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FALL 2016

By women...for women...about women.



+ Canning Memoir + Iron(Wo)man + Living with MS + Brainerd Housing A Brainerd Dispatch Publication.

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Straw Bale Gardening


Ladies in Law Enforcement


Protecting the Innocent


Same Stripes, Different Stars


Final Celebrations


Empowering Women in Rural Haiti

Fall ‘16 Contents

While she downplays her gardening acumen, Mary Aalgaard gives a thorough how-to on straw bale gardening. By Mary Aalgaard

Kate Petersen and Sheri Fyle serve their community of Pequot Lakes as policewomen, as a firefighter and an EMS paramedic. By Jenny Holmes

When parents are in conflict, The Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center provides a safe place for visitation and exchanges. By Suz Anne Wipperling

In this wild political year, these two political activists; Kathy Hegstrom and Chris Kellett, have their heads on straight and their motors moving. A Passion For America by By Jenny Gunsbury The Woman in Red, White and Blue by Jenny Holmes

You can forget stereotypical notions of a funeral director when you meet Casey Swantek. Besides comfort and credentials, she brings a positive attitude and efficiency to her role. By Carolyn Corbett


For 25 years, Barb Grove has been teaching rural Haitian women how to use a handy economic development tool called micro loans to start small businesses. By Marlene Chabot FALL 2016

By women...for women...about women.



+ Canning Memoir + Iron(Wo)man + Living with MS + Brainerd Housing A Brainerd Dispatch Publication.

On The Cover

Chris Kellett (top) and Kathy Hegstrom are passionate about their politics. Photo by Joey Halvorson

In This Issue editorial • 4

aging • 16

by Meg Douglas

By Ann Powers

Leading the HRA

Worth Every Onion

her say • 8

clubs and clusters • 28

A Tradition to Cherish

By Joan Hasskamp


Pasty Project

By Sheila DeChantal

wellness • 30

recreation • 10

A Journey of Healing

38 health • 34

No Easy AnswersDiagnosing MS By Katie Seipp Deblock

anniversaries • 36

A Hearty Celebration By Sheila Helmberger

Iron (Wo)man

By Maureen Farnsworth

her voice ISO • 40

housing • 13

resorts • 32

By Rebecca Flansburg

Alaska Girl Turned Minnesota Nice

By Denise Sundquist

Housing Health in Brainerd By Jennifer Bergman

By Jill Hannah Anderson


Crafting Your Gifts the arts • 44

What’s Trending? Accordions! By Sharon Carlson

8 Fall 2016 | her voice 3

from the editor



By women. For women. About women.


Pete Mohs EDITOR

or over 30 years in the Brainerd lakes area, I’ve watched a number of women make an impact. Add to that list newcomer, Jennifer Bergman, the executive director of the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) since 2011. Housing is a key element in the health of a community and Jennifer brings a wide range of housing experience to her position, including her own time in subsidized housing. A young, single mom with a new baby and few resources, Jennifer was determined to earn a college deJennifer Bergman, gree. Thanks to a housing program she says, “I paid $61 a Executive Director of Brained HRA. month rent…and wouldn’t have finished school without the benefit of subsidized housing.” Caring for a new baby at a young age often sinks a mom’s career -- but not Jennifer’s. With the benefit of financial support, she completed her degree with a double major in local and urban affairs and sociology from St. Cloud State University. For Jennifer, this “gift” was the impetus to work in a career where she could give back, making the system work for others. Just prior to graduating in 1992, an internship took her to Savannah, Ga., where she worked in a rental assistance program. After the internship, Savannah hired her as a public housing manager, launching her career in housing. A natural leader with an outgoing personality, Jennifer says, “My goal was to be an executive director of a HRA one day.” Missing the change of seasons, Jennifer moved back to Minnesota in 1994 where she worked on a housing study as the housing coordinator in Mounds View. From 1997-2001, she was the community development manager for Anoka County. Gaining even more perspective on issues, she worked five years at Greater Minnesota Housing Corporation, finally reaching her goal of executive director in 2007 for the City of Anoka. But raised in the small town of McIntosh, Jennifer pined for small town living. In McIntosh, population near 600, she was connected to the community and wanted that for her family. After applying and being selected as the executive director for the Brainerd HRA, she moved north. In this 50th anniversary year of the HRA, Jennifer is quick to credit accomplishments in her last five years to the board and staff: administrating a Housing Choice Voucher program, managing 325 units of affordable rental housing including public housing, housing and commercial rehab programs, remodeling the old Super One store in Northeast Brainerd into School District’s Early Childhood Family Education Center (ECFE), The Willows housing development and the SEH building on Sixth Street. Learn more about the health of housing in the city of Brainerd in Jennifer’s article on page 13. Editor, Meg Douglas



Joey Halvorson COPY EDITOR

DeLynn Howard

READ ONLINE: www.BrainerdDispatch.com

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(218) 855-5871 Mail: ATTN: Her Voice Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 974, Brainerd, MN 56401 A quarterly publication of the Brainerd Dispatch. Printed by Forum Communications.

copyright© 2003 VOLUME 13, EDITION 3 FALL 2016

4 Fall 2016 | her voice

Here with you

Urinary incontinence is a secret too many women and men keep, even from their doctors. For Mary Jane it was holding her back from traveling. But with the help of the Essentia Health Urology Team she recently returned from a three-week Alaskan adventure. If you are having a leak once a week or wearing a pad for protection, it’s time to find a solution. To make an appointment with a urologist at the Essentia Health St. Joseph’s-Brainerd Clinic, call 218.828.7100.


providing solutions for incontinence

w B a a r le t S




front ou might have seen them dotting the ed lawn in your neighborhood or stretch ftops out into chunky rows in backyards, roo y or empty lots. At first, you wonder, wh es in her does my neighbor have random bal and why do they yard? What are they putting in them water them every night? Let me explain. I’m a farm girl, and while I have been quoted as saying, “I don’t garden,” the truth is, I do some gardening. I appreciate the outcome – beautiful flowers, tasty vegetables, decorative vegetation. Still, I’m not much of a gardener, and having grown up on a farm in the Red River Valley with dark, fertile soil, I wasn’t sure how urban gardening in sandy soil would even work. Then, I read about straw bale gardening. It’s all the rage for the city dweller. The straw bale acts as the soil and structure for container gardening. Straw, the by-product of harvesting grain crops like wheat, barley, and oats, looks just like its name. When using it for planting, set the bale on its side so that rain and water will go inside the straws. Some people say “hay” and “straw” bale interchangeably, but there is a difference. Hay is grown for food for livestock. It is alfalfa or 6 Fall 2016 | her voice

other grasses and contains seeds. Straw bales are traditionally used as bedding for farm animals because they are softer and absorbent. They do not contain any seeds as it is the stock, only, of a plant, thus making them weed free. The straw bale works well for gardening because it holds moisture, and as it breaks down, becomes the rich soil for plants to grow. The key to successful straw bale gardening is conditioning the bale. We’ll call it the 12 days of conditioning as directed by Joel Karsten, author of “Straw Bale Gardens.” We are in our second year of gardening this way and learned a thing or two. First, we found friendly farmers nearby who sell their straw bales for a reasonable price. My gardening partner, whom we’ll call The Biker Chef, found Travis Malloy on Craigslist. At the farm, just south of Brainerd, his dad, Jeff, and brother Scott

Mary Aalgaard (left) and Biker Chef are having a great time in their second year of straw bale gardening.

helped us load our trailer with 30 bales. Jeff was surprised that about 75 percent of their straw bales go to people who want to use them for gardening. Of course, he has acres of fertile fields to use for planting. I explained this was a great way for city dwellers to grow their own food or create flower gardens in places where they have limited space and sometimes, not even soil to work with. You can place the bales on rooftops or cement slaps. All they need is water, fertilizer and plenty of sunlight. Fertilizer is important in the conditioning process. Last year, we used lawn fertilizer that was time released. You don’t want that. You want it to start working immediately. So The Biker Chef got wiser about reading the label. He found Lawn Food

Straw bales hold moisture and break down into rich soil, but the bales need to be conditioned before planting.

(no time release) that is high in nitrogen. If you follow the 12day program found in Karsten’s book and water diligently, the bales will be ready in about two weeks. We started conditioning the bales the first weekend in May and by Memorial Day, the bales were ripe and ready. You can tell they’re ready when you see mushrooms sprouting out of them. They will turn darker, especially in the middle and give off a slight smell of decomposing matter. The Biker Chef started some of his plants indoors. Plants that need longer growing times, like tomatoes and all varieties of peppers, filled our house with an earthy smell. We watched the tiny green buds pop up and lean towards the sun and our backyard as we waited for the bales to arrive, get conditioned and the weather to warm up. With straw bale gardening, you can plant a little earlier than traditional gardens because the plants are elevated and growing inside a hot bale, versus the thawing ground. Plus, it is easy to cover them on cold nights by throwing plastic over the bales, keeping the young plants warm and cozy in a quickly constructed greenhouse. Keep in mind, also, that the bales are up about two feet from the cold ground, saving on your back and knees for planting,

Plants thrive in Mary’s straw bale garden. More photos can be found on Mary’s website, Play off the Page.

watering and harvesting. Karsten recommends growing what you like to eat. Annuals come September. We have petunias and marigolds like rhubarb and asparagus for color and early blooms. I poked in sunflower aren’t as suited for straw bale seeds of varying heights and we decided the vining gardening and corn is better plants like pumpkins and squash should also go out planted in soil as well. All other front where they’ll have direct sunlight all day. vegetables and flowers thrive in The backyard is shadier, so we didn’t have the sucthe bales. The Biker Chef likes cess we were hoping for last year. We to spice things lost one tree and several large branch>>> up, so we have es in last year’s storms, but it’s still every variety of YOU CAN GROW JUST shady during the mid-day heat. That peppers, even ABOUT ANYTHING IN could work in our favor as we won’t ghost peppers have the hot sun baking the bales YOUR STRAW BALE this year. If all the during that time. The Biker Chef set GARDENS THAT YOU plants grow and up soaker hoses along the bales in the produce, we’ll WOULD IN A TRAback which come on at 6 a.m. every have tomatoes morning. The tomatoes, peppers and DITIONAL GARDEN. to share. I smell onions are already getting taller and <<< marinara sauce stronger. If we look closely, we can see in my future. The the sprouts of the beans, peas and carrots. Potatoes, Chef will also add the serranos, beets, broccoli and lettuce round out the food crop. jalapenos and ghost peppers to If all goes well with the fall plants, the front yard fruit jellies to give them a little will be filled with browns, yellows, oranges and makick. His Ghostly Grape Jelly roons. We’ll have pumpkins to carve and squash to on a cracker with cream cheese eat. The veggies in the back should be ready for haris a little slice of heaven. vesting about the time we get back from the Sturgis Gardening is a hopeful hobby Motorcycle Rally. We’ll likely be celebrating with and a great family activity. The chips and homemade salsa (my favorite), fresh garboys helped unload the bales den salad and hobo potatoes on the grill. Now, the and set them up. They also asneighbors will do less wondering and more droolsisted with watering and we’ll ing. Don’t worry, if we get a bumper crop, we’ll all be in on the harvest. The share. That’s what good neighbors do. Biker Chef plans out the rows and what will go into each bale. Mary Aalgaard is a freelance writer and blogger. Her words stretch I have a vision of what I think across the globe through her blogs on www.playoffthepage.com, it will look like at the end of which include inspiration, entertainment and restaurant reviews, and the growing season and stick travel adventures with The Biker Chef on the back of his bike. Mary is a playwright and has produced her shows in the Brainerd area. She the seeds in with a little more works with both children and adults to create original dramas, and randomness. Our front bales is offering theatre classes for kids in the area. Contact her at Mary@ playoffthepage.com. might look like a fall display Fall 2016 | her voice 7

her say

N I N N G A C A Tradition to Cherish



grew up with processing and canning delicious fruits and vegetables. My mom had a large garden that covered much of our backyard. Together we would pick peas and potatoes, tomatoes and green beans.

8 Fall Fall2016 2016| her | hervoice voice 8

I knew from a young age how to make such things such as crab apple jelly, apple butter, pickles and how to can beets and beans. The traditions were handed down to me from my mom, who learned from my great-grandmother. I grew up on the same property where I live now. Growing up east of Brainerd, I had the good fortune to have my great-grandmother living right next door. Canning season was something we did together. As a young girl, I remember my mom laying down sheets underneath the large crab apple tree in the front yard. I would climb up the tree, tomboy that I was, and then shake the upper limbs to release the beautiful red fruit that would fall to the sheets below. My mom pulled up the corners of the sheets like a sack and we took our treasures inside. I watched, before I was able to help, my great-grandmother and my mother work together in the kitchen, preparing the garden produce -- washing, which I could help with, then the cutting, which I could not. The pots and pans on the stove, the jars processing in hot boiling water and the cutting board at the ready. All the while the comforting chatter and laughter of family as three generations shared the space of one small kitchen. I watched, I learned, I waited for my turn. Through the years I felt the calling as the sun’s heat begins to cool and the leaves begin to change. Now I go into our storage area downstairs and start collecting all the canning gadgets; the antique sieve and wood pestle that belonged to that great-grandmother who has been gone for over 30 years, the jars and canning tools handed down to me from my mother who has been gone now for 20 … While I no longer have that big garden, I do have a smaller one. While some of the trees I used to pick with my grandmother and mother are gone, new ones have taken their place, planted after the 2001 tornado tore many of them down. Some things have changed, but I hold to what I can. In some cases, planting again what was once there to recreate the past and bring it to the present. My hands on the wooden pestle give me great comfort as I recall a time that my grandmother’s hands as well as my mother’s hands gripped this same pestle in the same way, pushing the cooked apples through the sieve leaving behind the skins and seeds, but not the memories. Never the memories.

Friends and family have told me there are easier ways. I’ve been told that I can make apple butter in the crock pot. I’ve been offered an apple peeler and corer that “makes the whole process go by so much more quickly,” and I can put apple slices on large cookie sheets and move through the process without using the sieve. But what I know is that I don’t want this process to go by more quickly. I want to cook the apples in my grandmother’s large stainless steel pots. I want my house to smell of apples and cinnamon, taking me back to a time when I was waist high to the adults in the room, more in the way than helpful; I want to destroy the kitchen just like my grandmother and mother did -- with dirty dishes, large sticky bowls and garbage bags filled with peels. There is something

“There is something so satisfying about doing things the way my ancestors did.” so satisfying about doing Sheila cherishes the memories evoked by the apple pickthings the way my anceser from her uncle and the hand-worn wooden pestle as tors did and if it takes all much as she does the crab apple jelly and apple butter. day or even all week, I am up to the challenge. This past fall, my uncle brought me an apple picker from his family that he no longer uses. To most, the apple picker is just a way to get the apples off the high branches, but to me, it was like he handed me a piece of history. I can’t explain it any better than to say there is something to be said for tradition and family and doing it the way it has always been done. And I am OK with that. So OK with that. Sheila DeChantal is a freelance writer and the creator of the website Book Journey. She is President of the Friends Of The Brainerd Public Library, and Vice President of Camp Benedict, a camp for those infected and affected by AIDS. She loves to read, write, drink coffee and go on adventures -- especially those involving mud.

Fall 2016 | her voice 9



in: man Wiscons peted in Iron . m on co ps ho im w S omen Sarah lakes area w Handlos and d n er Ja in t, ra B gh ri e herry W Four of th lle Andres, S (L to R) Miche Sara Carlson



hat is more terrifying than competing in an Ironman triathlon- 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a

6.2-mile marathon? Giving up sugar for six months.

Sherry Wright


~ Sherry Wright 10 Fall 2016 | her voice

Sara Carlson made the decision five months before competing in Ironman Wisconsin last year to cut sweets from her diet. It was almost too much to bear at first, but she felt better overall. Her year-long training and attention to nutrition paid off as she earned a spot in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, in October 2016. “I’m not going to do anything fancy, but I am absolutely going to be in the best shape I can be.” Five other Brainerd lakes area women joined Sara on this amazing journey. Each of them had unique challenges but they all crossed the finish line as “Ironmen.” Stephanie Etterman was approaching her 50th birthday; she wanted to see if she had the mental capability to get through the race. She couldn’t swim five years ago, but trained for the grueling “washing machine experience” last summer in Gull Lake. Stephanie secured a personal trainer to help with her Ironman preparation. She advised Stephanie to pack itty-bitty Snickers in her bike pack for energy. Unfortunately, after biking in warm temperatures they resembled goo. Starving, Stephanie purchased a hotdog from a gas station along the route. “It was the best hot dog I have ever eaten.” Sherry Wright signed up for Ironman after her youngest son graduated

(WO)MAN of peanut butter. It was worth it. “Ironman changes you; knowing you accomplished something so huge spills over into other parts of your life. If you can do that, you can do anything.” Sarah Simpson traveled to Wisconsin in 2012 to watch Michelle Andres compete in Ironman and wondered, “Could I ever do that?” immediately thinking, “No.” But when other people started signing up in 2014, she approached her family. She described the race to her son,

Competitors (L to R) Sarah Simpson, Sherry Wright, Jan Handlos and Stephanie Etterman.


high school. “I finally had the opportunity to train and I wanted to do it before I got too old.” Sherry’s favorite part of training was eating anything she wanted; she craved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. “I ate all the time, maybe eight times a day. I had no nutrition plan.” Besides physical commitment, the Ironman experience requires financial resources as well. The registration fee is $700, along with other costs; upgrading her bicycle, training expenses, and copious amounts

Fall 2016 | her voice 11

Sam, and asked, “Do you think I can do this?” He said, “No, but if you do, I’ll tell you you’re awesome!” Sarah started competing in shorter triathlons a few years ago on a mountain bike, never having pedaled more than 32 miles. Ironman training rides started at 6 a.m. and lasted six to eight hours covering 100 miles. In June, she was struggling behind Jan, Stephanie and Sherry but every week she grew stronger. It wasn’t until two to three weeks before Ironman she thought, “Maybe I will finish?” Jan Handos encountered more than one obstacle during her training. “Besides mennsin in tal, there was the nutritional and I couldn’t fignman Wisco o Ir t a ts n a haw, ure it out for the life of me.” Her body wasn’t rticip , Danielle S rs joined pa lm e o te rh n e d lu n o v A f o Julie contingent accustomed to the increased nutrition and she (participant) A Brainerd lle Andres, e h ic M ) R to (L . rt o kept practicing with different foods while training. Jan’s nutrisupp chs. nd Kristi Sa a n o rs te e P Kris tion plan did not work during Ironman and when she got off her bike, she was overcome with illness making the run miserable, but she still finished. Jan reflected on the three to four hours they trained every day, splitting IT WAS EXHILARATING their workouts between the mornings and evenings, “Some of the sunrises and sunsets were glorious. How else would you experience that?” TO WATCH. YOU CAN SEE Michelle Andres has competed in five Ironman triathlons, including EVERYONE’S SENSE OF the Kona World Championship in 2013 and was the female winner of Ironman Wisconsin, 2015. Even though Michelle works full time and ACCOMPLISHMENT... has five teenage sons, she makes time to pursue her dreams. Once she turns her training “on” she turns Facebook “off ” and only watches teleSOME PEOPLE LOOKED vision while on her treadmill or bike trainer. HORRIFIED. Michelle believes many people can be successful at Ironman, there isn’t just one winner. She acknowledges it isn’t easy, even for her. “No ~ Kris Peterson matter if you are running one mile, a 5K, or an Ironman race, it’s going to get hard at some point.” Everyone competing in an Ironman depends on their family for support to help them cross the finish line. Sarah was overwhelmed by the volunteers and crowd support as well. “I’ve done other races but nothing compares to the volunteers at Ironman and the spirit surrounding the race.” Julie Anderholm and Kris Peterson were just a couple of the women that drove to Madison last year to volunteer and cheer on our local racers. Julie was enthusiastic. “There were all ages, shapes and sizes.” It was clear anybody can do anything when they put their heart and mind into it. Kris added, “It was exhilarating to watch. You can see everyone’s sense of accomplishment; although some people looked horrified.”

Sarah Simpson More photos on Her Voice Facebook page. 12 Fall 2016 | her voice

Denise Sundquist is the health and safety coordinator for the Brainerd School District. Since her sons left for college, she has embraced a more active lifestyle including local triathlons, running races and mountain biking with her husband, Matt, on the Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System.


Housing Health in Brainerd--

What We Have, What We Need


HRA Executive Director Jennifer Bergman.


hen housing professionals talk about housing in healthy communities, we look for balance: housing options that are affordable to residents in all stages of life and all income groups. These groups generally are represented by entry-level householders, first-time homebuyers and moveup renters, move-up homeowners, empty-nesters, younger independent seniors and older seniors. So how’s our housing health? What do we have, what do we need for housing in Brainerd? A comprehensive housing needs analysis completed in 2015 by Maxfield Research, identified gaps in housing needs among those groups. First, a look at some of Brainerd’s demographics.

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Fall 2016 | her voice 13

Population Housing choices often vary by age. The highest percentage of Brainerd’s population is between the ages of 25 and 54 years of age. The housing choices by age group can be vastly different Typically, those between the ages of 20 and 24 are renters, those between 25 and 34 are first time homebuyers and those from 45 to 54 are looking for move-up housing. However, in Brainerd our residents are pretty equal by age category on owner-occupied or rental housing choices until the 55 to 64 age group.

Brainerd Population by Age

Owner-Occupied Housing in Brainerd


Another factor is income, often determining what people can afford to rent or purchase. According to the 2010 US Census, the average income in Brainerd is $35,207. This is low compared to the average Crow Wing County income ($45,173) and the statewide average income ($54,343). Income can also vary greatly by age group. Those between ages of 45-64 have the highest median income at $40,957.

Brainerd Comparison of Age to Housing Choice Rental Housing in Brainerd

Age of Housing

Brainerd is an older community, incorporated in 1873. The older housing stock provides charm, from the old historic homes in North Brainerd to the smaller homes in Northeast Brainerd that were built when the railroad, logging and the paper mill were going strong. But they may be in need of rehabilitation. Approximately 44 percent of Brainerd’s housing was built before 1950.

Brainerd Income by Age

Types and Costs of Housing

According to the 2010 US Census, approximately 48 percent of Brainerd’s

14 Fall 2016 | her voice

Graphs supplied by Brainerd HRA.

housing is rental, 52 percent owner occupied. The average sale price for a house in Brainerd in 2010 was $109,262. This is much lower than the Crow Wing County average of $191,762. The majority of the single family homes in Brainerd are single family detached homes. There is a large number of affordable homes for first time homebuyer; however, the number of move-up housing units is limited. Approximately 32 percent of the rental units in Brainerd are single family detached units. Some of these were purchased by investors specifically for the purpose of renting them. However, a great number of these homes were rented in 2010 as a result of the housing crash. Many homeowners were not able to sell their homes and chose to rent them instead. The average rent in Brainerd is $538 for a one-bedroom, $635 for a two-bedroom and $950 for a three-bedroom. These are also low when compared to the rest of the Crow Wing County. Brainerd also has a lot of rental units that are affordable to a wide range of renters but a limited amount of market rate rental units which have the amenities that renters are typically looking for such as underground parking, washers and dryers in the unit and community/exercise space. Looking at the Brainerd demographics we find that there is a large supply of affordable rental housing in the city of Brainerd which could

attract entry-level householders who are working part-time or full-time minimum wage jobs, those who are just starting their careers or families and those who are on fixed incomes. There is also a sufficient supply of homes available in Brainerd for firsttime homebuyers. With an average sale home sales price of $110,000, a typical mortgage (with taxes and insurance) would be approximately $725. There is, however a limited supply of moveup housing options available and often people will move out of Brainerd to buy their move-up home. For empty-nesters, there is a sufficient supply of homes available. This group is typically looking to move into smaller homes requiring less maintenance. There is a limited supply of housing in Brainerd for younger-independent seniors, who may still prefer to own but will be looking more for one-level living options (often times within an association that covers lawn

and exterior maintenance) and may go south for the winter. For older seniors, Brainerd offers a number of senior housing options including Good Samaritan, Edgewood Vista and Carefree living (among others). In summary, the 2015 research study identified the biggest gaps in Brainerd housing in market-rate rentals and move-up housing. As our economy and the housing market continues to improve, there may be opportunities for new housing in the city of Brainerd.

Jennifer Bergman is the executive director of the Brainerd HRA, Crow Wing County HRA and Crosby HRA. Jennifer received her bachelor’s degree in local and urban affairs from St. Cloud State University and was the housing coordinator at the City of Mounds View, assistant HRA director at Anoka County and the executive director of the Anoka HRA.

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aging Editor’s note: Arlene Jones is the honorary chair of the 2016 Brainerd Lakes Area Walk to End Alzheimer’s. A community leader, her credentials include co-owner/operator The Farm on St. Mathias, co-founder of Sprout Food Hub and Growers and Makers Marketplace, a master gardener and board member of the U of M Extension Regional Partnerships and the Crow Wing Food Coop and a member of the Alzheimer’s finance committee. But more than a committee concern, Alzheimer’s is a personal cause for Arlene.

Honorary chair of the 2016 Brainerd Lakes Area Walk to End Alzheimer’s Arlene Jones with Team St. Mathias: Front row, (L to R) Arlene, Charlotte Whittemore, Jerilyn Baird, Bob Jones. Back row: (L to R) Amanda Wittemore, Scott Whittemore and Justin Gangl.



Worth Every “Onion”

the past few years, Arlene Jones watched her father, Randall “Randy” Baird, suffer from Alzheimer’s and felt helpless to make his life better. At Randy’s funeral, her son, Justin, recounted when Randy was helping plant onions at The Farm on St. Mathias, owned by Arlene and husband Robert. As fast as the onions could be planted, his grandpa followed and pulled them out. Arlene’s response at the time, “I don’t care, just let him do it.” When Justin spoke at the funeral he said, “Remember what you said, Mom? It was worth every onion.” Randy was no stranger to hard work, remembers Arlene, having grown up on a farm, though Randy and his wife, Jerilyn, raised their family in the city of Grand Rapids, Mich. Randy loved to come to the lakes area with Jerilyn to work at The Farm every summer and was adept at gardening and handling the farm machinery. The Alzheimer’s diagnosis was made in 2010 when Randy was 67 years old. At first, there were very few signs or symptoms. Arlene and the rest of the family tended to blame any mistakes or lapses in judgment on his poor hearing. They just 16 Fall 2016 | her voice

kept adjusting the farm jobs they would entrust to him. By 2012, Randy’s personality was changing significantly. Arlene had bought her mom and dad a golf cart to get around the farm. One day, Jerilyn

...You lose them one inch at a time.”

asked Randy to get them both Arlene’s father, Randall a drink – meaning from the Baird, at St. Mathias Farm, barn. Instead, he headed out one year before he was toward St. Mathias Road diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. on the golf cart, thinking he needed to go to town to get those drinks. Fortunately, Arlene discovered him before he got too far. At this time his favorite task was weeding, but he became increasingly frustrated because he could no longer do it. He took to wandering the farm, but couldn’t get too far on foot. When spending the

night at the Jones’ Nisswa home, he would wander too, mostly down to the mailbox and back, sometimes sitting in the car for a while. Then one evening he went out wandering and wound up nearly five miles away at Zorbaz, where he asked for “my daughter.” Both Jerilyn and the owner of Zorbaz had called the police and so Randy was brought home. By then he could recognize faces, but remembered few names. In August 2014, Randy fell and broke his hip, requiring surgery. While considering discharge options, Arlene paid a visit to an area care facility. She was distressed by the long, labyrinth-like hallways and the great distances from nursing stations to rooms. So they went to the medical supply stores and got bed rails, bed alarms, a raised commode seat and shower chair and moved him into their Nisswa home. Soon after, Randy developed pneumonia. Arlene found it increasingly difficult to juggle her caregiving responsibilities and her work.

With heavy hearts, it was decided in September of 2014 to move Randy and Jerilyn back home to Grand Rapids, Mich.,, closer to family, old friends and other resources. After another bout with pneumonia and a heart attack, Randy died at the age of 72 in 2015. As honorary chair of the 2016 Brainerd Lakes Area Walk to End Alzheimer’s, one of Arlene’s goals is to increase awareness and education so that providers can direct families to the support systems available much earlier. The average family waits two years before becoming engaged with services such as the peer and grief support offered by the Alzheimer’s Association. She is also working so that her children and grandchildren will have the tools they need to combat this heartbreaking disease. Arlene first got involved with The Walk to End Alzheimer’s by forming a team in 2014. She was very frustrated that she couldn’t help her dad more and needed something to make her feel like

she was in control. Beginning with the 2015 walk, Arlene joined the Brainerd lakes area Walk to End Alzheimer’s planning committee. This year she has made use of her considerable personal and professional network to shift her focus to obtaining sponsorships for the Walk. Just in recent week Arlene reports two farm partners have entered their fathers into long-term care. “It is such a heartbreaking, personally debilitating disease,” she says, “You lose them one inch at a time.” A Brainerd native, Ann Powers and her husband, Michael, live on Crow Wing Lake. She is the community relations coordinator for the Good Samaritan Society – Woodland campus and has spent almost 40 years working in health care. Ann enjoys spending time with family and friends, music, bird watching, gardening, boating and attempting to golf.

It’s All About Friendships! 218-828-4770 - 14211 Firewood Drive, Baxter, MN

~ Real People. Remarkable Care. Our Best Everyday. ~


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Fall 2016 | her voice 17

Kate Peterson (left) and Sheri Fyle are officers on the Pequot Lakes Police Department.





ate Petersen and fellow officer Sheri Fyle both serve on the Pequot Lakes Police Department and have continued to blaze a trail for women in the law enforcement profession, proving that gender knows no boundaries. 18 Fall 2016 | her voice

It was during her first year at Central Lakes College, pursuing a degree in accounting, when Kate realized she wanted to be a police officer. Ten years later, not only is Kate one of a handful of female officers serving in Crow Wing County, she is also one of a handful of female firefighters in the county. Sheri Fyle had grown up in the world of emergency medical services, admiring her father who served 30-plus years with the Monticello Fire Department. However, it was the medical side of EMS that eventually attracted her. During paramedic school, a friend suggested she also check out the possibility of a law enforcement career. Somewhat hesitant, Sheri signed up as a reserve officer. During her first

shift on Halloween night, she recalls children being instantly attracted to the squad car – offering candy and taking pictures. It was that moment, she knew she had found a calling. Today, a paramedic, first responder and police officer, Sheri said the careers truly complement one another. “Typically when I’m working with the police department, I’m the first on scene for a medical. It’s nice to be able to reassure people that you’re also a paramedic. Some officers like to get their hands dirty, while others would rather stand back and wait for medical personnel. It’s nice to be able to serve in all capacities.” Sheri’s depth of experience goes even further. Prior to being hired as a police

officer, she worked for seven years as a Crow Wing County dispatcher and two in Aitkin County, taking 911 calls and dispatching EMS. “For me, working as a dispatcher all those years and, now, seeing the difference in the two jobs, it’s really rewarding to be on this side and to be able to see how things end. As a dispatcher, after you hung up, you didn’t know how a call ended. On this end, I’m able to see things through, and I enjoy that.” Set on becoming an accountant with a somewhat predictable career, life threw Kate a curveball. A now-retired Pequot Lakes police officer casually struck up conversation with her about his job. Kate was intrigued enough to add on one law enforcement course to her schedule; but it wasn’t long before she realized her career path would take a 180-degree turn. While finishing her degree in law enforcement, Kate landed an internship with the Pequot Lakes Police Department; and, following graduation, accepted a part-time position on the force. In 2007, she was offered and accepted a full-time position and assumed a role as a school resource officer in the Pequot Lakes School District. One year later, Kate interviewed for a volunteer firefighter position with the Pequot Lakes Fire Department and was immediately brought on board. “When I went on calls as a police officer and watched the firefighters, I knew it was something I’d like to do. There are lots of parallels between law enforcement and fire. I don’t think people see it if they aren’t in EMS; but there truly is a correlation.”

“...driving through a neighborhood and seeing a little kid wave at you... That really brings a smile to my face.” - Kate Peterson Kate greets a resident of her community, Sheri provides training installing children’s car seats.

30503 State Highway 371 • 218-568-5001 www.pequotlakessupervalu.com Locally owned and operated



Your local grocer and partner for all your party supplies.

Fall 2016 | her voice 19

“The Pequot Lakes Police Department is very proud of the work that Kate and Sheri do.” Police Cheif, Eric Klang

Now, thanks to a collaborative effort between both the Pequot Lakes Police and Fire departments, Kate has a specially equipped squad car that is also used for responding to fire calls when off-duty. This dual-purpose vehicle allows her to carry both fire and police equipment in order to, literally, wear two hats at any emergency situation. In the event of a fire, Kate is able to assess the situation and make a judgment call to firefighters as to the severity of the call and equipment needed. Her vehicle can also be used as a command post for larger incidents and has served both entities well since being launched. While common in the Twin Cities area, this response vehicle is the first of its kind here. During a time of leadership transition in 2010 and 2011, Kate was asked to serve as interim police chief. “I was suddenly in charge of the officers who taught me how to do my job. At first, it was hard for me to give those officers directives; but I got over that fear. And during that time, I had a lot of support from other chiefs in the area, which I greatly appreciated.” Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang said both women have been instrumental to the force and continue to serve their communities with their multitude of skills and interests. “The Pequot Lakes Police Department is very proud of the work that Kate and Sheri do, not only as police officers, but their involvement as a firefighter and EMS paramedic,” said Chief Klang. “Their willingness to go beyond what’s required of them make 20 Fall 2016 | her voice

Also a volunteer firefighter, Kate practices the proper procedure for removing accident victims from their vehicles in a training session.

both a great asset to this community and to law enforcement, overall.” Chief Klang also emphasized the unique perspective and interpersonal skills both women bring to not only the department, but law enforcement in general. “Some would think that women cops aren’t strong or aggressive enough to do police work,” he noted. “I don’t find that true at all. Both Kate and Sheri do an excellent job using a style of policing that relies less on ‘hands-on’ tactics, and more on communication. They’re great with verbal judo or de-escalating situations. If I had all women cops working here I would be just fine with that, especially with their community-minded attitude.” Community is important to both Kate and Sheri. “For me, I just enjoy driving through a neighborhood and seeing a little kid wave at you,” Kate said. “That really brings a smile to my face.” Sheri agreed. “It’s really the little stuff … making a difference in just one person’s life.” Kate has been involved with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 11 for a number of years and currently serves as the organization’s president. She also oversees the reserve officer program for Pequot Lakes Police Department. While Sheri gives back by serving as vice-president of the Zone 3 First Responders group. Being a woman is secondary to being a police officer, both women concur. While some male officers tend to be protective of their female counterparts, Sheri and Kate say if you do your job right, and well, you’re quickly accepted and gender isn’t a consideration. “The guys see us as females and know we’re females; but they don’t treat us any differently,” Sheri noted. “We’re all on the same playing field, which is nice. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean you need to act differently around me.” Kate adds, “My advice is to not allow the stigma of ‘women can’t do this job’ keep you from doing whatever it is you want to do. If you believe in yourself and are confident, you can do anything.” More photos on Her Voice Facebook page.

Jenny Holmes is a former reporter for the Brainerd Dispatch and currently owns a public relations and communications business. She lives in Nisswa with husband, Tim and their two school-aged children.

Protecting The Innocent Current life events can weigh heavy on little hearts.


Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center is often mistaken for a daycare. The purple dinosaur that peeks over the fence is one clue. But the building is for supervised visits and safe exchanges, while protecting children from adult conflicts and emotions.


Children have a joy about them and a curiosity. They absorb so much of what is around them, either actively learning, or witnessing the world as it unfolds. Adults help develop the child’s view of the world at large. It is important to show them a world of possibilities. Current life events can weigh heavy on little hearts. They believe they are the cause of all conflicts. They need reassurance that events are shaping their world and there are ways to cope. One adult conflict hardest on children is watching their parents fight. Even when a divorce separates the parents, the conflicts continue. Children are torn between their love for each, and parents will purposefully or unwittingly put the child into the adult role of mediator. “Tell your dad…” or “What is your mom…” puts the child into conflict with their own emotions.

Exchanging the children can bring all of the old angers into play, making exchanges a hard time for the whole family. Safe exchanges at the Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center keep exchanging parents from having to see each other. From a child’s perspective, the adult world takes parents away for many reasons. The child doesn’t understand why their parent is gone, they just know there is a hole where there used to be a person. Supervised visitation can take place for many reasons. It could be by court order, or when there is family violence and intimidation. A parent making threats should be supervised. A child in foster care in a private location may need an alternative visitation site. An out-of-area parent coming in may need a place to connect. Skype is available. It might be for Fall 2016 | her voice 21

Alex and Brandon

At the Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center, families can interact in the kitchen and indoor and outdoor play area.

Child Safety Center

a participant of the Teen Challenge Program. A non-custodial parent working on getting custodial rights reinstated is encouraged to have their visits supervised. A court order is not required. Cost to families depends on many criteria. Exchanges require a small flat fee, while supervised visits might be based on a sliding scale for income or victimization. At the Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center, children pass through the halls daily. With a positive and caring atmosphere, anxiety is alleviated and great reunions take place. Outside pressures are removed, giving the family the ability to just be together. Visits become a simpler and more relaxing time. A child who has not seen a parent for some time has not lost any of the love they hold for that parent. Distance has made the pain of separation more acute, and the first sight of the “lost” parent can be very emotional. It is the beginning of the healing for both par22 22 Fall Fall2016 2016| her | hervoice voice

ent and child. The emotions are like a dam bursting, and the love floods out, filling child and parent with a confusing, exhilarating, and exhausting emotional outlet. Both need this. The Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center is a safe environment. A sad event created the Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center. In 1996, Alex and Brandon Frank, age 5 and 4, visited their father. Kurt Frank stabbed both boys and himself. The boys did not make it. Kurt was hospitalized and then sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for their murders. The news hit our local area hard. The boys had attended support groups at the Mid-Minnesota’s Women’s Center, a not-for-profit organization, that raised money to build the Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center. Through generous donations, they were able to construct the current building in 2000. The Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center is dedicated to preventing

Visitor Comments: Visiting Parents/Grandparents

“My ex is not allowed to be around me at all. I like that everything is documented to help my case.” “ You treat me like a human and a person and give me individuality. Your guys don’t compare people. I absolutely love this place and the staff is amazing!” “I feel safe, respected, comfortable, welcomed and loved. The staff is amazing. They know my story. They truly care and have hearts.” “I love that we feel at home when we do visits.” “The kids like it. The staff is awesome and don’t judge. This is a good service for people like me.” “Positive environment, not only physically, but staff give helpful and positive feedback. I appreciate the helpfulness and friendliness of the staff towards myself and especially during an awkward time like this.”

rganized o is t n e m e g a n a “...m on our and knowledgeacbsiletuation...” children’s specifi

Custodial Parents/Foster Family “I like knowing that my child’s other parent will be checked for sobriety (court-ordered) prior to taking our child.” “The management is organized and knowledgeable on our children’s specific situation and needs. We have been coming for two years and the children have improved emotionally and are very comfortable at the Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center.” “I like not having contact with the parent. We and their (the children’s) therapists have noticed a big difference in the children’s stress level before and after visits since starting here.”

“I get to see m y Mom and Dad.”

Visiting Child “I like to come and play with my sisters and brothers as a family and I like the toys.” “What I like best are the chats at the end of the visits.” “There is lots to do. Lots of playdough.” “I like that there are lots of toys, but you need a swimming pool.”

For more information, donations and volunteer opportunities: 218-828-0022 future families from experiencing such a devastating loss. With two entrances, the children and accompanying adult come in one door, and the non-custodial visitor comes in another. All visits and exchanges are recorded. Staff is trained to protect the child’s emotional and physical safety. Rules are strict. Supervised visitations happen in one of the three rooms set up for family interaction. There is also outdoor space for

fun activities. A kitchen provides a stove, microwave and dishwasher so families can make a pizza or other meals as they sit around the kitchen table. Many board games are played here. A TV/couch room has many games and movies so families can share some quiet time. A playroom full of toys keeps kids busy. Each room is specifically attuned to a child’s needs and wants.

Keeping children emotionally and physically safe while keeping them connected to a lost parent is what the Alex and Brandon Child Safety Center provides. Fractured families do not have to result in broken children. Wholeness can be protected. A child can have healthy relationships with both parents, resulting in a healthier child.

Virginia Knudson, “Top Attorney 2016” ~ Minnesota SuperLawyers Magazine

Only 5% of Minnesota’s Lawyers are awarded this title each year

FAMILY LAW • ESTATE PLANNING • BUSINESS LAW • REAL ESTATE Suz Anne Wipperling is a local writer who holds domestic violence issues as the most important unaddressed problem in our society.


Knudson has been named again as one of Minnesota’s top attorneys by Minnesota SuperLawyers Magazine for 2016.


Borden, Steinbauer, Krueger & Knudson, P.A.

302 S. 6th St., Brainerd • www.brainerdlaw.com • 218.829.1451 Fall 2016 | her voice 23

Chris Kellett became actively involved in politics in 2007.

A Passion For America

Chris grew up in Bloomington, where she benefitted from examples set by a strict father and a hard-working single mom. She spent weekends and summers helping on her maternal grandparents’ farm in Marine on St. Croix and as a teen worked as a waitress. In Arizona, By JENNY GUNSBURY she ventured out on her own where she later became an addictions counselPassion for America - the Constitution, or for high profile clients. Wanting her the freedoms it grants and the opportuchildren to attend school in Minnesota, nities it provides… Those are the ideals at Chris moved to Brainerd in 1992 to be the heart of why Chris Kellett has been so near her paternal grandparents, Fred and dedicated in many aspects of politics over Mildred Kellett, respected educators and the last several years. But before entering community leaders. politics in 2007, she learned useful lessons Chris attended Central Lakes College for the political arena. and St. Cloud State University. “I love to learn,” she says, noting her thousands of books on numerous topics. She took a job at Lakeland TV where she worked with business owners, did fundraising and helped with debates for local offices. That’s when she started meeting politicians. “I saw how nervous they became before debates. They came into my office and I helped calm them down.” Chris faced her own fear of public speaking by doing live pledge drives and through leadership roles. In Kiwanis, she served as club president, lieutenant governor and trained presidents in three states. She also served as president of the Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Chris with former governor of Minnesota, Al Quie. Government, on the board for the MN

>>> Continued on page 26

24 Fall 2016 | her voice

Same Stripes


Different Stars

A self-described ‘political junkie,’ Kathy Hegstrom often dresses in red, white and blue.

The Woman in Red, White and Blue

“My main passion has always been public education,” Kathy admitted. “I truly believe that public education is the ‘great equalizer,’ and it’s absolutely essential in a democratic society. Unfortunately, education is also very political. I don’t think it should be, but it is. So, I’ve always believed educators have no choice but to speak up and be part of the process.” By JENNY HOLMES Whether starting her teaching career in Plainview, gaining experience in Often identified by her red, white and Pequot Lakes and as an exchange teacher blue outfits, Kathy Hegstrom has pegged in Germany, or over the past 30 years in herself a ‘political junkie’ and rightfully so. the Brainerd School District; for 44 years Since college, Kathy’s held a passion in the education field, Kathy has encourfor the political process. Even in high aged others to join her in bi-partisan acschool, she recalls watching news stories tivism. She emphasizes that the teachers’ of segregation and inequality on television and feeling a strong tug at her heart. Kathy and Paul Thissen (DFL) current Minority At Bemidji State University she found an Leader in the Minnesota outlet for her passion and a determination House of Representatives. to help make things better, participating in Student Senate and other campus-wide activities. “I’m certainly not a fan of apathy,” she says, “I’ve always tried to be proactive versus reactive.” Upon accepting her first teaching position, Kathy chaired the Governmental Relations Committee of the local teachers’ union and participated in legislative agendas, candidate screenings and lobby days at the Minnesota State Capitol. Experiences in the education sector only continued to fuel her need to become politically involved and to ensure everyone’s >>> Continued on page 27 voice was represented. Fall 2016 | her voice 25

>>> Continued from page 24 Voters Alliance, Crossing, Brainerd Library, and was a chamber ambassador, a crisis line volunteer and more. After starting her own marketing company, she became fully aware of the challenges of running a small business. In 2007, when Obama ran against Hillary, Chris decided to learn about politics. Calling herself a philosopher at heart, she says, “A philosopher’s goal is to get as close to the best possible answer to a question as possible and that involves looking at an issue from all sides. I learned about our country’s history and realized I was wrong about certain things.” While working as a civil process server in 2011, the decision to run for political office became clear. “The economy was terrible. It seemed every street in the area had foreclosures,” Chris explained. “I had a stack of notices to deliver day after day. It broke my heart handing those papers to so many families. That motivated me to run for office.” Thus, the 2012 Vote Chris Kellett for Minnesota House of Representatives District 10A

Left, Representative Cindy Pugh (R) District 33B and Chris.

campaign was born. “I was new to everything about running a campaign,” she remembers. “I felt expected to know every issue on federal, state and local levels.” Her main platforms, though, were cutting taxes, creating jobs, preserving 26 Fall 2016 | her voice

Chris (far right) with Stewart Mills, Republican candidate for U.S. House, 8th District and his wife, Heather.

Second Amendment rights and reduc- Chris considered running again in ing big government. 2014 but decided not to for famiBesides brushing up on political top- ly reasons. She was also on “the short ics, Chris learned some personal lessons list” by two Republican Gubernatorial after her announcement to run. “I lost candidates for Lieutenant Governor of clients and many friends,” she Minnesota. explains, “It hurt, but it’s “It’s important for me to a small sacrifice comstay involved when I think pared to the ones about how much love others made for those who have served “We must not give our freedom.” and sacrificed had for Chris also noted this country. Sadly, up hope. Rather, differences she many Americans we must hold our felt as a female have little undercandidate. “I standing of their hisflags high.” saw other womtory. We must not let ~Chris Kellett en mocked for not those sacrifices be in knowing something vain.” and felt pressured to To that end, Chris is learn fast to avoid that,” working on a series of chilshe recalls. “I also had to learn dren’s books about American histowhich hairspray holds best and which ry and government. She also maintains makeups don’t run during the hot pa- a lively personal website, MNgal.com, rades. Something most men don’t think with news feeds and links to governabout.” ment-related resources, in addition to Although she lost the 2012 campaign, her business websites. “Through it all, I Chris remained active in politics and have learned many people truly love this continued educating others about con- country and constitution,” she says. “We stitutional rights. She began teaching must not give up hope. Rather, we must permit to carry classes with Tom and hold our flags high.” Paul Lund at the Mills Range in Baxter. She expanded her business, Minnesota Jenny Gunsbury enjoys Personal Safety Training, offering other learning new things and courses including women’s basic hand- meeting interesting people as a freelance writer for gun, courses for law enforcement, victim area publications. She lives prevention and more. near the Pillsbury State Forest with her husband and two teenage children.

>>> Continued from page 25 union, at all levels, encourages educators on both sides of the political aisle to be active in their district, as well as in state and national decisions that affect public education. Outside the four walls of Brainerd High School, where Kathy has worked first as a German teacher and now in social studies, she continues to walk the walk and talk the talk. Over 35 years ago, she joined the Crow Wing County DFL Board to assist in promoting events and Kathy (center) Rick Nolan, (DFL) congressman in the 8th District candidates that support the party platand Joe Radinovich, Nolan’s form. She has served as a county election campaign manager. judge for over 30 years and has helped train students to serve as election judge ‘trainees.’ mer Senator and now Governor Mark Political involvement has also pro- Dayton, met with the late Senator Paul vided Kathy with once-in-a-lifetime Wellstone, and attended education comexperiences, including serving as a na- mittees with legislative assistants and tional delegate in 1984 to lobbyists. the Democratic National However, this 10-day visit Convention in San was especially unforgettable Francisco where due to the fact it came on “Stand up Walter Mondale the heels of 9/11. Kathy for what you was named the sat behind Secretary of Democratic presibelieve is right.” State Colin Powell as he dential candidate, and ~Kathy Hegstrom Geraldine Ferraro, his running mate. In 2000, Kathy was again elected as a national delegate to the convention in Los Angeles. In April of 2001, Kathy was granted a staff development opportunity to spend time at the State Capitol, shadowing former President of the Minnesota Senate Don Samuelson. For eight days she witnessed the inner-workings of the government process, gaining knowledge to better educate her students. She also spent time in the State House and Kathy and Minnesota Senator, Al Franken (DFL). with Education Minnesota lobbyists and committees, zeroing in on public education. Having gained much from the experi- addressed topics ranging from suspected ence at the State Capitol, Kathy arranged terrorists to airplane security. During the to spend 10 days in October 2001 in visit, Kathy and the entire Senate Office Washington, D.C., to improve her un- Building were evacuated after Senator derstanding of the political process at Tom Daschle received a letter believed the national level. During this time, she to be tainted with Anthrax. interned for the late Congressman Jim In 2008, then State Representative Oberstar, attended meetings with for- John Ward nominated Kathy for the

Minnesota DFL Women’s Hall of Fame. “This is the most important political honor I have received,” Kathy said, “and I am very proud to be listed with great women in our state who have been recognized for promoting democratic ideals and activism.” It goes without saying, Kathy provides her students at Brainerd High School a unique perspective in political awareness and activism. She encourages students to decide which issues they are most concerned about, to study the viewpoint of both political parties to decide which position they agree with the most, and then determine what they can do to make a difference. “I’ve worked at it. And I haven’t given up,” she said. “I really promote being informed and proactive. And while I’ve focused on public education, I’ve always been passionate about other issues, including health care and the environment.” But to this political junkie, it’s all about red, white and blue outfits and standing up for what you believe is right.

Jenny Holmes is a former reporter for the Brainerd Dispatch and currently owns a public relations and communications business. She lives in Nisswa with husband, Tim and their two school-aged children.

Fall 2016 | her voice 27

Pasty Project

clubs and clusters Main Ingredients List: 2,000 lbs. Vegetables 875 lbs. Meat 1,375 lbs. Flour



ith fall fast approaching, the ovens at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Crosby are primed to bake more than 3,000 pasties beginning Sept. 28...

...and continuing through Oct. 26. Spearheaded by the Council of Catholic Women (CCW), a devoted group of volunteers have been lovingly preparing and selling pasties since 1995. What started as a rather small undertaking has evolved into a major project with 60-65 volunteers gathering in the church basement on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for five weeks each fall to assemble and bake pasties. Pasties are pastry-enfolded meat and vegetable pies that date back to the days when iron miners on the Cuyuna Range took them to work in their lunchboxes. Hearty and nourishing, they stayed warm for hours and could be eaten without utensils. While the local mines may have closed, the craving for the comfort food remains. In fact, sales have ballooned from 890 in 1995 to 3,484 today. And is it any wonder? Anyone who has visited the church basement on baking day is seduced by their hard to resist alluring aroma. The project came to fruition due to the 28 Fall 2016 | her voice

(L to R) Pasty cooks Carla Tauzell, Cheryl Plude (hidden), Barb Neprud, Scena Proodian, Honey Olin and Cindi Tomson roll dough and fill pasties.

efforts of Betty Platisha. When her husband worked in upper Michigan many years ago, he regularly brought back pas-

Betty Platisha (left) and Honey Olin.

ties for the two of them to enjoy. Years later when the CCW pondered fundraising ideas, she suggested they market meat pies. After consulting with talent-

ed cooks, Angie Eisenreich and Gloria Perpich, a recipe was created, volunteers were recruited and the venture began. For four years, Betty and Delores Cyrus coordinated the project. At age 90, Betty has stepped back and no longer volunteers but she looks forward to placing her order every fall. “When I eat the last one out of my freezer I can hardly wait for baking to begin again,” she said. “I still love pasties. The volunteers do an amazing job.” On Tuesday mornings when production commences, the church hall buzzes with activity as clusters of volunteers share laughs while they cut meat, prepare dough and chop carrots, potatoes, rutabagas and onions. Coordinator Avis Puchreiter consults the checklist to prep for bake day while her sister and co-coordinator, Kay Chismar, takes a constant stream of phone orders. Hundreds of boxes lined with parchment paper are stacked against the wall ready to transport the finished product. Avis admits she had no idea what a



$ $



* *


pasty was when she became involved in the project in 2002. “Lorraine Deblock called and asked me to chop vegetables and I’ve been here ever since,” she said with a laugh. Now Avis recruits volunteers. “The response is always positive. We’re blessed to have so many wonderful volunteers.” While the majority of volunteers attend St. Joseph’s parish, helpers come from other parishes as well. For example, Deb Eisen, who is a member of St. John’s of Cedarbrook, joined the crew in 2014. “I love the community aspect of it,” Deb said. “It’s a great group of people getting together for a great cause.” Devoted volunteer Karla Patrick takes vacation time to assist. Her husband, Randy, also helps out as a member the meat cutting crew. While the majority of volunteers are women, a number of men pitch in as well. Laughs abound throughout the church hall as good natured ribbing is volleyed back and forth. According to Jackie Butorac, the best part of pasty season is the camaraderie. Almost everyone echoes her sentiments. Glee Lundgren said she likes getting to know new people. “We laugh a lot and have fun,” she said. “I love the fellowship and the coffee breaks,” Elaine Butorac added with a laugh. Avis said she was mentored by Henrietta Pribyl who oversaw the project for many years. Like her predecessor, Avis keeps meticulous records. Her rather lengthy ingredient list

“We’re blessed to have so many wonderful volunteers.” ~Avis Puchreiter

shows that 2,000 pounds of vegetables, 875 pounds of meat, 1,375 pounds of flour and a host of other items are needed to produce the 3,000-plus pasties. Proceeds are used to make needed repairs on the church, fellowship hall, rectory and the adjacent building which houses church offices, classrooms and an adoration chapel. Last year handicapped accessible doors were installed in the church. Over the years, upgrades have been made to the kitchen, heating and cooling systems, flooring and music system. The group has even purchased defibrillators. Despite the work and time involved, Avis looks forward to pasty season. “I have separation anxiety when it ends,” she said. “I miss the people and the fun. Everyone is exhausted but it’s a good exhaustion.” It won’t be long before the phone starts ringing, the church basement buzzes with activity and production begins.

VISIT US TODAY FOR GREAT DEALS. VISIT US TODAY FOR GREAT DEALS. *See store associate for rebate form with complete details. Only valid at participating KitchenAid brand retailers. Consumer may choose one model per appliance type up to a maximum of 6 models, with a maximum rebate amount of $1,500 per household. Rebate in the form of a KitchenAid brand MasterCard® Prepaid Card by mail. Additional terms and conditions apply. *See store associate for rebate form with complete details. Only valid at participating KitchenAid brand retailers. Consumer may choose one model per appliance type up to a ®/™ ©2016 KitchenAid. All rights reserved. To learn more about the entire KitchenAid brand line, please visit kitchenaid.com. CCP-19152 *See store associate for rebate form with details. validofat$1,500 participating KitchenAid brand retailers. may choose one model per appliance type up to a maximum maximum of 6 models, withcomplete a maximum rebateOnly amount per household. Rebate in the form of Consumer a KitchenAid brand MasterCard® Prepaid Card by mail. of 6 models, with a maximum rebate amount of $1,500 per household. Rebate in the formand of aconditions KitchenAid brand MasterCard® Prepaid Card by mail. Additional terms and conditions apply. Additional terms apply. ®/™©2016 ©2016KitchenAid. KitchenAid.All Allrights rightsreserved. reserved.To Tolearn learnmore moreabout aboutthe theentire entireKitchenAid KitchenAid brand line, please visit kitchenaid.com. CCP-19152 ®/™ brand line, please visit kitchenaid.com. CCP-19152

RETAIL INFORMATION HERE RETAIL INFORMATION HERE 16603 State Hwy 371 North, Brainerd/Baxter • 218-829-3624 (Just North of the Pine Beach Rd)

Crosby resident Joan Hasskamp, is currently working on a humorous book titled “We Don’t Care Who Wins as Long as Joan Loses.” Now that she is retired she has even more time to embellish and exaggerate stories about herself.


More photos on Her Voice Facebook page.

SCHROEDERSAPPLIANCE.COM Fall 2016 | her voice 29

wellness In her yoga therapy sessions, Maureen Farnsworth uses a technique called Somatics to release muscle tension.



A Journey of Healing By MAUREEN FARNSWORTH

30 Fall 2016 | her voice

y practice of yoga has been a journey of self-discovery, growth and transformation. I have always enjoyed moving my body, been athletic most of my life and at the age of 40, found yoga. Yoga, I discovered was much more than a form of exercise. Toward the end of one yoga class, the teacher shared concepts of Ahimsa or nonviolence. As we moved into child’s pose, I became acutely aware of how my own inner dialog was an act of violence against myself. This is what I now call a “mind and body experience.” I realized that the “that was stupid, I’ll never get this right and you’re not good enough” kinds of self-talk I tolerated as normal background noise was actually self-harming and a rejection of God and the Divine within myself. This hit me so profoundly I found myself in tears on my mat. I have come to learn that tears in yoga are not unusual when someone transcends the body and connects with the deeper truths of themselves. This one experience was just the beginning of my shift toward more acceptance, compassion and love toward others and myself. I became a yoga teacher to share yoga with others as a pathway toward healing and growth. Little did I know what my yoga journey would look like as my life unfolded.

When I turned 50, I became an empty nester with a body ruled by menopause and transitions. Like many women, I experienced hot flashes, insomnia, irritability and a sense of loss and confusion. My yoga practice helped me listen to the truth of my body and pass through this phase of life with more ease. It also challenged me to learn how to honor my needs for self-care, grieve my losses and contemplate what it means to age gracefully. A few years later I was diagnosed with arthritis, degenerative disc disease in my low back and spondylolisthesis. My body felt like it was crumbling and the pain interfered with walking, sitting and limited most physical activities. On the heels of this came depression and its unique form of pain. I was frustrated, angry and felt my body and mind had betrayed me. After all I was a yoga teacher and believed I was supposed to be protected from these things happening. I turned to yoga therapy for answers and discovered a deeper understanding of yoga as a healing art. My 1,000-hour level yoga therapy training with the International Soma Yoga Institute at Yoga North was a game changer. I learned a technique called Somatics (Thomas Hanna) as a way to release muscle tension and how to use and adapt yoga poses to progress responsibly toward strength and better function. Yoga therapy involves not just the physical body but also the breathing body, the mental body of thoughts and feelings, the intellectual body that has the capacity to discern and make choices and the spiritual or intuitive body that helps connect with one’s truth. A yoga therapist focuses on healing rather than specific poses or positions and understands there are many ways to accomplish that end. How you walk, sit, stand, eat – is looked at in order to help create healthy new patterns and take charge of your own well-being. Studies have shown that yoga therapy can alleviate the symptoms of depression through specific therapeutic poses, breathing, and mindfulness and medita-


Yoga therapy can alleviate the symptoms of depression through specific therapeutic poses, breathing, and mindfulness and meditation.

tion. For those who need additional support from antidepressants, like myself, these powerful tools can help affect brain chemistry, enhance medication effectiveness and build personal resilience. With practice, patience and persistence to heal, I learned how to alleviate my back pain and overcome depression. I have found freedom of movement and renewed joy. I’m grateful for the path of yoga, my teachers, and the support and guidance of others. I humbly recognize that I have not healed alone -- I needed others to help me grow in awareness.

Yoga always brings me back to acceptance, compassion and love. It is from this place I am able to heal and meet life challenges with as much grace as possible. My desire is simply to share with others what I have learned, offer tools that can help and provide encouragement and support for others on their own journey toward healing. n

Maureen Farnsworth is a yoga therapist trained at Yoga North International Soma Yoga Institute in Duluth, one of 12 therapeutic training facilities in the world accredited IAYT. She holds a degree in occupational therapy from the University of Minnesota and provides individualized yoga therapy to help clients alleviate symptoms for specific health concerns. Maureen can be reached at: www.improveyourmoves. com, mmfarns@charter.net, 218-963-6153.




Pre-School - 12th Grade

Register or learn more at:


C e l e b r at


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Cindy Clough (218) 829-7107 cindy@justforkix.com

Fall 2016 | her voice 31



Alaska Girl Turned Minnesota Nice

Kista Brunkhorst, owner of Susan Longstaff Whitefish creates whimsical, color-filled quilts from her Lodge, Crosslake home in Backus. and Manhattan Beach Lodge. Last summer she exhibited her creations at Ripple River Gallery, near Bay Lake.



hen you are approached by someone who works in the housekeeping department of a lodge, and they suggest you write about their boss because

she’s so terrific and kind to staff... it says a lot about that boss. Kista Brunkhorst, owner of Whitefish Lodge in Crosslake, and now, also owner of Manhattan Beach Lodge, is that person.

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Kista never envisioned leaving Anchorage. Then she met Minnesota-born Jason at a hockey game in Alaska and he stole her heart. They married in Crosslake in 1999, where one of Jason’s best friend’s family had a cabin. After working and living in the Twin Cities for a few years and spending several weekends each summer in Crosslake, they moved to the Crosslake area after their daughter Emily was born in 2002. 32Fall FALL her voice 32 20162016 | her| voice

Jason, with several years of construction experience, started his business Cabin Country Builders, LLC. Kista worked in real estate, and when they hosted a large family Christmas, finding extra lodging for the family proved to be a challenge. “I told Jason, ‘this town really needs a hotel.’ He agreed and said he should build it and I should run it. I thought he was nuts!” Kista looked for commercial property and found the perfect spot in part of Crosslake

ee is reflected in their mutual respect for her hence someone in housekeeping asking me to write about Kista. “All the advertising and promoting in the world won’t do me any good if our guests come to our lodge and open their door to an unclean room. Every employee of ours has an important job and I appreciate the work they do,” says Kista. Another “event” for Kista and Jason was the birth of their youngest daughter, MacKenzie, two years ago. With two businesses, two older children involved in several activities and a toddler, Kista still has time for fun. “We like to travel and our family takes the opportunity in the slower winter months. We also enjoy going to baseball, hockey and football games.” In the crazy-busy summer, Kista’s mom, a retired teacher, comes to stay with them to help out with the children.

Kista is still an Alaska girl at heart. And growing up there is where she built the work ethic she uses today. At age 16 she worked for the Alaskan railroad tourism department, and later for Holland America and Premiere Alaskan tours. Her years of experience with people and business helped Kista become the gregarious, caring, “people person”-boss her employees appreciate today. More photos on our Her Voice Facebook page.

Jill Hannah Anderson will publish her first women’s fiction novel, “The To-Hell-And-Back Club,” will be published in early 2017. She is currently writing (and rewriting!) her second novel. Both are set in the Brainerd lakes area. In her not-enough-spare time she enjoys the outdoors. Her website is: http://www.jillhannahanderson.com/.

ENJOY THE VIEW. • • • • • •

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Town Square on the golf course. They acquired a couple of silent partners and went to work. Whitefish Lodge opened in 2006 with 54 rooms. By then Jason and Kista had another child, Nicholas -- now 11, and were plenty busy with their two businesses and two children. I asked her what has been the toughest part. “Remembering to slow down and enjoy what we have created.” The best part of her job? “Seeing our guests create lifetime memories. Whether it’s a bride and groom exchanging heartfelt vows, or a class reunion  of friends enjoying a cocktail by the fire pit … something magical happens here.” Part of that ‘something magical’ is due to Jason’s foresight adding their large meeting/party room. Kista says, “Crosslake needed a place where people could host meetings, wedding receptions and dances and Jason added that into Whitefish Lodge’s floor plans.” While Jason may be the visionary, Whitefish Lodge is strictly Kista’s baby. And as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, in 2008, Kista was hired as management at Manhattan Beach Lodge, in Manhattan Beach. All because of Glenn Frey, yes, the singer from the Eagles, who passed away in early 2016. Rick Born, owner of Manhattan Beach Lodge and friend of Glenn’s, had booked him for a concert on the beach that summer. The following year, Kista and Jason leased the business, becoming official owners of Manhattan Beach Lodge this past March. In addition to rooms at Whitefish, they have 19 at Manhattan Beach, along with its Taste of the Lakes award winning restaurant. “It’s the only resort on the Whitefish chain with both lodging and a full-service fine dining restaurant. Built in 1929, it has an amazing history,” Kista says.  Kista credits staff for managing both businesses. She says, “We employ over 90 staff members during the summer and almost 40 year-round. The work that goes on behind the scenes to make our guest experience the best it can be is mind boggling.” Kista’s appreciation for every employ-

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Optometrist Dr. Kristel Schamber

218-829-2929 • www.LakesAreaEyecare.com 7734 Excelsior Road N. | Baxter, MN 56425

Fall 2016 | her voice 33




first thing she does each morning, before opening her eyes, is wiggle her toes. On a good day, she can, and is thankful to feel the carpet beneath her bare feet. On a bad day, her toes won’t wiggle, and she painstakingly lifts each leg off the edge of the bed and steadies herself carefully on the bedroom floor. Sandie Youngblom, Pillager, has Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS). Thankfully, her good toe-wiggling-days have been outweighing the bad ones. The most commonly diagnosed type of MS, RRMS is characterized by “attacks” and remissions. During an attack, Sandie won’t be able to wiggle her toes when she wakes up. During remission, she can. Her treatment is based on three self-administered shots of Rebif a week, a care plan that works well for her. Despite the physical side effects that accompany MS, Sandie hasn’t let her diagnosis stand in her way. She listens to her body, but doesn’t use MS as an excuse to not do something. If anything, it motivates her even more. “Because I still can,” she explains. Sandie works hard as a manager at Grizzly’s in Baxter and an Air Tanker Base manager and aviation dispatcher for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at the Brainerd Air Tanker Base. She also owns and operates her own photography business, Images by Sandra J. She and her husband Tom are very involved with the Pillager Fire Department; he started in 1993, and she followed in 1998. Fighting fires might not seem like the most obvious place to find someone battling MS, but Sandie says her “fire family” is extremely supportive, and it keeps her physically active, which helps keep her symptoms at bay. Sandie has also completed two triathlons and has plans to do another. Diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, Sandie Youngblom continues an active life style, working a variety of jobs including as a volunteer firefighter with the Pillager Fire Department. More photos on our Her Voice Facebook page. 34 Fall 2016 | her voice 34 FALL 2016 | her voice

34 Fall 2016 | her voice



~Sandie Youngblom stop living,” Sandie explains. Whether she’s fighting a fire, capturing a wedding from behind the lens, crossing the finish line, or dispatching aircraft to a forest fire, one thing is for sure: Sandie is having a toe-wiggling good time living, and nothing, not even a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, is going to stop that.

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Katie Seipp Deblock was born and raised in Nisswa, and lives in the country with her husband, Ryan, and their four children, two dogs, two cats, four goats, six chickens and 10,000 honeybees. She enjoys cooking, gardening, mountain biking, thrift shopping, Netflix, learning about nature (especially birds) and spending time in the fresh air and sunshine.

more tests including multiple X-rays, CT scans and an MRI, were inconclusive. Desperate for answers, Sandie scheduled to see a neurologist in St. Cloud. On March 30, 2005, she finally had some answers. Accompanied to the appointment by her mother and her husband, Tom, they sat together as the neurologist pointed to a gray fuzzy blob in the middle of a scan of her spine. “Miss Sandra,” he said, “I do believe that you have multiple sclerosis.” But life goes on. “Just because you’re diagnosed doesn’t mean you have to 001368241r1

While Sandie manages her MS now, getting a diagnosis for her disease was a long and painful journey. Her symptoms started in 1997, when at 20, she suddenly went completely blind in her left eye. The doctors called it “acute optical neuritis,” and treated it with steroids. Her vision slowly returned, but the steroid treatment and temporary blindness had taken their toll on her body. Blind again in 2000, she was treated with steroids and her vision slowly returned. Over the course of the next few years, Sandie didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary until December of 2004. An avid snowmobiler, she moved her husband’s heavy sled, lifting and dragging it so she could ride to work. A week or so later, she experienced some numbness in her right leg that progressively worsened and was soon joined by a burning sensation around her abdomen, hips and down her leg. Sandie says “it literally felt like it was on fire and it was so uncomfortable.” Her doctor suggested it could be a pinched nerve and recommended she visit a chiropractor. By the end of January, however, Sandie could hardly move her leg and her balance was horribly off. She describes not being able to walk, only able to shuffle and drag her right foot and leg behind her. That’s when she knew something was really wrong. While the pain was unbearable,

“Just because you’re diagnosed doesn’t mean you have to stop living...”

Fall 2016 | her voice 35




ikki and Brian Vang celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary this year, just like thousands of other couples.

Hearty Celebration


When the time comes they’re sure to look at the road that led them here and marvel just a little. Nikki was born with a genetic heart condition called HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). She’s been on heart medication since she was just 2 years old. The road to this anniversary has not been typical. Brian proposed in 2004 but the couple knew they would have to postpone their wedding until Nikki could have a necessary heart transplant. She says she told Brian he had a chance to run, but he didn’t take it. In 2005, she had her transplant. Following the surgery one of her friends entered her in a contest sponsored by a local bridal shop. Nikki’s story won and in October of 2006 they 36 36 Fall 2016 | her voice

cashed in. “Our wedding was amazing,” remembers Nikki. “They decorated for the reception, and the prize included the flowers, my jewelry, tuxes, and my dress, everything but the food. It was so nice.”   The past 10 years have been busy. Two years ago Nikki and Brian bought the True Value Hardware store in Deerwood from his parents, Pat and Ollie. They’re the third generation to operate the store. The decision to own a business included some heavy conversations. “Brian is very supportive,” says Nikki. “When we bought the store we talked about the times that I would be sick and that I would have a lot of doctor appointments. I do miss a lot of work. When he hears a customer come into the store that is sick he sends me to the back room.”

Nikki and Brian own the True Value Hardware in Deerwood.

Lately she’s been battling terrible migraines. “They’re from one of my medications, but one I have to have. I tried shots. I tried everything.” Last year her doctor sent her to a pain clinic. Now she receives Botox injections throughout specific areas of her head every three months. “It’s quick. They don’t hurt,” says Nikki, “and they do help.”   About seven years ago, Nikki had a rejection episode. High doses of prednisone were prescribed and they increased her regular medication. Weekly checkups were added until things were under control. “I’ve had issues with some of the other things that transplant patients go through,” she says. She trades information and advice in Facebook groups with other transplant recipients and will go to Abbott twice a year for check-ups for the rest of her life. But the couple has had fun the past 10 years, too. Nikki said they like to watch Brian’s brother, Danny, race Wissota modified stock car on the weekends

and they’ve been on two cruises. She enjoys spending time with her two nieces, Olivia and Lilly. She loves to read and belongs to a book club. She also loves to swim, something she could never do when she was young. An only child, Nikki’s dad passed away from HCM when she was 7. “My mom tried really hard to make sure I had a lot of experiences growing up,” she says. “I had a pretty normal life.” When she was young walking slow on flat ground was easy, but climbing hills and stairs were hard for her. After the fifth grade, her cardiologist wrote a note to the school that she was no longer allowed to participate in gym class. “I was really lucky. I lived in a small town in Missouri with maybe 3,000 people and less than 60 kids in my class. Everyone knew and nobody ever made fun of me. Once in awhile a boy would take my backpack and carry it to my next class. Looking back, I really had a good group of people around me. Now there’s so much bullying and

all of that stuff. I never had that.” Nikki has a 22-year-old son, Levi. At age 3, he began being monitored by a cardiologist. “When he was a senior they told us at Abbott that we could do genetic testing,” says Nikki. “They said they’d find the markers in me and would look for those in Levi,” she says as her smile grows. “He doesn’t have it. He doesn’t have to see another cardiologist.  He doesn’t have to worry about giving it to his children. I’m so happy.”  Danny and his wife, Ann, were married just a month after Nikki and Brian. The couples are close and spend a lot of time together. Nikki says they are in talks to celebrate their milestone anniversaries together. And they’ll probably start to make plans for the next 10 years.

Sheila Helmberger is a freelance writer in the Brainerd lakes area.

The Women of CENTURY 21




Fall 2016 | her voice 37



eople at nursing homes or the hospital sometimes mistake Casey Swantek for a visitor, not a funeral director. Casey is definitely not a stereotypical creepy old man in a black suit. She’s been known to show up with a yellow flower in her hair, accompanied by her 8-year-old daughter, when she arrives to transport a recently deceased person to Halvorson-Johnson Funeral and Cremation Care. Casey takes the first call that a person has passed. She escorts the departed to Halvorson-Johnson. She washes, embalms, dresses and prepares the body for viewing. She arranges for music, singers, food, officiants, death certificates and grave diggers. She writes obituaries,

Casey Swantek, Halvorson Johnson Funeral and Creation Center Funeral Director.

38 Fall Fall2016 2016| her | hervoice voice

creates acknowledgement cards and walks families through the casket room or the urn room. She is sensitive to and comfortable with cultural, legal and religious considerations. In the past there used to be a difference between mortician, funeral director and undertaker. A funeral director was someone who could only make arrangements and run funerals, but did no prep work on the bodies. Undertaker is pretty much a name from the past. Today the correct term is funeral director. A funeral director holds a license issued by the state to practice mortuary science, and as such, Casey does it all. “I call the prep room my office,” Casey says. “I take great pride in making people look natural. I’ve got some great, magical stuff – I wish I could use it on my own face! She takes her time with the embalming, with the cosmetology.

be ld u o h s e n o y r e v E “ ...” e f li y r e v E . d te a r celeb tek ~Casey Swan

She likes to do hair and paint fingernails. Casey would rather do the whole thing herself than rely on somebody else. “You only get one chance to make the funeral perfect,” she says. “I take pride in the results, making the deceased look like they did before they passed, getting people ready for their final show off, the big send off.” She tells families, “Don’t you worry. He is going to look amazing.” One can sense the comfort a family finds knowing Grandpa or Dad is in Casey’s care. The most challenging aspect of her profession? Family dynamics -- when a family cannot get along and there is drama between relatives. “If people want to be certain their wishes about their funeral/memorial service and burial/ cremation are followed through on, they need to make plans -- legal plans -- in writing, and they have to tell those close to them. Otherwise families are free to do whatever they want once a person has passed.” Casey was born in St. Cloud in September 1975, and grew up in Holdingford. At age 3, she told her mother that she wanted to work in a funeral home. Casey’s great-aunt Rosie had died and her mom said it was like Christmas for the little girl. Today, Casey adds, “from The Center donuts on Thursdays, to church at St Francis on Sundays, to shopping at Costco, I’m just like every other everyday girl.” Casey received her bachelor of science degree in mortuary science from the University of Minnesota in 2001. Of the 33 students in her class, more were women than men. She spent five years working at Dingmann Family Funeral Home in Sauk Rapids. Then a new position became available at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery near Camp Ripley and Casey became the first person to hold that job. Her duties were to schedule burials and to meet and greet incoming funeral processions. She did that for five years. This cemetery is no relation to Fort Snelling. Fort Snelling is federally funded. The Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery is operated by the state. Casey left the cemetery because she

was not good at being a secretary. Office work was not for her. She needed to be moving and meeting people. So she sold insurance for Horace Mann for three years before coming to HalvorsonJohnson in October 2010. “I realized that I am not a pushy salesperson. In the casket room, I always start with the least expensive casket and let families lead me from there.” For cremation, before she even mentions that they have urns, she usually asks a family if they have something in mind at home that is meaningful to them: an old ammo box, tackle box, jewelry box. Families have used a cookie jar, a purse, a custom made minnow bucket. Others purchase pottery urns, jewelry that can hold ashes, candle holders or keepsake hearts available at the funeral home. Casey loves to make every funeral or memorial service as personal and unique as possible. When she creates an obituary, she writes that the deceased will forever be cherished by ___ or will live on in the memory of ____. “This is somebody’s mother, somebody’s wife,” she says. She is both deeply respectful of the people in her care, and genuine and kind, anticipating each family’s needs. Her great-grandmother told Casey she had an old soul. Half the people who come through the door don’t have a church. Lots of funerals are held right in the chapel at Halvorson-Johnson. Casey finds an officiant for the family and gets the food at Costco, where they know her well, choosing platters of sandwiches and finger foods that people can eat as they mingle after the service. Shoppers at Costco “ooh” and “ahh” when she makes her way through the store with three or four huge trays of goodies and remark that she must be planning a party. “A funeral,” she tells them and they always say they are sorry. But Casey isn’t sorry. She’s helping to celebrate a life. “Everyone should be celebrated. Every life,” says Casey. One funeral this year was held on the deceased’s birthday, as the family already had plans to gather to celebrate with her that day. Casey said, “If

Performing a variety of functions, Casey applies makeup, hoists caskets, writes obituaries and arranges for food, and officiants.

you’re going to celebrate her birthday, let’s celebrate!” And they did, with birthday cake and the Happy Birthday song. Funerals are for the living, remembering a loved one. They can be as traditional or contemporary as need be. Everyone grieves differently and closure for everyone is unique. For people who are uneasy Casey tries to lighten the mood, to relate to the grieving, to let them know she is there to help them through it. Allen Carlson of Brainerd says, “After my mother’s death there were a lot of decisions to make. It was the first time I’d had to arrange a funeral. Casey was very helpful. She simplified my choices, made it (the funeral arrangements) uncomplicated.” “This is a calling,” she says. “I love what I do. I can’t imagine doing anything else.” Prior to playing with words for a living, Carolyn Corbett taught elementary school for 14 years. At 35, she resigned and sailed off into the sunset. Literally. Along the way she became a contributing writer for a number of sailing magazines. Today, as a freelance writer/editor, she has over 250 articles published in cruising, parenting and general interest magazines.

Fall 2016 | her voice 39

g n i t f Cra

Your Gifts Her Voice


[ in search of ]

STORY AND PHOTOS By REBECCA FLANSBURG As the last remnants of summer fade, everyone’s thoughts likely turn to the upcoming holiday season and the sometimes stressful task of buying gifts for friends and loved ones. One solution to the “buying the perfect gift” dilemma is the creative process of handcrafting your own gifts for the special somebodies in your life. Here are a few ideas that are sure to appeal to someone on your list. n

Memory Mittens

I found this wonderful idea during one of my time-wasting deep research sessions on Facebook when Sharon Hazelton and her daughter, Lacy Herron, shared the “memory mittens” they created as gifts. Memory mittens are made from upcycled sweaters or the sweater of a loved one. Sharon discovered memory mittens when a co-worker, whose mother was nearing end of life, asked if she could make several pairs of mittens using her mother’s sweaters. These unique and touching gifts became Christmas gifts for that co-worker’s family. “It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time,” said Sharon. “But we thought it was an amazing idea and such a special way to not only upcycle, but to preserve a memory. I’ve lost count on how many pairs we have made.” Those looking to create their own memory mittens should lean toward using thick, flat-knit sweaters made of 100 percent wool.

Soothing Bath Salts

Looking for additional ideas or places to purchase other people’s handiwork?

40 Fall 2016 | her voice

Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair Downtown Little Falls Details: littlefallsmnchamber.com Pequot Arts & Crafts Fair Help at the Pequot Lakes Welcome Center.

October 22 15

2016 Area Fall Arts and Crafts Fairs:

September 10-11 10

“Me time” moments don’t come nearly often enough in life, but by creating and giving bath salts, the receiver will have a new reason to indulge in some pampering time. These bath salts are surprisingly easy to make and are a great activity to involve kids. Supplies needed include mason-type glass jars with a screw-top, two cups of Epsom salts, two cups of coarse sea salt, whatever essential oils (for yummy smells and therapeutic effects) you desire and even some food coloring to jazz things up. In separate bowls, mix together the Epsom salt and desired coloring or oils and the sea salt with their desired colors and oils. Once mixed, begin layering them in your jars in an alternating pattern. Add any cute ribbon/string/craft embellishments you want to “pretty up” your jar, add a gift tag or even instructions for use as a final touch (typically about 2 tablespoons of bath salts per soaking is perfect). Brainerd Fall Arts and Crafts Festival at Brainerd High School Oktoberfest Artisan & Craft Fair 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge

Lil Fish Studios Felting Classes At Franklin Art Center: Felted Otter Class Oct. 13 • 5-8 p.m. Felted Fairy Class Nov. 14 • 5-8 p.m. Check website for other dates and classes


Blue Jean Crafts

November 12 12

Rebecca Flansburg is a proud mom of two who spends her time freelance writing, blogging and being the project manager for the national children’s literacy event Multicultural Children’s Book Day. When not writing, she appreciates being outside, reading and spending time with her kids. You can connect with her on Twitter as @RebeccFlansburg or via her blog Franticmommy.com.

Needle-Felted Keepsakes

Needle felting, or dry felting, is an artistry which uses barbed needles to interlock wool fibers, forming a more condensed material. As the felting needle is moved up and down, the barbs on the needles catch the scales of the wool and entangle them into place to create fun and whimsical shapes and critters. Lisa Jordan of Lil Fish Studios is a master needle-felter who also teaches classes on the subject several times a year at the Franklin Arts Center. Lisa’s classes are geared towards beginners and uses the unique process of both needle-felting and wet-felting to teach others how to coaxing fibers to stick together. “Needle-felting can be really rewarding for someone new to the art as results can be quickly attainable,” Lisa added. “The end result is an enjoyable new skill and some beautiful gifts to give.”

A Positive Team


When people think of viable crafts materials, old blue jeans don’t typically come to mind. But blue jeans can be repurposed into a wide variety of really cool and useful gifts including pillows, tote bags and jewelry. With two kids who are notoriously hard on jeans, there’s no shortage of this material to use for crafting in my house! After much speculation, our family settled on creating whimsical wine or gourmet olive oil bottle gift bags from blue jean legs. Jean legs should be six inches (basically skinny jeans) or less. Since the average wine bottle is around 13 inches tall, I advise cutting the pant leg off at around the 15 inch mark. Olive oil and bubble bath bottles tend to be shorter, so estimate their height and add two inches, just in case. Turn the material inside out and sew the open end straight across, or with curved corners to be more baglike. Then turn your new denim “bag” right-side out. Slip your gift wine, oil or “bubble stuff” inside, add fun embellishments, ribbon, twine or rope for a closure and finish off your creative bag with a gift tag. Easy-peasy.

Kringle Market (Through Dec. 30) At The Crossing Arts Alliance Details: crossingarts.org Brainerd Holiday Arts and Craft Festival at Brainerd High School

Kathy Herold REALTOR®/GRI



Jana Froemming REALTOR®/Agent



Fall 2016 | her voice 41

Empowering Women in Rural Haiti STORY AND PHOTO By MARLENE CHABOT

With a background in economic development, Barb Grove set up a program providing microcredit loans to women in Haiti.


mid a host of pines and oaks in a quiet corner of Emily sits an old farmhouse overlooking Roosevelt Lake, full of memories of by-gone-days. Barb Grove, who has lived there many years, enjoys telling visitors about the history of the area and her quaint home.

One morning I joined Barb at her kitchen table, just a stone’s throw from the farmhouse, and listened to spellbinding tales about her home and stories of a much deeper nature, involving her love for humanity. “For the past 25 years,” Barb began, “I’ve had a strong commitment to rural women in Haitian villages - Limbe, Cap-Haitien, Pignon, Jeremie and Port-Au-Prince -- making their lives better through the aid of micro loans.” 42 Fall 2016 | her voice

Surprised to learn Barb’s involvement with a foreign country had been going on for such a long time, I asked what took her down this path. “I’ve always gravitated toward diverse cultures,” she shared. “It’s always been a part of my various careers.” The journey to Haiti in her middle age was simply an extension of what she’d already been doing here in Minnesota, helping others as a Red Cross volunteer, an economic developer bringing jobs to poor Minnesotans, or an instructor at the Heart of the Earth Indian Survival School. Minnesotans are lucky to have this remarkable lady in our backyard. If her parents had remained in Colorado, where she was born, we would’ve lost a precious commodity. For the past and present positions held by Barb, here and abroad, have heavily influenced others and greatly empowered them. So, what drew this woman with a major in intercultural health education and a master’s in education, to Haiti in 1991? “I had read that Dr. Severson, a surgeon from our area hospital, had been taking a medical team on missions to Pignon, Haiti, for some time,” Barb explained, “and I asked if I could go along.” The doctor didn’t know what she could do since she had no medical background. Determined to go despite the doctor’s disappointing words, Barb responded, “I’ll know before I leave Haiti.” And she did. You see, even though Barb didn’t have the necessary medical training required for the trip, her years of expertise in other areas served her well upon meeting poverty-stricken Haitian women: a background in program development and six years of involvement with a three- county microfinance loans project. “I wasn’t prepared for what I found,” Barb softly reflected, “Too many slums and tremendous poverty. The primitiveness of the place was hard to take in: no electricity, transportation by burros, water for a whole village collected from rivers and streams with gourds made from trees.” It wasn’t until Barb had spent a considerable amount of time at churches, clinics and schools in Pignon that she realized she’d found her purpose for traveling to Haiti. She’d provide microcredit loans so poor rural women could start small businesses. The program was based on economist Muhammad Yunus’ work, a 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner whom she’d met in 1997. The first group of women to make up the loan club consisted of 10 mothers who had brought their malnourished babies to Pignon’s hospital. Each mother received a $40 Mothers Clubs loan


which came directly from Barb’s own needs to attend classes on health issues hasn’t stopped yet. She continues to raise pocketbook (loans provided today are and other topics when offered, and help funds for loans through presentations $65 per person). The loans transformed pay off a loan of a club member unwilling at various functions and donations rethe mothers’ lives. Not one single woman or unable to pay her loan. The new mem- ceived from those wishing a copy of her ever returned to the hospital with under- bers of Mothers Clubs are also expected book “Now I Can Sleep,” -- words of several grateful Mothers Clubs nourished babies again. members. Once the Mothers Clubs Besides her accomplishments began, Barb flew back to abroad these past 25 years, Barb’s Haiti several times a year work here in the U.S. has includto see how things were progressing, to make changes ed positions at several Indian if necessary and widen the reservations, a drug therapeutic program. Eventually, she community and veterans with became friends with Lelio, drug issues. She’s also served a Haitian social worker as youth director for North who had been assigned to Minneapolis and St. Paul Red manage the program by Cross, presented safety informathe director of the Pignon tion to kids via TV, created the hospital, and together they first youth safety certification traveled to area villages. for basic aid training, served as On one of those early Haitian women receiving checks of $65 to start a small business. vice-chair on the state gambling visits, Barb and Lelio went The women must repay the loan with interest in one year. commission, and acted as executo Gimby, an hour north of tive director of Cuyuna Regional Pignon, to visit a Mothers Clubs group to meet with each other on a monthly Economic Development, Inc. which Lelio had started. After introduc- basis. Many groups meet weekly. “After Her volunteer work includes: Red tions began, Barb asked the women how a year, the support of the group becomes Cross representative - New York City their lives had changed since becoming equally as important as the money,” Barb after 9/11 and Oklahoma City after the part of the group. One woman proudly said. The goal of Mothers Clubs is to 1995 bombing, Minnesota’s state recexclaimed, “There have been no dying have the rural women manage and grow reation area in Crosby, Cuyuna Range children.” Others shared they could send by themselves, and be independent by History Committee, Delnor-Wiggins year three. their children to school now. State Park in Naples, Fla. Reflecting back on Mothers Clubs inTo understand the fine details of Marlene Chabot is a Mothers Clubs, Barb walked me through ception 25 years ago, Barb says, “It was freelance writer, novelist the process that still remains in place to- the best use of funds ever. The women and member of various writers’ groups. Her fifth day. A rural area is selected. Women from took tiny little loans and totally changed mystery, a Minnesothat particular village choose 10 hard their lives.” Since 1991, 10,000 loans ta-based novel, “Death working women for each group receiving have been provided. To date there are of the Naked Lady,” was released in April 2016. loans. Barb suggested at least one mem- 600 Mothers Clubs loan members in You may connect with ber be selected from each church. After Jeremie alone. her on Facebook, web: 15-3572_Ad Design Her Voice.qxp_Layout 1 7/6/15 8:26 AM Page 1 www.marlenechabotEmpowering the rural women of the women have been chosen, they atbooks.com; Pinterest; or marlenechabotbooks. tend a two-day training program. Upon Haiti was a huge goal for Barb and she blogspot.com 15-3572_Ad Design Her Voice.qxp_Layout 1 7/6/15 8:26 AM Page 1 completion of their training, the contract signing day arrives, a huge moment for the women and her community. RENE A special ceremony is planned for 35253 signing day which frequently takes place RENE MILLNER Crossla in one of the community churches. The 35253 County Rd. 3, women receiving loans arrive in their 218Crosslake, MN nicest outfits and wear a hat if they own rene@b 218-454-2159 one. During the festivities, prayers are RENE MILLNER rene@breenandperson.com said and songs are sung. 35253 County Rd. 3, Crosslake, MN ESTATE PLANNING • TRUST/W The contract the women sign for the 218-454-2159 • rene@breenandperson.com basic program states she must repay the GUARDIAN/CONSERVATORSHIP • BU ESTATE PLANNING • TRUST/WILLS loan and interest within one year or less. GUARDIAN/CONSERVATORSHIP • BUSINESS LAW Her children must be sent to school. She Fall 2016 | her voice 43

the arts

What’s Trending? Accordions!

Having a grand old time playing accordions are (L to R): Sandy Pancoast, Mary Reetz, Holly Holm and Sharon Carlson. Not pictured Brook Mallak.



never was much of a trendsetter -the last girl in my ninth grade class to get rock and roll saddle shoes and spin Pat Boone records while all my friends were groovin’ with Elvis. And finally getting a smartphone after our daughters threatened to communicate only by text. But now I find myself on the cusp of one of the country’s latest trends -playing the accordion. 44 Fall2016 2016| |her hervoice voice 44 Fall

I strapped on my Italian powder blue instrument for the first time a year and a half ago. Not interested in jigsaw puzzles or Sudoku to slow down my brain from aging, I thought the challenge of keys, buttons and bellows would help avert mental decline. I was not alone in playing and enjoying the sounds of this century-old instrument. About once a month the accordion cases are open, the music stands assembled and five women gather to play and enjoy accordion music together. Our mentor and teacher Sandy Pancoast, organizes, guides, directs, advises and leads our small group of fledging players. Sandy was 8 years old when she saw a neighbor girl playing an accordion and ran home to ask her parents for lessons. After five years and three accordion upgrades at age 13 she started teaching for Ted Johnson’s Accordion School. When asked about playing for others, Sandy says, “My biggest issue is that I am no longer able to do perfect performances.

My fingers, eyes and mind are older and slower. I have to let go of achieving perfection.” Sandy would like to dispel the notion that accordion players play only polkas and waltzes. “There are so many different genres we can play, including classical.” Mary Reetz didn’t start playing the accordion until after she retired. She met Sandy and her mother at church and after finding out that Sandy played and taught accordion, she asked if she would teach her. “I always liked the way an accordion sounded, like almost any instrument in a band or symphony orchestra. I was attracted to the beauty of the instrument and all that colorful mother of pearl.” She also recalled the memory of spending every Sunday night watching Myron Floren playing polkas and smiling. “Who can be sad when there is a polka playing?” Holly Holm has the same reason for making this her instrument of choice. “Once people find out that I play the accordion, the first question out of their mouth is ‘Why did you

groans when she takes it out to prac- who knows, someday their names might tice, but is impressed that she’s doing be listed among other famous accordi“...Nobody can son something she has always wanted to do. on players. So move over John Lennon, On Thursdays you can find these Connie Francis and Lawrence Welk, be unhappy four students entering the doors of here they come! Kingsley Music School at the while being in the Washington Educational Services accompanied by a 30-pound a room where Building beloved instrument and just hoping have practiced enough to “go on somebody is they to the next song in their book.” And, playing the Diane Stydnicki accordion.”

When not practicing her accordion, Sharon Carlson can be found volunteering, baking Scandinavian Almond Cake, traveling, reading and enjoying her five grandchildren. In May she performed in her first musical recital in 60 years. “It was awesome!”

choose THAT instrument?’ My response would be that nobody can be unhappy while being in a room where somebody is playing the accordion. And if I’m the reason that you’ve got a smile on your face, well, all the better.” About five years ago Holly decided to tackle one more item on her bucket list -- learn to play an instrument and participate in a recital. Encouraged by her husband, Patrick, on a trip to Bridge of Harmony to “ask them if they know anything about accordions,” one thing led to another and she found herself as an adult music student. Learning an instrument wasn’t easy. Says Holly, “As a kid, I didn’t show much interest in taking lessons for any instrument and since my family lacked all musical talents, it just wasn’t something that was encouraged.” Brook Mallak, lawyer by day, accordion aficionado by night, is the newest member to join the group. Like her friend Holly, she had no musical training but wanted to start playing the accordion because her grandfather played and she had always found it an intriguing instrument. Two weeks before her 40th birthday, a friend said that she was going to sign up for piano lessons. Brook excitedly replied, “I always wanted to play accordion!” What’s Brook’s biggest challenge? “Everything! I’ve never played an instrument. I don’t know how to read music and it’s tough for my old brain to learn that on top of multitasking when playing this monster.” Her 13-year-old

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Fall 2016 | her voice 45

Her Voice Service Directory • Fall 2016 Appliances

Home Improvement


Senior Living

Schroeder’s Appliance


Great Northern Opticians

Excelsior Place Living Community

16603 St. Hwy 371 N Brainerd, MN (218) 829-3624 www.SchroedersAppliance.com

7447 Clearwater Rd Baxter, MN (218) 824-0642 www.hirshfields.com


Health & Wellness

Just For Kix

Essentia Health

6948 Lake Forest Rd Brainerd, MN (218) 829-7107 www.JustForKix.com

Drapery Arlean’s Drapery

Pequot Lakes, MN (218) 568-8280 www.ArleansDrapery.com

Financial Thrivent Financial

7217 Excelsior Rd, Suite 105 Baxter, MN (218) 454-8272 www.Thrivent.com/fr/tara.hemsing

Grocery Cub Foods

St. Joseph’s Medical Center 218-829-2861 Brainerd Clinic (218) 828-2880 Baxter Clinic (218) 828-2880 www.EssentiaHealth.org

Home Healthcare Accra Care Home Health Brainerd, MN (218) 270-5905 www.AccraCare.org

Insurance Northridge Agency 123 N 1st St. Brainerd, MN (218) 829-1166

417 8th Ave NE Brainerd, MN (218) 828-1816

Law Firms

14133 Edgewood Dr. Baxter, MN www.Cub.com

302 S 6th St, Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-1451 brainerdlaw.com

Borden Steinbauer & Krueger, P.A.

Pequot Lakes Super Valu 30503 MN-371 Pequot Lakes, MN (218) 568-5001 www.pequotlakessupervalu.com

Breen & Person Ltd.

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Lakes Area Eyecare

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Midwest Family Eye

7870 Excelsior Rd Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 828-9545 121 4th St NE Staples, MN 56479 (218) 894-5480 www.MidwestFamilyeyecenter.com

Real Estate

14211 Firewood Dr, Baxter, MN 56425 (218) 828-4770 www.welcomehmc.com/communities/excelsior-place

Woodland Good Samaritan 200 Buffalo Hills Ln W Brainerd, MN (218) 855-6617 www.good-sam.com

Spa Serenity Spa, Breezy Point Resort

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Baxter Century 21

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Positive Realty Jana Froemming (218) 820-3282

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Magazine Directories

• Her Voice • Weddings North (218) 855-5895 • Veterans Salute Advertising@BrainerdDispatch.com



Helping you Cynthia Rieck, P.T. get back to Carrie Taylor, P.T. yourself again! 001450852r1

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Her Voice Digital Version www.brainerddispatch.com (entertainment tab)


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46 Fall 2016 | her voice

218-568-5666 • www.pequotlakesphysicaltherapy.com

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Your Neighborhood Health and Wellness Center 231 Barclay Avenue, Pine River, MN • Open Monday-Saturday 9-5 Email: stonewomanherbals@gmail.com • stonewomanherbals.wix.com


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Bird Feeders, Bird Seed, Puzzles, Books, Garden Decos and many Gift Items. MN made products-Chaga, Wild Rice, Honey, Hot Sauce, Soaps, Lotions and more.



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Store Hours- Monday-Friday 8:30-5:00 • Saturday-9:00-3:00 • Sunday-Closed

218-829-5436 * 516 C St NE, Brainerd, MN Fall 2016 | her voice 47

Profile for Brainerd Dispatch

Her Voice Magazine Fall 2016  

Straw Bale Gardening: While she downplays her gardening acumen, Mary Aalgaard gives a thorough how-to on straw bale gardening. • Ladies in...

Her Voice Magazine Fall 2016  

Straw Bale Gardening: While she downplays her gardening acumen, Mary Aalgaard gives a thorough how-to on straw bale gardening. • Ladies in...