Thief steals Montevideo's community boat, but not spirit

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 19, 2013 - 12:30 PM

A thief swiped Montevideo’s ‘‘Let’s Go Fishing’’ pontoon boat, leaving senior citizens and youths high and dry.

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The Montevideo "Let's Go Fishing'' boat, used primarly to take senior citizens fishing, was stolen earlier this month from a Montevideo parking lot.

The 25-foot pontoon boat was a community asset in Montevideo, paid for with donations and used weekly by volunteers to take senior citizens, kids and others onto nearby Lac qui Parle to fish or just cruise the waters.

But a real-life Grinch stole the boat, motor and trailer from a parking lot in Montevideo earlier this month.

“It’s just terrible, terrible,’’ said Don Lausen, 83, president of the local Let’s Go Fishing chapter, who personally contributed money to buy the $20,000 boat six years ago. “A lot of people are really disappointed. We average three excursions a week during the summer, and take out over 200 people,’’ he said, including nursing home residents, 4H kids and other groups.

“It’s ridiculous that someone would do something like that to an organization that serves the community.’’

The green and tan 2006 Ercoa Clipper DLX, with a 2005 Mercury 60 horsepower outboard and trailer, was parked at the True Value Hardware store in town when someone hooked it up and drove off June 9. Montevideo Police Chief Adam Christopher said it was sighted on Hwy. 71 north of town being pulled by a dark-colored truck. The boat had “Let’s Go Fishing’’ and other sponsor decals.

“You can’t mistake it; it has graphics all over,’’ Christopher said.

The boat means a lot to the community, the chief said.

“It’s more than a pontoon boat. A lot of people have put blood, sweat and tears in that boat. We’re a small, trusting community. It’s sad when that trust is broken.’’

Lausen said the boat is insured, but because it’s 6 years old, it likely is worth only $12,000 to $14,000 — not enough to replace it. “I new one could be $33,000,’’ he said. Lausen said an assortment of community groups and businesses contributed to the boat, gas and maintenance, including the American Legion, VFW, Lions Club, lake associations, banks and churches. Guests were taken out for free.

The Let’s Go Fishing (www.lgfws.com) program was started in 2002, and has 30 chapters throughout the state that have served more than 91,000 seniors, youth, veterans and disabled adults.

With summer just starting, there will be a lot of disappointed people in the Montevideo area who won’t be able to get on the water, Lausen said.

“We’re going to try to do something, we’re not sure what,’’ he said. “We’ll see if we can maybe rent one for the season.’’ He’s uncertain how the group will replace the stolen boat.

Anyone with any information can call Montevideo police at 320-269-8808.

Fishing for a cause

Bill Clough is hoping for a good turnout Saturday at the third annual Jon Clough Memorial Scholarship fishing tournament on Knife Lake near Mora, Minn. “We take up to 50 teams, and we’re not near that yet,’’ he said Tuesday.

The one-day tourney is a fundraiser for a scholarship fund the family established for Jon Clough, Bill’s son, who was killed in 2010 at age 20 in a dirt-bike accident. “My son and I fished a lot together; it was a passion of his and mine,’’ Bill Clough said. The family also holds a fundraising snowmobile ride in February.

Money raised goes to the scholarship fund. Last year, a student at Mora High School received $3,000 to further her education, and this year a student was given $2,500, Bill Clough said. “It may not be a lot of money for some, but for others it makes all the difference in the world,’’ he said.

Anglers interested in Saturday’s fishing tournament, or for more information on the scholarship fund and Jon Clough, see http://jonclough.yolasite.com or call Bill Clough at 612-369-4474.

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