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Students who shine

Colorful illustrations highlight the talents of eight area students, including Austin’s Michael Kroymann.


The future of fitness


Vision 2020 organizers are heralding a fitter future for Austin with an all-in-one recreation center.

Flower power


Blooming Prairie’s Awesome Blossoms are no pushovers. The school has dominated athletics for years.

Austin Daily Herald

Austin Daily Herald


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Austin Daily Herald


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Austin Daily Herald


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Agriculture 8. Four Daughters’ Gary and Vicky Vogt: Fine wine expansion 11. CHS elevator: Advancement in ag 14. Steve Williams: The corn whisperer 17: The Murphy family’s century farm: Stories in the soil 18: Brian Helle and Jeff Helle of Agri-Steel: Solid as steel

Students who shine

20. Michael Kroymann, Austin 20. Madeline Kraemer, Pacelli 21. Teddy King, Lyle 21. Macaela Jensen, Blooming Prairie 22. Zach Wilde, Grand Meadow 22. Haley Keifer, Southland 23. Kristen Eggler, Hayfield 23. Rebecca Bunne, LeRoy-Ostrander 79. Behind the Lens


24. Pamela Tranby of Riverland: The next level of education 26. Dr. Mark Ciota: Racing toward preventive care 28. Matt Cano and Tanya Medgaarden: The future of fitness 30. The Smart Clinic: Back in business 32. Sally Gerhart: Spirit of survival

Photos throughout by Eric Johnson

(Unless otherwise noted)

Design by Eric Johnson & Jason Schoonover Schoonover

Meet the full Austin Daily Herald team on Pages 86 & 87 Editor’s Note on Page 93


34. LeRoy: A small town that thinks big 38. Bellisio Foods: What a difference a year makes 38. The 25 largest Mower County employers 40. Hy-Vee’s Todd Hepler: All signs point to growth 42. Twisted Scissors: A cut of small-town life


44. ISS’s Randy Sprau: Digital storage of tomorrow 46. Vision 2020’s Justin Bickler: The wire 48. Eric Harder: Teaching teachers 50. Chuck Meyer: A bright future


52. Kayla Sellers: From dancer to coach 54. Blooming Prairie athletics: Trophies and pride 58. Roel Torres: Goal oriented


62. Tara Mandt: A life at Little Cedar 65. Cornerstone Church: Foundation of faith


66. Laura and David Amick: Church and charity 68. Bonnie Lee: Artistic growth


70. The Ankenys: All in the family 72. The Woslagers: Open hearts, open home 74. Erin and Veronica: Finally down the aisle 75. The Chens: Arriving in Austin

Through the years

76. Anderson Memorials 77. The Hormel family 78. Trimble’s Cycle Center


37. Royal Dempewolf, the Wolf’s Den 60. Bruiser the Bear, Austin Bruins 80. Mark Conradt, Rose Creek Lockers 82. Linda Pulchinski, Pacelli Catholic Schools 83. John Gray, The Hormel Foundation 84. Dr. Adenuga Atewologun, Riverland Community College 85. Steve Greenman, Greenman HVAC

Area standouts

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90. Stephanie Riles, Alice Snater and K’Pru Gold 91. Carla Conradt

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Austin Daily Herald


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Story by Matt Peterson

he intense aroma in the back room of Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery was unmistakable on a cool, crisp fall day. Winemaker Justin Osborne and his assistant Chad Doocy were doing backbreaking work, sliding 200-pound tubs of grapes onto pallets, weighing them and preparing to dump them into the crusher, which was connected to a massive grape press. Osborne looked at the newly acquired press, a necessary purchase, as the old one was just too small for this level of production. “Half a semi will fit in there at once,” he said. Behind Osborne, inside the back of the modern-looking facility, four 4,000-gallon production tanks line the wall. The business can process 350,000 pounds of grapes per year: more than 24,000 gallons of wine. Doocy fired up the crusher, and the aroma intensified again. Outside, in front of the building, the volunteers had finished, drank their free glasses of wine and left for the day. But vineyard manager Patrick Sween, stained by hundreds of pounds of grapes, kept picking. “The day was actually good,” Sween said, in a T-shirt and gardener’s hat. Inside, in the main dining area, guests enjoyed themselves while listening to live music. It was a particularly busy night, so chefs were hustling in the kitchen. Four Daughters has made a name for itself with gourmet meals, as well. “We did not know it was going to grow that much,” said Gary Vogt, who owns the business with his wife, Vicky. “We never anticipated being a world-class restaurant in the middle of a cornfield. That part has really been a pleasant surprise.” Because the winery has frequently become so bustling, especially during weddings, business functions and special dinners, it’s time for expansion.

“It was a goal, but we didn’t know that would happen, especially so quickly.” -Gary Vogt

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Vicky and Gary Vogt, owners of Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery

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Photo by Matt Peterson

Vineyard manager Patrick Sween picks grapes in early October 2013.


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Chad Doocy dumps a bucket of grapes into the crusher. BELOW: Doocy adds weight totals from a shipment of grapes. With him is winemaker Justin Osborne.

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The Vogts, who named the business to highlight the importance of family, had a hunch this sort of thing could happen — expanding, that is, and becoming one of the largest wineries in the state. “Just like farming, if you’re not big, you can’t play the game,” Gary said. “It’s not a hobby. It’s a serious business.” However, he didn’t think expansion would happen so soon. The business opened in December 2011. Growing the business, of course, was always a goal, but the family didn’t think it would grow so fast. “It was a goal, but we didn’t know that would happen, especially so quickly,” Gary said. Now the Vogts will break ground on a large event center just south of the main building. The room will accommodate about 300 people for weddings and parties. “It will feel like a winery, too,” Vicky said. “It will feel like the rest of the building.” Furthermore, the kitchen will expand to about three times its current size. In the meantime, the juices will ferment in their tanks and barrels. The vineyard will mature, and the grapes will develop more flavor. Every aspect of the business is aging as it should, like a fine wine. P

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dvancement in Ag

Story by Matt Peterson

Mergers make area elevators even stronger

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CHS Inc., with an operation in Grand Meadow, has expanded locally, adding to the local economies of several area communities.


ne by one, they escaped a harsh, dust-filled wind and congregated inside a noisy grain elevator in Grand Meadow. It was evident these guys had worked together for quite a while, and that they made a strong team. They’re part of the glue that creates an even stronger company at CHS in Grand Meadow — just one cog in the wheel of the international agriculture titan formerly named Cenex Harvest States. Locally, the business has been through plenty of transitions in the past 15 years.

A day on the job

General Manager Deke Stejskal walked into that elevator on the south portion of the property where some of his trusted co-workers had already gathered. Through all the company restructuring, these men have stayed. “We’ve been really lucky because a lot of these other fellows have been here for 10-, 15-plus years,” Stejskal said. The same holds true for Stejskal, who started at the bottom, and worked through the ranks. “I actually started out as an apprentice/laborer for Huntting Elevator Company,” he said. That was 22 years ago. According to Stejskal, who splits his time at the LeRoy-Ostrander Elevator, the business shuffle began in 1997. Terra International purchased Huntting Elevator, which had many locations in southern Minnesota. In 1999, the name changed to Agro Distribution LLC. A year later Harvest States pur-

“We are a company that is owned by our farmers/patrons, and without them, we would not be successful.” -Deke Stejskal, CHS general manager chased the Grand Meadow business, along with a Spring Valley elevator. Because Harvest States already owned the facility in Elkton, that elevator became part of the triangle. In 2001, Cenex joined Harvest States, and later shortened its name to CHS in 2003. The most recent merger, with Ostrander Farmers Co-Op, puts the company where it is today, with seven locations: Grand Meadow, LeRoy, Ostrander, Spring Valley, Elkton, Wykoff and Chester, Iowa. It specializes in a menagerie of agricultural services, including grain purchasing and storage, sales, fertilizer, crop protection, soil sampling, and precision ag services.

Buying in

Without local farmers, the business would not have its strength. “We are a company that is owned by our farmers/patrons, and without them, we would not be successful,” Stejskal said. Ostrander Farmers Co-Op’s strength in the grain market coupled well with CHS’s resources in precision ag. “So it was a great fit for a merger when you put the two together,” Stejskal added. It’s no secret grain is the company’s best card in the deck, as trucks rumble through the company’s multiple facilities and offload grain during busy Minnesota harvests. “We have seven total locations,” Stejskal said. “Six of them have grain.” In 2011, the Grand Meadow facility purchased more than 10 million bushels of grain. That was one of its top years, Stejskal said. Because of that, about 300 southeastern Minnesotans who used CHS’s services for fiscal year 2012 shared a kickback of $3.3 million. The recent business merger creates strength throughout the region. “I would say we serve a 60-mile radius of our locations,” Stejskal said.

Anthony Stejskal checks moisture and weight in a corn sample taken from a truck unloading at CHS in Grand Meadow.

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Brett Roberg fills anhydrous tanks at CHS in Grand Meadow last October.

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works. He’s 82. “I’ve always worked hard, all my life,” he said. Edge then filled anhydrous tanks and unloaded grain for CHS. He’s a small-town guy who has to be immersed in farm talk. “This way I get out and see the farmers,” he said. “I never see them otherwise.” Edge quickly exited the building and got back to his work, 10 feet in the air, atop an anhydrous tanker. Back inside, Stejskal’s men quipped with each other about their flaws at work, their years with the company and their quirks outside of work. It appeared they have a few more years to put up with each other, and that’s a good thing. “Through all the mergers, we’ve all stuck together,” Stejskal said. “We’re a team. We’re a family.” P


At all seven locations, CHS has about 55 full-time employees and an extra 30 part-timers at its busiest times. One longtime employee is Scott Shorter. Like the others, he hasn’t left the company through all the restructuring, not for 24 years. “It’s been a good company to work with — solid company,” he said. Randy Gehling feels the same way. He has spent 15 years with the company and worked his way up to operations manager. “We’ve got a great crew here,” he said. “They’re a good team.” Others, despite age, won’t leave — employees like Jim Edge. Edge, who appears about 70, escaped a dusty whirlwind and joined the others inside. He is not too concerned about politics or job titles. He just

Austin Daily Herald

Here to stay



Steve Williams and his daughter, Jessica, roll down a row of sweet corn at the family’s farm northwest of Brownsdale.

orn Whisperer


Steve Williams and his family grow sweet corn at Honey Tree Farm Story by Matt Peterson

is hands slipped through leaves and ripped ears from stalks in machine-like fashion. He tossed them into the wagon. Picking corn by hand can be time-consuming, but Steve Williams and his family from northwest of Brownsdale are good at it. They operate Honey Tree Farm, hidden behind a few trees on a gravel road, just off a paved stretch. It’s really more of a conservation site than a farm. Steve moved from the big city to the farm in 1981, where he dabbled with various garden goods and beekeeping. Over the last 15 years or so, he has stuck mostly to corn in one designated spot on his property. The rest of the 80-acre spread is left to the wildflowers, native grasses, critters and his family. It was mid-August, in the swing of sweetcorn harvest. It seemed as if Williams would rather talk about conservation and

the joys of nature. Yet, on another level, the minimally planted sweetcorn plot is its own nature preserve. It’s also the story of family, hard work, quality and pride. “Concentrate on one thing,” Steve said, “and do it very well.” Steve used to have the best honey, according to state fair standards. Now, he has the best sweetcorn, according to those who buy exclusively from Honey Tree Farm, such as Hy-Vee and Superfresh in Austin. “I think their sweet corn is really the best I’ve ever eaten,” said Jen Haugen, Hy-Vee dietitian. The Williams deliver sweet corn the same day they pick it. A typical morning involves several hours of picking, boxing and loading the pickup. By noon, they visit the grocery stores. “They’re handpicking the ear,” Haugen said. “So you know they are well taken care of.”

“I really enjoy producing a product that people really enjoy. I see the fruits of my labor from start to finish”

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-Steve Williams

The Williams family has become locally known for its sweet corn, which Steve handpicks and the family packs by hand. Pictured are the Williams’ son, James, from left; Steve and his wife, Bonnie, and daughters, Katie and Jessica.

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A timeless process

“The roots of this all have to go back to the fact my father died when I was 10 years old,” Steve said. “And I wanted to do something with my family that we could do together.” The environment is important to the Williams family. “Being outdoors with nature is a big part of what we do here,” Steve said. Steve seemingly has an agreement with the land. He takes care of it and only uses what he needs. In return, he gets quality, flavorful corn — no matter the variety he plants. He’s a corn whisperer, if there is such a thing. Oth-

ers, like Haugen, appreciate the family’s approach. “I think they’re doing a great job doing conservation types of measures,” she said. “I think it really speaks to the care and dedication they have to their farm.” On the other end, taking care of the land isn’t just important. It’s gratifying. Raising a quality product and knowing people enjoy it isn’t so bad, either. “I really enjoy producing a product that people really enjoy,” Steve said. “I see the fruits of my labor from start to finish.” P

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It wasn’t the hottest day of picking, but it was time for a break underneath the front-yard shade tree. Steve circled some chairs and set what looked like a lemonade commercial. Steve’s wife, Bonnie, and daughters Jessica and Katie packed ears into banana boxes from Hy-Vee — the perfect storage containers and a good trade off with the grocery store. It wasn’t the biggest load of corn they’ve ever hauled, as 2013 was a poor growing season. That wasn’t much of a concern, though. Williams spoke about his product, family and lifestyle.


Reasons in the roots

Above: Bonnie Williams and her daughter, Katie, box up picked sweet corn for Hy-Vee. Top left: James Williams loads boxes of sweet corn on a truck.

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Somewhere, among the 25 acres of sweetcorn — which is the entire crop — Steve and his daughter pick the best-looking ears during a hot, August day. Some aren’t ready, so they stay on the stalks. Others are perfect, and are tossed into the heaping wagonload with the good ones. Steve’s youngest daughter, Jessica, follows with a lawn tractor, pulling the wagon up and down the rows of sweetcorn while Steve, in quintessential farmer’s overalls, keeps a steady pace. He has a system. It’s efficient. The rows are staggered by planting date, and extra space in unplanted rows allows room for the lawn tractor. Steve snaps a few stalks over as he goes, marking his progress. His son, James, understands the process — and the significance of picking by hand. “If you don’t pick it by hand, you end up getting a lot of lousy ears in there because not all the ears mature at the same time,” he said.

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tories in the soil S Sesquicentennial farm hides countless tales, memories

By Matt Peterson

Larry Murphy, center, his brother, Ric, right; and Larry’s son, Trent, have all spent times of their lives in the Murphy farm north of Lyle that is a Sesquicentennial Farm. time. He has faint memories of his great-grandfather, R.D. Gregg, on the farm, as well. Larry turned around and pointed to the north, where a schoolhouse once sat, and where he used to ride his pony to class as a child. Apparently the pony ran home every day during school. “But we could never teach the dummy to come get me,” Larry joked. Today, Larry doesn’t live far from the property. His life has unfolded within a few rural sections of Mower County. “I never got very far,” he joked

again. “I just got across the highway. I’ve been here all my life.” Ric, who forewent a sociology career to return to the farm, chimed in: “He never got away and never wanted to. I wanted to get away and never did.” For years, a sign has proudly designated the property as a century farm. Richard, who died last year, was proud of the milestone and showed it with a handcrafted, iron sign. Of course, there’s a story behind that, too. “About 20 years ago, I see him banging and welding steel rods together, and he was making a

sign that said ‘Century farm, since 1861,’” Ric recalled. “He posted it up in the yard, but he was also dyslexic. It said ‘8161.’” In 2012, Richard for the second time signed the Farm Bureau’s documents, which designated the property as a sesquicentennial farm. It hasn’t left the family in more than 150 years. Soon, Larry’s son, Trent Murphy, will take over the farm. Trent, 42, could carry the legacy to its bicentennial. If so, he can proudly sign those Farm Bureau documents as his grandfather had done. Better yet, he could be the storyteller. P

Celebrating the centuries

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A sign marking the Murphy farm as a Century Farm, like the farm itself, has a story of its own. When Richard Murphy first made the sign it read “8161” rather than “1861.”

Century farms lie in every nook and cranny of Minnesota counties, and Mower County is home to 129 of them. That also includes six Sesquicentennial Farms. The Century Farm program, celebrated by the Minnesota Farm Bureau and Minnesota State Fair, recognizes farms that, with documentation, have remained with one family for at least 100 years. For a list of Century and Sesquicentennial farms, visit www.fbmn. org/pages/century-andsesquicentennial-farm.


chickens — and hard workers. However, much of the history behind those old papers isn’t so clear anymore. In fact, the documents go back to 1812, when the land was deeded to a Massachusetts militiaman. But it’s the stories people tell — even if the tales have grown a little taller — that can seem most captivating. As the Murphy brothers walked the farm, those stories came to life — like the time their father, Richard Murphy, ran over a mailbox with a combine. He earned the name “Plenty of Room.” The brothers have countless stories of Richard, a tireless worker into his 80s, dedicated husband and well-respected man. Larry then pointed to an old structure in the yard: “We lived in that grainery over there while we built the house.” To the south, Larry visualized where a horse racing track used to be, and pondered the details of its link to a murder before his

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ragged file folder stuffed with documents and signatures indicated the Murphy farm, like many Mower County farms, had more than enough history to fill a book. Ric Murphy opened that folder on a truck’s tailgate, on a cold, blustery day. Several papers blew away with the snow, all of them worth retrieving. Perhaps this wasn’t the best place for Ric to pull out those abstracts, especially the one with Abraham Lincoln’s name on it. But it’s part of the Sesquicentennial Farm’s story, and Ric was excited to stroll down memory lane. While Lincoln’s name is likely a stamp, the document is 153 years old, and perhaps contains the real signature of Lincoln’s secretary. It declared the land the legal property of John W. Gregg, great-great-grandfather of Ric and Larry Murphy. In more than a century, the farm has held various crops, cattle, hogs, sheep,

Lyle Agri-Steel owners expand north of the border By Matt Peterson An invisible line lies just south of a big, brand-new building in Lyle, and for its owners, that’s rewarding. Were that line on the north side, the situation would be much different. “We wanted to stay in Lyle,” said Jeff Helle, who co-owns Lyle’s Agri-Steel with his son, Brian Helle. “Lyle is our home. Lyle has treated us well.” In November, Agri-Steel — which builds grain storage bins and sells and services various agriculture equipment — began the first steps of its 20,000-square-foot expansion. The move, from downtown Lyle to the open edge of town, will help the company handle more projects and increase storage space. Furthermore, employment for some

will become a little more certain. “It should even out our workload a lot better,” Brian said. Before this new building was erected, though, the father and son had one of two major choices to make: Would they stay in Minnesota, where the company was born in 1974 and has remained, or would they move to St. Ansgar, Iowa? Money and infrastructure were the key factors. Lyle, by itself, may not have been able to foot the entire bill for site improvement, nor should that bill have been the city’s responsibility. “It wasn’t fair for the city to take it,” Jeff said. With that, the Helle’s had their sights set across the border. With infrastructure and space already in place, nearby St. Ansgar would have been a good fit.

Despite the rough winter, work continues on the 20,000-square-foot AgriSteel expansion.

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• Community or Supported Employment • School to Work Transition • Center-Based Employment • Mental Health Service • Specialized Transportation

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Serving the people of Mower County in areas of Employment and Contracted Services by building business partnerships for over 50 years.

Brian Helle

Jeff Helle

Age: 30 Town: Lyle Hometown: Lyle Job: Co-owner of Agri-Steel Fun fact: While he may be glued to his work, he enjoys southern Minnesota’s small-town celebrations and truck pulls in the summers.

Age: 59 Town: Lyle Hometown: Lyle Job: Co-owner of Agri-Steel Fun fact: Jeff enjoys spending spare time at the cabin and on the lake, doing watersports and pontooning.

Why they are in Progress: Jeff Helle, right, and his son, Brian, co-owners of Agri-Steel in Lyle, had the chance to take their business to Iowa, but thanks to a grant from Minnesota, they stayed in Lyle, where they wanted to be, and began a more than 20,000-square-foot expansion to tackle more projects and increase storage space.

But the Helles, along with the business have roots in Lyle. Jeff began working at Agri-Steel in his teens. For 20 years, he was one of the only full-time employees. “I started when I was in high school full time,” he said, and joked. “I’m still doing my high school job.” In 1983, Jeff Helle and Duane Corson bought the business from Kaljo Pihelgas. In 2011, Jeff’s son bought Corson’s shares. Today, the business has an array of services. It builds grain storage bins, grain legs and metal buildings, and it installs and maintains irrigation systems, grain

dryers and more. Today, the Helles and crew are busier than ever. They need the space, as farmers put up more and bigger storage units, and shift from outdated to technologically advanced machinery. In July 2013, the Helles and Lyle got the breakthrough they sought; the state came through in a major way. A $98,490 grant from the Community Economic Development Association for half of the infrastructure costs helped the city of Lyle install sewer and electricity on the 11-acre section, where the future of

Lyle’s industrial sector could unfold. During a frigid winter, the Helles’ employees and a contractor worked hard to complete Agri-Steel’s new home. The Helles stand proud in front of that accomplishment. “This new building just shows we’re here to stay for at least another 40 years,” Jeff said. By summer, the Helles hope to vacate

their old building and move to the new, spacious headquarters, just north of the Iowa border. “We’re going to move everything down there,” Brian said. Brian hopes Agri-Steel’s new building will be a beacon for others businesses to join the 11-acre section of town, which may someday be an industrial sector, right on the edge of little, old Lyle. P

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Agri-Steel has been a fixture on First Street in Lyle, and thanks to a grant from the state of Minnesota, it will stay there.


Michael Kroymann, senior Kroymann has found his escape in the world of art. Though he is actively involved in several activities at AHS including Austinaires, All State Men’s Choir, vocal jazz, National Honor Society, Youth Leadership and Drama Club, he finds himself drawn to art the most. He takes a particular interest in portraits using pencil, color pencil and acrylic paints. Outside of school, Kroymann likes to bake.



Student who

Madeline Kraemer, senior Like many high school students, Kraemer is involved in plenty of activities. She is heavily involved in drama, is a captain on the cross country team, runs track and is part of National Honor Society. But it’s in the church where Kraemer has found her rock. She is part of youth group, teaches firstgrade faith and often volunteers. Kraemer finds her spirituality to be the most important aspect of herself.

hine Illustrations by Eric Johnson

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Teddy King, senior King finds himself in the beats of music, particularly the drums and piano. He is drawn to the ability to put a beat together. Sometimes when he hears a song on the radio, he will play it over and over again until he gets it right. He is also involved in band, choir and drama, along with basketball, golf and volunteering at the Lyle library.

Blooming Prairie

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Macaela Jensen, junior When the curtains part in a Blooming Prairie production, chances are you’ll find Jensen as part of that cast. Since her freshman year, she has taken an interest in drama, where she says she enjoys becoming something else. Aside from drama, Jensen is an intern with the Blooming Prairie Times. She is athletic, as well, and participates in volleyball and track.

Grand Meadow

Zach Wilde, senior People may have seen a lot of Wilde, they just may not have known it. Wilde, the guy behind Clark the Lark, Grand Meadow’s mascot, dives into the character, especially during the football season where he, like all of Grand Meadow, was part of the Superlarks’ state championship this year. Getting into character isn’t anything new, as Wilde takes a strong interest in drama, allowing him to do something he doesn’t ordinarily get the chance to do. He’s also involved in basketball and baseball.


Haley Keifer, senior There’s no question that Keifer’s first love is dance. She was involved at an early age through Just for Kix and now is a part of the Southland Dance team. This year, she got to perform with Just for Kix dancers from around the country at halftime of the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. For Keifer, dance is a way to rid herself of stress and to express herself. She loves helping younger dancers and involving herself in so many more ways. Dance is her life. Keifer is also involved in softball and the school play.

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Kristen Eggler, junior There is plenty that keeps Eggler busy, but above all is music. The trumpet player is a major part of her high school band, and also performs in the Hayfield choir. She performs in folk group, jazz band, theater and dance. She says she likes being musical because it gives her a chance to be part of a dedicated group of students. Even that is just the beginning of what she does, though. She plays volleyball, is part of Students Against Destructive Decisions and is heavily involved in her church, Trinity Lutheran.


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Rebecca Bunne, senior Bunne is part of a long line of athletes to come out of her extended family, but while she has stood out in volleyball and basketball, her true dedication lies in her academics. Bunne vigorously applies herself to her studies as she hopes to be a dentist someday. Aside from basketball, Bunne is also involved in National Honor Society. She is plans to attend Gustavus Adolphus College.

Riverland Community College nursing student Trae Swehla takes notes as other students prepare a scenario in the school’s simulation lab.

of education The next level Story by Trey Mewes

Classroom change


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amela Tranby has been busy.
She’s no stranger to hard work at Riverland Community College. The longtime-biology instructor was a vice president at Riverland from 1998 to 2001, and she has always stepped up to help students achieve their goals, from students looking to satisPamela Tranby fy general education credits to Age: 62 medical students who needed a foundation for their future Hometown: Aberdeen, S.D. classes.
Tranby is helping to Fun fact: Tranby loves sailing. She got build a foundation for future involved in sailing in her 20s and sailed medical students this year. among the channel islands between Ever since she stepped into Victoria and Vancouver in British the role as Interim Dean for Columbia, Canada, this summer. She Allied Health last August, she also received her doctorate in human has helped Riverland become resources development and educational a new kind of community colleadership from Colorado University in lege: She’s helping its students 2012. get bachelor’s degrees. Why she’s in Progress: Tranby is one of Riverland is part of a growing wave of community several leaders at Riverland Community colleges across the nation College transforming the way local that partner with four-year students can earn associate and colleges and universities bachelor’s degrees. to offer bachelor’s degree programs for students. For rural centers like Austin, it pays to be able to pursue a four-year degree close to home. Students who want to get further certification in fields like nursing, while others interested in education, business, and someday even engineering and agriculture can achieve their undergraduate dreams without ever leaving the Mower County area. It’s a revolutionary approach to keeping costs down while keeping people in the area, and an approach Riverland is pouring resources into to watch it pay off. “You know, it’s really a neat thing,” Tranby said. “Our community providers are really asking us for those bachelor-prepared students, and so we want to be able to provide as many as we can.”

Riverland’s nursing program has led the way in getting a four-year degree. As far back as 2011, Riverland officials were in talks with Winona State University to partner and offer a bachelor’s degree program. Riverland was known in the area for its medical-related associate degrees, especially its nursing and radiography programs. At the same time, college instructors were hearing from students and community officials how the healthcare industry was looking for more nurses with bachelor’s degrees. The end result was the first of Riverland’s “2+2” programs, which allowed students with associate degrees in nursing to go to Riverland for classes taught by Winona State instructors. Students could get bachelor’s degrees without traveling large distances for classes. “With Winona, students who already have their twoyear degree can come back and finish it,” said Mary Davenport, vice president of academic and student affairs at Riverland. Davenport has been a large proponent of 2+2. She has worked on building partnerships for them over the years, after all, and she is part of the team looking to expand Riverland’s opportunities to offer a pathway to bachelor’s degrees for students. She has heard from many students going back to school for further training that distance is one of the biggest barriers to getting those degrees. “They have families, they have jobs, they can’t pick up and go to Mankato or Winona or the Cities,” she said. From there, Riverland has secured and built even more partnerships with colleges. Riverland’s business program graduates can go to Cardinal Stritch University to build on their classes into a bachelor’s degree in management. And last fall, Riverland, Winona and Austin Public Schools announced a huge opportunity for education students: A 2+2 program that would include student teaching placements at Sumner Elementary School.

“Our community providers are really asking us for those bachelor-prepared students, and so we want to be able to provide as many as we can.” -Pamela Tranby

Of course, students can theoretically drop out to earn an associate degree halfway through the MANE program. But the program generated enormous interest even before it was formally announced: Riverland is accepting 40 to 50 applications for the program’s start in fall 2014, and more than 100 students had shown interest in the first weeks of February. P

“Students will actually be able to start a bachelor’s program here. It will be entirely at Riverland. They will be able to stay at our campus, our community.” -Pamela Tranby


Progress 2014

Nursing students take notes during a simulation in the RCC simulation lab.

Austin Daily Herald

Students would earn an associate degree in elementary education that would specifically tie into Winona’s education programs. They’ll finish the last two years with classes at Sumner, where students would also do their practicums. The program will start small, with as many as 25 students ready for school next fall. “It’s seamless,” Davenport said. Perhaps the biggest change to Riverland education was announced in February: Riverland, along with seven other community colleges, is offering a four-year bachelor’s degree program through Metropolitan State University. Called the Minnesota Alliance for Nursing Education, or MANE, the program will have area students attend Riverland for a Metro State-accredited nursing program for all four years. In effect, Riverland is offering a bachelor’s degree instead of a seamless path to a bachelor’s degree. “Students will actually be able to start a bachelor’s program here,” Tranby said. “It will be entirely at Riverland. They will be able to stay at our campus, our community.”

Mayo Clinic Health System — Albert Lea and Austin CEO Dr. Mark Ciota sits in an examination room of the hospital expansion. Ciota will lead the medical center through a transformative time — as it focuses on an increased partnership with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and as hospitals across the country transition to a team-based approach to health care in light of the Affordable Care Act.


r. Mark Ciota loves

NASCAR, but he has never been to a race. He attended an Indianapolis 500 race once, but after working 90 to 100 hours a week, he has little time to watch the sport on TV, let alone take a cross-country trip to an autoracing event. But as the CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System — Albert Lea and Austin, and as an orthopedic surgeon there, he is perfectly fine with that. He’s too busy guiding the local medical center through one of the most transformative periods in the country’s recent medical history. Ciota (pronounced SHOW-tee) started with the Mayo Clinic Health System in 1995 as an orthopedic surgeon in Albert Lea. He became that hospital’s medical director in 2001, and was promoted to Chief Executive Officer in 2004, all the while working as a surgeon. Then, in March 2012, he was named CEO of both Austin and Albert Lea locations, 10 months ahead of those hospitals’ merger. Now, working 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week — plus being on call every other night — he’s focused on implementing a team-based approach to health care as the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, takes effect. Add to that the merger of the Austin and Albert Lea hospitals, Austin’s $28-million expansion and Mayo Clinic Health System’s furthered

Racing toward preventive care

CEO Dr. Mark Ciota is leading the medical center during a transition to a team-based approach By Adam Harringa partnership with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and his slate is full. “I do enjoy what I do, and I certainly wouldn’t work that many hours if I didn’t enjoy it,” Ciota said. Eventually he’ll slow down, he said — at age 50, he can’t keep up the pace he was at 10 or 15 years ago. “But I still enjoy it so much that I think the hours are worth it,” he added. Since the Austin and Albert Lea locations have transitioned from an affiliation with Mayo Clinic to a full partnership, doctors have reaped the benefits of a larger knowledge base, access to patient medical records throughout the system, and the elimination of redundancies like repeated blood work or X-rays, as all locations use the same equipment. One of the larger issues during the

Austin Daily Herald

26 Progress 2014

Age: 50 Town: Albert Lea Hometown: Morris, Ill. Job: CEO and orthopedic surgeon, Mayo Clinic Health System — Albert Lea and Austin

change, however, is patients’ access — or wait time — to see a doctor. While the medical center has hired more physicians and is improving wait time, it’s still not where it needs to be, Ciota said. He attributes that to a national shortage of family practitioners. “We need the Austin community to understand what our issues are, and what we’re doing to improve them,” Ciota said. “Part of that is the communication to the community.” Ciota is optimistic about another change — the switch from pay-per-use care to the team-based approach. With the old system, there weren’t many incentives for doctors to focus on preventive care or keeping patients out of the doctor’s office, he said. Now, the more patients a team can care for, the more they


Hobby: While Ciota doesn’t have much free time, he tries to spend it with his wife, Allison, and his 21- and 23-year-old daughters. After that, he enjoys watching NASCAR

and playing the EA Sports NASCAR video game. Why he’s in Progress: Ciota is leading the local medical center through myriad changes, from a merger of the Albert Lea

will be compensated. “[Before] if you went to the doctor 10 times, you got 10 bills,” Ciota said. “Now if your team is responsible for 2,000 people, we would pay you this. If your team is responsible for 4,000 people, we would probably pay you more.” So if a physician team has more of its diabetic patients under control and out of the hospital, for example, it can handle a larger patient load. With the team approach, patients’ face time with doctors should also be reduced, Ciota said. If a patient needs a fourth or fifth refill of a prescription, he or she may just talk to a pharmacist, or communicate electronically. Or a nurse could handle other routine services. “You may see a physician if you need to, but it may not always be the same one,” Ciota said. “And I think Americans are going to struggle with that.” No one can be certain all the ways the Affordable Care Act will affect the health system, Ciota said. But the whole idea, he said, is to keep people healthy, and be proactive. “And health care has never done that in the past,” he said. For now, the constant changes will keep Ciota plenty busy. But in the off-chance he finds time on his hands someday, maybe he could end up at a NASCAR race watching his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon. More likely, though, he’ll have to settle for watching him on TV. P

and Austin locations and an increased partnership with Mayo Clinic, to a team-based health care approach as the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented.

There are many young people in Mower County who are in need of positive adult role models in their lives. Recognizing this MOWER COUNTY MENTORING is an organization whose goal is to provide the needed adult role models (mentors) for our in-need youth. The success of this program is reliant on the adult volunteers who become youth mentors. Thank you so much to those who have volunteered their time, resources and energy to be mentors in the past year: Greg Baskin Chris Beaver Carolyn Bogott Jeremy Carolan Brytnie Carolan Miguel Garate Jolynn Winkel Gentz Royce Helmbrecht Ally Hendrickson Michael Jordal

Linda Johnson Nicholas Johnson Arlen Knight Ken Kroupa Vicki Kuhlmann Pete Kuhlmann Melissa Ladlie Kathy Leisen Jennifer Lloyd James Loven

Shari Mason Steve Mason Mark Nibaur Heidi Olson Rachel Olson Andrew Olson Linda Sheely Greg Storey Robert Stratton Pamela Jo Vaughn

Mower County Mentoring is a United Way funded organization

The Austin area has enjoyed significant growth in recent years.

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Employment is growing, and our economy is expanding and diversifying. Austin is a great place to be today. We are working to make it an even better place tomorrow, through the work of community partners involved with Vision 20/20 and the Business Friendly Committee.

The Future of Fitness Story by Adam Harringa

Vision 2020’s Community Rec committee looks to meet all needs with new facility

A place to play

Medgaarden wants Austin to be an attractive town to young people. As a Principal CPA at CliftonLarsonAllen, she has witnessed a lot of the firm’s young employees choose Rochester or other towns to live, saying there’s not as much to do here. If Austin had a large-scale recreation facility — with a multi-use fieldhouse, a YMCA and a community gathering area — and other amenities Vision 2020 is striving to create or attract, some of them might make a different choice, she said. “Hopefully [a rec center] would attract some of those younger people to want to live in Austin,” she said. The facility is also appealing to her as a parent. “This is where I’m raising my family,” Medgaarden said. “So anything to make the community better is exciting.” An indoor playground, or an aquatic center, would be especially attractive in the winter, she said. But those are just two of myriad options available with a full-service recreation center.

Something for everybody

Making decisions about Austin’s new rec center can be a little like solving a Sudoku puzzle — many of the decisions are contingent upon each other. But once the committee starts making choices, Cano and Medgaarden

hope much will fall into place. In the meantime, they say, a lot is up in the air. One of the committee’s first steps was to commission a feasibility study to answer key questions like, “Do Austin and Mower County residents even want a new rec center or pay to use it?” and “What would a rec center include?” The answer to the first question was, “Yes.” The study found 58 percent of Austin and nearby residents would either definitely, probably or maybe join a new YMCA/rec center, 90 percent of current Y members would continue at an upgraded facility, and 41 percent

dents what they would like most, the responses varied depending on personal interests. “Everyone is excited about different things,” Medgaarden said. “If you talk to a baseball player, they’re excited to have a place to play in the winter. “We think this facility will have a little something for everyone.” At the same time, Cano said, they don’t want to be redundant. “We don’t want to duplicate anything we already have,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to have two facilities running the same program at two separate costs.”

Matt Cano grew up in Austin. He moved to St. Cloud, lived there for about 10 years, but eventually found his way back home, where he and his wife now have two young girls. Tanya Medgaarden grew up in northern Minnesota, about 35 miles southwest of Duluth. In 2003, she moved to Austin, where she met her husband. They now have two young boys. When Cano and Medgaarden heard about Vision 2020 two years ago, both gravitated toward the community recreation committee. Both thought it would be the perfect opportunity to contribute to the city they enjoy, and both thought a rec center would be a great addition for Austin, especially for each family’s young children.

It is fun to dream and look to the future as to what this could end up being. And then we keep pulling ourselves back to make sure that we try to stick within a reasonable dollar amount. of residents who wouldn’t join the Y would at some point use a pay-per-use portion of the rec center. The study also found that while respondents differed on what to include, several amenities were popular. Chief among them were an indoor aquatic center, with a water park, pool and a warm-water pool for water therapy. Other popular amenities or services included: bike and nature center access with equipment rentals; an indoor walking and running track; a gym; a fitness center; group fitness classes; an indoor, multi-purpose fieldhouse for track, tennis, basketball, soccer, volleyball and other sports; non-traditional sports leagues; water aerobics or other water exercise classes; an outdoor water park; a vortex pool; and a sauna and whirlpool. For the community gathering area, popular options were: a wellness clinic; continuing and community education classes; a rentable party room; a kitchen area; and a healthy eating cafe. But when Cano or Medgaarden asked resi-

They do, however, want the space to be flexible, and allow for expansions. “Today racquetball is on the decline, so that’s not a main focus,” Cano said. “But maybe it’s a space that’s flexible where you could easily rebuild that into a certain type of space depending on the programming. We don’t know what’s coming down the line 10 years from now. But we want to make sure we have the flexible space for that.” For Cano and Medgaarden, the next step will be deciding how much they can include and still keep the price tag reasonable.

It’s all preliminary

Once the committee decides on an architect, it will have a better idea of the facility’s cost. In 2013, the committee said it could be in the $25-million range. But a lot of that depends on what they include, and where they build, Cano said. “It’s hard to say because the site is going to determine that,” he said. “Are we building a

multi-level facility? Is it going to be encompassed in one area? Is the land going to be donated? Things of that nature. So there are some variables yet to be determined for cost.” Once they know the cost, the next step is deciding how to fund it. The committee’s four main partners are Austin Public Schools, Riverland Community College, the city of Austin (including Parks and Recreation), and the YMCA. Each will likely contribute financially. Beyond that, funding is still undecided. “At this point we haven’t ruled anything in or out as far as taxpayer money,” Cano said. “What we want to do is make sure it’s right for the community, and it’s an asset to the community. “What we want to do is first find out what the cost will be before we go into any type of speculation on where we’re going to get the funding from.” Cano said the committee is also keeping The Hormel Foundation well informed, but the nonprofit hasn’t indicated if it will contribute financially.


The community recreation center committee is still three years — at the least — from realizing its dream of a large-scale facility. “It is fun to dream and look to the future as to what this could end up being,” Medgaarden said. “And then we keep pulling ourselves back to make sure that we try to stick within a reasonable dollar amount.” Cano said he talks to other parents when he drops his daughter off at pre-kindergarten, or when he is coaching youth hockey in town. Most are excited about what the facility could be. “I’m really excited for the community to have a great place like this to call their own,” he said. And it’s not just for his children, Cano said. “This is a place where I grew up, and this is a place that hopefully everyone in the community can enjoy,” he said. “New people who come into this community will feel welcome. They’ll feel Austin is a place to hopefully set roots down and start their own family and stay here. We want to make sure that we become a very attractive community.” P

Austin Daily Herald

28 Progress 2014

Matt Cano

Age: 40 Current town: Austin Hometown: Austin Job: Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial, Davis, Thoen, Kramer and Associates Hobby: Coaching mini mites (6 and younger) hockey, playing for and managing the Austin Greyhounds baseball team, and spending time with his wife and two daughters, ages 2 and 4.

Tanya Medgaarden

Age: 32 Current town: Austin Hometown: Moose Lake, Minn. Job: Principal CPA, CliftonLarsonAllen Hobby: She likes to fish and be outside. To fish, she usually travels to her hometown area in northern Minnesota, and hangs out with family at their cabin.

Austin Daily Herald


Progress 2014

Why they’re in Progress: Cano and Medgaarden are chair and co-chair, respectively, of the Vision 2020 Community Recreation Center committee, which will decide where the rec center will be, what will be included, and where funding will come from.

Clinic manager Dee Anderson works at the Smart Clinic, which reopened in 2013, in Sterling Main Street.

Smart Clinic offers convenience in health care


Austin Daily Herald

30 Progress 2014

ast the cash registers, beyond the pharmacy and over-the-counter medications, a few nurses were hidden deep in a corner of Sterling Main Street. Many may not know that, unless they venture to the back of the store, where “Smart Clinic” is printed on the wall, and a quaint, secluded waiting room is available to visitors. From there, Dee Anderson and her staff are there to help. Since August 2013, the new, convenient health care option has been available to anybody who needs a checkup, vaccination, antibiotics or perhaps a referral to the doc, without the hustle and bustle of a big facility. Anderson, nurse practitioner and clinic manager, appears from an office and opens the door to the inside of the rejuvenated business, where the care setting is larger than one might think. “We reopened because the Astrup family recognized a need in the community for a clinic of this type and always planned to reopen it,” Anderson said. Just inside the clinic and to the left, a busy woman worked on something in an office. Next to that is a laboratory, where staff have access to various equipment and the ability to perform multiple tests. To the right, a short hallway houses four exam rooms — each one a little different for specific care settings. The previous clinic had closed in 2011, when Dr. Timothy Bachenberg left to oversee his busy Fairmont Smart Clinic full time. Anderson, who has been a nurse

Back in business By Matt Peterson

practitioner in various locations since 2002 — most recently at Planned Parenthood in Rochester and Mayo Clinic before that — received contact from Sterling ownership and management. “The Astrups contacted me by way of their management group to see if I would be willing to help them set it up,” Anderson said. In February 2013, Anderson began consulting management with the setup and by May had joined the venture full time. On Aug. 12, the doors opened. It was a quick turnaround for the

previously dormant clinic, thanks to a few resources already on hand. “The infrastructure was here,” Anderson said. Exam tables, medical supplies and equipment had never left the facility. However, a little TLC — carpentry work, some new walls, paint and furniture — made that comfortable, hometown clinic feel. “I think it’s relationships and it’s trust,” Anderson said about the aura of a small clinic. “It’s a feeling of being heard and listened to.” But the clinic has a broader scope than

some urgent-care clinics. Anderson, who specializes in pediatrics, obstetrics and home health, is one of several primary care providers at Smart Clinic. She also staffs several certified medical assistants, some who received their education from Riverland Community College in Austin. Today, Smart Clinic accepts most insurance plans, can accommodate urgent-care needs, vaccinations, women’s exams, DOT medical certifications, blood tests and more. There isn’t much the staff can’t handle, such as trauma, pain management, births, mammograms and X-rays. “I would say there is very little we don’t do, but we are very careful to refer them to someone else if it’s a complex situation,” Anderson said, and noted her team also has the reassurance of Bachenberg when needed. At Smart Clinic, patient interaction extends beyond the office, as well. Through a patient portal, reachable through, patients can check their recent medical results and interact with their care providers through online messaging, which can be much quicker than playing phone tag. “In today’s world, that saves a lot of time,” Anderson said. In just a few months, Smart Clinic has greased its business wheels and is set for success, as more people find out about the new health care option in Austin. Anderson and her staff have combined convenience, technology and friendly service, and it’s all just a few steps away — at the back of the drug store. P

Austin Daily Herald


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Sp rit Of



rownsdale resident Sally Gerhart has had more than her fair share of bouts with cancer in her life, but it hasn’t dampened her spirit one bit. Gerhart used the disease as motivation to take on painting, and she has done quite well with it. Gerhart, who has specialized in painting scenes around Austin, has paintings posted all around, and she has sold numerous paintings. Gerhart started painting about 30 years ago after she overcame Stage 3 cancer in 1976. After spending 20 years in treatment and research, Gerhart still had to fight off cancer a few other times in her life. “Here I am. I always keep going,” Gerhart said. “I have a better look on life now, and I’m more determined to do things, even if someone else thinks I can’t do it.” Gerhart, who raised seven children with her husband, wasn’t able to find a lot of time to paint in her younger years, but she eventually got into it. She never went to school for art, and her only training was through workshops. Gerhart’s first work was the old walking

Story by Rocky Hulne

Sally Gerhart

Age: 80 Current town and hometown: Brownsdale Job: Retired homemaker Hobby: Sally stays busy by keeping up on her garden behind her house. Why she’s in Progress: Sally is a cancer survivor who has many paintings around Austin. bridge in Austin. She sold about 1,000 cards with that image. “That was my start and I pursued it,” Gerhart said. Gerhart has donated some of her prints to Relay for Life in Austin, and she’s a strong supporter of Paint the Town Pink. She said that women need to make sure they get their mammograms and see their doctors. This year, Rose Creek and Brownsdale held a Paint the Town Pink in addition to the one that was in Austin.

Sally Gerhart sits in her home in Brownsdale under one of the paintings she created. Gerhart took up painting during her fight with cancer.

Austin Daily Herald

32 Progress 2014

Sally Gerhart, of Brownsdale, talks about her fight with cancer over the years.

“ 33

Progress 2014

This supports all of us and makes other people aware of what to look for and go see a doctor.

Austin Daily Herald

“I think it’s important,” Gerhart said of Paint the Town Pink. “There are many survivors in Brownsdale who have beaten the odds. This supports all of us and makes other people aware of what to look for and go see a doctor.” Kathy Finley, the Paint the Town Pink coordinator, said people like Gerhart are inspiring, and they help motivate those who work to get Pink the Town Pink bigger. The event is a big fundraiser for the cause. “It’s huge to have those research dollars come in. Nobody is untouched by cancer,” Finley said. “In Austin we’re lucky because The Hormel Institute is right in town, and the dollars go further.” Gerhart has two of her paintings at the eye care center waiting room at Mayo Clinic Health System — Austin. One is of the Roosevelt Bridge and the other is of Mill Pond. At first glance, they look like great paintings, but they actually mean a lot more. Gerhart finished those paintings after she received two corneal transplants because she was losing her vision. “Had I not done that, I would not be painting,” Gerhart said. “It’s quite a story.” P



ture, helping city mull fu entity while keeping its id

Place stamp here


By Jason Schoon

n w o t l l a m s A s k n i h t t a h t

g i B

y Morrow, the Jerald Barber and Jod rs be em m ard bo or ity is all about velopment Author LeRoy Economic De ty of life there. improving the quali , the EDA’s presigoal,” said Barber “That’s the No. 1


s, dent. around for decade Roy’s EDA has been ve In various forms, Le ha r cities like LeRoy to rs admit it’s rare fo ental but group membe e and was instrum ns Wildwood Grov d an EDA. The EDA ow ce facility, an its Wind Energy’s servi on riz Ho e th ing airie in bring aintains LeRoy’s Pr ich manages and m 50 employees, wh Star Wind Farm. ng of Sweet’s Hotel d with the remodeli The EDA also helpe in town. The EDA to fix up buildings 00 ,0 00 $6 ed ut rib es and cont signs at the entranc tting up welcome far recently finished pu ships with the m tains close relation ain m A ED e Th . to town cooperatives, too.

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> LEROY contin

Greetings from ...

Signs greet people coming into LeRoy on Highway 56 from the east and Highway 12 from the south. Though it’s a simple sign, it marks a big step for the LeRoy Economic Development Authority in its attempt to bring more business to town.

Austin Daily Herald

34 Progress 2014


NIGHTLY SPECIALS 7 Days a Week 4pm - 9pm

WEDNESDAY NIGHT SPECIAL - The Sweets Signature Steak THURSDAY NIGHT SPECIAL - Mexican Night Deep fried tacos, chimichangas, burritos, enchiladas & more FRIDAY NIGHT SPECIAL - Fish Fry All-U-Can Eat Choice of battered or broiled, choice of potato & full salad bar with soup SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIAL - All-U-Can Eat Prime Rib Choice of potato & full salad bar with soup

Austin Daily Herald


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RESTAURANT HOURS: Monday-Friday 6am-9pm Saturday & Sunday 8am-9pm BAR HOURS: Daily 8am-Closing HAPPY HOUR: DAILY 4-6PM

From Page 34 Barber described the EDA as a bit of an ideas organization: Its board mulls ideas that might not happen without such a group to consider them. Barber said the board is often frank about what they think of something. “Fortunately, I’ve got a really good board that says, ‘You’ve lost your mind; we can’t do that,’” Barber said with a laugh. “Or they say, ‘It sounds like a great idea.’” Barber admitted the Wildwood Grove project was controversial at first, as taxpayers could have been on the hook to pay the bonds if the business couldn’t cover them. But the business employs about 35 people, which Barber said can have a big impact in the community. It’s at least one of the top 10, if not top five, employers in the community. The challenge for EDA leaders is balancing what members of the community want, and Barber noted the EDA has to get feedback from the community. Not everyone wants to see a town with 929 people in the 2010 census grow to 3,000 people. “Being in a small community, we’re really accessible, so we get feedback probably quicker than Facebook,” Barber said. Barber and Morrow both agree that a strong school is the most important part of a strong community. “School is No. 1,” Barber said. Barber said residents can look across the border to consolidated schools in Iowa, and admits no one wants that in LeRoy. Barber, a Louisiana native, said towns the size of LeRoy in the south often have a convenience store and that’s it. LeRoy has two banks, two hardware stores, a library, an indoor swimming pool, a post office, a bowling alley and more. “You can have a small town like this and it can still support a school, two banks, two hardware stores,” he said. Morrow said the community supports itself, and people don’t need to leave town for amenities. “We have everything here, and they want to see that continue,” Morrow said. “We don’t want to lose anything we have.” Barber sees LeRoy as a bit of a Mayberry — referring to the fictional town in “The Andy Griffith Show” — where everyone feels safe walking on Main Street, and he said people look out for one another. “It’s truly a small-town experience, and I would like to keep that experience while maintaining a low tax burden,” Barber said.

Growing in the future

The EDA is vital in seeking new opportunities. LeRoy is also fortunate to be one of the few southeastern Minnesota communities with a full-time economic development employee

Jerald Barber, president of the LeRoy Economic Development Authority, and Jody Marrow, a board member, stand outside the Wildwood Grove apartment complex on the east side of LeRoy. in Sherry Hines, an economic development coordinator with Community and Economic Development Associates. She rotates between different cities, and she guides the EDA and other residents on grants, funding and other things. LeRoy is a community that could be on the cusp of change with Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center, a project that many expect to have impacts on communities like LeRoy, which is 37 miles south of Rochester. “We’re wrestling with what does the DMC mean for us here in LeRoy?” Barber said. Barber estimated close to half of LeRoy’s residents live out of town. The EDA invited officials from DMC in February to talk to community leaders. Barber could at least foresee relatives of new workers coming to Rochester choosing to live in a small town like LeRoy. Morrow would like to draw people to town for tourism, and she’s looking at ways to get people from the Shooting Star Trail into town. Highway 56 runs through town; it’s just a matter of getting people to stop. Barber’s bank is on the National Historic Registry, and he lets people see some old documents and blueprints

for the building. Looking to the future, Barber would like to see the town have the infrastructure and business to support a town of 1,200 people. Morrow said the EDA has a good board now, with a variety of people. “Probably this is one of the best boards I’ve been on through the EDA,” she said. P

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QA &

Q: How did you come up with the name Wolf’s Den? A: We were trying to figure out some way with Royal or Lynne. Then Lynne came up with the idea with Wolf’s Den from our last name, and it just kind of stuck. Q: When did you open? A: 2004. This is our 10-year anniversary. Q: What is the benefit to being in a small, unique town like Ostrander? A: Probably that I know a lot of the customers personally.

with: Royal Dempewolf Wolf’s Den owners Lynne and Royal Dempewolf have built success around small-town hospitality, a fun bar, and giant pizzas with a reputation of their own. Royal talks about opening and running the bar and restaurant in Ostrander, and what it has become today. By Matt Peterson I Photo provided

has mainly stayed the same.

Q: A staple has been the pizza. Why is Wolf’s Den pizza so good? A: It goes back to, oh, it would have been probably 1996. About six to seven miles south of us, somewhere in there, a place burned down, and it was known around here for one of the best pizzas. And I grew up with that pizza, so I started playing around with the crust, trying to get similar to that. It just kind of finally took off. I spent about two years playing around before I got that pizza right.

Q: What is your favorite Wolf’s Den pizza variety? A: The four meat, for sure. It’s the No. 1 seller. Q: What are your special plans for the 10-year anniversary? A: The first weekend of April, we will have the Smokin’ Coyotes, which will be the first time we’ve had a live band in our dining room side. April 17, we’re going to try to bring in some of the old staff back in and move the prices back down to 2004 prices for one night. Then we’ve got another comedy show coming up, in August, which is going to be an outside, big, 10-year anniversary celebration, kind of like a parking lot party. P

Q: Why did you decide to expand? A: There used to be another building where that new addition is, but the foundation and the floor gave way. So we moved the building off, and there just wasn’t enough seating where the front part of the bar is now: It just got to be too busy with too many people. So it was like, “Well, we need more room.” Q: When did you complete your expansion? A: That, we actually got done in October of 2012. We had been working on that for about three or four years.

Austin Daily Herald


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Q: Along with the expansion, how has the menu changed? A: We just redid the menu. We kind of got rid of a few things that weren’t selling. I got a few more chicken wraps; we added the garden bar, a salad bar out front. Other than that, most of it

What a difference one year makes

Bellisio Foods turning things around in Austin

By Matt Peterson If it weren’t for a few bold moves, a food production plant on Austin’s Main Street could easily be a big, empty building. But it’s not, and the gears of production at what is now Bellisio Foods Inc. are once again meshing like they should. The former Austin Packaging Company, which shut down its pizza production line and laid off about 75 employees one year ago, had one foot in the bankruptcy grave and at one point roughly $10 million in total debt. However, it avoided bankruptcy when owners filed for receivership, a way to continue operations and restructure before selling, while interim manager Tony Natale helped improve the financial situation. After a June 2013 auction, the Twin Cities-based Bellisio was the proud owner of the food production company and its assets with a $6.1 million winning bid. Bellisio, which manufactures Michelina’s frozen dinners, items for Boston Market and more, quickly continued running the existing production lines, making liquid sauces and portion-control pouches. The obvious plan, though, has been for growth. In time, Bellisio will begin producing larger-portion frozen dinners in Austin and perhaps reopen its pizza production line. “We’ve really been able to solidify and grow the existing business that was here,” General Manager Jeff Tuttle said.


The Bellisio Foods leadership team including sales director Paul Nafzger, plant manager Raymond Vigil, human resources director Karen Irwin, director of strategic operations Tim Esson and general manager Jeff Tuttle. Not pictured is finance manager Brad Kallman. Of course, great business decisions often come with risks, and Bellisio took over APC’s former debts, as well: about $280,000 worth. So officials aren’t simply content with maintaining the flow of production. They’re constantly thinking about expansion. Thus far, the company has restarted some production that was


As of February 2014


Austin Daily Herald


Hormel Foods Corp. Austin plant — 1,815 2. Quality Pork Processors — 1,300 3. Mayo Clinic Health System - Albert Lea and Austin (Austin location) — 974 4. Hormel Foods corporate office — 962 5. Austin Public Schools — 627 6. Hy-Vee Food Store — 365 7. Walmart — 350 8. Mower County — 247 9. St. Mark’s Lutheran Home — 225 10. Riverland Community College (Austin campus) — 175

shut down while continuing other lines. “Oh yeah,” Tuttle said without hesitation. “A facility like this becomes financially stronger as more production enters the picture. As sales build, you’ve just got more commerce. There is obviously stronger cash flow, and that is happening.”

largest employers 13.

Herald file photo

11. 12.

In December, the Austin Port Authority approved Bellisio’s request to buy out the $681,000 lease on the building and do its own expansions. If Bellisio’s aspirations come true, it will need the extra space and equipment. The company hopes to add three new production lines by May 2014, which will require a new refrigeration area and extra equipment. “Plans are to spend $8 to $10 million on various expansions,” Tuttle said. Since the takeover, Tuttle has been spending about four days a week putting on the lab coat and hair net and making his rounds at the facility. He and Karen Irwin, human resources director, are thinking about jobs — potentially 40 to 70 openings in the next few months. Of course, not all employees who were laid off have returned to the new business. However, some employees have been rehired, and Irwin urges former employees to apply. Furthermore, she encourages any prospective workers to go through Riverland Community College’s Workforce Development Center, which is aligning people with jobs that match their skillsets at Bellisio. “We’re really happy Bellisio purchased us,” Irwin said. “We’re going to be able to provide good work, steady work for people.” Tuttle and his workforce know with time and dedication, Bellisio in Austin will become a well-oiled business machine. P

REM Woodvale Inc. — 161 Sacred Heart Care Center — 150

Holiday Inn/Days Inn/Perkins — 148 14. International Paper — 146 15. Gerard School — 145 16. City of Austin — 137 17. The Hormel Institute — 130 18. Bellisio Foods — 120 19. Cooperative Response Center — 110 20. McFarland Truck Lines — 93 21. Austin Utilities — 89 22. Cedar Valley Services — 89 23. Southland Public Schools — 82 24. Target — 80 25. Shopko — 75

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—Source: Development Corporation of Austin. Numbers are approximate for some employers and do not reflect seasonal employment changes.

Austin Daily Herald


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ALL SIGNS POINT TO GROWTH Story by Adam Harringa

Hy-Vee Director Todd Hepler says now is the perfect time for a major expansion Todd Hepler gets an inside look at the state of the local economy, and lately, it has been overwhelmingly positive. To him, there isn’t a better time for the Austin Hy-Vee he manages to expand. Hepler has seen a substantial increase in grocery spending over the last four to six months, and people out and about despite the extreme cold this winter. Add to that a $7- to $10-million expansion at Hy-Vee, which should break ground in May, Hepler said, and the Austin economy — and his store — are primed for more good news. “What we’ve seen is an influx of people buying more baked goods, eating in the kitchen more,” Hepler said. “That’s a good sign for the economy — people buying up instead of buying down.” The expansion is one of many multi-million-dollar upgrades for Austin entities — including Hormel Foods’ corporate office, Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, St. Mark’s Lutheran Home, I.J. Holton Intermediate School and Woodson Kindergarten Center, the Mower County Humane Society, all within the last two years, and upcoming expansions for The Hormel Institute and the Paramount Theatre. Several of those added or will add scores of jobs, and Hy-Vee’s is no different. The grocery store is expected to go from 365 to about 500 employees once the final section of the 22,000-square-

More work

Todd Hepler

Age: 45 Current town: Austin, Minn. Hometown: Atlantic, Iowa Job: Austin Hy-Vee store director Hobby: Most of Hepler’s free time is spent with his nine children, ranging from age 10-22. His children’s activities are his hobbies at this point. Why he’s in Progress: Hepler witnesses the ebb and flow of the local economy through grocery spending habits. He has seen a real uptick in recent months, and is prepared to lead the local Hy-Vee during a multi-million-dollar expansion. foot expansion is complete. “Any time you add jobs to the communi-

ty, it’s taking people who needed a job, and giving them a job,” Hepler said.

The jobless rate during the Great Recession bottomed out in Austin at exactly 8 percent in March 2009. The rate has slowly improved since then, and has been at pre-recession levels for several months, hitting 3.7 percent in November 2013, the lowest in seven years. Underemployment, which is harder to accurately measure, is still high in Austin, and about 19 percent of its residents live in poverty. Expansions like Hy-Vee’s should help those looking for more work, however, as the company adds 125 to 150 jobs. And an upcoming $27-million expansion at The Hormel Institute, for example, is expected to bring about 120 higher-paying jobs in the next couple years. Still, Hepler feels Austin is in a good position compared to the rest of the region when it comes to finding quality employees. “We feel very fortunate because we get good applicants,” he said. “We always fill jobs from within the community.” Hy-Vee will add a full-service bar and restaurant, a pharmacy drive-through, chef stations, a gourmet cheese shop, a hummus and salsa bar, a sushi bar, and expanded Italian and Chinese kitchen options, so there are many employment options, Hepler said.

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40 Progress 2014

—Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

From recession to growth

The recession affected all sectors of

Austin. The principal marketing team is based here, as well as the logistics group.” Hormel Foods Corp. employs roughly 2,777 And Spam, for example, is still manufactured people in Austin — a city with about 12,780 in Austin and Fremont, Neb., and exported all total employees — so when the company is over the world, he added. doing well, it’s usually a positive effect The result is job growth locally. In the on the local economy. Lucky for Auslast two years, Hormel has added 223 tin, the company has increased profits jobs in Austin — 79 in its corporate offive years running. fice, and 144 in its plant. A new line, Rev The company reported $526.2 milwraps, alone added 110 jobs in Austin. lion in profit and $8.75 billion in total Asia and China, the world’s second sales last year, both all-time bests. largest economy, provide the biggest The company, which hopes to grow growth potential for Hormel, which sales by 5 percent and profit by 10 grew international sales by 38 perpercent annually, is squarely focused cent last year. But non-U.S. sales only Ettinger on international growth, particularly account for 9 percent of Hormel’s opAsia. What does that mean for Austin? erating profit in 2013, something it’s To CEO Jeff Ettinger, it means some growth in looking to change. Austin, and some outside the U.S. “We do think there’s an excellent opportunity “For international, it’s kind of a blend in terms outside the United States,” Ettinger said. “We’re of will we still rely on the local-based teams,” still relatively small compared to some of our Ettinger said at the company’s annual stockhold- competitive peers in terms of our business outer meeting in Austin earlier this year. “The team side the U.S., but we’re looking for an excellent year in Hormel International again.” P that runs the [international division] is based in Story by Adam Harringa

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The recent expansions add more than the unemployed to the workforce, as the millions spent on construction directly or indirectly helps countless other businesses, from local construction companies winning bids for service, to construction workers eating lunch, buying groceries or shopping retail while they’re in town each day. “Anytime you can see construction going on, it benefits the whole community,” Hepler said. “When the hospital did their expansion, we saw an influx at Hy-Vee. I think when we start [our expansion], you will see people spending money all over the community.”

Hormel growing in Austin and abroad


Benefits trickle down

the Austin economy, and retail and grocery stores like Hy-Vee were far from immune. “It definitely impacted us,” Hepler said. “People were buying more of the Hy-Vee product labels than the major labels.” People were saving money however they could, he said. Now, shoppers are spending more. Local option sales tax receipts for Austin totaled $1.41 million in 2013 — meaning Austin businesses received $281.5 million in taxable retail sales that year — a 20.5 percent increase over 2012 and a 54.5 percent increase over the recession’s low of $182.2 million in 2008. Like Hepler said, it may be the perfect time for an expansion. “We’re on the cusp of some great things happening not only in the community but in our country,” he said. “Hopefully [our expansion] draws some new business to town, or others go through some remodels, too.” P

Austin Daily Herald

“It gives younger kids an opportunity to work in a new store, and not just bagging and checking,” he said. “Some are going to become chefs, and hopefully be inspired by what they do.”

A cut of small-town life By Jason Schoonover

To Alissa Payne and Karnette Unverzagt, their Dexter salon Twisted Scissors isn’t just about hair; it’s about family and smalltown living. When the two look around their salon, they can see countless signs of how their family helped make the business a reality in the front counter, their washer and drier, and even the building itself. As the two prepared to open the salon in August 2009, they turned to their families for help. “It just makes you appreciate it more. ... We know how hard they worked for us to get in here,” Unverzagt said. Payne’s father, Mark Wiste, owner of Wiste Construction; her husband, Colter; and brothers built the building. Unverzagt’s father, Robert “Cork” Unverzagt, also helped a lot. “Our families were awesome,” Payne said. Unverzagt’s uncle, Bill Unverzagt, of Byron, built the coat rack, the desk, a display case and other things around the shop. He built the front counter specifically for them and contributed to the wood decor . The city of Dexter also donated the land for the business. Payne’s parents donated a washer and drier. Another client gave a counter in the sanitation room. It was also a bonding experience, as their families also got to know each other during the building process. Both Unverzagt and Payne love working in a small-town salon, where they’ve grown close to their customers. “We know them so well living in a little town,” Unverzagt said. Even though they often won’t see some clients for about six weeks between haircuts, the two said they’re close with them.

Karnette Unverzagt Age: 39 Town of residence: Dexter Hometown: Janesville, Wis. Job: Salon owners

Allissa Payne

Age: 30 Town of residence: Adams Hometown: Adams

Why they are in Progress: The salon is a positive example of a thriving small-town business.

Fun fact: The two had a contest to name the salon. After a few months, Payne and Unverzagt each picked their favorites and settled on Twisted Scissors, which is the one Unverzagt’s sister’s friends from Wisconsin recommended. “Our clients are like friends,” Payne said. They get to watch many of the young children grow up, as Unverzagt has served some children for a decade. For some, coming to the salon is a bit of a social experience, as a few women come early for coffee and to socialize. Payne and Unverzagt have worked together since 2003 at a different salon. Along with haircuts, the duo offers colors, perms, facial waxes, stylings, updos, tanning and more. Both Unverzagt’s and Payne’s favorite service to perform at the salon: hair colorings, as it’s an opportunity to

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Paul A. Tangen CLU, ChFC, LUTCF Agent

507.584.1215 fax 507.584.1195

236 S. Main St., P.O. Box 69 Dexter, MN 55926

be fun and creative. “Because there’s so many options,” Unverzagt said. “You can do anything.” However, it can be challenging, too, as Unverzagt noted customers and stylists can sometimes have a different idea of the exact color they’re aiming for. That’s why Payne said she prefers her customers to bring in pictures. “Then I know what they really want,” she said. One good thing about getting close to customers: The two can ask someone if they’re 100 percent sure they want to go for a drastically different style or cut long hair short. When they ask for something out of the norm, they can discuss it with them to make sure it’s what they want. “Sometimes, too, if you know them well enough, you can go, ‘Are you serious?’” Unverzagt said. The salon may be in a small town and, as Payne described it, low key, but that doesn’t mean the two aren’t typically busy. Unverzagt noted they have clients from Austin, Preston, Hayfield, Rochester, Grand Meadow and other nearby communities. Payne and Unverzagt get along great, even though they said they’re alike in some ways and opposite in others. Payne is a little more quiet, while the two described Unverzagt as more of a talker. Unverzagt admitted she’s messy, while Payne is cleaner, but Payne doesn’t get on Unverzagt if she leaves things out. Both women graduated from Southland High School and Riverland Community College’s cosmetology school, though they’re about nine years apart in age. Payne graduated from Southland in 2002 and Riverland in 2003. Unverzagt graduated from Southland in 1993 and Riverland’s cosmetology program in 1999. P

Austin Daily Herald


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Storage of Tomorrow

Digital storage company ISS is tapping into the future of tech Story by Jason Schoonover

From an office in the former Elkton school, Information Systems Sciences’ digital learning director Melody Melin logged into a digital teachers’ portal for Sacred Heart School in Adams. Melin, a former educator, was looking for additional resources to add to the teachers’ digital stockpile that already included apps like Microsoft Word, a digital drop box, iTunes, several links and more. ISS President CEO Randy Sprau is positioning his business to meet the ever-growing technological needs of businesses and schools. The Sacred Heart cloud is just one example of how ISS does all the heavy lifting by managing the wireless infrastructure, hosting applications in the cloud, managing program licenses and updating programs. The businesses and schools just need to log in. “You plug into the wall, and your information — whether that be data, applications — is as ubiquitous as a dial tone,” Sprau said. Sacred Heart’s cloud infrastructure is a model Sprau plans to use to showcase the business’s potential to other private schools and potential clients. Students and teachers can access apps like Microsoft Word from computers, iPads, tablets and smartphones from home or even when they’re on vacation. Students and teachers can also access a dropbox, where teachers can share assignments and students can turn in assignments or access lessons if they’re gone. “You plug in, and what applications do you need? We bring them up, we run them, we manage them — do everything, so all you have to worry about is getting your data in,” Sprau said. “It’s safe and it’s recoverable.” The system could be a nightmare for some students. “No more saying ‘the dog ate my homework’ or ‘I forgot my homework at school,’” Melin said. “Because it’s always there online for them.”

Decades in technology

To Sprau, cloud services and other offerings at ISS aren’t necessarily new, as he has worked with similar services since the late 1960s, though the concept and capabilities have expanded dramatically. Sprau grew up near Elkton and actually attended school in the building he now owns. He attended

college at what’s now Minnesota State University, Mankato. He was attending graduate school in Mankato in 1969 when he got an opportunity to move east and start working with Shared Medical Systems in Pennsylvania, where he worked until the late 1990s. He then co-started a company called Eclipses, a company that remote-hosted functions and data for hospitals, which was sold around 2006. In both companies, Sprau was involved in building and running data centers. The need for cloud services and digital data centers has grown significantly. The internet and technology is changing so fast today that Sprau sees many opportunities coming for businesses like ISS to provide cloud and other technological services to companies that don’t have vast IT departments. Looking ahead, Sprau expects a big need for public and private cloud services, especially because businesses aren’t likely to host accounting data in the cloud or turn over their cloud services to companies like Amazon.

Information Systems Sciences President and CEO Randy Sprau talks about the remote work the business does from its home site in Elkton.

“No more saying ‘the dog ate my homework’ or ‘I forgot my homework at school,’ Because it’s always online for them.”

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ISS provides its customers with a computer port so visitors can tap in to access their files.

-Melody Melin, Digital Learning Director

“They’ve got to have private clouds,” Sprau said. “So that’s where I see it going, and I see it expanding.” The technology has changed — drastically. When Sprau was with Shared Medical Systems, the data center was 82,000-square-feet. Now, that same amount of data capacity can fit in 1,000-square-feet, Sprau said. “Technology allows us to do a lot of things that were more difficult in those days,” Sprau said. Sprau tries to look at technology in a similar way hockey great Wayne Gretzky looked at hockey: Don’t look at where the puck is, look at where it’s going and where you want to be when it gets there. “You’ve always got to be looking forward because you don’t know what the next thing can be,” Sprau said.

almost everything can be done remotely. Greg Kneeskern, a systems engineer for ISS, monitors the systems and cloud-based infrastructure, and he builds programs to keep the system operating efficiently. A wheel on the screen was yellow, meaning everything was normal. If there’s a problem, Kneeskern doesn’t have to go far. He can fix it from his computer. Much of the work is automated, and computer systems email workers if it detects a problem. Many of the issues are addressed by the system. “The best goal would be to make sure he has absolutely nothing to do,” Sprau said, aside from building new programs to handle such problems. Workers don’t even need to be at the business to detect errors, bugs or anything that may go wrong. They’ll get emails and alerts when something happens.


A bright future


Today, ISS specializes in cloud services, commercial/corporate records management, data storage, data recovery and remote backups, among other services. Sprau has more than 65 accounts. Commonly, businesses update technology and purchase programs that become

quickly outdated. ISS is helping businesses ensure that doesn’t happen. ISS designs adaptive infrastructure so clients don’t have to gut and rebuild as technology changes. “Our goal is the customer should be as current as the commercial technology that’s there,” he said, noting they have to build infrastructure anticipating change. If businesses aren’t adaptable, it leaves them vulnerable to be passed up by a newer company, Sprau noted. “You tend to lose your edge if you don’t design under the anticipation of where technology is going,” Sprau said. ISS handles all backups and updates. Workers get the updates and test them and only push them off to clients once all the bugs have been worked out. This, and

“You’ve always got to be looking forward because you don’t know what the next thing will be.” Randy Sprau, Owner of ISS

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wife winter in Arizona, which he noted is just about the same distance from Elkton. Thanks to today’s technology, Sprau doesn’t need to be in the office to work. “You can be almost anywhere,” Sprau said. Sprau owns multiple data centers — two in Elkton and one on the East Coast — to back up his and his customers’ data.

After decades in the technology industry, Sprau says little surprises him. One thing is for certain: Technology is going to continue to change at lightning pace. “The technology that you see, that you’re using today — the typical stuff on the street — potentially could be five, six years old,” Sprau said. P


Digital Learning Director Melody Melin and Systems Engineer Greg Kneeskern monitor applications running at Sacred Heart Elementary School from Information Systems Sciences in Elkton.

Austin Daily Herald

To many, Elkton — a town of 141 at the 2010 Census — may not look like a prime location for a business looking to stay on the cutting edge of the technology industry. But Sprau noted location isn’t as important in the digital age. “Now with the advent of the Internet and all the capabilities, you can be in Nome, Alaska, and be able to do things in the cloud services,” Sprau said. He first saw the promises of the Elkton school building when he was working with Shared Medical Systems as the company was looking for a remote data center. Company officials looked at the old school, and while it didn’t pan out, Sprau later bought the building before forming ISS. In the building, Sprau saw great potential for storage and infrastructure needs. Sprau started ISS in 2006, and he now has about 15 employees, some fulltime and some part-timers, and a few are based across the U.S. in towns like Boston. In fact, Sprau lives in Pennsylvania, but spends about two weeks each month in Elkton. Sprau and his

The Wire Story by Trey Mewes

A fiber optics network would vastly improve Austin’s infrastructure, but it would also put the city on a path to build for the future


s a technology speJustin Bickler cialist, Justin Bickler Age: 37 knows how important Current town and good infrastructure hometown: Austin is. As a business owner, Bickler Fun fact: Bickler knows how important Internet doesn’t just volunteer access is. As a volunteer with Vision 2020’s Community Wide with Vision 2020. Technology committee, he has He’s involved with an idea how much a fiber optics Riverland Community network could change Austin’s College’s tech advisory future. board, the Austin Area “It’s a huge opportunity for Chamber of Commerce economic development,” he and the Mower County said. Fair. Huge may be an understateWhy he’s in Progress: ment for the scope behind a Bickler is one of fiber optics data cable network dozens of volunteers throughout Austin. A network that could bring massive working to create a amounts of online data to each huge infrastructure household in Austin could be boost in Austin. revolutionary for the area’s quality of living. People with “As a small business, irrelemedical issues could immedivant to the fact I’m already in ately access doctors through technology, we use it daily to video chat programs. Refrigerprocess transactions, to work ators could sense when you’re with customers, to do supabout to run out of milk and port,” Bickler said. “It’s a huge notify Hy-Vee. People could be opportunity to grow from withable to stream as many movies, in Austin and reach further, and music and games as they want. bring more to Austin.” Businesses could telecommute Yet there’s work to do by employees to other parts of the the year 2020, when Vision world. In other words, Austin 2020 organizers hope to finish almost all of the 10 projects the residents will have the technocommunity selected. logical ability to invent and creThe Community Wide Techate new services and benefits nology committee has spent wherever they go. the past year studying and “What you can do with it is learning more about the comwhat you can dream up,” Laura munity’s technological needs, Helle, director of creative vision as well as figuring out how for Vision 2020, said. feasible providing a massive That’s what the committee Internet opportunity is while hopes to accomplish: a digital keeping prices low. They’re infrastructure that’s easily used also doing business studies to by everyone, no matter the determine who would best be purpose. able to oversee the network “Like a lot of next-generation and charge customers for technologies, we can tell you access. what we think we’re going to Bickler and other committee do with it now, but no one has members should have study thought up the, ‘Wow, really results by April 2014, and from cool’ application yet,” Helle there will decide whether to said. “And they won’t until pursue a fiber optics network. Justin Bickler, pictured with Vision 2020 Director of Creative Vision Laura Helle, is working with a they see it.” If the project gets done, it dedicated group in the Community Wide Technology committee to bring fiber optics to Austin. The concept is similar to the could eliminate the digital Google Fiber initiative Austinidivide between residents who tes, including Bickler, worked have Internet access and those on in 2010 and 2011. At the time, Austin was among several communities across the U.S. who may not afford an Internet connection now. Committee members like Bickler know vying for a community-wide fiber optics network that promised massively faster Internet such an advantage would be momentous for Austinites from all walks of life. access. Though Kansas City, Mo., eventually won the contest, residents didn’t forget all the “It could change everything,” he said. P research they did. For Bickler, next-level technology is an opportunity and a passion. Bickler grew up tinkering with and building computers, as well as helping his family, friends and neighbors with technology-related problems. When he and his family moved back to the area in 2009, he knew the area was ready for technological gains, which is why he opened Simplified Tech Solutions, a computer repair and help business in downtown Austin. That’s another reason why Bickler is excited about better Internet access: A boon like that will be a huge economic selling point to bring businesses to town. It will likely improve service at businesses and organizations throughout Austin, as a better Internet connection means smoother operations.

“What you can do with it is what you can dream up.” -Laura Helle, Director of creative vision for Vision 2020

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Vision 2020’s Community Wide Technology committee hopes to bring some light to the end of the wire with the introduction of fiber optics, illustrated here.

Curbside Services Curbside services for recycling pickup (twice per month) are available for residents in the cities of Austin, Mapleview, Brownsdale, Grand Meadow, and LeRoy (within city limits). Visit our website at cling-HHW.htm to see the curbside schedule. How do I sign up for recycling and how much does it cost? Come to the MC Recycling Center (1111 8th Ave. NE) Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday from 1-5 PM to pick up three bins and be given a brief overview of the program. Recycling fees are included in the taxes paid by Mower County residents. As long as you are a resident of Mower County there is no additional cost to you. Why should I recycle? We have to do something with the garbage we produce. American’s produce on average 1600 lbs. of garbage per person every year - about 4.4 lbs. per day Acceptable materials Newspaper, magazines, white office paper, corrugated cardboard, pressed board (ex: cereal box), tin cans, aluminum cans, glass bottles & jars, plastic bottles with or . Visit our website at cling-HHW.htm for more information WE DO NOT accept the following wastes Waxed cardboard (ex: fruit box), frozen food containers made of paper (ex: frozen pizza box), juice container made of paper, window glass or mirrors, ceramic glass (ex: coffee cup), any plastic not in bottle form through , no styrofoam of any kind, no plastic bags of any kind. Drop-off for recycling We do have a drop off area at the Recycling Center located at 1111 8th Ave. NE in Austin.

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Questions/Further information or come to the Mower County Recycling office located at 1111 8th Ave. NE, Austin, MN 55912 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday from 1-5 PM or Call (507) 437-9551.

Eric Harder has a hand in a lot of areas within Austin Public Schools, but he has left teaching and is now the tech integrationist at I.J. Holton Intermediate School.

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Pictured Left to Right: Joe, Amy, Alvina LeTendre (owner), Erich, Gary LeTendre (owner), Josh, Stephen, Debbie, Gene, Johnny

Teaching teachers When I.J. Holton Intermediate School staff were getting ready for the school’s first year, they knew one person would head the school’s technology initiative. Every fifth- and sixth-grader would have a laptop to work with at school and at home, and teachers needed to make sure they could use school technology to help students learn with the science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) curriculum. One person would have to lead a whole new movement in Austin education. One person would have to teach teachers and help students find the best ways to use the technology at their fingers. Enter Eric Harder. Harder, a 1983 Austin High School graduate, is no stranger to the district. In his 24-year career, he has taught mathematics for middle schoolers and honors students. He was also no stranger to leadership, or to technolo-

An I.J. Holton Intermediate student uses the laptop she was issued at the beginning of the year. Each student received a laptop. gy: As a teacher at Ellis Middle School, he often helped co-workers solve problems with their computer and software. He didn’t have much formal training in technology, but he knew how to solve problems. “People were coming to me to ask me for help,” Harder said. “Some things were simple, but if you’ve never been trained on them, then you don’t know. It could be really difficult.”

That’s how Harder found himself as the tech integrationist at I.J. Holton, at the forefront of the district’s push to mesh student critical thinking with the technological tools needed for tomorrow’s jobs and discoveries. “It’s just basically what I did in the classroom, and now I’m trying to show people what I did,” he said. Harder can investigate how to use programs like Austin Public Schools’ Infinite Campus to its fullest. Other

Progress 2014

By Trey Mewes


Age: 48 Hometown: Austin Fun fact: Harder has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, but he also hopes to get a tech integration degree after taking the job at I.J. Holton Intermediate School. Why he’s in Progress: As I.J. Holton’s tech integrationist, Harder is helping Austin Public Schools find better ways to use technology.

programs like Moodle allow teachers to post supplemental readings for students, while students can post assignments to be graded. Students need to be taught how to use those programs, which means teachers need to know how to teach those skills. That’s where Harder comes in. Harder also helps figure out tech problems, from student online access issues to laptop troubleshooting. Yet those aren’t a challenge for Harder. “The biggest challenge is time,” he said. The STEAM program’s massive scope allows many exciting ways to use technology in the classroom. Teachers can poll students on a lesson question and immediately pull up answers on SMARTboards. Teachers can get students to write responses to lessons or thought-provoking questions, which they can share with students right there. Teachers can add to classroom notes and post them for absent students or for later use. And Harder is there to help teachers use that technology to add value to classroom lessons. “We want to look for things that make what we’re doing better, rather than just different,” he said. P

Austin Daily Herald

Eric Harder

Educator helps I.J. Holton expand new technology

By Matt Peterson


ith keen interest, Chuck Meyer watched the whirling dials attached to the side of his house. Peering at the utilities meters at most homes isn’t very exciting, or at all, but at Meyer’s it is almost a new hobby. Leave it to an environmental science teacher to install a solar energy module on his home and become buried in all aspects of the operation.

But Meyer didn’t just install the unit as another science project. His decision was well planned. Like others had already noticed, it was time to go solar. “The price of the panels has come down so much that we finally felt that we could do it,” Meyer said standing in his front yard — with the array of panels on his roof, easily visible from the street.

Meyer — whose solar module went live on Nov. 21, 2013 — had thought about installing solar panels while his house was being built in 2003 in northwest Austin. However, the cost of equipment and state of the technology at that point didn’t make the decision economically feasible. Fast forward a decade, and much has changed. Where most homes would have one meter,

Meyer’s has two. One tracks total production from the solar panels. The other shows how much energy Meyer’s home has either used or put back on the grid. At about 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 15 — a bright, sunny, yet cool day — Meyer’s system was producing 2 kilowatt-hours of energy. That’s not even near the capacity of the 3.3 kilowatt system, but it’s not bad, either.

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CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS (Chuck Meyer’s solar panels and installation costs)

$15,940: Total cost and installation $3,300: Austin Utilities $1 per-watt rebate $3,792: 30 percent federal tax credit $8,848: Net cost About 12 years: Anticipated return on investment

Chuck Meyer

something like that,” Lady said. So back at Meyer’s house, the science teacher is keeping a close eye on the meters. In mid-January he was just 9 kilowatts shy of breaking even with the utilities company. Just several days later, on Jan. 20, the outlook improved again. “Up until today, we’ve actually had a string of about five pretty good days,” Meyer said. “We were actually ahead of the game by about 12 kilowatt hours.” Meyer especially looks forward to summer. “I would expect when summer days get longer that we pull ahead on the game,” he said about energy production. At that point, Meyer would be putting energy back on the grid, and racking up credit from Austin Utilities. Meyer has been impressed with how receptive Austin Utilities has been to the solar movement. “Austin Utilities, about the whole thing, they were incredibly excited and supportive about the project,” he said. New legislation, rebates, tax credits and less

expensive equipment is changing that. Meyer installed a 3.3 kilowatt system and received $3,300 in rebates from Austin Utilities, or $1 per watt. In fact, Austin Utilities has since dropped that rebate to 50 cents because solar equipment costs continuously decline. Furthermore, a 30 percent federal tax credit saved Meyer $3,792. With those savings, Meyer’s $15,940 bill dropped to $8,848. Solar Connection, the Rochester company that installed Meyer’s solar unit, projects roughly a 12-year return on investment. Meyer may have installed a larger apparatus than most homeowners would, but he’s looking toward the future, especially when he looks at the 1998 Ford Windstar parked in his garage. Someday, Meyer’s family will own an electric vehicle. The extra energy production will help charge the car’s battery. Until that day, Meyer will keep watching the dials, reading energy reports and eying those panels when he pulls in the driveway. “Now, I’ve just got to keep the snow off of them,” he said. P

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to Austin’s grid. Of course, startup costs remain a barrier for some homeowners, which is why few people in the area have installed units. Four units went up in 2011, one in 2012 and just Meyer’s in 2013, Lady said. The average homeowner should first look to energy-saving techniques within the home. “They want to get their home or business as efficient as possible before investing in renewable energy because then you are possibly going to be able to save on getting a smaller-sized system,” Lady said. However, Meyer’s home already fit the bill for a solar system. Lady remembers touring it after it was built, and how a front extension acted as a passive solar unit and effectively retained and expelled heat from the home when needed. Furthermore, Meyer already had energy-efficient lighting, excellent insulation and more. His house was prepped for renewable energy production. “It made sense for him to move forward with


While winter days are much shorter, allowing for fewer hours of production, Riverland construction electrician instructor Steve Vietor said that’s not all bad because the panels process energy more efficiently when they are cool. Vietor has wholly supported the solar movement by testifying to legislators, speaking at local meetings and bringing the only solar installation course in the state to Riverland in Austin. However, Vietor estimates the new mandates, rebates and incentives for manufacturers will create a $1.8- to $2-billion industry in Minnesota in several years. Even non-homeowners will be able to invest in “solar gardens,” and charging stations for electric vehicles will dot the map. “In the next five years, it’s going to be a completely different landscape out there,” he said. That landscape has yet to be seen. In Austin, businesses and homeowners have slowly added solar energy to the grid. According to Kelly Lady, energy services consultant at Austin Utilities, there are currently a total of eight solar units contributing a maximum rate of 19.5 kilowatts

Chuck Meyer talks about the solar panel set up at his home.

Austin Daily Herald

Age: 52 Town of residence: Austin Hometown: White Bear Lake Job: Science professor at Riverland Community College Fun fact: Meyer volunteers with The Nature Conservancy, enjoys birding, gardening, hiking, conservation; and at the age of 48, learned to play the fiddle. Why he is in Progress: Meyer has taken the initiative to install a solar module on his roof in Austin, which isn’t something many people have yet done. Meyer is environmentally conscious, hopes to reduce his energy consumption and has further hopes of getting an electric car someday, which he could charge at his house with the solar unit.

Kayla Sellers

Age: 24 Current town and hometown: Austin Job: Paraprofessional, Austin Packer Dance Team head coach Fun fact: Kayla has a 1-year-old son named Liam

The Austin Dance Team went through a coaching change, but it’s a familiar one. Former APDT dancer and AHS alumni Kayla Sellers returns to head the dance team as it looks to the future.

From Dancer to Coach Story by Rocky Hulne, Photos by Eric Johnson

to the experience of being on the Packer dance team. Austin senior Madison Wuertz said the squad has faith in its coaches. “I think it’s cool because both of them are alumni and they’re familiar with the program,” she said. “They know what it takes to get to state.” Austin senior Tori Simonson said the dancers have been able to relax a little bit with younger coaches. But they aren’t losing their work ethic. “It’s still serious, but we can loosen up and have fun with them,” Simonson said. P

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Kayla Sellers knows exactly what it takes to get to the state dance meet as an athlete, and now she is learning what it’s like to get to the state dance meet as a coach. Sellers, a 2007 Austin High School grad, made her debut as the head coach of the Packer dance team this winter and she also received a little help from one of her former teammates. Sellers was assisted by Sara Alms, who danced on the same team as Sellers when Alms was an eighth-grader and Sellers was a senior. “She kind of took me under her wing and we were partners,” Alms said. “We danced next to each other the whole routine my eighth-grade year. Now she asked me to be her assistant and here we are.” Sellers took over a program that had been Austin Dance Team first-year coach Kayla Sellers to 11 straight routine at the I.J. Holton Intermediate School. dance meets, and it’s her goal to keep that state tradition going for the Packers. She had to make an adjustment early on to be the coach in the room instead of an athlete. “It’s so different,” Sellers said. “[Sara and I] went from dancers to coaches, and that’s a huge jump. But we’re making it work, and it’s going great.” Before coming to Austin, Sellers coached dance at Winona High School and Winona Cotter. The dance team took a liking to Sellers and Alms early on as the two can relate well

watches her team as it runs through its

“She kind of took me under her wing and we were partners. We danced next to each other the whole routine my eighth-grade year. Now she asked me to be her assistant, and here we are.” -Sara Alms, APDT assistant on head coach Kayla Sellers

Austin Daily Herald


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Trophies and Pride Blooming Prairie may have a flower for a mascot, but the school has been racking up the wins Story by Rocky Hulne, Photos by Eric Johnson


team called the Awesome Blossoms may not exactly strike fear in the hearts of opponents. But by walking into Blooming Prairie High School and taking a quick look around, it doesn’t take long to notice the pride for sports the school embraces.

Austin Daily Herald

John Rumpza

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Age: 17 Current town and hometown: Blooming Prairie School: Junior at Blooming Prairie High School Hobby: Golf Why he’s in Progress: Rumpza plays football, basketball and baseball for the Awesome Blossoms.

The first thing visible inside the school’s entrance is a glass case full of trophies from various sports over the years. Sure, trophy cases are common in high schools, but the second display is a little more unique: BP has a Wall of Fame in its cafeteria, which commemorates all BP athletes who have either competed in a state tournament or set a state record. BP junior John Rumpza, who is the school’s all-time leading scorer in basketball, has been close to getting on that wall multiple times — for his own accomplishments — as he has played in the Section 1A title game in football twice and the Section 1A title game in basketball once. He’s also within 34 touchdown passes of tying BP grad Luc Zellmer for the Minnesota state record in career TD passes. Though Rumpza was on the football squad as a backup his freshman year when Zellmer was the starter, he hopes he earns a spot on the wall before he graduates next spring. “It would be cool to be up there. You look at some of the faces that are up there, and there’s a lot of good people up there,” Rumpza said. “I’ve never played in a state tournament, but to even be close to the same level as where those guys that played in front of us were, is an honor.” Rumpza, who has 5,723 yards and 68 touchdowns in two seasons at quarterback, participates in a lot more than just football. Like many BP athletes, Rumpza plays three sports, including basketball, where he is good for about 22 points and 12 rebounds per game, and baseball, where he is BP’s ace pitcher. The BP girls teams also have plenty of threesport athletes, and junior Madison Worke is one of the standouts. She has 1,953 career set assists in volleyball, where she will likely break the school record next fall. She’s also Blooming Prairie’s Shelbi the top guard on the Swenson delivers against basketball team and Hayfield in the Section 1A has played on the 2013 championship last spring. The state champion softball Blossoms would go on to claim team. the State 1A championship in Worke and Rumpza June. Herald file photo both said they only focus on the sport they’re playing, while they play it. There is no specializing or offseason training for any specific sport except in the summer. Worke, the daughter of BP head girls basketball coach John Worke, and Rumpza, who used to watch his older brother, Pat, play football and basketball, each grew up watching BP sports, and now they’re major contributors for the Awesome Blossoms. They learned by watching their elders. “I’ve been watching my dad’s basketball games for a long, long time, and my mom used to coach volleyball, so I’ve been around that, too,” Madison Worke said. Madison Worke While BP has crowned just two state team champions in school history — softball in 2013 and girls track and field in Age: 16 1984 — the school has racked up a lot of great seasons in reCurrent town and hometown: cent memory. In football, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, Blooming Prairie baseball and softball, the Blossoms have put up 22 winning School: Junior at seasons in the past five years and had just eight losing seasons Blooming Prairie High School over that span. Those BP teams have combined to go 365Hobby: Golf 266. Why she’s in Progress: Worke plays The BP football team has gone 57-13 in the past six seasons volleyball, basketball and softball and played in two state semifinal games and six section title for the Awesome Blossoms. games.

The State Wall of Fame in the commons area of Blooming Prairie High School showcases BP athletes who either participated at the state level or broke a state record. Herald file photo homework can pile up and practice and games can interfere with the amount of time athletes can put into their studies. BP athletes find time for both. The experience prepares them for college and the real world as they learn to manage time and prioritize. Rumpza admits it can be tough to balance all of his athletics, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s challenging, but you have to embrace it. Kids in bigger schools don’t get the chance to do it, and it’s a privilege,” he said. “It helps you keep a busy schedule and that’s what you have in college.” John said academics place a high ranking of importance for student athletes, but it’s also nice to have teams that compete.


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Austin Daily Herald

The BP softball team has gone 107-21 over the last five years and has played in four state tournaments. John Worke, the BP athletic director, said the success comes because it’s a small-town community that supports its sports, and thanks to a group of athletes who have excelled on and off the court. It’s not uncommon for locals to congratulate an athlete at the grocery store or the gas station, and that support has helped those athletes keep up a hard-working attitude. “In small towns sometimes we’re limited with our options, so there is an emphasis on sports,” John said. “It’s an expectation and it gets to be a culture where the younger kids see the older kids performing and they want to do that.” The stress of being a three-sport athlete and a student can be high at times, as

BP records over the past five years 2008-2009

FOOTBALL: 8-3 (played in Section 1A title game) (also played in Section 1A title game in 2007) VOLLEYBALL: 20-11 BOYS BASKETBALL: 20-6 GIRLS BASKETBALL: 20-6 BASEBALL: 16-10 SOFTBALL: 18-7


FOOTBALL: 11-2 (advanced to state semis) VOLLEYBALL: 12-17 BOYS BASKETBALL: 8-15 GIRLS BASKETBALL: 13-13 BASEBALL: 12-8 SOFTBALL: 23-4 (advanced to state tournament)


FOOTBALL: 8-3 VOLLEYBALL: 11-18 BOYS BASKETBALL: 6-18 GIRLS BASKETBALL: 13-13 BASEBALL: 6-13 SOFTBALL: 21-3 (fourth at state tournament)


FOOTBALL: 11-2 (advanced to state semis) VOLLEYBALL: 17-13 BOYS BASKETBALL: 13-14 GIRLS BASKETBALL: 14-12 BASEBALL: 5-14 SOFTBALL: 22-4 (second in state)


Blooming Prairie’s Luc Zellmer passes in the first half of the 2011 Minnesota State Football Tournament semifinal game against Dawson/Boyd in the Metrodome. Zellmer would go on to set the career state passing record in the game. Herald file photo From Page 55 BP’s Wall of Fame not only motivates current athletes, it also honors those who have put in the time and the hard work necessary to accomplish great things in their sports. “We take pride in our history,” John said. “We get ridiculed a lot from outsiders with our name, and that brings the Awesome Blossom feel together. I think people who graduate from Blooming Prairie have a little chip on their shoulder, and they say, ‘Yeah, I’m proud to be a Blossom.’” Competing in sports builds charac-

ter and leadership qualities in students, and it gives them entertainment. The more winning the Blossoms have done, the more it inspires their athletes to work harder and get even better. BP’s softball team played in three state tournaments before it won the Class ‘A’ state title last year. The first year, the Blossoms lost both of their games at state. The second year the Blossoms won their first game at state but lost their next two and the third year, BP won its first two games at state, but lost a 2-1 heart-breaker on a wild pitch in the seventh inning of the state title game.

That loss propelled last year’s BP squad to work harder and gain focus. The Blossoms trailed New Life Academy 1-0 in the state title game, but they bounced back to win 3-1. It was a moment to remember for everyone involved. It’s a moment Madison Worke won’t forget anytime soon. “The state tournament was the best experience that I’ve had,” she said. “It was great, and I don’t even know how to describe it. There’s an inner drive to get there, especially when you have teams before in your school that have done it.” P




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Austin Daily Herald


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Like his older brother Francisco before him, Roel Torres has been a standout for the boys soccer team. Story by Rocky Hulne



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henever the Packer boys soccer players need a big goal, they usually look to Roel Torres, who will be a senior next fall. Torres usually delivers for the Packers, whether it’s on a 30-yard bender or a powerful shot from point-blank range. But soccer wasn’t always a passion for Torres. When he was growing up, Torres wanted to be a basketball player, but when his older brother Francisco started playing soccer, Tor-

res decided he would try the sport, as well. He began playing as an eighth-grader and worked his way up to the varsity squad almost instantly. “I didn’t really like soccer. I preferred playing basketball more. But I wasn’t tall enough. I’ve scored more goals than I’ve made baskets,” Torres said. “Seeing my brother and his friends play every day inspired me to play soccer. It looked fun, and I got into it.” When Torres first began to play he struggled with controlling the ball, and sometimes his shots weren’t even close.

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As Torres grew older, Francisco pushed him harder and harder to get better. The brothers were key players on the 2011 team that went 16-4 overall, took second in the Big Nine and made it all the way to the Section 1A title game. Torres still hasn’t played in a state tournament, and Austin’s lone appearance in state was in 2008. He is hoping that the Packers can make a run in his final season with AHS this coming fall. “We had a lot of new guys and new faces last year. Now that we know how to play with each other, we should be pretty good,” Torres said. Torres survives the frigid Minnesota winters by playing indoor soccer in Rochester, and he’s had his mind on improving since last season ended for Austin in the Section 1A semifinals.

“It’s not that good when you lose because you get really mad. But I like being competitive, especially in the important games. They always get me going.” Torres isn’t sure if he will play college soccer, so this could be his final year of competitive soccer. He plans on making it count. “I think about it all day. It’s going to be my last year of high school soccer, and I won’t be able to play in Art Hass Stadium any more after that,” Torres said. “It’s going to be very special and very sad at the same time.” One thing’s for sure, Torres will never take it easy in a game. There’s nothing that stings him quite like a loss, and he’ll do everything in his power to prevent that from happening to his team. “It’s not that good when you lose because you get really mad,” Torres said. “But I like being competitive, especially in the important games. They always get me going.” P

Austin Daily Herald


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Austin’s Roel Torres battles with Albert Lea’s Timothy Furland during the second half of the team’s Section 2A playoff game at Art Hass Stadium last October.

QA Bruiser the Bear &

By Rocky Hulne


Q: What’s the best part about being Bruiser the Bear? A: Being the “FACE” of the best team in the NAHL!

Bruins by the Numbers

Number of Bruins players who went on to play Division I college hockey: Nine (another six commits currently in NAHL/USHL)

Q: Who is your favorite player (or players) on the Bruins? A: All the guys are great. They really make me feel like I am truly part of the team. Q: What are game nights like for Bruiser? A: Crazy! The energy in the back before the boys hit the ice is nuts. The rush when I jump on and hear those fans light up is amazing. Q: What’s your hockey background? A: I played outdoor “pond” hockey as a lil bear. But I had a few (about 15) years off before joining the Bruins. Q: Are there any mascots you look up to? A: Goldy Gopher, hands down! He is my inspiration in everything that I do. I go to at least one of his games every year just to study him. Q: What kind of events do you go to besides Bruins’ games? A: Anything in the community that I have time for. The home show, Paint the Town Pink, school visits/events ... really anything I can get my paws on. I love getting out and seeing the fans. Q: If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would buy? A: The TEAM! ;) Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Number of Bruins players who went on to play college hockey: 23 (another six commits currently in NAHL/USHL) Most wins Bruins have had in a season: 42 (2012-13)

A: A park ranger helping prevent forest fires! Hehe Q: What would be on your bucket list? A: Skate with Goldy at Mariucci Arena Q: If you could have starred in one movie or TV show, what character would you be? A: The bear from the Great Outdoors, only I would have got away before getting shot in the ... well, you know. Q: If you could spend a day with one person in history, who would it be? A: Grizzly Adams. Q: After a hard day at work, what’s your favorite food or drink to wind down? A: Steve’s Pizza and a delicious, frosty, ice cold, 12 ounce ... Mountain Dew! P

Events per season Bruins spend volunteering in the community: Eight-10 per year (varies based on requests) Number of schools the Austin Bruins read to per season: 10 different schools (more than 2,500 students) Total money raised by Paint the Rink Pink night since it began: $100,313 Number of countries that have had players play

for the Bruins: Eight (USA, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Lithuania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland) Largest crowd ever to attend a Bruins game: 2,000 (max capacity, Paint the Rink Pink Night 2013) Average attendance for Bruins last season: 1,220 (36,609 total in 30 games) Career stats by Bruins’ all-time leading scorer Brandon Wahlin: 37 goals, 81 assists, 118 points (includes playoffs). Jay Dickman now has: 40 goals, 59 assists, 99 points Career saves by the Bruins’ all-time saves leader: Nick Lehr, 2,527 saves (as of Jan. 24) Number of winning seasons by the Bruins in franchise history: Two (three wins away from third as of Jan. 24)

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Austin Daily Herald


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A Life at Youth director gives back to church she grew up in by serving children By Jason Schoonover


ara Mandt’s husband, Jim, knows when she says “my kids,” she doesn’t always mean their four children. She’s often talking about her 30 to 50 church kids. “They come first in a lot of things,” she said with a laugh. Mandt has served as the education director at both Little Cedar Lutheran Church and Marshall Church in Adams since 2005, and she has been the youth director since 2009. To Mandt, youth group and Sunday school isn’t just about Bible study. “We don’t have to be sitting at a chair at a table with the Bible,” Mandt said. “We can be out and about doing activities, crafting together, doing science experiments together, and in all that showing them that God is there, too.” That’s not to say the Bible is absent from youth group, as Mandt said they always incorporate Bible verses and readings. But with how busy people are, Mandt admits church sometimes drops on priority lists. “The biggest challenge is there’s basketball, there’s dance, there’s wrestling, there’s always something and trying to work around their schedules,” she said. Mandt’s chief goal: Make youth group something children want to attend. In the past, children didn’t want to go to youth group; mom and dad often made them. Now, middle schoolers beg Mandt to attend youth group events reserved for junior and senior high youth.

Austin Daily Herald


The church hosted events after Southland High School games recently, one called Fifth Quarter after a football game and another called Third Half after a basketball game. Both drew several youth, many who don’t attend the church. Mandt has also added a youth room that some youngsters have joked they could live in. “Now kids want to come,” she said. Little Cedar’s Sunday school program is for 3-year-olds through eighth grade. Groups rotate through rooms with a different focus. The teachers and children spend a month on each lesson and often have a science class, a cooking class, movies and crafts. “Faith is everywhere,” Mandt said. The youth group typically meets the second Sunday of each month, if they’re not out doing an activity. The junior high youth group, called Rebels of Christ or ROC, and the senior high youth group blend fun events like bowling, movie nights and events with service projects. Every November, the youth groups hold a scavenger hunt going to knock on doors to collect food for the Adams food shelf, which is located in the church. They often work with the nursing home, along with other service projects. The church has been in a transitional stage for about four or five years, as the church has been through a string of interim pastors and a pastor who left after about a year. To Mandt, the youth are at risk of getting lost during those transitions. “I’ve tried to be that mainstay, that focus for the kids,” Mandt said. Now that Rev. Jeremy Johnson started

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love being here working with the kids, working with the church, having it be my church from my childhood — it meant so much more for me to be here and help things change.” —Tara Mandt

at the church over the summer, a level of stability has returned to the church. Now, Mandt is looking ahead to having youth groups take part in more service projects, especially for senior residents. The youth groups are going to Detroit in 2015 for an annual ELCA National Youth Gathering. They typically try to do a service project when they’re there. She’d also like to see the group add more service projects, and perhaps go on mission trips. Mandt loves traveling with the children, as she said they always make her laugh and have a good time. For Mandt, the children can be themselves around her and be able to have fun together. “What happens at youth group stays at youth group,” she joked. “Don’t tell pastor. Don’t tell your parents.” Mandt is no stranger to Little Cedar, as she grew up in the church, was baptized, confirmed and married at the church and then taught Sunday school. “I love being here working with the kids, working with the church, having it be my church from my childhood — it meant so much more for me to be here and help things change,” she said. P

Tara Mandt

Age: 40 Current town and hometown: Adams Job: Youth and education director at Little Cedar Lutheran Church Fun fact: Mandt is probably one of Southland’s biggest cheerleaders at most sporting events, and she loves taking pictures. She takes her camera to most — if not all — church events, and she’s in charge of the church directory. She recently bought a Canon Rebel T3. “The kids know the camera’s coming when we go anywhere,” she said. Why she’s in Progress: Mandt has been a vital part of Little Cedar Lutheran Church for several years.

Austin Daily Herald


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Tara Mandt, Little Cedar Lutheran Church youth director, has added a youthful exuberance to the church in Adams.

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Cornerstone Church’s three pastors: Executive Pastor Cory Goetz, from left, Lead Pastor Dave Simerson and Family Pastor Aaron Broberg. The church’s membership has grown steadily over the years and usually holds one mission a year.


Foun atioN Lead Pastor Dave Simerson, 42, Austin, 21 years at Cornerstone Executive Pastor Cory Goetz, 40, Austin, 16 years at Cornerstone Family Pastor Aaron Broberg, 39, Austin, 6 years at Cornerstone That’s where Aaron Broberg comes in. The Cornerstone family pastor joined the ministry team in 2008, completing a trifecta of pastors, who all attended North Central University in Minneapolis. In fact, Broberg’s brother-in-law is Simerson. And at the time, Cornerstone — with its rapid growth — needed another pastor, especially in youth ministry. As many at Cornerstone will agree, the church has a strong following of very young families. Because of that, Cornerstone needs to expand again. The church is renovating the adjacent sun tan studio for an extra 6,000 square feet for fifth-graders and younger. However, all demographics are welcome at Cornerstone. Though Cline belongs to one of those young families, she sees the welcoming atmosphere. “I think you could be any age and go to that church and feel welcome, whether you are 4 years old or 82,” Cline said. “I really think you could be involved if you wanted to be.” Another unique aspect about Cornerstone is its longtime leadership. Simerson, Goetz and Broberg are committed to God and their people. A professional title is an afterthought. “We believe that longevity is very powerful in a small community,” Broberg said. “We come here to live and be part of the community. Church for us is about having a relationship with one another.” Though Broberg has been at Cornerstone for just a quarter of the time Simerson has, Simerson still feels the same way. “We’re all imperfect people, still trying to be connected with God,” he said. “Our relationship with God is a journey. I treat my job like that.” Since its inception in a middle school gym in 1991, with several dozen members, Cornerstone has grown to a congregation of roughly 850, with 575 to 750 regularly attending on Sundays, Simerson said. If there were ever a church that followed its own motto, it would be Cornerstone. P

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O f F a i t h

Cornerstone Ministry


Just past the drugstore, between a wireless service provider and vacant business, sits the church. It may seem like an awkward setting for a place of worship. There’s no stone structure with a tower, bell and steeple, but that’s not important. The real foundation at Cornerstone Church in Austin is on the inside, with the congregation. “Our people are Cornerstone,” said Executive Pastor Cory Goetz, who has helped lead the ministry since 1998. “It’s not the pastors that are Cornerstone. It’s the people, and we have incredible people. They love each other, try to reach out, build connections.” That’s how Missy Cline discovered Cornerstone, Austin’s church that now exists inside an old movie theater and where some members remember their first dates years ago. Cline has been attending Cornerstone for nearly two years with her family. She learned about the church while attending a non-denominational women’s Bible study group. After she attended her first Sunday at Cornerstone, she had to go back. Lead Pastor Dave Simerson’s sermon wasn’t only interesting, it was entertaining and informative. Cline wanted to hear the follow-up next Sunday. “I think a lot of that comes from Pastor Dave, his personality,” Goetz said about people connecting with the message at Cornerstone. “He is very down to Earth, very approachable. People just love him. His personality and his temperament and how he is has been reproduced in our church.” Cline clearly remembers Simerson’s sermon that first Sunday she found a spot in the theater seating — a spot she would need to snag earlier these days. Cornerstone has become increasingly busy, as people continue to join and spread the word, which is also the church’s motto: “Leading one more person to full life in Jesus.” Cline can attest: A Sunday sermon at Cornerstone is enjoyable, as if it somehow carries the vibe from that old theater. “It was very enjoyable,” Cline said. “That first time I went, the head pastor, Dave Simerson, he was giving a great sermon, and actually brought his dog in for part of the sermon. It’s just not your normal church sermon you are used to listening to, but he really got his point across.” The pastors have made their message clear for children, as well. Cline’s children may not have the same view about Sunday school and church as some do in other churches. They look forward to Sunday school; they truly want to go. “My kids have begged to go,” Cline said. “They love going. Their kids’ programs are amazing.”

Austin Daily Herald

Story by Matt Peterson

hurch & charit y C Dave and Laura Amick are answering the call to serve

The sun shone through stained glass windows as Dave and Laura Amick discussed their roles with the Salvation Army. It was a fitting spot for their conversation — in the church pews — as this setting lies at the core of their values. Sure, they’re a social services-oriented couple, but their mission begins with God. For all Salvation Army officers, everything starts with God. “It definitely finds you,” Laura said about the calling to the Salvation Army, a Christian organization at the core with its own church in many cities, like Austin. “God calls you into the Salvation Army, and the Salvation Army places you where they think you are needed.” As lieutenants with the Salvation Army, the Amicks are ordained pastors before anything else. Their mission begins with the church. It’s the reason the Amicks and thousands of others get into this line of work. “One hundred percent, that’s where it begins,” Laura said.

A long time coming

While many Salvation Army officials begin their journeys out of high school and end up in all corners of the country, the Amicks took their time. They got married and raised two daughters before they decided to answer the call — a call that had been placed long ago. “For me it was really easy,” Dave said about pursuing a life with the Salvation Army. “My grandparents, my parents, both of my uncles and my aunt were all officers, so it just kind of runs in the family.” Ask Amick where he grew up, and he replies, “Everywhere.” Laura grew up in Pekin, Ill., where she followed God and wanted to serve him in some capacity. Because Dave grew up “everywhere,” he inevitably met Laura in Pekin. The two later got married. It was good they did that on their own accord. If they weren’t married, their future in the Salvation Army would have been much different, or nonexistent. “You have to be married to be a Salvation Army officer,” Laura said.

After raising a family and 20 years of marriage, the Amicks went to seminary school, where they and hundreds of others became ordained. They see with 20/20 vision the reasons for going to school, but when it comes to the outcome, they’re blind. Those in seminary with the Salvation Army know they will serve the Lord. They just have no clue where it will be. “You don’t find out where you are going to live until 2,000 people find out with you,” Dave said. That’s graduation day. The excitement of getting a diploma is certainty. The news about where that diploma will take them is anxiety. Regardless, the proposition is working out well.

Home is where the start is

“This is our very first appointment,” Laura said about her and her husband’s assignment in Austin. OK, so Dave had been nearly everywhere. Austin wasn’t on the list, though he had been close. His family lived in Rochester while he was in fifth grade. That experience didn’t offer much insight. “I lived an hour down the road for a year and never heard of Austin,” Dave said. Regardless, Dave and Laura packed their bags two and a half years ago and jumped on the Interstate. At least Austin wasn’t far, and the couple left with comfort in faith. “No matter where God sends us, it’s going to be where we are supposed to be,” Dave said. In Austin, the Amicks share ministerial duties, preaching each Sunday and participating in group sessions during the weeks, such as Bible study, men’s group, women’s group and children’s group. First, however, they had to meet their new congregation, which they call their corps, and the community. “We meet the corps, the church people,” Dave said. “We try to meet up with the community leaders, the fire chief, the police chief, the mayor.”

No matter where God sends us, it’s going to be where we are supposed to be. — Dave Amick

By Matt Peterson

Austin Daily Herald

66 Progress 2014

The couple’s transition to life in Austin didn’t start at ground zero, however. The corps, like many churches, provides a home for its new leaders. Furthermore, a Salvation Army leader who graduated the previous year was working in Austin when the Amicks arrived. She helped ease the couple into their roles. “I don’t think we could have asked for a better situation than that,” Dave said. Two and a half years later, the Amicks are well versed.

A busy day at the corps

Lt. Dave Amick and his wife, Laura Amick, met a number of years ago near Peoria, Ill., and continue to serve as head of Austin’s Salvation Army.

Despite the misconceptions about the Salvation Army’s mission, the Austin corps has a small but strong following. About 25 members attend each Sunday, and 50 to 60 people consider themselves members, or soldiers of the church. One family has served in the church for more than 50 years, Laura noted. Members are those who have been helped, volunteered at some point, heard from word of mouth, or from the Amicks’ daughters, came as friends of others or discovered the church through the Salvation Army’s free community meal.

“We want to share the gospel with people,” Laura said. “Whether it be through a hot meal or the community meal, whatever it is, just come and join us.” Through other avenues, like volunteerism or youth summer camps, the church reaches out to more. “We’re still trying to grow our church; we’re still trying to grow spirituality wise,” Dave said. The Amicks have no clue if or when the Salvation Army will assign them to their next community corps, and that doesn’t cloud their vision. They have work to complete, people to help — another sermon to prepare for next Sunday. P

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Spreading the word, spreading faith


of people who don’t know Salvation Army is a church. “We hear that in a lot of communities. We’re so well-known for our social services that that’s what they think we are.” Even leaders of other churches have overlooked the corps’ chapel. It’s an easy thing to do. “I had a gentlemen call me from Minneapolis, asking me if they could rent our building for the use of their church,” Dave said. “Well, I said, ‘What day and what time?’ They said, ‘Sundays, 11 a.m. to noon.’ I said, ‘That might be a small problem.’” That proposal, obviously, overlapped with the corps’ service time.

Austin Daily Herald

“We are a church,” Dave says plainly about the Salvation Army. When many people think about the Salvation Army, they think about a food shelf, a place to go when in need, jingling bells during the holidays, or a store with inexpensive clothing and furniture. Of course, those are major aspects of the operation. But the Amicks have the task of tying those things in with the church. There is a way. Recently an area resident who has never used the Salvation Army’s social services walked in and met with a caseworker. Perhaps he’ll come back to use the food shelf, or apply for utilities assistance. If Dave meets him, though, he’ll take him to the double doors leading into the church, where one can see the colorful rays of light shining through those windows. “My absolute first stop is always the chapel,” Dave said. Inside, several rows of pews lead to an altar, with a lectern, projector and screen and a few speakers. From the street, one couldn’t tell the moderately sized church fits inside the building. In fact, that presents a challenge for the Salvation Army. Again, people think about the Salvation Army as only providing assistance. They don’t know it provides a rich, religious experience. “A lot,” Laura said about the amount


rtistic Growth

For the past seven years, Bonnie Lee has organized exhibits at the former Austin Area Art Center. As the gallery coordinator, she helped create the themes and designs behind each show. It’s a role she won’t have for much longer, and she’s happy for it. Bonnie and other members of the Austin Area Art Center have merged into the Austin Area Commission for the Arts, and the art center is the temporary location of the new Austin ArtWorks Center. “It’s a wonderful concept,” Lee said. Lee is no stranger to the local arts, as she grew up in Austin. Ever since she moved back nine years ago, she has volunteered at the arts center. Her watercolor and acrylic pieces were part of several exhibits over the years, and she has won the City of Austin Purchase Award three times, including back-to-back wins in 2012 and 2013. She’s one of several volunteers who can’t wait to become part of the Austin ArtWorks Center’s permanent location. Members of both arts organizations looked to

Story by Trey Mewes

combine last fall as the commission prepared for plans to open an arts center in downtown Austin. Commission members say the Austin ArtWorks Center may open inside the Old Bank Building along Main Street by the end of August, in time for the third annual Austin ArtWorks Festival. For Lee and other volunteers, the new gallery location will be a boon for the arts in Austin and Mower County. Commission officials have been planning for a separate gallery and administrative office from the Historic Paramount Theatre for almost a year as plans for a Paramount Theatre expansion are finalized. Officials have talked about an expansion ever since the commission’s inception in the early ‘90s, but the project has picked up steam over the past few years as more artistic endeavors are introduced to the area, such as the festival. Lee, who has been a longtime volunteer, welcomes the change. “It’s going to be so good for the arts here in Austin,” she said.

Bonnie Lee

Age: 75 Hometown: Austin Job: Volunteer gallery coordinator at the Austin ArtWorks Center Fun fact: Before she moved back to Austin, Lee owned and operated a salon in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Why she’s in Progress: Lee and other volunteers will be hard at work getting the Austin ArtWorks Center off the ground in 2014. Moving forward, the art gallery inside the ArtWorks Center will likely be run by a few employees, along with volunteers. While that means Lee won’t be able to coordinate gallery space anymore, she doesn’t mind the change. She likes the fact the center will skew a little younger in demographics and is glad more people will participate in the arts. Fundraising efforts for the center have already started, with officials selling off art from the Cedar Gallery of Owatonna, which closed in November. As 2014 progresses, however, there’s likely going to be more announcements touting more arts accomplishments. And Lee is excited to be part of it. “It’s definitely been the right move,” she said. P

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All family in the

Ankeny family members stand outside Ankeny’s Mini-Mart No. 5 on 14th Street Northwest. From left: Diane Low, Mike Ankeny, Judy Asper and Linda Meyer.

Stan Ankeny has passed his vigorous work ethic onto his children, and it lives on in the business he founded


Austin Daily Herald

70 Progress 2014

udy Asper remembers working at her Ankeny Mini Mart No. 2 store in February 1985 when she heard a loud banging outside. She went outside to see her father, Stan Ankeny — less than six weeks after his first open-heart surgery — on a ladder using a rubber mallet to break ice off the eaves. “I went out there and said, ‘What are you doing?” Judy said. Stan told his daughter to go in her store, mind her own business and leave him to his work — and not tell her mother, Miriam. “I made up my mind that day if he fell off the ladder and died, he would be happy,” Judy said. “But if he could live 10 years longer and have to sit in a rocking chair in a nursing home, he would not be happy. So let him do his thing. He loved to work.” In several decades running Ankeny Dairy and Ankeny Mini Marts, Stan was known in Austin as a hard worker and an example of an industrious spirit many think isn’t as prevalent in Austin today. Stan passed that work ethic to his five children, four of whom — Judy, Diane Low, Linda Meyer and Mike Ankeny — would later take on a role in the family business. “His famous saying was, ‘If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well,’” Judy said. “That was ingrained in our brains.” When Mike bought Budget Oil in the 1970s, he knew from his father that just because you put your name on a business doesn’t mean you can sit back. For the first year, he followed his father’s lead and worked most of the hours himself.

He was a workaholic, and work came first, and he expected you to work like that, too.

“Did I like working seven days a week? Hell no,” Mike said. “But you had your dad and you listened to your dad, and he was successful.” Part of Stan’s drive to work was a hands-on approach. “His philosophy was,’You’ve got to be there, you’ve got to work, you’ve got to keep an eye on it,’” Mike said.

A post-war beginning

After serving in the Navy in World War II, Stan started Ankeny Dairy with his brother, Elwin “Bud” Ankeny in 1946, but Stan eventually bought his brother out. At the start, Stan packaged and delivered butter and cottage cheese, which he then delivered across southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. Starting out, Stan worked at Hormel Foods Corp. in cleanup at night and had a cot at the dairy, where Mike said he’d often sleep before beginning on the dairy routes. “He was pretty much focused on the job; had very few hobbies. Fishing was his only hobby,” Mike said, adding his dad fished much more in his retirement. Stan’s children recall a common thread in the family: Everyone worked.

By Jason Schoonover

— Diane Low On Sundays, Judy and Diane took turns scrubbing the floors at the dairy and helping their mother prepare dinner. Linda remembers babysitting her brothers. As children, they all helped with the family business. “All of us started wrapping butter by fifth or sixth grade,” Judy said. To Diane, the experience instilled a strong work ethic. “We all learned to work and take responsibility,” she said. Judy remembers the butter coming in 50-pound chunks that ran through a machine to narrow them down to the size of a pound of butter, and then two wires would cut it into quarters. Linda described it like an assembly line: The butter would come down the line, they’d wrap it and send it on the belt to be boxed. It was often a family affair, with their aunt and uncle, Grandpa Ankeny and others helping out. Mike remembers standing on a box on Saturdays to box the butter, earning a dollar a day for his efforts. The butter was wrapped just like butter today, but Linda said they had to fold it by hand in the same precise manner — something done today by machines.

“There’s a technique to it,” Judy said, adding she and Linda could still recall that technique today. From the time Mike got a license, he drove truck, as he was expected to snowblow and shovel at the mini marts before he went to school. He spent his summer driving milk trucks, so the full-time workers could take vacations. Diane also babysat and her father pushed her to work hard, often urging her to cancel social plans like going to a basketball game to babysit instead. “He was a workaholic, and work came first, and he expected you to work like that, too,” she said. Stan pushed his children to be active. Diane remembers when she’d sit down, her father would ask, “Isn’t there something you can be doing?” Similarly, Mike finished a route one day around 2 p.m. and went off to do his own thing. Later, his father asked him what he did that afternoon, and Mike responded, “Nothing.” His father then asked him what he could have done instead. The lessons stuck. Once she was an adult, Diane never worked for her father, because she told him she didn’t want to work Sundays. Diane recalled Stan’s succinct response: “Then you don’t want to work for me.”

Alone time with dad

On Friday nights, Stan made a midnight run to Minneapolis to pick up cottage cheese. The girls took turns riding with their father and stopping on the way to eat hamburgers at Wimpy’s in Owatonna. They usually left at midnight and returned at 6 a.m., but to the girls, it was a highlight of their childhood.

Stan started having heart issues in the 1980s, which led the children and in-laws to get more involved in the business. “He wanted us to take over the store, and he wanted to keep it in the family,” Diane said. Wally, Linda’s husband, briefly ran a meat market in Stan’s store in southeast Austin. He later bought the store and ran Wally’s Market from 1978 to 1995. Judy took over No. 2 Oct. 1, 1984, after moving from Dairy to mini marts St. Cloud — the same time Diane and her husband, Bob, As time progressed, the business transitioned more to moved from Rochester to purchase the No. 4 store and the trucking and home delivery of dairy products, and Stan No. 1 store. Around the same time, Mike took over the No. added more wholesale accounts. By the 1960s, Stan con5 store. Judy’s husband, Myrle, worked for Xerox and was tracted with Marigold, now Kemps, to haul dairy products able to transfer to Austin. to Red Owl Stores, Hy-Vee, and later milk and ice cream to The youngest Ankeny, Mark, was never involved in the Bridgeman stores. family business. When the business was in its early stages, Judy and Linda Though their father preferred his children to take over described it as a different era: Supermarkets and superthe stores, it wasn’t a handout. stores weren’t open yet, many families only had one car, “A lot of people thought the stores were given to us for and many women didn’t drive. Because of that, home defree,” Judy said. “They were not. We purchased them.” livery was a big business. The Ankeny siblings Though the Ankenys are a agree: They were never model, hardworking family, that given anything; they had doesn’t mean it was always easy. to earn it. Times changed, and when Stan kept popsicles the dairy business started to in the freezer at the struggle, Linda said, her father dairy, and the children thought about moving to Minremember paying a nickneapolis for a job. el — just as anyone else “Dad was ready to file bankwould. ruptcy when he bought the first “We paid,” Judy said. store,” Linda said. “We didn’t get anything Instead, he bought his first free.” grocery store and started changAround 1987, Judy ing the direction of the business, and Myrle bought No. 6, phasing out of the dairy business which was the only store and into Ankeny Mini Marts. Mike, from left, Judy, Diane, Linda, Mark. Seated: Stan and Stan never owned, but “He built it up again,” Linda he lent them money to Meme. Photo provided said. renovate the store and Stan was delivering to Maple install new gas tanks. Island Dairy stores when the company started selling off Though there were disagreements from time to time, some of their stores, which is kind of how Stan got into the Mike remembers it being easy to work with family. Though store business in the late 1960s or early 1970s. the stores were all Ankeny Mini Marts, they were run sepStan started buying stores like Verna’s Market, L&K Mararately. They did booking together and often met about ket and Kenwood Park Grocery when the owners were getstore advertisements and business. ting close to retirement, which became a bit of a joke. “Basically, he was always saying he was helping people A challenging business to retire,” Mike said. Like their father, Linda and Judy remember the busiThough the transition from the dairy to mini marts may ness growing more difficult as more chain stores came have seemed unique to some, it didn’t to his children. to town. “It just seemed natural,” Diane said. “I remember one year after we had our taxes done, Stan, Mike said, always embraced change. I came home, and I just sobbed because, I said, ‘I’ve “He said you’ve got to be willing to change,” Mike said. worked so hard,’ and I was trying to raise a family and “You can’t get stuck in a rut, otherwise you’re just going to doing all this stuff, and we just made a pittance,” Judy get stuck and the world’s going to keep going by.” said. Especially that year, Judy was thankful for Myrle’s In the family job at Xerox. A few years after buying Budget Oil, Mike In 1976, Mike bought Budget Oil Company, which he remembers facing the first of many floods and then the ran as his own independent business, but he still worked next year the road was torn out for construction. with his father in the family business. That’s about the time Chains like Hy-Vee, Kwik Trip and Casey’s started to the Ankenys started getting into the gasoline business. take up more of the market, and people would ask the There was a gas station near the fairgrounds that Stan Ankenys what they thought. Judy told them every time bought and moved to the No. 4 store. a new business came from out of town, their piece of the Stan bought the Shell Station on 14th Street Northwest local pie shrunk. A local business had to support their — later named the Gas Hut — and closed the store by the family, but Kwik Trip and other stores were big enough athletic field and moved it to the Gas Hut. they could buy in bulk and weather ups and downs

more easily. “If they have one store that doesn’t do too good. It’s not a big deal, but for us it was a big deal,” Judy said. Judy remembers the business being difficult the last few years. They found that many people — especially teenagers — didn’t share the Ankeny work ethic, and there was a lot of theft in the stores. One teenage employee asked Judy why she made the work schedule a month in advance, because something fun might come up. “I said when I was growing up, school came first, your job came second and then your fun was always if you had time,” Judy said.

Still in the family

Many people have asked why the family didn’t open stores in other towns with the mini marts, but Mike said his dad preferred a hands-on approach. The most Ankeny Mini Mart stores open at one time was six. Today, three stores remain in Austin: Mike owns and rebuilt No. 5, 1400 14th St. NW, about 10 years ago after securing a contract to bring in McDonald’s; Diane’s daughter and son-in-law, Jan and Mark Heim, own No. 1, 1205 Oakland Place SE; and Mike’s daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Dustin Jacobson, own No. 4, 902 12th St. SW. Diane was proud to see her daughter and niece keep the business in the family. Most of the siblings agree the business — in any of its phases — would be difficult to start from scratch today. There’s one big difference today over years ago, according to Diane: Loyalty. “They’re not as loyal to you,” Diane said. “They’ll go someplace else, and they’ll go where it’s cheaper.” Judy agreed. “Today there’s not the job loyalty; there’s not the loyalty to stores,” Judy said. “Let’s face it, our whole life is based around convenience.” Stan had his first heart attack in his 50s and had his first of five bypass surgeries around Christmas of 1984. Diane doesn’t think his workload contributed to his health issues. “He really enjoyed what he was doing,” Diane said. Stan and Miriam moved to the country just north of Austin on Highway 218, and the two began spending winters in Arizona. Stan retired in the 1980s. Even after retiring, all the children remember Stan continuing to work and stay busy. “When he was around, he’d always find stuff to do,” Mike said. Stan died of a heart attack on his 75th birthday at Sunny Acres in Mesa, Ariz. He was surrounded by his daughters, his wife and a friend who had worked for him for many years. The Sunny Acres residents had just finished singing him happy birthday.

A lasting legacy

Linda said her father’s legacy in Austin is as a “good truthful man that was a hard worker.” Judy described him as an honest man who “always had a smile on his face.” The siblings also remember him as someone who always had a business going to keep people working and to support the local economy. “He felt very strongly about buying local,” Judy said. Though Stan has passed, the Ankeny children see their father’s work ethic continuing as a family tradition. “All of our kids work that way, too,” Linda said. “They’re all hard workers.” P

Ankeny trucks, 1950s. From left: Roy Ankeny, Stan Ankeny, Jake Jacobs, Russ Miller and Bud Ankeny. Photo provided

Austin Daily Herald


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“That was our one-on-one time with dad,” Linda said. “That meant a lot to us.” Mike remembers a similar experience. “My time spent with my dad was getting up and going to work with him,” Mike said. Typically, Stan only took one vacation a year, and that was often spent fishing. “It took a lot for my dad to get away,” Mike said. “And with that many stores, obviously it’s a lot of responsibility.”

Open hearts, open home Karen Woslager entertains younger sister Ella as Ella snacks in the family’s kitchen. Below: The Woslager family.

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Since 2004, the Woslagers have adopted 9 children

Mike and Ann Woslager talk about the process of adopting children. Aside from their own three children, they have adopted nine from other countries.

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Before storming off to play with her pack of siblings, Clare offered a few more comments about her parents — simple yet accurate thoughts. “They’re kind,” she said. “They’re careful. They help people when they’re in danger.” P

Progress 2014

Even Clare knows her parents aren’t the typical mom and dad, especially with every child they bring home. However, she’s not complaining. “I think it’s still a lot, but when I get used to it, I think mom and dad can’t leave a child behind,” she said.


At first glance, it’s not so apparent 11 people live inside the brown house at 512 E Main St. in Hayfield. There’s one van in the driveway, and all seems quiet just before 3 p.m. on a Thursday. That quickly changes. It’s not by accident the family lives directly across the road from the public school. Nine-year-old Clare, dressed from head to toe in pink, walks through the door, comically pulls a hat over her face and announces she is home from school. Seconds later, another child walks in. Then another … and another … and another. Then more. “We never, ever intended to have this many children,” said Ann Woslager, mother of 12. “We have seen thousands of pictures and we have been offered hundreds of children, and there’s just something about our kids. We know them when we see them.” You see, Ann and her husband, Mike Woslager, have three children of their own. But after those children grew up and moved out, the Woslagers’ dream of having a big family had only begun. Since 2004, they’ve adopted nine children: two from Eastern Europe and seven from Guatemala. They’ve adopted children from as young as 16 weeks, to toddler, to teenager. “We always wanted to have a bigger family, and we got to have three [children],” Ann said. “We decided that this was a better way.” Ann and Mike sat down at their nice dining room table to talk about adoption as the decibel level in the house slowly increased. Fiveyear-old Gabriel can’t speak English, but Ann recognized he wanted to eat pudding and play video games. He rushed to the kitchen, where his sister, Karen, was preparing snacks. A few minutes later, more than a half dozen backpacks sat under the dining room window, ready for Friday morning. The couple talked a

little bit about their first adoption: Clare. “She was 16 weeks old, and,” Ann paused, and chuckled, “It’s been more ever since.” Another couple decided they weren’t ready to adopt, but the Woslagers were. They had seen pictures of Clare since she was just two weeks old. Ann said every child they adopt seemingly has a special connection. When Mike saw Clare, like all of his children, he felt that same connection. “I said, ‘Oh my, I would take her home in a minute,’” he said. Ann and Mike don’t consider themselves philanthropists. They’re not trying to bolster their social image, and their choices aren’t influenced by a higher power. “We weren’t moved by Jesus to do it,” Ann said. “We weren’t moved by seeing a dying person on television. We just knew that there were children in the world that didn’t have families, and it was kind of twisted to ... why not?” By no means is adoption an easy process, the Woslagers admitted. The paperwork and red-tape is lengthy. On top of that, it’s about $30,000 per adoption outside of the U.S. What’s more, the couple has sacrificed a social life outside of home, vacations and a bigger house. “We know a lot about adoption,” Mike said. Today, along with Clare, there’s Ella and Gabriel, both 5; Adam, 7; Kate and Elizabeth, both 9; Karen, 12; Isabel, 14; and Velsi, 19. There’s Amanda, 31; Megan, 29; and Sam, 27, who were fully supportive of their parents’ adoption ventures, and joined in Guatemala for the first adoption. If that’s not enough, the Woslagers now have four grandchildren. Others have questioned the Woslagers’ lifestyle. Some wonder about their motives. “We’ve had people tell us, ‘You can’t save them all,’” Ann said. “Really? Which ones would you like us to give back?”

Austin Daily Herald

By Matt Peterson

Finally down the aisle By Trey Mewes


rin Dilley-Jones and Veronica Jones didn’t have to think for long about the date of their wedding. It was going to be Oct. 19, 2013, 11 years to the day from the civil ceremony they had in the Twin Cities. For Erin, 43, Veronica, 50, and their daughter, Megan Dilley-Jones, last year’s landmark same-sex marriage legislation meant the couple could be legally married. “I didn’t want to change our date,” Veronica said. Erin and Veronica have been together for more than 13 years after the two met while working at a school in Little Canada. Erin, Veronica and Megan moved to

Austin about seven years ago to be closer to Erin’s father, who lives in town. The two work at Austin Public Schools — Erin is a regional autism consultant while Veronica works as a special education support paraprofessional at Woodson Kindergarten Center — and also volunteer at the Circle of Friends Day Camp for special education students every summer. That’s what made their fall wedding so special. Erin and Veronica were delighted to find everything they needed within the community: Veronica got her wedding dress at Belles and Beaus, the pair got accessories from Ooh La La! Handbags and Accessories, and the wedding dinner was held at Steve’s Pizza. The two were married at Christ Episco-

pal Church in Austin and held their reception at the Hormel Historic Home. Being married means a lot to the couple. As the two have shared their lives over the years, they ran into difficulties married couples take for granted, even after the two took part in a civil commitment ceremony in 2002. “That was the closest thing that we could have that said we are committed to each other in front of friends and family,” Veronica said. “We didn’t have any of the benefits, or the health insurance.” That would prove more difficult than either of them thought. Veronica fell gravely ill in 2009, and though she was covered under her own insurance, her long stay at the hospital meant Erin had to face paperwork issues.

“Just because of marriage laws, I couldn’t use Family Medical Leave Act time,” Erin said. What’s more, hospitals couldn’t legally recognize Erin’s right to make medical decisions for Veronica like other married spouses. That didn’t prove much of an issue, as Erin was close with Veronica’s other adult children, but the couple made sure to name each other as power of medical attorney after Veronica’s stay at the hospital. Veronica and Erin don’t have to worry about that now. The two plan to celebrate their honeymoon this summer and are looking forward to what the future brings. “We were glad to hold the wedding here,” Veronica said. P

Erin Dilley-Jones, Megan Dilley-Jones & Veronica Jones Age: 43, 9, 50 Hometown: Austin, Minn., and Markham, Ill. + Fun Fact: When Erin and Veronica moved back to Austin, they moved to a familiar house: Erin’s childhood home. The couple have lived in the two-story home since 2005. Veronica has taken over one of the

rooms as her sports room, filled with memorabilia from the Minnesota Lynx, the University of Tennessee, and the Chicago Bears. Why they’re in Progress: Erin and Veronica are among several area couples to get married following the historic passage of Minnesota’s same-sex marriage law in 2013.

Erin Dilley-Jones, Veronica Jones and their daughter, Megan Dilley-Jones, are living life happily as a family thanks to Minnesota passing a law making it legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Austin Daily Herald

74 Progress 2014


rriving in ustin

Ke Yao, Hanyong Chen, Cheney Yao and Cindy Chen

may be useful,” Hanyong said. Now Ke, Hanyong, Chaney and new addition Cindy all live in Austin, their new home. Though things are a little different than in China, they’re happy to live in town and experience new things in the community. It’s a far cry from the days when Ke was on her own in the U.S. Though Ke was able to bond with many people in Austin through a mentorship program between

residents and Institute scientists, Ke missed her family on the weekends when she didn’t have anyone to visit with. “Without family, it’s very lonely,” she said. Ke credits the mentorship program with helping her adjust to life without her family, as well as experience American culture like Thanksgiving. Mentors from around the community have helped Ke and Hanyong adapt to the flow of daily life here.

“They help by showing us around, helping us get our driver’s license, that sort of thing,” Hanyong said. Yet nothing made Ke happier than when her family joined her in Minnesota. “I said to my husband my work productivity and energy went up,” she said. Since then, Ke and Hanyong have contributed to the community through volunteering at Austin Public Schools, Mower Refreshed and through Institute efforts like the Walk For a Cancer-Free World. Ke especially enjoys judging at elementary school science fairs. “I’m so impressed all the time,” she said. “They prepare their own project and have to run through the scientific method exactly like our scientists.” Ke, Hanyong and the family are excited to live in Austin, as well. Cheney has joined baseball at school, and the family loves to go to games and cheer. For Ke and Hanyong, living in Austin is a blessing. “Austin is a very beautiful place,” Hanyong said. “We love this place.” P

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Hometown: Henan Province, China Fun fact: While Cheney loves learning about sports at school, Hanyong is learning to love American football. His favorite team, the Denver Broncos, lost the in the Super Bowl this year. Hanyong’s favorite player is Peyton Manning. “The more I watch, the more I know,” he said. Why they’re in Progress: Ke and Hanyong are among many scientists at The Hormel Institute who have come to the U.S. to research cancer. The Institute will recruit more scientists to staff its upcoming expansion, which should finish in 2015.


e Yao couldn’t turn down an opportunity to come to Austin nine years ago. She knew Dr. Zigang Dong, executive director of The Hormel Institute, from her days at Zheng Zhou University in Henan Province, China, and couldn’t wait to continue her work in molecular biology at The Institute. “I’m very interested in the cancer research here,” she said. She set to work immediately, studying cancer cells and cell receptors. Yet the job meant time away from her husband, Hanyong Chen, and her son, Cheney Yao, who had to stay in China, as Hanyong taught computer imaging and didn’t have a job waiting for him in the U.S. That changed three years ago, as Ke’s husband was hired by The Institute to work in computational biology, calculating how more than 2.1 million compounds could affect cancer cells. “I help calculate experiments, so maybe in the future we can see this compound

Austin Daily Herald


By Trey Mewes


Jeff Anderson, of Anderson Memorials, designed the Mower County Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the county Government Center. Herald file photo


he city of Austin wouldn’t be the same without Anderson Memorials, which has been in the area in some form for more than 100 years. In fact, according to owner Jeff Anderson, he’s a fourth-generation memorial maker, with ancestors who worked in granite, steam, and construction in southeastern Minnesota and Wisconsin since the 1870s. By Trey Mewes Photos provided by Anderson Memorials

1906 — Sven Anderson and his son John buy out T.J.

Abrams’ business, Austin Steam and Marble Works. There are several examples of Sven’s marble handiwork around town and John was at one point an alderman, according to Jeff Anderson. 1930 — Chris Borgen buys the business from John Anderson. 1946 — Ford Anderson buys the business from Borgen to start Austin Granite Company, located off of 14th Street Northwest near where Viking Auto Glass is located. 1947 — Anderson closes the business, while Reynold and Irene Lillequist open another monument business, calling it Austin Memorials. The Lillequists set up shop at Fourth Street Northwest across the street from Oakwood Cemetery, where Worlein Funeral Homes is now.

1970 — Irene Lillequist

sells the business to Rolland Anderson who owned Anderson’s Rochester Granite and Monument Company. Austin Memorials becomes Anderson’s Austin Memorials. 1979 — Rolland’s son Jeff comes back to Austin for a summer with his wife, Renee, to run the Austin branch of the company after manager Eugene Gosha decides to retire. 1980 — Jeff and Renee enjoy the business so much they buy the Austin branch from Rolland. 1989 — Jeff and Renee begin to move locations from the old Fourth Street Northwest office to its current

location at 106 Fourth St. SW.

1990 — On Jan. 1, Anderson Memorials opens at its

current location. Jeff and Renee buy out Anderson’s Rochester Granite and Monument Company from Rolland. 1993 — Anderson Memorials lays the groundwork for the Mower County Veterans Memorial. Enthusiasm for the project wanes, and it will be 17 years before Jeff and company finish the bulk of the work. 1996 — Anderson Memorials starts work on Soldier’s Field Veterans Memorial in Rochester, which is officially dedicated in 2000. The company wraps up most of the work in 2006, and the site gains national recognition. 2010 — Jeff Anderson completes work on the Mower County Veterans Memorial after years of residents discussing and raising funds for various monuments. Anderson adds various fixtures, such as a bronze eagle and a bust of two soldiers, throughout 2011. P

Austin Daily Herald

76 Progress 2014

Alfred Anderson, back right, stands with several workers at a monument shop in a pre-1930s photo. Alfred was Jeff Anderson’s grandfather.

Jeff Anderson with children Chelsea, middle, and Cimarron in front of Anderson’s Austin Memorials in May 1984.

Jeff inside the shop at Anderson’s Austin Memorials in 1983.


The Hormel family


ormel Foods Corp. — with a staff in Austin of about 2,777 between its corporate office and plant — is by far the largest employer in town. It didn’t start out that way, though. It had humble beginnings in the 1890s. This is the story of its founder, George A. Hormel, and his family. By Jana Gray, Photos and information courtesy of the Hormel Historic Home

1887 — George A. Hormel, founder of what is now Hormel Foods Corp., makes his

Ja y


H or m

el a



sw ife ,G er m

ain e.

home in Austin after traveling through the area for his job as an animal hide buyer. George wrote that he “fell in love with southern Minnesota‘s cool blue skies and meadows flecked with brilliant flowers that were like water to a thirsty man.” Of Austin, he said, “It was small but very active and growing. Although it was not much to look at in the 1880s when its streets — lighted by smoking coal oil lamps — were quagmires in wet weather and ankle-deep in dust in summer, and the courthouse square was a tangle of hazel brush, I like the people and the countryside.” 1887 — George goes into partnership with Anton Friedrich in October. They operate Friedrich & Hormel as a butcher shop, but George has bigger plans — to build a business as a meat processor. 1891 — Ben Hormel joins his brother George in Austin. At age 14, he started a 50-year career that encompasses everything from livestock supervision to public relations. Ben married Flora Kauffman and had three children. Two of his granddaughters, MarySue Hormel Harris and Anabeth Hormel Cox, still visit Austin periodically and are great supporters of the Hormel family legacy. 1892 — George marries Lillian Belle Gleason. Belle was from Blooming Prairie. She was a teacher in the Franklin school and an organist at the Presbyterian Church. 1892 — Jay Catherwood Hormel, George and Lillian’s only child, is born at the couples’ home on S. St. Paul Street (now First Street) on Sept. 11. 1893 — George’s brothers, John Hormel and Herman Hormel, arrive in Austin. John spent 43 years working in sales and purchasing and retired as a director of the company in 1936. He married Mary Foster. After her death, he married Meta Fox and they had two children. Herman ran the successful Uptown Provision Market for over 30 years. He married Elenora Miller and they had one son. 1895 — John G. and Susanna Hormel move to Austin. After raising their children primarily

The Hormel Home.

The Hormel family enjoys camping along the Cedar River in 1895.


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The Jay C. Hormel Estate, now Gerard Academy.

The Hormel brothers in 1885 and 1937.

Austin Daily Herald

The Hormels’ Clear Lake, Iowa, home.

in Toledo, Ohio, George’s parents relocate to Austin. They lived at 310 S. St. Paul St., next door to George and Lillian. 1901 — George and Lillian make their first and only home purchase — the current Hormel Historic Home. They hired Minneapolis architect Harry Wild Jones to renovate the property that was originally built by John Cook in 1871. (Pictured) Jones also designed a cabin for George and Lillian on Dodge’s Point in Clear Lake, Iowa. (Pictured) 1922 — Jay marries Germaine Dubois in Britain. Jay met Germaine while stationed as a quartermaster in La Vernelle, France, during World War I. He returned to France in 1922 and the couple wed in Liverpool, England, in May. 1925 — Jay and Germaine build a 97-room estate just east of Austin, now known as Gerard Academy. The home was designed by architect Harold H. Crawford, who was Harvard-trained and was a Rochester, Minn., resident. 1927 — George retires and he and Lillian donate their fully furnished home to the YWCA of Austin. 1928-1933 — Three sons born to Jay C. and Germaine Hormel. George Albert (Geordie), Thomas, and James. 1946 — Lillian Belle Gleason dies on March 23 in her California home. George dies on June 5 of the same year from a stroke. Both funerals are held at their former home, the YWCA. 1954 — Jay C. Hormel dies at the age of 61 due to heart difficulties that had plagued him for over a year. 1958-1963 — Geordie Hormel operates his childhood home as the King’s Wood Hotel. The restaurant features fine French cuisine and the property could accommodate 300 people a night in three dining rooms. Geordie often entertained in the lounge as he was an excellent singer and pianist. 1991 — Germaine Hormel dies in California, where she had spent the years following Jay’s death. A reception in her memory was held at her former home (Gerard) in June of 1991. 2006 — Geordie Hormel, a philanthropist, dies in Phoenix at the age of 77. P


Trimble's Cycle Center F

or decades, Trimble’s has been Austin’s stop for snowmobile and motorcycle needs. Dick Trimble formed the business in 1954, and his sons are racing toward the future today. By Rocky Hulne, Photos and information courtesy of Trimble’s Cycle Center

1954 — Dick Trimble opens Trimble’s as a DX service station.

1955 — The business becomes a Triumph motorcycle dealer and moves south on Highway 218 two blocks to become a Shell service station.

1959 — The business signs a deal to become Honda’s 33rd dealer in the U.S.

1962 — Dick Trimble builds a new Conoco service station four blocks north on Highway 218.

1964 — Trimble’s becomes a Polaris snowmobile dealer.

1966 — Trimble’s becomes a Ski-Doo

snowmobile dealer and adds on a new showroom, the first of seven additions.

1974 — Trimble’s becomes a Kawasaki

Dick Trimble, center le˜ , poses in the shop with his sons, from le˜ , Je° , Scott and Gary.

motorcycle dealer, which only lasted three years.

1993 — Dick Trimble sold the business to his three sons, Jeff, Scott and Gary. However, Dick never quit working until his death in August 2012.

1993 — Trimble’s becomes an authorized Arctic Cat snowmobile dealer.

1998 — Trimble’s once again becomes an authorized Ski-Doo snowmobile dealer after parting ways with the business in 1981.

2004 — Trimble’s celebrates 50 years in business.

2009 — Trimble’s celebrates 50 years as

a Honda dealer. The business is currently the U.S.’s second-oldest Honda dealer.

2012 — Founder Dick Trimble passes away. Dick Trimble poses for photos, the le˜ in the 1950s and the right in the 1970s.

Austin Daily Herald

78 Progress 2014

Matt Tylutki, senior

I think of progress as a path to the future, and if we as a people fail to progress we will surely be left in the “Stone Age.” This photograph which I took on a small bridge overlooking a lake at St. John’s College this summer gives me a sense of progress. Looking at it makes me see the cobwebs and the dark, hard, gray concrete in the foreground following the lines to the light center. That center of the frame shines through opening up to a picture, one with clouds and a scene which one could imagine but the detail does not come through. Like progress through time, we can look at today and predict what our future holds, say paint a picture, but we cannot show a picture of the future, not knowing exactly what to expect. Below left: Continuing a theme of progress creating an unknown future, this picture, which I took of the Aon Center in Chicago on a particularly cloudy day. That strong foundation of business, money, and progress which skyscrapers symbolize for us today is seen shooting upward to touch the sky. The clouds block our view though, and leave us to imagine for ourselves what the top of this tower looks like. Progressing into the future, we can only imagine how our lives, society, and the world will change from the discoveries that are made, the people we meet, and the decisions made by the powers of the world.

Alyssa Jenkins, senior

I took photography classes my sophomore and junior year; they taught me so much. I had never picked up a camera that wasn’t on my phone before those classes. Our teacher’s passion for taking photographs was what initially got me interested, and that passion is what encouraged me to do my best. After I was done with the classes, I developed a sense of inquiry. I wanted to learn more, so I got my own camera and started to experiment, with some advice from a local photographer, Holly Benke. My friends and I would go to the Nature Center and Four Austin High School students showcase their idea of they would pose however and wherever I wanted them. progress through a camera lens with these submissions I learned what kind of lighting worked best, what settings that captured the world around them. The students I was supposed to use, and started to develop my own style. also share, in their own words, the ideas behind Through trial and error, I continued to increase my skills. the photos and what they see in themselves Now, I’ve taken senior pictures, family portraits and have even and their pictures. scheduled some wedding shoots.

Behind The


This is a picture of one of my teammates, and my greatest friend, Micah. He and I have been in cross country and track together since freshman year. As we’ve run together, we’ve both developed, improved, and become closer teammates. I took this picture at the Big Nine track meet during the 1,600-meter race. By the end of the race, he finished over a hundred meters in front of everyone else. The race showed just how much we’ve improved since our freshman year. Micah and I ran the majority of our races together this cross country season finishing our 5Ks with times of around 18 minutes. I’m going to miss running with him after this year, but I’ll never forget our races together.


Jacob Striker, senior

Austin Daily Herald

For me, progress is getting better, improving myself and my photography. These two pictures, although only taken a year apart, show a world of progress. From one to the other I learned so much about lighting, my camera, and digital manipulation. The majority of my personal progression has been in understanding the photo taking process. The ideas of composition and framing seemed to have come easy to me, but using the camera to its full potential and using other elements like flashes have been things I have had to take time to learn. That process, learning to use my camera to the fullest, was something that helped me progress and improve as an artist. It’s something that I continue to do to this day and that I will continue to do as long as I can.

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Andrew Baker, senior

QA &


Mark Conradt

Operator of Rose Creek Lockers By Rocky Hulne

Q: What’s the hardest part of running a meat locker? A: Certainly slaughtering the animals. It is very physically demanding, and the older we get the more difficult it becomes. Q: When you’ve been in business in the same town for 50 years, how well do you get to know your customers? A: My family has been at this job for so long that our customers are like family to us. Many of these families working with us are fourth and fifth generations. We are fortunate to be able to work with so many great families for more than 50 years. Q: What’s the best part about running a meat locker in Rose Creek? A: The biggest advantage is independence. If we need to leave at any time for family reasons, we know the customers understand and support us. Q: What is your busiest season? A: It starts in August around fair time and goes until February, but we remain steadily busy through the spring and summer. 

Mark Conradt, Rose Creek Lockers. Rocky Hulne

Q: Do you have any unique or interesting products? A: Our Hondo Brats are always the featured product at the Rose Creek Lockers. It is a homemade recipe that dates back decades. If you’ve never tried them, I would suggest stopping in for a purchase.

Austin Daily Herald

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Q: What is the most popular product? A: Of course the most popular is the Hondo Brats! During the summer months we spend a great deal of time keeping this product on the shelf. Q: If you were on a deserted island, what book would you bring? A: I can’t live without my Harley Davidson accessory book!

A: This is a very easy question. I never knew either of my grandfathers, and I would love to be able to spend a day with them. Q: After a hard day at work, what’s your favorite food or drink to wind down? A: Many of my customers know that I end each day with a good, cold beer, aka blue yummies! P

Q: If you win the lottery, what’s the first thing you would buy? A: Our family has discussed this question before. If we would win the lottery we would put some money aside for our families, but we feel the most rewarding part would be giving the money away to those who truly need it. Of course we would need to purchase a ticket in order to win! Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? A: Like any child I wanted to be a football or baseball player! And as most kids find, it doesn’t turn out that way, so I went to Plan B. Q: What would be on your bucket list? A: I don’t really have a bucket list, so to speak. What I would really like is just to watch my children grow up, be happy and see that they become good, honest human beings.

Austin Daily Herald


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Q: If you could spend a day with one person in history, who would it be?


QA &

Linda with: Pulchinski

3714 4th Street NW Austin, MN 507-433-3454

longest-tenured teacher at Pacelli Catholic Schools. She shares some of her teaching wisdom and passions here. By Trey Mewes

Q: Why did you want to be a teacher? What led you to teach English? A: I had teachers who were very impressive as role models. This led to me thinking teaching would be a good fit for me. I have always, and still do, enjoy learning new things. Teaching was a good way to share what I learned with others. What led me to English? This was truly a full-circle journey. I began my college career as an English major. For one of my classes, I got to go to Winona High School to observe a class there. I discovered that most of the kids were taller than I, so I switched to elementary (the kids were smaller). The majority of my teaching career was in the elementary level, from first-grade to sixth-grade with various assignments in between. Once Pacelli moved to the campus we have now, there was a need for an English teacher in the high school. Father Tupper came and asked me if I would consider the position. At the time, I was working on reading teacher certification for K-12, which would lead to a master’s degree in literacy education. So ... three years ago, you could say, I became a “new” teacher all over again! It has really been a journey. I love challenges, as Principal Mary Holtorf can attest, and this certainly was one. Q: When did you first come to Pacelli Catholic Schools? What prompted you to stay with the district? A: I came to Pacelli in 1979. I had had two teaching positions before, but wanted to “come home.” Pacelli has always felt to be the most comfortable fit for me; I’m glad I’m here! Q: When you think of Pacelli, what stands out to you? How do you think Pacelli stands out in Austin? A: Pacelli is my alma mater; it has a homey feel to it with faith being a guiding force. Pacelli is a choice to be made by parents and their families based on faith.

Austin Daily Herald


Q: What are some of your classroom goals for 2014? What do you hope to accomplish on a personal level this year? A: I have a super goal for my classes: to guide the future leaders of our country to be the best literate readers and writers they can be. Right now, my personal goal is to get as much accomplished as possible and to get through this winter!

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Q: What are some of your proudest accomplishments in education? In the classroom? A: I have two accomplishments I am very proud of: teaching for the amount of

years I have and not really getting tired of it (every day is an adventure) and earning my master’s in literacy from St. Mary’s University three years ago. It’s important to model that learning never stops. In the classroom, I am most proud to be able to teach a variety of grade and levels and make a difference.




Pacelli pride

Linda Pulchinski is the


Q: If you won the lottery, what’s the first you would buy? A: I would buy a new house and then make a contribution to Pacelli! Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? A: When I was young, I wanted to be a librarian. Q: What would be on your bucket list? A: My bucket list: a trip to Australia ( I love koalas); follow Interstate-90 from the east coast to the west coast; write a children’s book; write an adult book; see a Broadway production in New York City; one more trip to Disney World.

Q: After a hard day at work, what’s your favorite food or drink to wind down? A: After a hard day at work, I’d like a caffeine-free diet coke and some dark chocolate!

Q: If you could have starred in one movie or TV show, what character would you be? A: I really enjoy the TV show “Once Upon Time.” I’d like to be featured as a waitress, with wisdom to share, in the cafe. All the major characters seem to gather there sooner or later.

Q: If you could spend a day with one person in history, who would it be? A: Choosing one person in history was difficult for me. But ... I would choose Abraham Lincoln. He was such a gentle, wise man and knew the power of reading! P




Quality Cemetery Memorials Award Winning Designs, Solid Reputation, Competitive Prices. National Recognition by peers for Excellence.

QA &

John with: Gray


Serving the community

507-437-3636 OR 1-800-658-2560 106 4th Street SW • Austin, MN




John Gray is the assistant secretary-treasurer for The Hormel Foundation. He reflects on his time with The Foundation and highlights Foundation accomplishments through the years.





1960 Serving the people of Mower County in areas of Employment and Contracted Services by building buisness partnerships for 52 years.


Q: How much does The Hormel Foundation give away in donations every year? A: This varies and has increased dramatically over the years. The Hormel Foundations first contribution back in 1941 was to Ducks Unlimited for $10. This organization does not qualify for a grant under the current criteria. In 2013 the Foundation gave away $8.34 million. For the most part, annual contributions are a result of dividends received from the Hormel Foods Corp. common stock held by The Foundation. The company has performed well over the years and the dividends have increased steadily as a result. The Hormel Foundation has given $101.73 million since inception (1941–2013). We are projecting contributions for 2014 to be about $14 million. Q: What are some of the projects you’re most proud to have been a part of while with The Hormel Foundation? A: Obviously I am proud of all the work the Foundation does. If I was to pick a few projects they would be as follows: 1. Commitment to education. The Hormel Foundation made a commitment to education starting in 1992. Since this time the Foundation has contributed more than $11 million in support of education, which includes: science and math labs for the high school and a science lab at Ellis Middle School; masters program for our teachers; gifted and talented programs; technology upgrades; and scholarships.

Q: The community of Austin has been fortunate to have The Foundation’s support for some time. What do you think The Foundation’s legacy will be in this community? A: There is no doubt that the Foundation has been a huge asset to the community over the years assisting with various needs (e.g. Salvation Army, United Way, United Way affiliates, Austin Public Schools, Cedar Valley, etc.). I don’t believe the community would be as progressive if it was not for The Foundation. We have a history of giving in the community; however, I believe the legacy of The Foundation could hinge on the success of Vision 2020 and making Austin a better place to live for everyone and making Austin a destination so that sales revenues stay in Austin to help support the community. Too many dollars are leaving the Austin community. This issue is being addressed by the city of Austin, the DCA and others with part of the solution being incorporated into the Vision 2020 process. Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? A: I wanted to be a Catholic priest while attending St. Augustine grade school. I attended St. John’s Prep. School, Collegeville, Minn., during my freshman year in school. I attended for one year and came back to Austin and attended Pacelli High School my sophomore through senior years. Q: What would be on your bucket list? A: I would like to travel to Norway, Denmark and neighboring countries. Q: If you could have starred in one movie or TV show, what character would you be? A: I am dating myself, but when I was a child, kids in the neighborhood said I looked like Johnny Crawford who played the son to Chuck Connors (“The Rifleman”). I don’t watch a lot of movies so this is a tough one to answer. Q: If you could spend a day with one person in history, who would it be? A: Pope Francis. P

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Q: How long have you been with The Hormel Foundation? How did you get to your current position? A: I have been with The Hormel Foundation for 25 years (May 1988). I was hired in March 1970 by the Geo. A. Hormel & Co. (now Hormel Foods Corp.) as a part-time employee as an accounting clerk in the Grocery Product Accounting area. After working my way up and becoming Manager of Accounts Payable in 1980, I was elected as the assistant secretary-treasurer for The Hormel Foundation in 1988. Because The Foundation is a separate entity and the work of The Foundation had grown over the years, it came to the point that it was necessary to move the Foundation administrative functions away from Hormel Foods Corporate office. It is such an honor and a privilege to work for such a great organization that does so much good for the community. I very much enjoy working with the officers and directors of The Foundation and being involved in the community. This job is a perfect fit for what I want to do with my life at this time. I am not ready to retire.

2. Remodel and expansion of the Senior Center to house The Arc Mower County in 2009 and 2010. 3. Construction of the Child Care Center to meet a definite need in the community. Based on a survey sponsored by the United Way of Mower County the need for child care was one of the top needs in the community. 4. The Hormel Institute expansion completed in 2008. At around the turn of the century, under Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong’s leadership, The Hormel Institute has gone through a transformation from a lipid research facility to a world-renowned cancer research center.

Austin Daily Herald

By Trey Mewes

QA &

Adenuga with: Atewologun

Leading the change





Since 1961

Austin’s Oldest Locally Owned & Operated Free Estimates • Free Loaner Car • State of the Art Shop  Lifetime Written Warranty 50 YEARS OF SERVICE

604 18th Avenue NW • Austin, MN (507) 437-2611

Eric J. Connett

Israel Benitez

Jesse Grimes

1969 Teresa Hanson

Linda Sistek

SERVING SOUTHERN MINNESOTA SINCE 1963 203 North Main Street Austin, Minnesota

437-4503 1970




Adenuga Atewologun is president of Riverland Community College. He came to

Austin in summer 2013 and shares his insight on how Riverland will improve over the next few years.

Q: What motivated you to get into education? Why did you decide to come to Riverland Community College? A: Circumstances forced my mother to work outside the home a few months before my fourth birthday. She got a job as an elementary school teacher’s aide. As the last born of her 7 children, I had no one with whom to stay while mother worked. My other siblings were in school. We couldn’t afford a babysitter or pre-school. So she would take me to school with her. I wanted to be like the other school children so strongly, that I was always sobbing. The headmaster felt sorry for my mother and me, and she allowed me to sit in another teacher’s class. That began my love for education and teaching. Serendipity at first. Four years prior, I finished a one-year executive leadership training in preparation for vice presidency and ultimately a presidency. After serving as vice president of academic affairs in a college about the same size as Riverland, I felt I was ready for the next challenge. The time was right, the profile fit. The more I looked at Riverland, the clearer I saw the alignment of my values and desires with the challenges and opportunities of a presidency at Riverland. After interviewing and visiting the three campuses, I fell in love with the communities, the people. I felt the people were very welcoming and would want me as much as I wanted to serve them.

Austin Daily Herald

84 Progress 2014

Q: As the president at Riverland, what are some of the strengths you see in this community college? What are some things Riverland can address? A: Riverland Community College has a lot of talented faculty and staff who have invested many years in the college. We enjoy a filial relationship with people in our district. The interest of the residents in the success of the college is remarkable! Employees are woven into the fabric of the communities by serving in leadership positions and participating in several community activities and organizations. We should tell our story better. We have achieved national reputation in many academic programs and we can boast of the successes of many of our alumni. We are a jewel yet to be discovered by certain populations or groups in our district. We must reach out to those populations and serve them well. We also should strengthen our partnerships with business and industry. Other issues like funding, maintenance of facilities and attraction/retention of talent will be minimized if we continue to focus

on helping students achieve their academic goals and prepare them for career and continuous advances in post-secondary education. Q: How is Riverland combating the decrease in retention seen in postsecondary institutions around the U.S.? What is Riverland doing to keep retention high? A: We are constantly reviewing our student support services. For instance we recently reinstated the position of dean of student affairs. And we are interviewing to fill a new position, director of admissions and new student relations. We are also building on our strengths such as in online delivery and outreach to high schools for PSEO and concurrent enrollment. We believe we should do more in offering bachelor’s degree options by partnering with universities and other baccalaureate degree granting institutions. Q: What goals do you and Riverland have for 2014? A: We are finalizing goals through our strategic planning process. Some of the priorities I outlined at the beginning of my tenure are:  Attain successful AQIP (accreditation) check-up visit. Bring stability to academic leadership. Give each campus a distinct program identity by establishing centers of excellence at each campus. Improve enrollment. Decrease achievement gap. Improve space utilization at each of our three campuses. Strengthen existing and cultivate new external partnerships. Q: If you were on a deserted island, what one book would you bring? A: The Bible. Q: If you won the lottery, what’s the first you would buy? A: My chance of winning the lottery is 1:7.142 billion. But if I inherited a lot of money, I would donate half to charities (devoted to helping alleviate poverty) and keep the other half for family and a rainy day. Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? A: A good human being, able to make others happy.  Q: What would be on your bucket list? A: Roam the outer space. Play the saxophone. Learn Swahili. Speak French and Spanish fluently.  P

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Q: If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would buy? A: A luge for the 2018 Olympics. Q: What’s one thing on your bucket list? A: Climb Mt. McKinley.

Q: How did you get involved in the business? A: While in junior and senior high, I spent summers working for my father. Bill Lage was my high school sheet metal instructor when I lost a bet to him; therefore, I completed the four-year sheet metal training course. This year I celebrate 35 years as a sheet metal worker.

Q: After a hard day at work, what’s your favorite food or drink to wind down? A: Prime rib dinner with a Guinness at the Old Mill.

Q: What is the busiest time of year for Greenman HVAC? A: Our business is seasonal. Outdoor temperature plays a factor in equipment breakdowns because of heavy use.

Q: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice, and where would you hole up in Mower County? A: I would escape to the Hormel Nature Center tower with a butterfly net. P

Q: If you could have starred in one movie or TV show, what character would you be? A: Little Joe on Bonanza. Life at the Ponderosa looked great!

Breathe easy … a clean air filter will improve indoor air quality and increase the life of the equipment. — Steve Greenman

Progress 2014

House of




Q: What is the story behind Greenman HVAC? A: My father, Cliff Greenman, started the business in the late 1950s. We sold Lennox heating and cooling equipment, lawn and garden equipment, and roofing. The business — located in the old Campbell Mill building, which was just across the river from where Riverside Arena now stands — was destroyed by fire in 1967. He started in business again in the early 1970s focusing on heating and cooling.

Q: What advice do you have for homeowners on heating and cooling? A: Plan ahead! Maintenance for your furnace and air conditioner are vital for optimum efficiency and safety. Breathe easy … a clean air filter will improve indoor air quality and increase the life of the equipment.

Austin Daily Herald

By Jana Gray I Photo by Adam Harringa

Our team



Meet the Austin Daily Herald team that brought you Progress 2014.

Jason Schoonover, Layout Editor What do you like most about the Progress magazine?: I enjoy seeing copies of Progress around town after we’ve finished. It’s nice to see the product of all our hard work. What are your 3 favorite … books you’ve read in the last year?: 1. “Miles: The Autobiography” by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe. 2. “The Grifters” by Jim Thompson. 3. “Moneyball” Michael Lewis.


Eric Johnson, Photographer What progress would you most like to see Austin make?: More variety. Variety in places to eat, to shop, to be entertained. What are your 3 favorite … video game soundtracks?: 1. “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim,” by Jeremy Soule. 2. “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag,” by Brian Taylor. 3. “Deus Ex: Human Revolution,” by Michael McMann.

Colby Hansen, Graphic Artist What progress would you most like to see Austin make?: Keeping the streets, bike trails and recreational areas in good shape.

2000 8th Street NW, Austin 507-437-2400



What are your 3 favorite … pastimes?: 1. Cars. 2. Scooters. 3. Bicycles.

Merry Petersen, Marketing Consultant What progress would you most like to see Austin make?: Less crime and animosity toward others. What are your 3 favorite … things about winter?: 1. Hoar frost on trees. 2. Getting snowed in during a blizzard. 3. The end of it.

Specializing In Finding Employees For Your Business

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Jana Gray, Sales and Operation Manager What do you like most about Progress?: Progress has great, positive stories about local people who impact our area. The photos and stories are always top-notch. What are your 3 favorite … pastimes?: 1. I love watching my girls play sports. 2. I enjoy shopping, even if it’s not for me. 3. I enjoy volunteering on different boards and organizations.

Adam Harringa, Managing Editor







What progress would you most like to see Austin make?: If the community can accomplish half of what it set out to do through Vision 2020, the town could look vastly different by the end of the decade. If I were forced to choose one, though, I would go with a new community recreation center. (Check out Page 28 for the story) What are your 3 favorite … Muppets?: 1. Statler and Waldorf (they count as one). 2. The Swedish Chef (Bork, bork, bork). 3. Animal (he beats out Beaker by a nose).

Rocky Hulne, Sports Editor How do you define Progress?: It is the growth of something less to something more. Just because something is satisfactory doesn’t mean it’s a finished product. We should all strive for progress in whatever we do. What are your 3 favorite … teams to use in NBA2K14?: 1. The 1996 Seattle Supersonics. Basketball was never more fun than it was when Gary Payton was lobbing alley-oops to Shawn Kemp. 2. The 1997 Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan has a fade-away jump shot that is absolutely unstoppable, and Scottie Pippen is a force on both ends of the floor. Throw in a little Dennis Rodman, and you have one of the toughest teams of all-time. 3. The 1991 Golden State Warriors. Run TMC, need I say more? Tim Hardaway gives you a spectacular playmaking point guard, and Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin are top of the line shooters. This is a great team to play small ball with and run the floor. Austin Daily Herald

Matt Peterson, Reporter How do you define progress?: I define progress in myself as being able to take on each new opportunity in life and get through it a little more successful, knowledgeable and satisfied.

86 Progress 2014

What are your 3 favorite … “Tombstone” quotes?: 1. Curly Bill: “Well … bye.” 2. Wyatt Earp: “Go ahead, skin it! Skin that smokewagon and see what happens.” 3. Doc Holliday: “Oh, Johnny. I apologize; I forgot you were there. You may go now.”



Trina Miller, Home Delivery Manager What do you like most about the Progress magazine?: It’s a great way to showcase and inform readers about all of the progress their communities have made over the past year. Progress creates bonds between people and their communities that may not otherwise be possible. What are your 3 favorite … things?: 1. The sun peaking out and shining down on my face during a cloudy day. 2. When the first day of Spring actually appears. The leaves are turning green again, the grass is starting to peek through, birds are returning and singing, and a warm breeze blows through the air. 3. An ice-cold drink by the pool on a hot, summer day.




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Heather Ryks, Marketing Consultant How do you define progress?: A person or a group of people working together to accomplish a common goal that will better themselves or the community they live in. What are your 3 favorite … types of mustaches?: 1. Walrus. 2. Handlebar. 3. Fu Manchu.


Trey Mewes, Reporter How do you define progress?: Progress is the act of evolving to meet and exceed the challenges you may face in your life. By making progress, you overcome obstacles to improve yourself and your surroundings. What are your 3 favorite … zombie apocalypse weapons?: 1. Katana. Hands down. Katana is it. 2. Next would be some sort of handgun. 3. Likely a sniper rifle.

Madison Maxfield, Circulation What progress would you most like to see Austin make?: I would like for Austin to grow in diversity and financially while still keeping the small-town atmosphere it has.

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What are your 3 favorite … musical artists?: 1. Gary Clark Jr. 2. The Red Hot Chili Peppers. 3. Eddie Vedder.

Ben Ankeny, Marketing Consultant What do you like most about the Progress magazine?: The bond that it builds among the employees. This edition forces all of us, no matter the department, to work together and find the best possible options on stories, leads for contacts, locations for ad placement, best delivery day, etc. Progress is a piece that I feel all of us are very proud of, and we hope that carries on to the readers.




DAVE DONAHUE Ph: 507-567-2689 Cell: 507-438-3975 Brownsdale, MN


What are your 3 favorite … things about a list of three favorites?: 1. Deep thoughts. One cannot just throw three favorites out there. You must dig deep. 2. Confusion. The struggle of not contradicting yourself. Also, “Is it really MY favorite, or was I forced to like this?” 3. Conclusion. Ending your “3” list and recapping your creation, leaning back in your chair, crossing your arms and nodding with a smirk, knowing you just picked from your heart the three most favorite things you know.

Susan Downey, Graphic Artist What progress would you most like to see Austin make?: I enjoyed the Tuesdays on Main events, and would like them to continue. I also would enjoy more music/art in our parks, and more bike trails. What are your 3 favorite … rides?: 1. Our 1967 Chevy Nova II. 2. Our Can-Am Spyder. 3. My four wheeler.

Brenda Landherr, Marketing Consultant What do you like most about Progress?: I really like the positive news and features throughout the magazine. What are your 3 favorite … activities?: 1. Boating. 2. Parties with friends. 3. Traveling.

Sherri Thissen, Classified Sales Consultant

How do you define progress?: I define progress as going forward, and always having an open mind and heart for change and new ideas. What are your 3 favorite … things to explore?: 1. Human emotions. 2. The universe. 3. Astrology.


Jessalyn Thorpe, Circulation

Austin Daily Herald


What are your 3 favorite … signs in Austin?: 1. The Paramount Theatre. 2. Knauer’s Meat Market. 3. The VFW.

Progress 2014

How do you define progress?: One foot in front of the other.

Austin Daily Herald


Progress 2014

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Austin Daily Herald

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Progress 2014


Stephanie M. Riles Position: Treasurer/manager of the Mower County Employees Credit Union Stephanie has been with MCECU since May 2013. Under her management, MCECU has flourished with changes. She has obtained a grant for our office for small credit unions, obtained mortgage services for our members, updated policies, and reached out to our members to let them know we truly want their membership and take care of their financial needs. She is looking at adding other conveniences for our members in the coming years. She has extended hours for our mem-

bers to accommodate their needs. Additional members have been obtained for which we feel the enthusiasm Stephanie generates has been the driving force at MCECU and our members. She is so energetic and so very knowledgeable that we feel very honored and privileged to work with Stephanie. Besides her job at MCECU, Stephanie is married and raising three young daughters. Hats off to a tremendous person: Stephanie M. Riles. —Nominated and written by Linda F. Unverzagt and Ruth A. Oelkers

Alice Snater Position: Guardian ad litem in the Third Judicial District I would like to nominate Alice Snater. Alice has been a Guardian ad Litem for more than 20 years in the Third Judicial District of Minnesota. Alice is a strong, brave, hardworking woman who has gone above and beyond in advocating for the children of Mower County. There have been times where it would have been easier for Alice to sit back and accept what was being recommended for the child through the various systems, but if Alice did not agree with what was recommended in regards to

keeping a child safe, she would turn into a “mama bear” and come into the courtroom ready to fight. And she is a fighter. Because of Alice there are children in Mower County who are safe, who are loved and who have a future they would not have had if they did not have Alice Snater on their side as their Guardian ad Litem. I am proud to have worked with her for the past 15 years.  —Nominated and written by Gayle Loverink

K’Pru Gold Position: Social services coordinator at the Welcome Center of Austin Over the course of the past several years, refugees from Burma have begun to seek employment and work in Austin. The transition to our community has been challenging for them. Language is a major barrier for those who are coming to the community speaking only Karen, Karenni, Chin, Burmese, or other dialects.  K’Pru has embraced her position with passion and energy. She has quickly become familiar with the many community

systems and services in Austin, and is an invaluable resource to the schools, the medical center, social and human services, and other community agencies. K’Pru has overcome great obstacles in her life, but never stops learning. She is an inspiring, dedicated, driven woman, and we’re lucky to have her in our community! —Nominated and written by Kristi Beckman, integration coordinator at Austin Public Schools

Austin Daily Herald

90 Progress 2014

Readers nominate residents who go above and beyond The Herald called on area residents and organizations to nominate Mower County people who have done something special, been through a unique experience or who were actively involved in the community to be featured in Progress 2014. The readers answered, and we selected the top submissions.

— Jason Schoonover

Carla Conradt quality education. Some of the many opportunities Carla has lead are:  Mankato LEAD the way, Girl Scouts, after school clubs, intervention meetings, and she regularly works with colleges to find a connection for these students. Because Carla goes above and beyond, putting her heart and soul into her job, she should be recognized as a standout resident in Mower County.

Progress 2014


Serving Southern Minnesota Since 1963 203 North Main Street • Austin, MN 55912 • Phone: 507-437-450

—Nominated and written by Rebecca Jennings, Austin High School special education teacher

Austin Daily Herald

Position: Success coach with Austin High School I nominated Carla Conradt as a standout because of all the work she does to help families and students find opportunities to better themselves and their futures. Carla sees traits in students that many others cannot see, and is passionate about motivating these students to see themselves as she does. She works with some of the most struggling students and families, and supports them in finding opportunities to ensure a better future. Carla helps teachers at school communicate with families when students are struggling so all students can have the opportunity of a

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• Two Bears Trading Post • Vision Works • Weight Watchers • Willow Cove • IMPACT Martial Arts & Fitness • Kids Against Hunger • Enchantertainment

Austin Daily Herald

92 Progress 2014

A note from the editor:

The future of fitness


Recreation ’s Community Vision 2020 ee is striving to provide facility. committ an all-in-one Austin with

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known ie athletes are but the Blooming Prair e Blossoms, as the Awesomracking up the wins. team has been

Austin Daily Herald

Every spring, the Austin Daily Herald staff embarks on arguably its most formidable task of the year — a nearly 100-page magazine called Progress. The oversized special section publishes the last week in February, but planning for it is nearly a fullyear process. We start by collecting feature ideas, planning for photo shoots, and eventually writing its stories and designing it. Everyone here takes part, and the final product you hold is the result.

The magazine is our chance to tell the positive, inspiring stories of Austin and Mower County residents who push to improve their communities. This year, we even published readers’ picks for standouts (Pages 90 and 91), and high school students submitted photos they thought showed progress (Page 79). There is a lot going on in Austin, and the folks behind Vision 2020 are perfect examples of that. You can read about their progress on Pages 28 and 46. We hope you enjoy the publication as much as we enjoyed producing it.

Progress 2014

By Adam Harringa, Austin Daily Herald Managing Editor



trations Colorful illus talents highlight the students, of eight area in’s including Austmann. Michael Kroy

Austin Daily Herald

Students who shine

The many signs of Progress

Austin Daily Herald


Progress 2014

Ann M. Bode, Ph.D.

Rhoderick E. Brown, Ph.D.

Professor and Associate Director


Cancer Biomarkers and Drug Resistance

Membrane Biochemistry

Young-In Chi, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Structural Biology

Yibin Deng, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor Nutrition and Metabolism

Edward “Ted” Hinchcliffe, Ph.D.

Zigang Dong, M.D., Dr. P.H. Executive Director

Associate Professor Cellular Dynamics

McKnight Presidential Professor in Cancer Prevention Hormel-Knowlton Professor Cellular and Molecular Biology

Ningling Kang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor

Cell Death and Cancer Genetics

Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis

Bing Li, Ph.D.

D. Joshua Liao, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Associate Professor

Immunoregulation of Autoimmune Disease and Cancer

Translational Cancer Research

Shujun Liu, Ph.D.

Rebecca Morris, Ph.D.

Associate Professor


Cancer Epigenetics and Experimental Therapeutics

Stem Cells and Cancer

Progress 2014

Molecular Chemoprevention and Therapeutics

Margot P. Cleary, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor

Austin Daily Herald

Mohammad Saleem Bhat, Ph.D.

“The Hormel Institute is a team project. By working together, most importantly we will help to realize the dream of a cancerfree world. We also bring job opportunities and economic growth to our local community and help lead our university in realizing the goal of becoming a top research institute worldwide.”

Progress 2014  
Progress 2014