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Hemkin named 'Unsung Hero' for snowmobiling

Dale Hemkin of Brainerd was named Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association’s 2011 “Unsung Hero” For Outstanding Commitment to the Sport of Snowmobiling Feb. 11 during that evening’s banquet at the annual Winter Rendezvous in Fairmont, Feb. 9-11. Other awards were presented: “Go Getter” to Colin Brown of Loretto, Dealer of the Year to Waconia Farm Supply and Snowmobiler of the Year to Bob Linn. No nominations were submitted for Young Snowmobiler of the Year or Family of the Year.

Hemkin started in 1967 riding logging roads and lakes during weekends and formed relationship with other riders. In 1975, he got together with a few others to formed a new snowmobile club and helped incorporate the Brainerd Snodeos. The city of Brainerd approached Hemkin and the group with hopes of them forming a club to promote safe snowmobiling in the city limits. The small group developed a trail system and purchased their first groomer, a Ski-Doo Alpine and a homemade four-foot drag in 1976 for $750. Now the club’s groomer costs $109,000. They laid out a trail from Brainerd to Riverton and Brainerd to Crow Wing State Park. As the sport grew, so did their club and grooming equipment.

When it was time to retire in 1987, Hemkin and his riding partner wife, Clarice (passed away 2011) chose to spend winters here to devote more snowmobiling time and backpack snowmobiling before sleds were equipped for that type of travel. He served in all positions of the club and groomer for 14 years. Was honored for 25 years of outstanding service in 2000 and in 2010 retired as club treasurer after 32 years.

Hemkin belongs to Brainerd Snodeos club and Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association. He knows the importance of joining clubs and associations which work to keep 21,000 miles trails on the ground for all of us to enjoy riding on. Local clubs and their volunteers are responsible for the maintenance and grooming of 19,000 miles of trails. The DNR cares for 2,000 miles.

If you know of someone and/or business who would be an excellent candidate for one of these awards, submit their name and fill out the nomination form by going to the website:

The MnUSA also has a 2012 scholarship program scholarships up to $3,000 to graduating high school seniors planning to pursue further education in an accredited two- or four-year institution of higher learning or accredited vocational school and/or individuals currently enrolled in such a program. Scholarship applications must be received in the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association office no later than March 31. For more information, go to the website:

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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