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’ve always thought of spring as a time for new beginnings and great adventures. There’s something about life blooming all around us that makes me excited and ready to discover new things, and I suspect many feel the same way. Fortunately, there’s plenty of ways to do that in Austin. Austinites are forging ahead on their own, discovering wondrous new passions. In fact, there’s a lot of people from our community who are finding themselves through travel. Take Hattie Stadheim, for instance. The 23-year-old fashionista has taken lessons from her time in the United Kingdom and Italy, to heart on her way to graduation and a spectacularly bright future in the fashion industry. She shares her vision and designs with Austin Living, starting on page 26. Orion Henningsgaard and Theresa Donnelly know a little something about travel. Aside from their time spent teaching English in South Korea, the two have traveled throughout the U.S. and recently returned from a 26-month stint in southern Ethiopia. They were motivated to travel and wanted to see the world before coming back to Austin. They work in a local law office and are making plans for their next big adventure: graduate degrees. Learn all about the couple on page 54. For a new experience a little closer to home, why not start your garden early? Randy Berg of Berg’s nursery has a few tips for would-be gardeners to get a head start on the season on page 28. I’ve always wanted to grow a few vegetables for some homemade cooking and this could be the year to try it out. Of course, trying new things is a great goal to have and easily attainable in our vibrant community. There are always new things happening to make Austin Living a truly fulfilling experience.

PUBLISHER Dave Churchill EDITORIAL Editor Trey Mewes Contributing Writers Adam Harringa Matt Peterson Jason Schoonover Photographer Eric Johnson ART Art Director/Story Layout Colby Hansen Graphic Designers Susan Downey Colby Hansen Kathy Johnson Kristin Overland SALES & PROMOTION Advertising Manager Jana Gray Sales Representatives Heather Ryks Ben Ankeny Brenda Landherr Merry Petersen MARCH-APRIL 2014 Volume 2, Number 2 EDITORIAL CORRESPONDENCE: Editors, Austin Living, 310 2nd Street NE, Austin, MN 55912. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or reproduced without written permission. For comments, suggestions or story ideas call 507-434-2214. To purchase advertising, call 507-434-2220 © A Minnesota Publishers Inc. publication

Trey Mewes, Editor



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on the cover


features featur

what’s inside


Hattie Stadheim’s European adventures have influenced her style as a fashion designer


Jerry Girton hasn’t stepped away from theater


CARRYING AUSTIN’S TORCH One woman is spearheading efforts to bring people to Austin

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Austin ArtWorks holds its first fundraiser for the Paramount Theatre


Fashion and fun come together for the Austin Wedding Showcase


Austinites enjoy a little wine and yoga at the Austin Country Club


Pacelli Catholic Schools honors its boosters with the Pacelli Hall of Honor







The Austin Area Art Center brings a bold vision to the community

Dick and Belita Schindler went from a downtown show home to a beautiful rambler along Turtle Creek

This Austin welder has made his name with steel wine and bottle holders

Chef Elizabeth Diser reflects on Easter trips and tasty meals




Randy Berg reveals some of the best ways to get an early start on a spring garden.


A wedding planner shows the best ways to plan for a great wedding day

An area couple reflects on a journey in Africa through the Peace Corps


Another look at Austin Living



As things start to thaw, much of Austin is getting ready for a busy spring


A tale of loyalty and streetcars


The fun family support March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 5

SEEN | Buy Art! Fundraiser The Austin Area Commission for the Arts and the Austin Area Art Center formally joined forces earlier this month with a large fundraiser for the upcoming Austin ArtWorks Center on Jan. 17. The Buy Art! Fundraiser pulled in $6,500 from residents who bought donated art from the Cedar Gallery in Owatonna, which closed last fall. The money will go to help the Austin ArtWorks Center open this year.

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(1) Jennie Knoebel, executive director of the Austin Area Commission for the Arts, announces the Austin Area Art Center has officially joined with the AACA and its site at the Oak Park Mall is now the temporary home of the Austin ArtWorks Center (2) People talk and look at art during an art auction fundraiser at the bank building for the Austin Area Commission for the Arts (3) Dan McRaith flips through the art options during the first night of the event (4) People checking out the upstairs of the old bank building downtown (5) Janice Mino of Austin flips through prints and enjoys wine (6) Melissa Trihus, a member of the Austin Area Commision for the Arts, cashiers during the event (7) Julie Craven, left, and Linda Baumann, serve samples of wine (8) Jeanne Sheehan, left, and Darlene Gunderson, look over a print during the art sale 6 | Austin Living | March-April 2014


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SEEN | Austin Wedding Showcase More than 100 brides-to-be once again found kindred spirits at the annual Austin Wedding Showcase at the Hormel Historic Home on Jan. 26. Though a blizzard roared through the area, it couldn’t stop vendors and enthusiasts from showing the latest fashions and wedding trends to eager Austinites. About $3,000 in wedding prizes were given away, according to Holly Johnson, executive director of the HHH. The event’s highlight was a fashion show featuring area models.





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(1) Jake Arroyo, Niko Hildenbrand, Kody Reuter and Trey Dodd (2) Eliza Williams, Rachael Bernand, Devin Winter, Jessika Starry, Olivia Bernand, and Amanda Fett (3) Chelsey Walerak (4) Cally Skinner and Holly Page (5) Dawn Stern and Kristine Merten (6) RaNae Bohm and Hannah Blumenshein (7) Linda Enstad and Hailey Lockington (8) Penny Karsjens (9) Pam and Heather Selmecki (10) Kayla Sexton, Katie Gartner, and Carmen Gartner (11) Jeannette Flatness and Amanda Buchanan (12) Brook Wiedeman and Hillary Herak

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SEEN | Yoga and Wine A little yoga and a lot of fun were in store for Austinites who went to the Yoga Studio of Austin’s “Yoga and Wine” event at the Austin Country Club on Friday, Feb. 7. More than 30 participants came for a 50-minute yoga workout, with owner and instructor Lindsey Kepper, followed by several hours of wine tasting and great food. Patrick Whalen, the studio’s masseuse, was on hand to demonstrate his massage skills for participants as well.

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(1) Participants get ready for yoga with a quick pose (2) Sarah Hensley, Jennifer Gosha, Julie Walski and Kristi Kreun (3) Lisa Haase, Tina Gleisner and Lindsay Bires (4) Teresa Baldus and Kris Baldus (5) Andrea McNeely and Katie Allen Ziegler (6) Yoga Studio of Austin owner and instructor Lindsey Kepper leads the class in a pose (7) Participants reach for the sun (8) Eve Cowan and Andria Hansen (9) Participants go through the downward dog stretch (10) Tonia Peters (11) Bonnie Erickson, Kristi Kreun and Julie Walski (12) Sheila Ondich, Brenda Orcutt and Jane Justice (13) Holly Wallace (14) Molly Pogones and Natalie Baudler

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SEEN | Pacelli Winter Gala and 2014 Hall of Honor Pacelli Catholic Schools honored longtime supporters and volunteers at its annual Pacelli Winter Gala by formally announcing its Hall of Honor. Four couples — Walt and Jan Baldus, Randy and Wendy Kramer, Steve and Bonnie Murray and Jim and Jeanne Sheehan — were inducted into the 2014 Hall of Honor, with several Pacelli luminaries retroactively inducted as charter members. Pacelli officials decided to create a Hall of Honor to recognize people who may not have attended Pacelli schools or distinguished themselves on the athletic field, but nevertheless became integral parts of Pacelli life through their service and dedication to the private school system during the first 100 years of the school. 2


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(1) Jim and Jeanne Sheehan receive their plaque after being named to the Pacelli Hall of Honor (2) James Hamburge presents an award to Walt and Jan Baldus (3) Randy and Wendy Kramer (4) Steve and Bonnie Murray (5) Guests at the Pacelli Winter Gala listen to speakers during the presentation of the Pacelli Hall of Honor inductees 12 | Austin Living | March-April 2014

SEEN | Bold, Bodacious and Brave Open House The Austin Area Arts Center held an open house for its latest exhibit, “Bold, Bodacious and Brave II,� on Feb. 3. The show features the works of arts center volunteers Barb Cafourek, Bonnie Lee and James Murphy. Cafourek displayed sculptures and other works, while Lee showed several of her watercolor paintings. Lee demonstrated his digital artistry through several exotic digital photographs. This is the second such show to feature all three artists, with Cafourek representing the bold, Lee the bodacious, and Murphy the brave side of local art. 1 2


(1) James Murphy, Bonnie Lee and Barb Cafourek (2) Bonnie Lee and Yvonne Jondal (3) Lora Lee Bauer and Sally Gerhart

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Dr. Dick and Belita Schindler have taken a ranch-style home and turned it into a comfortable environment to accommodate their hobbies and family activities. 14 | Austin Living | March-April 2014

A bay of windows looks out over Turtle Creek from the Schindlers’ master bedroom.

Dr. Dick and Belita Schindler found the perfect home for their active lifestyle: a gorgeous rambler with an incredible view BY TREY MEWES • PHOTOS



Dr. Dick and Belita Schindler wake up every morning to gorgeous trees, a beautiful creek and an astounding view from their bedroom windows. It’s a far cry from the fashionable two-story home the Schindlers used to own in downtown Austin, a home they never thought they would leave. For years, Belita made her name as Austin’s preeminent interior designer by using the lower level of their downtown home as a show floor. Buying a home was the last thing on their minds. That changed the moment Belita saw the 1958 three-bedroom Minnesota rambler on the 700 block of 22nd Street Northwest. “We hadn’t talked about it at all, but we came out here and bought it before we left,” Belita said. Belita saw the home for sale one day, and on a lark the couple decided to look inside. It was inside that spacious interior with a gorgeous view of the Turtle Creek that Belita realized she where she wanted to live from then on. Continued on page 16 March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 15

Belita Schindler’s office space on the main floor of the Schindler’s home in northwest Austin.

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Continued from page 15 “It was just a feeling,” she said. “I don’t know if I can describe it. This was just the right thing to do.” Since moving into the rambler three years ago, the Schindlers have made the 2,400 square-foot home their own in subtle ways. Despite Belita’s background as an interior designer, the Schindlers have made few changes to their home. A little bit of color to spruce things up, a shift in furniture, and a knocked-down closet that transformed into a proper work space for Belita’s office are all the changes they’ve made. “It’s a comfortable home,” Dick said. Belita had known the home before — she helped its previous owners design and add a gorgeous master bedroom with the stunning view about 10 years ago. Another pair of owners expanded the home by turning its former garage into an extension of the family room — with another garage added to the property. Visitors are immediately greeted with a warm, Minnesota decor once they step into the home. The Schindler’s living room includes pieces of Minnesotan wood art and, vibrant warm colors — yellow-orange in the living room, a dark green in the kitchen and family room on the north end of the property. Continued on page 18

Dr. Dick Schindler in the upstairs living room of the home, which adds a touch of retro to the overall feel.

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The Schindlers’ home offers the couple a prime chance to see wildlife.

Continued from page 16 “I’ve always liked warm colors,” Belita said. The Schindlers’ home is decorated with wonderful furniture they’ve collected over the years. A table from Belita’s mother is used in the family room, while art they’ve collected or bought from local artists over the years adorn the walls. “Basically everything that was in our old house, we just hauled over and brought it here,” Dick said. The kitchen, just south of the family room and adjacent to the living room and entrance, is designed for open space and comes with glass cabinet doors. In fact that’s what the Schindlers most enjoy about their home: Its spacious atmosphere. Dick and Belita say they’ve never been able to accommodate people for parties so well in any other home. “We had 35 people here over Christmas,” Dick said. The Schindlers’ dining room lies south of the kitchen and includes a brick fireplace. From there, a hallway leading to the master bedroom also has entrances to Belita’s office, a bathroom and a guest bedroom. The dining area on the main floor is simple but pleasant.

The master bedroom is simple and open with a picturesque view of their backyard and the Turtle Creek.

This room has many of the activities Dr. Dick Schindler involves himself in, including biking. 18 | Austin Living | March-April 2014

The master bedroom is arguably the best room in the home, as windows stretch across the walls to give a panoramic view of Turtle Creek and the various wildlife nearby. “This is the best lot in the whole town,” Belita said. The Schindlers’ basement is also impressive. Aside from even more space for grandchildren and neighborhood children to play, there’s another bedroom, a workshop for Dick, and a spacious downstairs family room where the Schindlers keep exercise equipment near Dick’s office. The downstairs family room leads to the backyard, where the Schindlers can snowshoe or walk on trails close to Turtle Creek. “It’s great,” Dick said. “It leads right to the house.” For people as active as the Schindlers, having such a flexible, open home is a boon. It feels as though this was the home Dick and Belita were meant to have. “My youngest sister said, ‘This house feels like your whole life was headed here, but you just didn’t know it,’” Belita said.

Belita Schindler talks about the couple’s kitchen and how the design was created.

While much of the house is clad in quieter tones of browns, yellows and tans, this room stands in stark contrast with bright green walls.

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From welding to wine BY ADAM HARRINGA • PHOTOS



John Tapager has created a successful venture out of his handmade wine glass and bottle racks John Tapager still remembers the conversation seven years ago. He was in a bar — on his way to Las Vegas with his brother and brother-in-law — where they struck up a conversation with a woman who owned an eyewear shop. She had it set up like a boutique, Tapager recalls, so she always looked for different

ways to display her eye glasses. As they sat there talking, the woman asked if Tapager, who at the time created and sold steel cat sculptures and other novelty items to moderate success, could design something for her. About a month later, he put something together. As he looked at it, however, he noticed a couple of wine glasses sitting out, and wondered if his frame would hold them. Then he wondered if the center piece would hold a wine bottle. “That was just a total fluke,” Tapager said. “I never even thought of doing wine racks.” Tapager started to tinker with different looks and models, and came up with his first draft — a rack that securely held six wine glasses and a wine bottle. That was 2007. Since then, his business has grown every year, he says, and he now has two U.S. utility patents on 11 unique racks.

Welding success Tapager, born and raised in Austin, worked as a welder for more than 30 years, so a transition to crafting steel was relatively seamless. Tapager was a welder by trade, but he always had his eye on entrepreneurship. He worked for the same company for about 20 years, mostly in Seattle, and spent his last four years there traveling, going from fiber optic cable job to job throughout the country. After Enron filed for bankruptcy in 2001, the demand for his employer’s fiber optic cable plummeted; he and many of his coworkers were soon out of work. Being single with nothing tying him down, he honed his focus on starting his own business. Continued on page 22

John Tapager 20 | Austin Living | March-April 2014

VISIT OUR SHOWROOM 3532 Hwy 63 South • Rochester, MN 55904

The wine holders made by John Tapager can hold not only bottles of wine but wine glasses and canned drinks. March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 21

Continued from page 20 He had family in the Austin area, so he moved back. Before long, thanks to a friend’s idea, he was producing steel cat and dog sculptures, along with planters, clocks, animal feeders and myriad other novelties, all made of steel and all with cats or dogs on them. Then he stopped in a bar on his way to Vegas.

A sweet craft Tapager now travels the Midwest — from Minnesota to Iowa and Illinois, Wisconsin and N ebraska — entering his racks into about 35 to 40 art and trade shows a year. In 2013, he had his best year yet, with almost all of his sales coming from shows. He is on Etsy as MinnesotaIronWorks as well, and that’s starting to take off, too. He does everything himself. From the fabrication and welding, to presentations and even bookkeeping. The one thing he hasn’t done, oddly enough, is create a name for his business. “I’ve thought about it, but I just can’t decide on anything,” he said. Even without a name, his holders are popular. Made completely of steel, he can turn out about 15 per day, depending on which ones he’s creating. He has a tabletop model, a wallmount rack, racks that can stand or be mounted, and an outdoor model. He also makes stainless steel rods, which stick in the ground and hold wine glasses. “There are a lot of wine drinkers out there,” he said. “That’s one thing about traveling around, doing the shows and the art festivals: People are very adamant about finding something different that’s unique and hand-made.” The best part of the business, Tapager says, is when he meets a satisfied buyer. “The biggest reward is at the shows when people come to my booth and they’ve already bought from me, and they make a point to come in and say, ‘We bought one from you last year, and we get tons of compliments about it and we just love it,’” he said.

John Tapager also has wine coolers for sale that fit in his wine holders.

Eventually, he hopes to have his racks licensed and sold commercially. “That’s what I would really like,” he said. “That’s always been my goal: to see something I designed on the store shelf.” —To order wine glass and bottle holders, email John Tapager at, call him at 507-279-9897 or visit and search for “MinnesotaIronWorks.” A flyer and complete product listing is available by emailed request. A variety of examples of John Tapager’s wine holders and the ways they can be used. (Photo provided)

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Easter treats and good eats BY ELIZABETH DISER, HY-VEE


“Are we there yet?” The classic question on a road trip. Imagine four children asking that for three hours; that is what my parents had to deal with every Easter. If that was not enough to drive someone crazy, picture six of us getting stuffed into a truck like a can of sardines, my mom randomly breaking up fights between my two sisters, a couple of dogs and the food to top it all off. I’m stuck between my parents, getting hit in the shins by the shifter and trying to eat gas station food without getting my clothes dirty. My parents, knowing all the headaches that came with a long car ride, still took us to our extended family’s Easter. When we finally arrived, we all piled out of the truck carrying in the food and toys that later will be enjoyed. After we finished unloading, the kids went to bed so the Easter Bunny could hide all the eggs and baskets. The next morning, all the kids woke up to find little notecards — riddles leading to each egg and revealing the baskets full of goodies. I remember not getting to eat the chocolate bunny until we finished our Easter dinner our aunts and uncles had prepared. Easter for us was one big pot luck so we could always find something to eat. Now that I’m an adult, it’s all about the food rather than the candy. The challenge is to bring something most people will like, but not to duplicate. I’m always the one to bring strange dishes like quesadillas, chicken chili, and dolmadas, which is ground lamb filling wrapped with a grape leaf and steamed. All of these were big hits once people tried them, but that’s always the challenge.

Guinness Stew


1 ½ pounds stewing meat, beef 1 ½ large onions, diced 1 cup carrot, diced 1 cup celery, diced 1 cup potatoes, peeled and cubed 2 ½ Tablespoons tomato paste 1 bottle Guinness Stout 8 cups beef stock 1 teaspoon paprika Salt and pepper to taste 5 sprigs of fresh Thyme

Suggested way to serve: Serve with Artisan bread, or over mashed potatoes.

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1. Sauté beef, remove and set aside. 2. Pre-heat oven 375 degrees. 3. In sauce pan that was used for beef, sauté onion, carrot and celery. Cook until onion starts to turn clear. 4. Mix tomato paste in vegetables, then add beer, simmer for one minute 5. Add beef back in, add stock, potatoes, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper simmer about one minute 6. Cover and place in oven for two hours

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Planting success BY MATT PETERSON • PHOTOS



Randy Berg of Berg’s Nursery explains the way to get a spring garden in chilly weather. Randy Berg knows a thing or two about gardens. Since he started Berg’s Nursery in 1979 with his wife, Deb, Randy has expanded his green thumb into a knowledgeable business and a vast understanding of how to get the best out of your garden as early as possible. When it comes time for spring, Berg is full of ideas for plants and techniques to keep them hearty and whole indoors. Many, with thoughts of escaping a harsh winter, have already planted seeds and are watching them sprout indoors. But don’t get too ahead of the game with hasty decisions, according to Berg. Yes, starting early spring plants indoors is relatively easy, but it requires close attention to a few factors: warmth, timing and soft transitions.


According to Berg, many gardeners make a mistake right from the start. They’re nice and toasty indoors, so their seeds should be, too. Right? That’s not always the case. “When starting seeds indoors, they overlook the temperatures,” Berg said. Seed trays sitting in cold windowsills or simply not receiving enough heat could be off to a bad start. “Getting soils warm is key to germinating seeds,” Berg added. Some sprouting plants require sunlight while others don’t, but they all benefit from warm soil at planting. “Old, old gardeners, they used to put their seeds on top of their refrigerators,” Berg said. With today’s energy-efficient appliances, that trick doesn’t work so well. However, Berg swears by a newer trick he read about several years ago and has used with success.

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Take a plastic tub of minimal height, perhaps 6 inches, and at least the length of the seedbed. Turn the tub upside down and place the seedlings, in their trays, on top of the tub. Underneath the tub, run small, incandescent Christmas lights. Turn them on to warm the soils, and seeds should sprout in no time. From there, timing is important. The seeds should begin to sprout, the first promising sign. Soon, it will be time to transplant them into their own pots or trays, but not too quickly.


Berg notes a difference between a plant’s first set of leaves, and its second, true set. The second set of leaves should look the same as the plant when fully mature. Then the timing is right. “When your first set of true leaves come out, that’s when you can transplant them,” Berg said. “Otherwise, you should not touch them.” The other question, of course, is what is the right time to put them outside? “You might still have snow on the ground when you start to harden them off,” Berg said.

An early-season trick for a not-so-early plant:


Randy Berg knows people want to get a jumpstart on their tomatoes, so they can start enjoying them sooner in the summer. “Everybody wants early tomatoes,” Berg says. But tomato plants transplanted outside too soon can suffer. Here’s a simple, downscaled way to get those tomato plants outside earlier if they’re taking up too much room in the house. For those people who already put cages around their tomatoes, this will be even one fewer step: Put a plastic wrapping around the cage, leaving just a small opening at the top to vent. Essentially, the setup is a miniature greenhouse. “You can actually cheat the season by planting early and covering,” he said. With this simple step, tomatoes will be on the plate, in the fridge, or in the cellar even sooner.


Still, don’t jump the gun. It’s not a one-day ordeal. This step is where many gardeners have killed what they had started. And nobody wants to be let down like that, especially with the promise of spring in the air. “They’ll do everything right, and then they’ll take and put them right in the garden,” Berg said. Though these little, robust plants are well on their way to maturity, they still have a transition to go through. That means several days of outdoor exposure, but overnight stays back indoors. There’s more, though. “You repeat this process for a few days,” Berg said. “You will see the plants getting stronger. They’re getting harder and thicker.” While the gentle, warm sun may seem like the best spot to place those healthy-looking, maturing plants, it isn’t. Not yet, anyway. Put them in a mostly shaded spot, where they can also grow accustomed to the sun’s rays. “They’re just like us,” Berg said. “They can sunburn real easily.” After a few days of outdoor exposure, it’s time to put your beautiful, early season flowers and vegetables into their permanent homes where they will treat you right — because you took the proper steps, and treated them the same.

Ernie Hammero begins putting together a simple warming platform consisting of a plastic bin and Christmas lights. The heat from the lights will keep soil warm while starting plants inside.

—When Randy Berg thinks about the first flowers and vegetables to focus on in spring, a list automatically comes to mind. Flowers: Pansy, Alyssum, Petunia, Dianthus, Snap dragon, Stock, Primula, Nemesia, Chrysanthemum, Osteospermum, Ranunculus Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 29


Tips for a wonderful



Mary Lynn Chandler can tell you which linens go best with wedding colors, which food goes over well at a reception and how to maximize your wedding theme on a tight budget. That’s what she does best. She’s a wedding planner and owner of Sweet Serendipity, a bridal shop within Oak Park Mall that helps organize area weddings and events. “It’s always been a passion of mine,” she said. “I saw a need, a demand in the Austin area.” Chandler, originally from Clear Lake, Iowa, has organized weddings and events for the past 10 years. She sought to use her skills for area residents when she and her family moved to the Austin area three years ago, and hasn’t looked back since. Chandler sees many customers who have similar questions on things from color schemes to table placement, and she has plenty of advice to share for a happy couple getting ready for their wedding.


Mary Chandler has 5 tips for a wedding success Mary Lynn Chandler stands inside Sweet Serendipity, the wedding and event business she owns.

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1- Weddings are affordable

Everyone has heard the old statistic that the average wedding costs $27,000, but Chandler and other wedding planners will tell you that’s just a myth: There are plenty of ways to cut down on wedding expenses. “There’s a cost-effective way to do it without breaking the budget,” she said. “Something that a lot of people don’t realize is that planning an event is something that can be done in an affordable manner.” Couples can save money on linens and using local services rather than outsourcing to larger places.

2- Make a plan (and follow through)

The more planning, the better, as far as a wedding is concerned. Couples need to be able to anticipate every need, even if they’re not working with a wedding planner. Themes, guests, seating charts, catering and more are all important elements to consider. Of course, once you plan all of that out, it’s important to follow through on your thoughts by “staying on plan, having somebody to help coordinate and keep you on track, not having too many hands in the basket.” “Having a professional that knows what they’re doing, will help you in the process,” Chandler said.

3- Keep track of the guest list

Guests are a tricky variable at any wedding. Couples need to consider how many people they’re inviting versus how many will actually RSVP when deciding on almost everything else, especially where catering’s concerned. Some people are going to want seconds, after all.

4- Don’t stretch your budget

As you’re getting closer to your big day, it’s often tempting (and far too easy) to stray from your plan to pick up extra expenses. If you can flash that cash, then by all means do so. But know that sticking to a budget means a happier couple picking up the tab at the end of the day.

5- If all else fails, outsource

Wedding planners like Chandler exist for a reason: They take a lot of the stress off of a happy event by paying attention to all the details. Best of all, they’ll help couples stick to the plan. “Having a professional that knows what they’re doing, will help you in the process,” Chandler said. “It’s so easy to go over budget without having somebody lead you in the right direction.” March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 31

Jerry Girton has retired, but he’s far from bored. He’s currently directing the play “Guys on Ice” in Albert Lea and has temporarily returned to Riverland classrooms teaching speech.

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erry Girton is enamored with the stage. When he retired as the director of Riverland Community College’s theater department in the spring of 2011, he didn’t take time off, travel, remodel his house or start his memoir. He went right back to teaching theater, albeit in a different role at another school. A friend called Girton the Friday he retired and asked him to take a temporary job for the summer and fall semester at the University of Wisconsin — La Crosse. That was the best thing that could have happened. “If I hadn’t gone to La Crosse to teach right away, I’d have been sitting in my house going, ‘Oh, I wonder what’s going on in the theater now? I wonder what they’re doing?’” Girton said bobbing up and down, mimicking the retirement regrets he avoided. Girton has been anything but inactive in his first few years of retirement. When Austin Living caught up with Girton in the lobby of the Paramount Theatre — the site where he’ll soon direct “Judy, Judy, Judy,” about the life of Judy Garland — it was clear he still has the bug for theater after more than three decades. Girton directed “The Secret Garden” for the Matchbox Children’s Theatre last November, he directed “Guys On Ice,” at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center in February and he had a small role in Summerset Theatre’s “Spamalot” last summer, which allowed him to connect with some former students. The well-spoken 62-year-old hasn’t lost the gleam in his eye when he talks about theater and his time at Riverland. And if it feels a little like talking to Girton is talking to a speech coach, that’s because it basically is, as he’s filling in for speech teacher Heidi Schara, who’s on sabbatical, at Riverland. “I never intended when I retired to be completely done with education,” Girton said. In other words, he can be as active as he wants to be. Though Girton loved the job, running Riverland’s theater program for 23 years was demanding and time-consuming. Girton referenced a theater joke and T-shirt that says, “I can’t. I have rehearsal.” “I had to say that a lot to my daughter when she was growing up, and I was kind of tired of doing that,” he said.

“Three hundred people, a stage and lights mean nothing to a goat,” Girton joked. He also still remembers a scene where a character is supposed to come on stage after falling in a vat of beer, but the actor went to the shower room and got all wet a scene early, forcing Girton and another actor to cover the mistake. “It was probably the worst example of covering up for a mistake in the history of theater,” Girton said with a laugh. As Girton has always told his actors: There’s never going to be a play that’s done perfectly. Something will go wrong, so they have to be ready to roll with whatever happens. Girton attended Austin State Junior College in 1969, and then earned an English and theater double major from Southwest Minnesota State College in Marshall. After college, he taught in Walnut Grove, where he directed his first fulllength play, “See How They Run,” which he admitted was a bit intimidating. He taught in St. James for about 11 years and earned his master’s degree from what is now Minnesota State University — Mankato during a leave of absence. From there, he made his way to Riverland in 1989.

“I can’t say On time is late Girton has too many favorite that it wasn’t strange memories and stories from his decades behind the curtain. He joked that the at first, because it was. stories “would incriminate so many people.” But he can easily list off a To sit in an audience string of treasured moments, from one student throwing up onstage there was a little to another falling and breaking a collarbone during a performance. off-putting at first to “If I had to do it all over again, I would have a notebook beside me, and me emotionally.” I would have the best nonfiction, my experience in directing, that would be - Jerry Girton funny and sad and moving,” he said.

Local beginnings Girton grew up on a farm near Grand Meadow. He still remembers with excitement his first play,“Teahouse of the August Moon,” when he was a sophomore in high school. He still remembers a goat in the play, which was not like working with a housebroken dog or cat.

In some productions, an actor would lose a loved one and continue with the performance, and in other instances theater romances could throw a wrench in the process. “N othing can throw chaos into a theater department more than a broken relationship,” Girton said. But, Girton had a law for his students: “What happens outside the theater stays outside the theater.” When rehearsal starts, the social baggage is checked at the door in favor of the shared goal. “It’s hard for 18, 19-year-olds to do that,” he admitted. Girton is still a proponent of punctuality and is no fan of actors being late, especially if it’s for something like falling asleep or talking on the phone. Most, if not all of Girton’s students will remember his saying: “10 minutes early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable.” He still hears that from students today, who often agree that they don’t like people being late. To Girton, one person being late wastes the entire group’s time. Continued on page 34 March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 33

Continued from page 33 To Girton, a theater director builds stronger relationships with students than the average teacher. He remembers joking with parents that he was with their children more than them. “It’s like a basketball coach who follows his guys after they graduate,” Girton said. Girton taught thousands of students through the theater program and other classes. For Girton, he misses the students the most from his time teaching. But he loves Facebook, as it has allowed him to keep in touch with many of his students dating back to 1989. “I miss the daily interaction with the students,” Girton said. “I had some great students when I was here.” One of those students in the late 1990s was Jennie Knoebel, now the executive director of the Austin Area Commission for the Arts. Knoebel described Girton as a great, fun director, adding he’s always well organized. “I loved him as an instructor,” she said. In fact, when Knoebel was at UW-La Crosse, Girton convinced her to come back to Austin to be a part of Riverland’s department for another semester. Now a leader in Austin’s arts community in her own right, Knoebel still enjoys working with Girton. “It’s fun working with him in a different capacity,” she said.

The power of theater At Riverland, Girton was essentially a one-person department, so he was able to make all the decisions about what plays were performed. “I miss that kind of energy — most of the time,” Girton said. “Not all of the time.” Though he continued teaching after retirement, La Crosse was more laidback, as he didn’t have to worry about enrollment,

Jerry Girton hasn’t slowed down since his retirement. He’s still involved in theatrical productions throughout the region.

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meetings, scheduling, budgets and other things that come with running a department and being a full-time staff member. “It was very exciting because all I had to worry about in La Crosse were my classes and my rehearsals,” Girton said. Plus, he taught an upper-level class in La Crosse, where Riverland only has freshmen and sophomores. Whenever people asked about his favorite plays he put on during his career, Girton would typically answer “The one I’m working on now,” when he was still at Riverland. Looking back, he remembers plays like “Metamorphosis,” as a 15-by-15-foot pool, 3 feet deep, was built onstage and the whole play took place in the pool. Girton also enjoyed classical productions and William Shakespeare plays, which he described as challenging and fun. Once, he directed a version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with all the fairies on roller skates. He also misses larger musicals, even though the logistics were more complicated. Some of the more controversial plays were some of the more successful shows Girton directed. “Sometimes I don’t think we give audiences enough credit,” Girton said. One of Girton’s favorite productions is “The Laramie Project,” which centers on the reaction to the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard. As many plays are written to be performed in New York, there’s often many swear words Girton would edit out. But with “The Laramie Project,” he kept the language in place, as the content was based on what real people said after Shepard’s death. After the play, Girton received a letter from a mother saying if the play prevented one child from going through what her son went through in high school, it was worth all of the work. “That really hit home,” Girton said. “That made a big impact to think how powerful theater can be.”

Jerry Girton runs through a song and dance routine with Mike Compton left and Jason Howland at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center in Albert Lea.

A theater champion Since he retired, Girton still goes to all the shows at Riverland. He’s a strong supporter of his successor, Lindsey Duoos Williams, and the department, even if it was a bit weird at first. “I can’t say that it wasn’t strange at first, because it was,” Girton said. “To sit in an audience there was a little off-putting at first to me emotionally.” Girton enjoys seeing friends and former students in plays, and he also enjoys going to community theater and professional theater shows. Despite decades in the theater, Girton is far from a critic. He goes to the theater to enjoy it. “I know all the work that went into getting that show,” Girton said. “I just appreciate all the work that goes into it.” Broadway is far from the only reason for being involved in theater. Girton referenced Facebook-type lists on 10 reasons why being a theater major is a good thing. “You learn so much in theater other than trying to be a star,” Girton said. For example, Girton sees working with people, especially those who have differing feelings and values, as essential to theater, as well as the work ethic behind completing a production. Many people don’t realize how much work goes into a production, according to Girton.

‘Thank God for DVR’ While Girton certainly misses the contact with his students, he doesn’t necessarily miss how busy he was. Girton has more time to visit with friends and family. Girton’s daughter, Nicole, lives with her husband, Norman, in Maple Grove with Girton’s two grandchildren, Owen, 11, and Greta, 9. He can enjoy more visits and movies with his grandchildren.

Plus, Girton doesn’t mind having more nights at home, which he admits was a rarity before. He now has a time for a different hobby: Watching TV. “I love watching television,” Girton said. “Thank God for DVR.” “Black List,” “Bones,” “Criminal Minds,” and “Law & Order: SVU” are Girton’s guilty pleasures, and he also loves reality competitive cooking shows like “Top Chef” and “Chopped.” Girton enjoys spending time on his yard and house along Turtle Creek in southwest Austin, where he often has deer on his lawn, which he admitted can wreak havoc on his plants.

Expanding arts When Girton attended school at Austin State Junior College in 1969, he admitted there wasn’t a lot in Austin when it came to the arts. That has changed. “Now, any given weekend there are choices, and that’s a good thing,” Girton said. Girton has noticed the arts expansion in Austin over the years. More people get to be involved in more things. In the past, Summerset was about the only game in town in the summer, but now there are more options for residents. To Girton, the arts have expanded in Austin thanks to many dedicated people in the community pushing things forward. “The Paramount didn’t just all of a sudden happen,” Girton said. “There were people that really worked to get it into the condition that it’s in now.” Knoebel said Girton has been an instrumental part of that. “He’s done so much for theater in Austin; he’s really helped it grow and thrive,” she said. —Girton still isn’t taking time off from theater, as he’s slated to direct “Fiddler On the Roof” for the Summerset Theatre in June. March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 35

By Trey Mewes Photos by Eric Johnson

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“The Dinner Date� Belted high-low skirt with ruched cowl neck, low back top

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here’s something about contrast that appeals to Hattie Stadheim. Clashing textures, different cuts, a variety of accessories. Contrasts and edgy designs are what inspire Stadheim, what pushes her to excel in her work. “I like to mix a lot of different things people don’t normally associate together,” she said. “For example, I like to mix a lot of different textures like leather and chiffons. Two very different fabrics, but together they are beautiful.” Contrasts define Stadheim. After all, it’s rare for a fashionminded woman who grew up in Rose Creek and attended Riverland Community College to get into one of the top fashion programs in the U.S. and travel around the world improving her craft. Yet the 23-year-old’s cheery demeanor and soft-spoken attitude belies her fierce, progressive design sense and her increasing prowess in high fashion. She has already studied in London and worked in Florence, Italy, and she has one more semester in college before she’s ready to advance her career. Don’t be surprised if she takes her Minnesota roots and small-town upbringing on the world stage at an international fashion house.

Finding her niche Stadheim developed an eye for fashion in the eighth grade, when she started to pay attention to what her classmates were wearing. It wasn’t long before she began to study patterns and colors, and take up sketching her thoughts in a notebook. “I wanted to be more unique and different, so I would tend to try more things,” she said. “I think I noticed too how clothing could make people feel and how it’s a way to express yourself. I’ve always been a creative individual, so there’s room for creativity there.” For Stadheim, getting dressed in the morning wasn’t so much a choice as it was the chance to create a masterpiece, as she puts it. Fashion wasn’t exactly what she had in mind when she first attended Southland Public Schools, however. “Up until then, I always thought I’d be a teacher, an elementary teacher,” she said with a laugh. “It was an interesting change from the direction I ended up going in.” Yet she was driven from an early age to succeed. She decided to attend Riverland for its Post Secondary Education Option courses, which allowed her to graduate from high school and earn her associate’s degree at the same time. “She was so creative,” former Riverland French instructor Sue Grove said. “You could tell she was going to be someone when she got older.” Grove remembers how creative Stadheim was in her classes. Grove used to assign family tree projects for students, done entirely in French, as one of the units of her course.

Stadheim went above and beyond in her project, an intricate, decorative collage representing her family tree. “I kept it with me until after my retirement,” Grove said. “It was so beautiful and well-done.” Yet for all her strengths, at first Stadheim wasn’t sure where to continue her education. She credits her mother, who wanted to keep Stadheim close to home, with her decision to check out the University of Wisconsin — Stout. Little did Stadheim know, Stout had a sterling reputation for its apparel program. “It’s actually one of the top 10 fashion schools in the U.S.,” she said. “People from the East Cost and West Coast will look at Midwest people, especially people who have gone to Stout, because they know their work ethic.” Continues on page 46

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“The Running Errand� Ruched tulle skirt with underlay and leather front top

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, t n e r e f f i d d n a e u i q un e r o m e b o t d e t n a w s. g n i h t e r o m y r t o t so I would tend e l p o e p e k a m d l u o c g n i h t o l c w o h d e c i t o In f. l e s r u o y s s e r p x e o t ay w a ’s t i w o h d n a l fee , l a u d i v i d n i e v i t a e r ac n e e b s y a w l a e ’v I ” . e r e h t y t i v i t a e r c so there’s room for


m i e h d a t S e i t t a -H

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“The Concert Going� High-low chiffon and spandex skirt with leather front top

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“Mini Collection� With the collection represented on these pages Hattie Stadheim kept in mind garments that would be cohesive, easily interspersed and interchangeable with one another, that could be dressed up or down depending on the day or event. As a designer, it is important to Stadheim that one design can be transformed into multiple looks and yet at the same time present its own unique and individual flair.

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“The Coffee Date� Belted long sleeve top with leather pleated skirt and neckline paired with leather pants

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Continued from page 39 Stadheim didn’t realize what an opportunity she had when she toured the campus with her family. She knew within minutes she was destined to be part of Stout’s fashion program after she met with the student guides. “The minute I walked out, I just started crying, because I was overcome with this joy, that this was where I was supposed to be,” she said.

Education’s a cinch Getting into college might have been the easiest part. From the start of her career in fall 2009, she has worked a monstrous schedule to earn her degree. From about 160 students in her beginning classes, she’s one of a handful of students left. An average day during the week involves Stadheim going to classes, getting an intensive assignment like drawing hundreds of separate tops in about two days, and spending all night researching, sketching, and sewing. Sleep is a luxury — Stadheim would take two-hour naps at several points during the week, and not sleep for several days while she kept up with work. That doesn’t count her time abroad. She had always wanted to go to Europe, but didn’t think of going to study there until the opportunity presented itself her sophomore year. She spent her spring sophomore session at the London College of Fashion learning footwear and handbag design, among other things. If anything, Stadheim’s classes reinforced how expensive fashion can be. Stadheim can still recall how expensive a piece of deep brown leather was in the United Kingdom when she bought it as part of an assignment to create a handbag. Though there are many varieties, she managed to find the one with just the right color — and a 500-pound price tag. “That’s like $1,000,” she said with a laugh. At first the shopkeeper told her she couldn’t cut the leather bundle in half, but relented after he saw how crestfallen she had become. Still, though she has a lot of leather and a gorgeous handbag, she didn’t forget the economics lesson. “I wouldn’t want to pay $500 for that handbag,” she said. At the same time, she found the experience exhilarating. London was full of fashion, full of gorgeous apparel, and full of experiences to absorb. “Just walking down the streets in London, you’d see people with outrageous outfits that you wouldn’t double-take at all,” she said. “Here you’d wear a black tank-top, but over there you’d take that black tank top and combine it with a chain, or leather.” Yet she still absorbed so much. When she would tour with other students around London as part of a history class, she

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would focus on the patterns and schemes around her instead of the architecture. She would also see designs she had previously thought of in stores marketed by other apparel designers, which delighted and inspired confidence in her. It also made her painfully aware of how much she wanted to bring her own styles to market. “It’s an incredible feeling to see something you designed out there, but again, a little bit frustrating,” she said. London wasn’t Stadheim’s only European fashion experience. She earned a prestigious internship at a haute couture wedding shop called Marriage — pronounced “Maehri-ahge” in Florence, Italy, in fall 2012. It wasn’t so much an internship as an on-the-job experience. “I actually had a few connections, and just reached out through there,” she said. She actually designed wedding dress for, which had about 20 employees including the designers and dress makers. It was a challenging experience, made all the more so by her American style of preparation versus the Italian method to sketch out dress designs. Whereas Stadheim was used to building pages of notes and pictures to use as inspiration while sketching, her Italian counterparts were a little more direct with their design process. “I was asking the head designer about this, and she was like, ‘What do you speak of? What is this?’ Stadheim said. “She was completely shocked. They just sketch it and that’s that. It’s just a different technique.” Stadheim also had to draw everything by hand, which is far different from the way many designers approach their work using computer animated drawing software and image-altering programs.

Ready for more After a whirlwind college career, Stadheim is ready to take the next step. She’ll graduate in May, when she has a few choices to make concerning her first job. She has a standing offer at the Florence wedding shop, but she wants to explore her options. She would love to work for a fashion house like H&M, a European fashion brand commonly found in malls and higher-end stores in the U.S. She’s ready to find her way in fashion and thankful for her time abroad. After all, Stadheim’s time in Europe helped her navigate through the contrasts in her life. “I was irreparably changed,” she said. —Hattie Stadheim demonstrated her fashion sense for Austin Living Magazine this year. She spent less than a week creating four outfits to represent her prowess as a women’s apparel designer and was gracious enough to model her work.

“The Traveling” Oversized men’s inspired blaser with basic shirt and tank

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Behind the scenes Austin Living magazine is always a treat to put together, but the latest issue was an extraordinary experience. Who would have thought there was an incredible apparel designer in our midst? Up-andcoming fashion star Hattie Stadheim is an absolute joy to work with, from listening to her experiences to capturing memorable photos of her latest work. Of course, not everything can go smooth during a shoot. We found ourselves trying to create a beautiful panoramic shot of Hattie on the roof of the Austin Daily Herald during a cold and snowy day. Though photographer Eric Johnson did incredible work given the circumstances, marketing representative Heather Ryks did need to give Mother Nature a helping hand to create such beautiful images. Speaking of Mother N ature, we learned all about how to get a good start on growing our gardens from Randy Berg, who was gracious enough to teach us the finer points of growing indoors and transferring plants outside. Writer Matt Peterson is seen here getting advice from Berg.

Austin Living staff get ready to improvise an outdoor shot of Hattie Stadheim on the roof of the Austin Daily Herald. Snow, a rough wind, a temperature of 10 degrees and a cloudy sky made this shot difficult for photographer Eric Johnson.

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Randy Berg of Berg’s Nursery talks to writer Matt Peterson about how people can get their growing season started early.

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Carrying Austin’s torch BY MATT PETERSON • PHOTOS



Nancy Schnable is putting attention on our community

Nancy Schnable is several months into her job as executive director of the CVB and has hit the ground running since starting.

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From her desk in Austin, Nancy Schnable is researching other cities. She’s not looking to move, buy something, or even take a vacation. It’s sort of the other way around. “There is a lot more to Austin than people realize,” she said. “So in this position, I get to expose people to the incredible things they have here.” As executive director of Austin’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, she’s looking to bring outsiders to a town with more than meets the eye. And the best way to do that is to get the word out, anywhere she can. She’s trying to sell Austin — not literally — and reach people who want to buy into the community as a place for a weekend vacation, event or exciting and informative tour of the historic city. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Like a farmer or stock trader, she has to play the futures market. While events are happening now, she has to ensure they will keep happening months and years down the road. Schnable, 34, of Hayfield, has been the CVB director for only seven months. While a native could be an excellent guide to showcase Austin’s highlights, Schnable’s prowess is in her experience emphasizing positives. The woman who grew up in Wisconsin and worked for years in Rochester, Minn., has somewhat of an outsider’s perspective. She relates to her customers, if one can call them that. After all, they’re the people whom she tries to bring to the region. Schnable originally hoped to be the CVB’s tourism

coordinator. The reply she got was a little better than that, however. She had the chance to be head of the organization. Sure, there may be more responsibility, but she wasn’t going to turn down the offer. “So I interviewed, and here I am,” she said.

Ready to lead Schnable began her hospitality career at Stone Harbor Resort in Door County, Wis. After that, she gained more experience at Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and the Tundra Lodge in Green Bay. Then she spent years beckoning to prospective visitors of what is now Rochester’s Kahler Properties, a company deeply rooted in exquisite hotel experiences. Now she is Austin’s main promoter. The wife and mother of two sons previously visited Austin for date nights and family outings, so she knew a little bit about the town’s attractions. When the phone call and interview opportunity came, she wasn’t scared. “I thought it was actually a very exciting opportunity,” she said. Schnable enters the CVB at an exciting time. The organization is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. In May, Schnable will have the opportunity to represent the organization during an open house. She shouldn’t have trouble with that, given her interactions with people. Schnable answers the phone with a clear sense of enthusiasm, and a very welcoming demeanor. Her upbeat nature makes her the

perfect person for the job. Her coworker, Eileen Chao, greets people who walk into the CVB office in the same way. Because they work in the tourism sector, it makes sense to act that way, though for them it’s not an act: Schnable is quite sincere. To fully appreciate a career, one’s life outside of work has to gel with at-office duties, too. Fortunately, Schnable loves to tour new places, steal ideas, build off interesting ones, and possibly bring the next big attraction to Austin. In Austin, though, Schnable’s job could seem like a challenge: bringing people to a meatpacking, industrial town surrounded by the cornfields and highways in southern Minnesota. “One of the challenges the Midwest faces is to get people from warmer climates to come to Minnesota in the winter time,” she said. However, Schnable hasn’t necessarily struggled with that task.

In a day’s work Creativity and aspirations aside, Schnable has some straightforward duties. Even those offer promise, though. Simple things, like a lengthy list, can be uplifting. Each month, the CVB distributes a calendar of events to local organizations, such as hotels and gas stations, so visitors can discover what’s happening in the area. The calendar contains multiple pages of happenings, which business owners and visitors can use to plan their schedules. Continues on page 52

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and longtime involvement in the event, she got that warm, Continues from page 51 fuzzy feeling. Sometimes it may seem Austin could be grasping at straws “They had told me that Austin is like their second home,” to draw visitors, especially during hard-frozen winters, but Schnable said. Schnable is keeping the calendar full, really full. “It’s very heartwarming to know that it’s multiple pages, single spaced,” she said about that calendar. What’s next? From there, however, Schnable has to take the assignments As Schnable attended a state tourism convention in a step further. Her job is about opportunity. She’s pushing the February, she gathered some new ideas for the future of envelope of how to advertise Austin as a destination. Instead Austin. Of course, she had already been working hard on that of only plugging vacations permanent assignment. or museum visits, Schnable “We’re thinking about is thinking outside the box different avenues and ways about events large and about trying to promote small. Austin that haven’t been “I love to explore,” she done in the past,” she said. said. “I love to travel. I love In today’s market, to try new, different things. social media helps, too. I like to be creative, think That push could expand outside of the box.” in the future, but so far Recently, Schnable Schnable is letting the worked to bring 300 Facebook “likes” and bikers on an overnight comments do the work in trip to Austin. Along that facet. with that, she landed a Another built-in large convention for the advantage is Austin local American Legion, improving its image all while in the midst of with Vision 2020, the spreading the word about community-betterment Paint the Town Pink. project aimed at bolstering Those efforts went well, as or implementing 10 Paint the Town Pink was large projects here by featured in the publication 2020. That sort of effort “American Profile.” One goes hand-in-hand with event is featured for each Schnable’s job. Because state, and Minnesota’s of it, Schnable is involved event happened to be with three of Vision 2020’s Paint the Town Pink in subcommittees, including Austin. It was a rewarding, groups trying to build a assignment for Schnable, visitors’ center and make and a successful one for downtown Austin and both her and Austin. the Interstate 90 corridor “We were tickled pink more enticing. for Paint the Town Pink Schnable’s job when it got accepted and compiles all the aspects published,” she said. of hospitality, marketing, Everybody needs a little scheduling and positivity. The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau releases multiple publications per year, offering visitors information about gratification with his or her It deals with uncertainty, the best sights and activities the town has to offer. job, and Schnable is starting as well, without assurance to receive that. if organizations or events “It’s very exciting when somebody gets enthusiastic will come together or fall apart. Yet she has to stay positive, about something coming to town, and I am able to help them and she obviously does. promote that,” she said. Schnable may not have a motto by which to lead her In fact, one of Schnable’s best experiences in her short career. But when people inadvertently say the right things, tenure as director has been with an Austin tradition, an event perhaps they don’t need one. that would continue regardless of her: The National Barrow “Austin really does have something for everybody,” Show. As she spoke with a family about its travels to Austin she says. 52 | Austin Living | March-April 2014

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An area couple reflects on a journey in Africa through the Peace Corps BY JASON SCHOONOVER • PHOTOS PROVIDED Since their youth, Orion Henningsgaard and his wife, Theresa Donnelly, both knew they wanted to travel the world. When they joined the Peace Corps, they weren’t concerned with where that desire led them. “We just told them, ‘Put us anywhere and we’d be happy to serve,’” Henningsgaard said. Henningsgaard, 30, and Donnelly, 29, returned to Austin 54 | Austin Living | March-April 2014

Orion Henningsgaard and Theresa Donnelly pose in front of a waterfall a few miles from where the couple served in the Peace Corps in Dodola.

early last year after serving 26 months in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, where they worked for a tour guide association in Dodola that led tourists into the mountains to hike, horse ride and stay in the Bale Mountains. “It was gorgeous,” Donnelly said, and Henningsgaard added there was beautiful wildlife like baboons and colobus monkeys. Donnelly, a Blooming Prairie native, and Henningsgaard, a Winona native, helped business leaders consider goals and ideas for the future, form a business plan, and come up with ways to interact with and help tourists. They also worked with students, mentoring many and forming an environmental club. The two started their trip with 10 weeks of training right outside the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to learn the culture and the Oromo language. They were then assigned to work in Dodola, which is a city of about 24,000 in the Bale Mountains. “It’s a fascinating place,” Henningsgaard said. The two started their time in Dodola by doing a threemonth community needs assessment, visiting organizations and government offices to gauge the needs of the community before settling into their work with the tourism association and with students. Continues on page 56

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Henningsgaard poses with the tour guides in a shipping container converted into their office.

Henningsgaard and Donnelly pose for a photo during a trek in mountains behind Dodola. The route is part of the Dodola tour guides association route tourists travel through.

Donnelly and Henningsgaard, center, pose after helping some people build a trail to about a 100foot waterfall, so they could use it as a tourist attraction for tourists passing by the area.

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Continued from page 54 The move was a large lifestyle change, as they lived without plumbing and had to gather water from a nearby well. They also had many social nuances to learn. With no appliances, they washed their clothes by hand and prepared most meals from scratch, since they didn’t have a refrigerator. Both Henningsgaard and Donnelly miss the process, calling it a beautiful and meditative process. “It was just very simple,” Henningsgaard said. To Henningsgaard, riding in a car in Ethiopia was always an adventure, as there were no patrol police and cars often drove about 80 mph on dirt roads with cattle and other obstructions in the road. Since several people always piled into the car, Henningsgaard remembered it as a bonding experienced with great conversation. With the intense sun and a three-month rainy season, Donnelly kept a sunhat and umbrella handy much of the time. The couple didn’t mind coming back to a Minnesota winter, as they missed the seasonal changes. In a Minnesota tradition, the two tried chitchatting with locals about the weather, but soon learned Ethiopians rarely talk about the weather, as conditions were almost always around 80 during the day and about 50 at night. “What are you going to say, ‘Sunny again?’” Donnelly joked. Along with their work, the couple spent their spare time hiking, gardening, reading and studying. The two admitted it can be hard saying many goodbyes as they’ve been moved from different places. They especially miss the family they stayed with in Ethiopia. Traveling and living abroad opened up the door for the two, helping them see how much more there is to the world. “You learn so much more by actually being somewhere than just hearing about it,” Donnelly said. Henningsgaard and Donnelly are no strangers to travel. Before joining the Peace Corps, they taught English in South Korea for about 30 months, where they were married. To Donnelly, the experience was a good way to fulfill their desire to travel, while also saving money and paying off their student loan debt. The two then spent a year back in the U.S. working at a wine bar in Door County, Wis. While they were waiting for their Peace Corp application to go through, they traveled across the United States, putting 50,000 miles on their car traveling to California, Alaska and to the northwest. N ow, Donnelly and Henningsgaard are legal assistants at Donnelly Law Office in Austin, which is run by Donnelly’s brother, Dan. Donnelly said it was excited coming back to Austin, because she and Henningsgaard see how diverse the community is. While in Ethiopia, Henningsgaard said he started to figure out what he wanted to do, so they were happy to return start the process. “It had been an amazing seven years of experiencing

different cultures and seeing different places, but there’s something about staying in one place and focusing on one community,” Henningsgaard said. Both Donnelly and Henningsgaard are graduates of the University of Wisconsin, where they met, but they’re planning to continue their education this fall. Henningsgaard is planning to attend law school in the Twin Cities, and Donnelly is looking into public health programs at the University of Minnesota. Their experiences abroad will be put to good use. Henningsgaard is interested in immigration law, as he hopes to continue working with people of different cultures. After learning so much from others in Ethiopia and South Korea, the couple understands the challenges of adapting to a new culture. Minnesota is known as the Oromo state, as there’s a substantial Oromo community in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Henningsgaard and Donnelly plan to connect to the community when they move there for school. “We’re excited to return the favors,” Henningsgaard said. The two urged anyone in high school or college to consider serving in the Peace Corps as a way to travel and learn about a new culture. “It’s a mind-altering experience,” Henningsgaard said.

Henningsgaard and Donnelly pose with some of the family they lived with in Dodola.

Henningsgaard watches work at a coffee plantation in the town of Yirgacheffe, a place famous for its coffee. Yirgacheffe coffee is often found in Starbucks. The people separating the coffee are paid about 80 cents per day, according to Henningsgaard. The good stuff gets shipped around the world while they sell the “bad” beans to Ethiopians, Henningsgaard said.

March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 57



DAVE SYVERSON AUTO CEN TER: 2310 East Main Street, Albert Lea, MN (507) 373-1438 Experience the difference with Dave Syverson’s non-commissioned sales team. Visit your local Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Jeep, LINCOLN, Nissan, Volkswagen, Ram dealership serving Albert Lea and surrounding areas. Access the most upto-date internet car buying tools on their website.

AMY SWAIN HEARIN G CEN TERS: 608 1st Ave. SW, Austin, MN Dr. Amy Swain is an audiologist who has over 20 years of experience in helping people hear better with hearing instruments. Let her expertise help you. Amy Swain Hearing Centers was voted the best place to get a hearing aid by Mower County 2 years in a row. Dr. Amy Swain wants everyone to hear better!

HOLIDAY CARS OF AUSTIN : 2701 West Oakland Ave., Austin, MN (888) 267-1356 Holiday Cars of Austin is proud to be one of the premier dealerships in the area. From the moment you walk into our showroom, you’ll know our commitment to Customer Service is second to none. We strive to make your experience with Holiday Cars a good one – for the life of your vehicle. Whether you need to purchase, finance, or service a new or pre-owned vehicle, you’ve come to the right place.

DINING TORGE’S LIVE: 1701 4th St. N W, Austin, MN (507) 433-1000 Torge’s has the best regional entertainment and the coldest beer in Austin! Enjoy 22 flat screen HDTV’s, a large outdoor patio with fire pit, live music, and daily food and drink specials. Torge’s Live Sports Bar and Grill is Austin Minnesota’s best nightclub!

EDUCATION NIACC: 641-422-4245 1888-GO-NIACC NIACC has a history of providing quality post-secondary opportunities. Ranked #14 in the nation for student success, NIACC offers a long list of opportunities: Adult/Developmental education, Career/Technical education, the first step to your bachelor’s degree, & Workforce development.

ENTERTAINMENT JOYOUS EVE N TS PHOTO BOOTH: (507) 437-0043 Joyous Events Photo Booth Rental Service is a newly developed company serving southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. We rent mobile photo booths for all events including weddings, corporate events, holiday parties, and bar mitzvahs.  Our professional service is guaranteed to add a high level of entertainment to your event!  Please call us with any questions, we look forward to helping you with your memorable event!

FINANCIAL ACCEN TRA CREDIT UN ION : 400 4th Ave. NE, Austin, MN (507) 433-1829 Open to anyone who lives, worships, works or attends school in Mower, Olmsted, Freeborn or Winona County. Check us out for home, auto, business or personal loans. Credit unions have better rates and fewer fees. Mobile banking available 24/7. Become a member today. Locations in Austin and Albert Lea. 58 | Austin Living | March-April 2014

HOME IMPROVEMENT AREN ’S HEATIN G: 101 3rd St. SE, Austin, MN (507) 433-5652 Steve and Penny Arens working hard to make “Our Furnace Company Your Furnace Company” for 30 years since 1983. Selling “Top Rated” Bryant Equipment. We will service any make or model. 24 HR Emergency Service. Free Estimates. Call Today (507) 433-5652. BUDGET BLINDS: 310 1st Ave. S., Albert Lea, MN (877) 373-8535 We proudly serve the local community by offering high quality and stylish window coverings for any occasion. Our lavish selection of window treatments includes shutters, blinds, draperies, shades and even window film. Call us today to schedule your free in-home consultation. Looking forward to helping you beautify your home! CUSTOM DRAPERY & BLINDS BY MICHAEL ESCH: 1120 Aspen Drive, Burnsville, MN 55337 Voice: (952) 895-0618 Custom Drapery and Blinds by Michael Esch is one of the leading window coverings businesses in the area. Our mission is to provide a top quality product at value oriented pricing with the strongest customer warranty in the business. HOME SOLUTIONS: 603-1st Ave. S., Albert Lea, MN (507) 373-3435 Update your home with windows, siding, sunroom, gutters, Gutter Helmets, sunshades, or metal roofing. We make homes new again. FREEBORN LUMBER COMPANY & DESIGN CENTER: 971 Plaza Street West, Albert Lea, MN (507) 377-4284 A family owned business that began in 1946. Stop in and visit their new facility and design showroom. Freeborn Lumber features quality building materials, new home design, kitchen remodels, cabinet design, agricultural buildings and outdoor living spaces.

INSURANCE LISA HINES AGENCY - AMERICAN FAMILY INSURANCE: 701 W Oakland Ave. Austin, MN 55912 (507)433-2160 As your American Family Insurance agent, I believe there’s more to insurance than the policy itself. It’s about providing dependable protection and service. That’s why earning your trust is my policy. Stop in for a free insurance quote.

MARKETPLACE THOMPSON INSURANCE, INC.: 507 1st St. NW Suite A., Austin, MN (507) 437-9025 Thompson Insurance, Offering Better Solutions through Atlas Insurance Brokers. We compare rates from over 50 insurance companies including AAA, Progressive, Travelers, The Hartford, Met, Safeco, Integrity, West Bend, Selective and many more. This allows us to provide you a customized, comprehensive and cost effective insurance plan for your Auto Insurance, Home Insurance, Business Insurance, Life Insurance and Health Insurance needs.

AUSTIN DAILY HERALD: 310 2nd St. NE, Austin, MN (507) 433-8851 The Austin Daily Herald is an award-winning daily newspaper that prides itself on its accurate and timely hyper-local news coverage. Herald readers are the most informed members of the Austin and Mower County communities, and have access to the best deals, promotions and coupons for local businesses.


MEDFORD OUTLET CENTER: 6750 W. Frontage Rd., Medford, MN (507) 455-4111 Our shopping destination continues its 20 year commitment of offering an exciting shopping experience of your favorite famous brands to southern MN and traveling tourists. We are located on Interstate 35 at exit 48 with close by dining and lodging.

AUSTIN UTILITIES: 400 Fourth St. N E, Austin, MN (507) 4338886 Austin Utilities is offering great rebates to residential customers who purchase energy efficient appliances and heating and cooling equipment. Look for products with the ENERGY STAR label that meet our Minimum Efficiency Requirements (MER)*. When you purchase your energy saving equipment, ask for a rebate application, fill it out, attach your receipt, and send it to your utility! CONSERVE energy for the environment and SAVE money for yourself.


March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 59

February 1 - March 16

n Minnesota Disasters Traveling Exhibit Where: Austin Public Library Learn about the man-made and natural disasters that have affected Minnesotans through the years in this traveling exhibit co-hosted by the Austin Public Library and Mower County Historical Society. Call 507-437-6082 for more information.

February 21 - March 1, March 6-9 n The Drowsy Chaperone

When: 7:30 p.m. February 27-March 1, March 6-8; 2 p.m. March 9 Where: Frank W. Bridges Theatre, Riverland Community College Riverland Community College presents the hysterical Broadway comedy involving a musical theatre fan whose cast albums come to life in front of him. Recommended for ages 12 and up. Contact for information and tickets.

February 28

n Ragamala Dance: Sacred Earth When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Historic Paramount Theatre One of the Indian Diaspora’s leading dance ensembles presents an homage to the earth through dance, music and other visuals. Call 507-434-0934 or go to for more information.

March 2

n Austin Symphony Orchestra presents “Sounds of Peace” When: 2 p.m. Where: Knowlton Auditorium inside Austin High School The third concert of the Austin Symphony Orchestra season features husband and wife pianist team Roberto Plano and Paola Del Negro. Tickets are available at Hy-Vee of Austin and the Coffee House on Main. For more information, call 507-433-5647 or go to 60 | Austin Living | March-April 2014

March 4

n Third annual Women of Achievement Dinner When: 6 p.m. Women all across Mower County are eligible for the Woman of Achievement award, though only one will be named the 2014 Woman of Achievement. There will be a dinner, guest speaker and silent auction. Call Cheryl at 507-325-2227 for more information.

March 14-15

n Judy, Judy, Judy When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Paramount Theatre This talent-filled performance features local actress Krista Johnson as Judy Garland and is directed by former Riverland director Jerry Girton. The performance is a fundraiser for the Paramount Theatre. Tickets are $20 and are available at or by calling 507-434-0934.

March 20

n The Paramount Theatre presents “An American in Paris” When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Paramount Theatre The first in the 2014 Movie Series sponsored by Knutson Construction, “An American in Paris is a 1951 musical based on George Gershwin’s 1928 work. The movie stars Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Tickets are $5. Call 507-434-0934 for more information.

March 22

n Foodie Throwdown When: 6 p.m. Where: Hormel Historic Home The third annual HHH event promises to bring more chefs and fun to the Austin area. Sample food from some of Austin’s best chefs and vote for the best. Full bar.

As things start to thaw, much of Austin is getting ready for a busy spring! Here are some incredible activities to take in over the next few months. All event details, including date, times and location, are subject to change.

March 27

April 17

When: 7 p.m. Where: Paramount Theatre The Spencers are here to bring a fusion of illusion, magic, humor, mystery and more in their performance at the Paramount. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, or part of a season ticket package for $50. Part of the Paramount Performance Series.

When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Paramount Theatre The 1956 epic will be shown as part of the 2014 Movie Series sponsored by Knutson Construction. Tickets are $5. Call 507-434-0934 for more information.

n The Spencers: Theatre of Illusion

n The Paramount Theatre presents “The Ten Commandments”

April 5

April 25

When: 5:30 p.m. Where: Holiday Inn Enjoy unlimited tastings of signature items from Mower County’s finest chefs. Wine tasting, cash bar, live and silent auction, door prizes, entertainment and more. Contact Jamey at 507-434-8994 or go to

When: 6 p.m. Where: Holiday Inn Ballroom Annual fundraiser for Relay for Life Mower County sponsored by IBI Data. Silent auction, auction, music, dancing and more.

n Fourth Annual Taste of Mower County

April 11-13

n Matchbox Children’s Theatre presents “After the Rain King” When: 7 p.m. April 11 and 12, 2 p.m. April 13 Where: Paramount Theatre Follow Glory and her friends as they time travel to confront pirates, cowboys, knights and even bugs after following the devious Rain King into a magical book to rescue a playmate. Call 507-437-9078 for more information.

April 13

n Young Artists’ Concert When: 2 p.m. Where: Knowlton Auditorium inside Austin High School The winners of the Young Artists’ Competition will play with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Tickets available at Hy-Vee of Austin and the Coffee House on Main. For more information, call 507-433-5647 or go to

n Black and White Ball

April 26

n Fifth annual Taste of Nations When: 11 a.m. Where: Oak Park Mall The annual multicultural celebration promises to bring thousands of people together from dozens of countries and myriad backgrounds. Celebrate the diversity in Austin with food, games, entertainment and music. Contact 507-434-2863 for more information. Free to the public.

April 30-May 4

n Riverland Theatre presents “Picnic” When: 7:30 p.m. April 30-May 3, 2 p.m. May 4 A classic drama by playwright William Inge about a small Kansas town anticipating an annual Labor Day picnic. Mild adult themes, recommended for ages 12 and up. Contact for more information and tickets.

March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 61

BOOK REVIEW As the Austin Page Turners committee plans for the 2014 Page Turners author, committee members are taking time to share some of their favorite Minnesota books with Austin Living. Carla Diekmann is a Page Turners committee member and is reviewing “Until They Bring the Streetcars Back,” by Stanley Gordon West.

A tale of loyalty and streetcars BY CARLA DIEKMANN Back in 2003, I had the privilege of attending the National Council of Teachers of English conference in Indianapolis, Ind., where I met this genteel cowboy who gave me his book in hopes I would take it back to Minnesota and share it with my students. The man was Stanley Gordon West, and the book was “Until They Bring the Streetcars Back.” I enjoyed the book then, and so I was excited when the Austin Page Turners began to consider it Carla for the city-wide read for this year. Upon Diekmann re-reading the book, I enjoyed it just as much the second time around — a sign of good literature in my book. Set in St. Paul, Minn., in 1949, the story is about Cal, a teenage boy enjoying his senior year at Central High School (There’s even a map in the front of the book of St. Paul with all of the book’s locations noted). His simple, ordinary life becomes complicated when he meets and befriends Gretchen, also known as Gretch the Wretch to other students. It becomes Cal’s mission to help Gretchen escape her violent father, which leads him into a tangled sequence of events he is incapable of stopping without feeling like he’s abandoning Gretchen, and the good deed he feels is required of him because of his sense of morality. The subplot of the book involves Cal’s relationship with his father, a stern yet at times surprisingly kind man who has made a life out of being a streetcar motorman. In 1949, the streetcars are being converted to buses, and Cal’s father sees it as the demise of society,

62 | Austin Living | March-April 2014

stating “I wouldn’t drive one of those filthy machines for love nor money.” Cal strives for his father’s recognition on the basketball court, only to be disappointed time after time when his father finds reasons not to attend the games. Streetcars is a great story, with noteworthy symbolism. Yet West tends to overuse the simile and metaphor; it’s a mixed result because they are somewhat distracting at times, yet they are interesting and effective at other times. For fun, you could keep a running count of them throughout the book. My favorite: “His bravery was hanging in the closet next to his motorman’s uniform.” The themes are what make the book, most notably the ideas of loyalty and that people aren’t always what they seem. This is a great book for a wide audience. Older adults will enjoy the setting and the throwback to traditional ideas and values of the mid-century. Younger readers will enjoy the tale of a teenager dealing with many of the same issues they are still faced with today. Look for other books from Stanley Gordon West, all written after “Until They Bring the Streetcars Back.” I enjoyed “Blind Your Ponies,” set in Montana, where West lived for many years before returning to Minnesota. He also wrote “Amos,” which was made into a CBS movie of the week starring Kirk Douglass about abuse of the aged in America. Clearly, Stanley Gordon West is a notable Minnesota author not to be overlooked.

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January-February March-April 2014 | Austin Living | 63


Bruce and Dani Heiny

The family friendly atmosphere BY DANIELLE HEINY Austin is home and home is where the heart is. Family drew my husband, Bruce, and I back to our hometown to live, work, and raise our family. Ruth, Julia, and Eric benefited from Austin’s strong academic and music programs. Austin High School and Riverland Community College helped prepare them for their careers. Austin has a strong foundation and a bright tomorrow. Vision 2020 is actively creating an inclusive, vibrant future. Art, music, recreation, education, employment, and our broad diversity create a dynamic community. Austin is home to world-class organizations like Hormel Foods, Mayo Clinic Health Systems, and the Hormel Institute. They connect Austin to the global economy and provide distinction. Austin is also home to businesses and services that represent our diversity in thought and lifestyles. Good Earth Foods, Tienda Guerrero, and Asian Foods are just a few. Pacelli Schools, Austin Public Schools, Community Education, and the Mower County Senior Center are strong and growing. Austin Daily Herald, KSMQ Public TV, KAAL TV, and our radio stations inform and unite us through news and local feature stories. Austin offers so many opportunities to learn, to enjoy life, 64 | Austin Living | March-April 2014

and to make a difference. We love the easy access to walking and biking paths. We love the beauty of all four seasons, the parks, the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, our gardens, and the Cedar River (when it’s not flooding). We love the sunsets at Meadow Greens, listening to the Austin Symphony Orchestra, attending the Austin ArtWorks Festival, and spending time at the Austin Library. Bruce and I work at Riverland, where we support students from the region and around the world. My favorite work involves the Be Your Best Summer Academy and Cycles for Success scholarship program, both funded by The Hormel Foundation. Seeing these students graduate is the highlight of the year. I enjoy being involved with AAUW and Austin Rotary, two of the many service and advocacy groups working to strengthen Austin. Our big family gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving in Austin. My parents, Edmund and Maxiene Smith, began this tradition 35 years ago. Our family now totals more than 100! When my dad was publisher of the Austin Daily Herald, he wrote a weekly column called “We Like it Here.” The column reflected his love of Austin through stories of people, places, and events of Austin’s history. We share that love for Austin.





© 2014 Hormel Foods, LLC

Austin Living Magazine • March-April 2014  
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