorializing Brandt and a sign outside bearing his name.
“When we lost John, we thought, let’s do something above and beyond because he put so much work into the club,” said VSC president Dan Pierce.
This is the second memorial shelter the club has built. Brandt was instrumental in the construction of a shelter dedicated in January 2010 to three members who have had died in recent years.
The funding for the shelter was partially from club money—grants-in-aid from the state, proceeds from their annual fundraiser, money from donation boxes—but a large part was donated specifically in Brandt’s memory. His impact on the snowmobile club is still visible today.
“They referred to him fondly as their fearless leader,” Sarah said. “He gave the club a new life.”
He was the vice president of the VSC and his efforts helped triple membership and update area trails. Pierce said Brandt did most of the grant writing to obtain a new groomer for the club-maintained trails—equipment with a price tag of $200,000.
“It’s guys like John who make things happen. He was such a driven guy…he made the chore days fun. We’ve had a lot of good laughs together,” Pierce said.
The volunteer club maintains just over 90 miles of area trails, including the Yukon Trail where Brandt’s shelter was built, the Two Harbors Corridor Trails and the Gooseberry Trail.
“It’s a bunch of guys…volunteering their time and efforts to make it work,” Pierce said.
The dedication for the shelter was held on Saturday. There was a short ceremony followed by a barbecue which over 40 people attended.
“It was just a gorgeous day,” Pierce said.
The club also started a scholarship fund in Brandt’s memory, which will present two scholarships each spring. Jesse Omtvedt and Bill Sell were the winners last year. To learn more, visit www.voyageursnowmobile.com or donate via mail: Voyageur Snowmobile Club, P.O. Box 190, Two Harbors, Minn., 55616.