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FEBRUARY 28, 2014 4

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Photo provided

This overhead photo of the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center shows both the beauty and size of the 500,000-square-foot Kirkbride building that has been drawing many visitors for tours.

RTC: Visitor mecca More than 9,000 have toured facility in past decade By Heather Rule

Daily Journal ore than 9,000 have toured the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center. The first tour was given nine years ago, in February 2005, and the last one was just before Thanksgiving. The future of the tours is uncertain, since plans are in the works to redevelop the historic building. “This is a tourist destination now,” said Maxine Schmidt, of Friends of the Kirkbride and one of the tour leaders. “They’re coming from all over. It has been an important boost to the economy.” Maxine and her husband, Gene, were asked to be the tour leaders in 2006. They’ve faithfully fulfilled the duty ever since, leading groups through every Friday afternoon from spring through fall. Their purpose

Heather Rule/Daily Journal

Maxine Schmidt (left) leads a tour of the Regional Treatment Center on a hot, summer day this past July. Tourists come from all over the country to see the historic Kirkbride facility. has always been to raise awareness of “this national treasure,” Maxine Schmidt said. Numbers and interest have both grown over the years.


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See Tours — Page 62

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The problem with Alice .............6-7, 76 Towering project: CapX2020 ..........8-9 Following the boom ...............10-11,77 Otter Tail Corporation: Back to basics ................ 12-13,50-51 New city council members Focusing on transparency: .........14-15 Roundabout changing traffic.......16-17 E-campus drives M-State ................17 Transfer station working .............18,61 Lundeen’s still rolling ..................20-21 Wine in OTC ..........................22-23,60 Continuing the farm legacy .........24-25 Ethanol fueling FF ......................26,57 Lawson house now healthy ........27,36 Chiropractic popular option.........28-29 FF hospital in good health ..........30-32 Office mission: Protect health .....33-34

Cancer survivor relates....................34 Mental health care good thing .........35 Transit viable alternative .............37,61 Old home gets new life ...............38-39 Church 2.0 ..................................40-41 Local pastor profiles ...................42-46 ECFE’s new location ..................47,50 Hillcrest remodeled ..........................48 High-tech math helpers ..............52-54 Through The Years .....................55-57 Henning .................................63-64,82 Battle Lake/Underwood ..............65-67 Ottertail/Perham/ New York Mills .......................73-75,82 Elbow Lake .................................70-72 Ashby/Dalton ..............................68-69 Pelican Rapids............................78-79 Wahpeton/Breckenridge .............80-81

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The problem with Alice Removal of algae-breeding phosphorus in iconic FF lake requires $5 million fix By Joel Myhre

Daily Journal lice is an iconic lake in the heart of Fergus Falls. Residents circle its 1.1 miles of shoreline for exercise and inspiration. It’s also extremely green -- and not in a good way. Decades of storm water runoff from neighboring streets and the waste from many generations of geese have made Lake Alice laden with phosphorus — about


10 times the amount of the many swimmable, fishable lakes in Otter Tail County. The phosphorus, used on lawns to make grass green, is loved by algae, which blooms with florescent green and smells, well, not so good. “I sent the aerial photo to the guy who was going to study the lake, and he said, ‘I see this golf green in the middle of Fergus Falls. Where is Lake Alice?” said Pat Reisnour, an engineer for Interstate Engineering who has been working for several years

to find a solution. The problem is easy to see -- and to smell. The solution will not be cheap nor easy. Engineering estimates show that the best solution is to dredge the lake to remove a foot or so of the phosphorus-laden bottom, and reroute the storm sewer system so it drains into the Otter Tail River rather than Lake Alice. The cost of doing so, according to the estimates, would be between $2.6 million

and $5.27 million. And the pot of money, for now, is dry.

Long-time problem One of the issues, according to Interestate engineer Chris McConn, is that Alice will never fit the ideal that many residents envision — a crystal-clear, swimmable, fishable lake without vegetation. In fact, residents have been complaining about green algae on Lake Alice — as well as the odor — since the early 1900s, based



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Photo provided

A satellite view shows the dramatic difference in phosphorus levels between Lake Alice (lower left) and nearby Opperman (upper right). As Lake Alice resident Pete Kunz said jokingly, “You’d glow in the dark if you went into the water.”

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Geese, shown here on a fall afternoon, are typically present on Lake Alice yearround, but are particularly plentiful during migration in the fall. Studies show fecal matter from waterfowl are contributing to the lake’s phosphorus problem, through storm sewer drainage is the primary cause of the high levels of the chemical.

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See Alice — Page 76


Removing phosphorus While there are several possible solutions, dredging the lake would be most effective. Removing the first 12 to 18 inches of muck would the vast majority of phosphorus. Once removed, McConn said, the lake would return to a color similar to Opper-


on Daily Journal stories at that time. While the lake is certainly in far worse shape than it was 50 years ago, the fact is that, in its natural state, the best city officials could hope for would be a lake similar to nearby Opperman — a shallow lake that contains cattails and nutrients that make for lessthan-clear water. “As we were doing the project, we had this sobering reality that people may want a swimming hole, but that’s not feasible,” said McConn. “If we want Pebble Lake, then we’d need to remove Lake Alice from its natural state.” That said, the phosphorus levels in Lake Alice certainly did not build up by natural means. Since the city created the storm sewer system in the 1950s, Alice has essentially served as a dumping ground. “We’re washing everything off the lawn: fertilizer, soils, dog poo,” Reisnour said. The study also showed that feces from waterfowl have contributed to the phosphorus problem, which likely was exacerbated by the city’s council’s decision decades ago to maintain manicured lawn to the lakeshore, which made for an attractive place for geese to land. “Phosphorus is the big enemy,” McConn said. “The legacy deposits in the lake are quite significant.” The study estimates that about three feet of muck line the bottom of Lake Alice, and the first 12 to 18 inches are heavily laden with phosphorus. “Lake Alice is hyper-utrophine, meaning it’s literally unsafe to enter that lake,” McConn said.



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Photos provided by Xcel Energy

Crews use a helicopter to string a lead line across I-94 near Melrose prior to stringing conductor. Nine million feet of wire will be strung on the entire Fargo-St. Cloud-Monticello project.

Towering project:

help utilities meet the required Minnesota Renewable Energy Standard of 25 percent Daily Journal by 2025,” Gedrose said. “Xcel Energy’s This spring don’t be surprised if you see RES goal is 30 percent by 2020. All transflying objects in the air; and crews working mission in the Midwest is interconnected. up and down Interstate 94 both directions The expansion will ultimately strengthen from Fergus Falls. Xcel the grid by allowing utilEnergy’s CapX2020 ity companies to have project should be workmore options and access CapX2020 route ing in our area again to power that will benefit this spring. Otter Tail customers.” Power Company is one The Fargo-St Cloudof the owners of the Monticello project runs CapX2020 project. 241 miles. The transmisIt has been over 30 sion lines are being conyears since the last structed in three phases. time a major upgrade The first phase between to the region’s electric Monticello and St Cloud transmission infrastrucstretches 28 miles. It was ture took place. In that completed and put in sertime, the population has vice in December 2011. grown, home sizes have nearly doubled, Phase 2 between St Cloud and Alexanand appliances and electric device usage dria is scheduled to be energized in 2014. has increased exponentially. Cris Oehler, The final Phase 3 between Alexandria and vice president of public relations for Otter the Bison Substation near Mapleton, ND Tail Power Company, says “What the lines should be complete in 2015. mean for Otter Tail Power Company cusThere will be 1,400 tower structures tomers is an upgraded transmission system erected on the entire project, and about 495 that can reliably accommodate more elec- of those will be between Alexandria and tric generation to power our work, homes, Barnesville. lives.” The project is also employing people in The CapX2020 project is expected to our area. There are crew members working take 11 years from planning to completion, the project from our area. One local busiaccording to Sarah Gedrose, spokesperson ness has also thrived from the project. Agfor Xcel Energy. “The upgrade will also


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Productive Alternatives’ Detox Center provides services to Otter Tail and surrounding counties. Photos provided by Xcel Energy

CapX2020 crews set a two-pole structure west of Alexandria. The majority of structures will be single pole on the project.

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If an agreement cannot be reached between landowners, CapX2020 will use the eminent domain process, or condemnation, to acquire the easement. Eminent domain is the right to take private property for public use. Landowners are compensated for the easements. Since many of the landowners in our area are still working with their legal representatives to arrive at a fair price for their easement, no property owners were able to provide specific information for this story. Xcel also has a “staging” area on the property just North and West of the intersection of I-94 and Highway 59. Numerous tower parts are visible in the fields. Sometime between March and August – there will be the most activity as towers start popping up along Interstate 94.

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gregate Industries manager Shawn Scheer said he’s had to double his staff and production for the next year. Right now he’s gone from six to 12 drivers, almost all of them Otter Tail County residents. “In the off season, we’ve tried to move some of them to work at other plants,” Scheer said. “It’s a good thing for our area.” There are numerous land owners in the area that have been affected by the towers being erected on their property. CapX2020 works individually with each land owner to arrange an easement, a permanent right authorizing a person or party to use the land or property of another for a particular purpose. Landowners are typically given a one-time payment based on fair market value for easement rights to their land.




Following the boom Several local business owners ďŹ nding gold in western ND oil patch By Joel Myhre

Daily Journal ith the temperature hovering around zero, Tim Evavold and Wendell Wahlin climb into the SUV at 5 a.m. at the Strande Excavating building on the northeast side of Fergus Falls. Awaiting them is a seven-hour drive — 433 miles from Fergus Falls to Watford City, the heart of the Oil Patch — followed by five extremely long, cold days, a returning seven-hour drive, and then five days of rest back home.


“The hardest part of being gone Photo provided is being away Scott Rundell, manager of Coatings Unlimited, paints a natural gas pipeline in western North Dakota. from home,� said Fergus Falls-based Coatings Unlimited has found great demand for pipe coating in the Oil Patch. Evavold, a water Interstate Engineering have been making Coatings Unlimited hauler for Red Rock Transportation for nearly three years. the drive to do work both specific to the When Eric Ewan bought Coatings Untask of extracting oil, and to meet the over“But the five days home helps with that.� For the pair and a large handful of other whelming demands for products and ser- limited, adding to his list of businesses that Fergus Falls area residents, the opportuni- vices that the exploding growth in western already included The Rental Store and Central Lakes Cycle on the east side of Fergus ties the shale oil mining boom have created North Dakota have provided. “It’s a boomtown mentality out there,� Falls, he felt the polymer-coating business are worth the 14-hour round trip. For the past two to three years, employ- said Wahlin, who has been driving water had lots of opportunities for growth. “The polymer world of coating is all just ees from Fergus Falls businesses Red Rock trucks for Red Rock Transportation for the sort of opening up,� Ewan said. Transportation, Coatings Unlimited and past year.

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Wendell Wahlin loads his bags into the SUV Thursday morning on the northeast side of Fergus Falls as he gets ready to head to Williston, ND along with coworkers. Wahlin is a truck driver for Red Rock Transportation in Watford City, N.D. said. “Protecting pipe is the best thing. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it.” Ewan also says coating water tanker truck bedliners is another opportunity. “Water is a big factor out in the oil fields,” Ewan said. Ewan said in addition to natural gas pipes, they also spray the decks for a condominium project. He said there’s more than enough work to last many years. Western North Dakota jobs make up about 40 percent of Coatings Unlimited’s workload. “If we were out there, the sky’s the limit,” Ewan said. “It’s just a question of whether we want to be out there.” Ewan sends as few as two employees and as many as six to a job. While Coatings Unlimited technically has three full-time employees, because of his multi-business operation, he also has the potential to borrow employees from other areas for larger jobs. The crew will typically leave Monday, stay in hotels and return to Fergus Falls on Friday.

See Patch — Page 77

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As it turned out, the Oil Patch provided those opportunities. Ewan first connected to the Oil Patch through MDU Resources, which owns Great Plains Natural Gas and supplies natural gas to Fergus Falls. Coatings Unlimited painted the pipe underneath the Union Avenue bridge. “We met with (the MDU Resources) staff in Bismarck and showed them what we can do,” Ewan said. Coatings Unlimited paints natural gas pipelines which are part of the new infrastructure due to the growth. Natural gas is a byproduct of every oil well. While many wells simply flare off the natural gas — “If you look at the night sky, you can see flames everywhere,” Ewan said — capturing the gas is becoming more commonplace. The bare pipes used to transport natural gas, Ewan said, are subject to corrosion due to the elements — wind, cold, snow, rain — and painting them provides protection and adds life to the pipe. “Corrosion’s a big deal out there,” Ewan



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company’s non-utility operations, has sold five companies — Shoremaster, DMI Industries, Wylie, IPH and DMS. The $242 million from the sales has been redeployed to pay for Otter Tail Power’s massive projects, including CapX 2020, the power dis-

Daily Journal In some ways, Otter Tail Corporation has taken the glamour out of the company. The RedHawks, Fargo-Moorhead’s professional baseball team, hasn’t been in Otter Tail’s portfolio for more than a decade. In the past four years, the company has sold Shoremaster, the Fergus Falls-based dock and boat lift manufacturer, and DMI Industries, the manufacturer of those huge wind turbines dotting the prairies and getting headlines as a leader in green energy technology. Otter Tail Corporation CEO Jim McIntyre will trade in glamour for a higher stock price, good credit rating and growing dividend anytime. “The concerns people had, I think those have been put Joel Myhre/Daily Journal to rest,” said McIntyre, who Otter Tail Corporation CEO Jim McIntyre has led the plans to retire in April 2015, to be succeeded by Otter Tail company through the sale of several companies in Power CEO Chuck MacFar- recent years. lane. “We’re back on our tribution project that will cost the company game.” about $715 million over the next five years, In the past five years, Otter Tail, through and the environmental upgrade at the Big its subsidiary Varistar, which operates the Stone power plant.





Photo provided

Aevenia, headquartered in Moorhead, performs energy and electrical construction services in the Midwest.

Otter Tail Corporation’s recent moves put emphasis on utility for growth Based on Otter Tail’s stock price — which went through a roller coaster ride like no other in 2008, but has solidly stayed the mid to upper 20s per share over the past year — investors have been happy with the change. “Otter Tail has kind of gone back to the basics, for good reason,� said David Parker, a senior utility analyst for Robert Baird & Co. “Boring has been rewarded lately.�

A 20-year diversiďŹ cation history

See Otter Tail — Page 51

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Otter Tail Power began to diversify in the late 1980s because its market for electricity – 129,800 customers spread across 70,000 square miles in mostly small communities in Minnesota and the Dakotas — didn’t offer much room for expansion. “When you think about Otter Tail Power’s service territory, there’s not a lot of growth,� said McIntyre, a native of Inkster, N.D. and a 1973 graduate of Minot State University. “Many other utilities have organic growth. Ours is one percent per year.� Parker said Otter Tail was not the only rural utility that had the idea to purchase companies with more growth potential. “It’s not a coincidence that every utility in the Midwest diversified,� Parker said. Otter Tail’s diversification began in earnest in 1989 when it bought Dakota Machine, later changed to DMI Industries. For the most part, the diversification plan worked, as Otter Tail’s stock price consis-

tently increased through the 1990s and 2000s, and annual dividends kept increasing. “It provided the earnings growth from the time it started, and still does,� said John Erickson, Otter Tail Corporation’s CEO until 2011 and current board member. It wasn’t until 2008 when it became apparent that the wild success of some of Otter Tail’s non-utility companies also brought risk. On July 30, 2008, Otter Tail’s stock price reached a historical high of $46.15. In November 2008, two months after the stock market crash, the stock price reached 14.99 per share, meaning the company lost two-thirds of its value in four months. The following year was the first in modern times that investors did not see a dividend increase. “That was quite a time,� Erickson said. “They were definitely tough times, but we weren’t alone in that.� It was at that time, McIntyre and Erickson said, that the Otter Tail Corporation board realized that a change of direction was needed. “The recession brought forth transparency to weaknesses in lots and lots of businesses,� said McIntyre, who had been on the Otter Tail Corporation board since 2006. “As a result of that, we became more aware of some of the inherent risks

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Daily Journal lot can be learned during the first year serving on a city council. Transparency is one key issue that two of the newest members of the Fergus Falls City Council learned about and agree that improvement is needed. “We’re not as transparent as we could be,� said Anthony Hicks. “I think it’s been a challenge in the past to have people ask the right questions. We still need to be, in my opinion, more transparent than we are.� It’s not necessarily that people are hiding information, but sometimes what’s important to them and what’s important to you are two different things, Hicks said. He would also like to see more openness with the budget. Ben Schierer agrees the transparency could be improved and said the council needs to be more open with the public. He didn’t think that was happening, especially with a new open forum policy that’s “pretty much unusable.� “I think we should be

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“I thi thinkk we should be going out of our way to get input from the citizens.� — Ben Schierer

If I’ve had any sort of part in that turn around, that is something I will be proud of.� — Tim Rundquist, regarding the RTC going out of our way to get input from the citizens,� Schierer said. “We want to have discussions. Not everyone’s always going to agree on everything.� Hicks (Ward Four), Schierer (Ward One) and Tim Rundquist (Ward Three) all began their fouryear terms with the council in January 2013. This is actually Schierer’s second go-round on the council. He served from 2005-08 but did not seek re-election. For his current term, the timing was just right. “Quite honestly, I missed it,� Schierer said. “I knew what to expect. I know if I have the question, I know there’s a lot of people out there that have the question.� Hicks knows that he’s not always on the same page as the other council members. But he does his best to read the information prior to meetings and then ask clarifying questions. He’s still naive about some things, but he’s learned a lot along the way, too. For Hicks, there’s never a dumb question. He’s even gotten emails and calls from citizens thanking him

“ I sit there and “If ddon’t ask any qquesttions, tthen I might m aas well nnot bbe there.� — Anthony Hicks ffor asking questions during meetings. They’re appreciative of the discussion, he said. “As long as I keep asking questions, then I think that’s a good thing,� Hicks said. “I feel that that’s part of my duty to represent the people. If I sit there and don’t ask any questions, then I might as well not be there.� Rundquist has “learned the ropes� in his first year, which includes knowing who does what when it comes to city government. The Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center is one of the most discussed items of interest in the city. It’s also what prompted Rundquist, who wanted to be a part of the process and give back to the community, and Hicks to run for council. “The Kirkbride Regional Treatment Center was probably the catalyst,� Hicks said. “Because the way the system was moving, it was headed for demolition. It seemed to me that repurposing it was a better option.� In Europe, where Hicks is originally from, they would never dream of knocking down a building that old, he

New council members Hicks, Rundquist and Schierer say constituent communication key opment be a done deal at the end of 2014. It’s important to keep working toward the end goal, according to Schierer. “I know that we’re on the right track, but at the same time, this is unchartered territory for many people,� Rundquist said. “We’re trying to figure out how to develop a project of this size. We’ve got to follow through.� As far as other aspects of the city, Rundquist would like to see Lake Alice get addressed. Schierer would like a long-term plan for the River Walk and downtown area, which he said Heather Rule/Daily Journal is underutilized, and bringWork on the Fergus Falls City Council is rewarding for Ben Schierer (left), Anthony Hicks (right) enjoys his ing living-wage jobs to the position on the council and Tim Rundquist (middle) has come to appreciate the behind-the-scenes work that community to attract famimakes the city run smoothly. lies to the area.

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said. The mode of the RTC has changed considerably since Rundquist and the other new members came aboard last year, he said, adding that the presumption used to be that demolition was inevitable. “It seems to me that that has done a complete 180,� Rundquist said. “Now it seems that the presumption is toward preservation. If I’ve had any sort of part in that turn around, that is something that I will be proud of.� Within the past year, the city chose Historic Kirkbride to redevelop the RTC. It’s the farthest the city council has gone in the process, and Rundquist would like to see the RTC redevel-



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Chris Reinoos/Daily Journal

Drivers have gotten used to the trafďŹ c circle on Tower Road since it was opened to the public in the fall of 2012, according to City Engineer Dan Edwards.

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By Chris Reinoos

Daily Journal Although roundabouts are not very common in the area, Fergus Falls officials, including City Engineer Dan Edwards, were convinced it was the best way to go for the intersection of Highway 15, Highway 1, Tower Road and Alcott Avenue. After more than a year of the roundabout being open to drivers, he still feels that way. “People are making good use of it now,� Edwards said. “It’s met its purpose.� City officials conducted traffic studies before deciding to proceed with a roundabout. One of the main things they found during research was that roundabouts are often safer than four-way stops.

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There was some initial concern about the roundabout for drivers who were unfamiliar with using them. But Edwards and other officials held public meetings to discuss the issue and showed videos demonstrating proper use of the roundabout. Edwards has not heard a complaint from a driver in a long while in regards to the new traffic pattern. “It makes for a good transition from the higherspeed rural roads coming in to the lower-speed residential roads,� he said. Residents near the site of the roundabout and bridge were anxious to see how the new patterns would affect them. John Suko, who lives on Tower Road directly by the roundabout, said he was concerned what the increased traffic would

mean for his home. “This neighborhood was a quiet little dead-end,� Suko said. “You could sit out here for a half-hour and not see a car go by.� Traffic has increased substantially since the roundabout and bridge were opened to traffic in fall of 2012, but Suko said the benefits have far outweighed any negatives from the project. He can now go to places like Fleet Farm and Sunmart much quicker and without having to get on the highway. The addition of a frontage road between his block and the main road has also kept things operating smoothly. “Otherwise, getting in and out of the driveway would have been much more inconvenient,� Suko said.


Courtesy of Google Maps

By Zach Stich

say we have four physical campuses and one online. Online is so popular that we literally refer to it as a fifth campus option.” Online classes also allow flexibility for students. Students who participate in extra-curricular activities, including athletics, do not have to miss out on opportunities to take courses that conflict with that activity. “The majority of our student-athletes still take landbased courses,” co-athletic director and head golf coach Jason Retzlaff said. “Though it can be useful to have the option of an online course. From time to time there are necessary classes that run during a scheduled practice or workout time. In those cases, the flexibility of an online class can be useful.” Jensen agreed, saying that the convenience of online courses is enticing for students that want to continue their education, but believes that it does take a special kind of student to take these classes. “They are very appropriate for the working student or a student trying to balance school and family,” he said. “However, I believe there are life skills that are taught in the classroom that can’t be duplicated online.”

But city officials cannott be sure how traffic patterns have been changed. They y have not conducted a traffic study since the roundaboutt and bridge were opened and d it will be at least a few years before they get the funding to do so. There are some minorr aesthetic adjustments to be made to the roundaboutt this spring, but those will not change the design of the roundabout itself. Suko did have one complaint, one he has also heard d from some of his neighbors. During the winter months, snowplows pile snow from m the main and frontage roads on the median between the d roads, which makes it hard to see oncoming traffic. But besides that concern, h Suko has been happy with d the changes and has heard good things from other people as well. The goal of the whole project was to make driving on that side of time easier, according to Edwards, and it should please him to hear comments like Suko’s. Photo Provided “I think the results have been really positive,” Ed- M State’s online campus boasts over 300 online classes and 25 online programs. wards said.

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Daily Journal As colleges move into the 21st century, the competition for students continues to increase, whether that be adding on to the school, increasing technology or adding Jensen additional programs or degrees. At M State, the move was to offer more classes online. M State boasts over 300 online classes and 25 online programs and majors that students can access. Most of the classes are done strictly online, without any requirement to travel to any of the school’s campuses. The college’s eCampus also allows students access to advising, tutoring and financial aid. Students who attend the traditional brick and mortar schools can also partake in online courses at M State. “Most of us who talk about the college talk about it as a five-campus college rather than just four campus college,” M State - Fergus Falls Recruitment and Student Life Director David Jensen said. “We usually

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County: FF transfer station working well Concerns from neighbors subsiding By Chris Reinoos

Daily Journal When Otter Tail County officials began considering opening a waste transfer center several years ago, it was certainly a sensitive subject for many residents near the proposed site. “It would be fair to say there was controversy associated with it,” county Solid Waste Director Mike Hanan said. Now, years later, there are still differences of opinion on the transfer station for residents of the Two Rivers Road neighborhood. Jim Kucera has lived on the same property on Two Rivers Road for 43 years. He attended all the public hearings on the proposed project and expressed many early concerns, including noise, smell and litter. While the smell and litter never proved to be a problem, Kucera said the noise has persisted since the transfer station was

opened in 2009. “We hear them dragging dumpsters around and horn beepers all the time,” Kucera said. That, coupled with the transfer center taking up a portion of the view in his backyard, has left Kucera frustrated with the station. “I’m still not happy about it and I never will be,” he said. One Two Rivers Road resident said he was against the project at the beginning of Chris Reinoos/Daily Journal discussions but many of his concerns were Glen Oliphant is one of three operators at the Otter Tail County Transfer Center in addressed. Now, the only thing he is still Fergus Falls. The center is open six days a week and is open to private residents puzzled about is the placement of a transfer as well as garbage trucks. center along a winding river. People can also drop off oil and antiAnother resident said she has no prob- as a whole. Unlike the incinerator on the Regional freeze free of charge, according to Public lems with the station being near her house. “We don’t even notice it’s there,” she Treatment Center property, where city gar- Information Education Officer Zach Fjesbage was taken before the transfer center tad. said. Hanan knows the project still has its de- was built, residents can take their garbage tractors, but he believes it has been a ben- to the site personally, including bigger See Station — Page 61 efit to Fergus Falls and Otter Tail County items like televisions and tires.

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Victor Lundeen’s still rolling in FF Store founder’s fateful stop led to century of service in community By Zach Stich

Daily Journal o become a staple in a community, an owner must not just stand the test of time, but deliver excellent service and understand the needs of its consumers. In Fergus Falls, there has been one company that has been synonymous with the city’s downtown business district that continues to find success as it enters its 100th year in operation — Victor Lundeen’s. The story of the Lincoln Avenue business is an interesting one. It is one that saw a family settle in Fergus Falls after travel issues, a young man’s desire to bring printing to the community and a family’s passion that turned into a tradition. “The fact that the Lundeen family has operated a successful business for so long is a testament to their commitment to the community,” Otter Tail County Historical Museum Director Chris Schuelke said.


Schuelke said the Lundeen’s settlement in Fergus Falls came about purely by accident. In 1882, while making their way to South Dakota, Erik and Emma Lundeen got their horse drawn wagon stuck in the mud near Fergus Falls. The two struggled for two days to try to free the wagon from the sloppy, soft ground, but were unable to pry the cart from the muck. Scrapping their original plans, the Lundeens decided to stay in Fergus and traded the oxen for a lot on Park Street, where they built their home. Their son, Victor Lundeen, began his Rian Bosse/Daily Journal business in 1914, after becoming intrigued Victor Lundeen’s, located in downtown Fergus Falls, is entering its 100th year of with the printed word. The Fergus Falls na- operation. Pictured is Victor “Buzz” Lundeen (front center) and 20 employees. tive wanted the growing city to be able to have all its printing needs easily accessible, events, including two World Wars and the operated business that continues to operate while also getting great customer service. Great Depression, as well as local disasters in the heart of downtown, we have found Now entering its 100th year of opera- including the 1919 cyclone that ravaged that many in the community admire our tion, the family’s success is no small feat. the city. determination to succeed and provide serThe business has survived several national “As an independent, family-owned and vices to the area for many years to come,”

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Victor Lundeen Company moved to its current location on Lincoln Avenue in 1919 (above).

— Paul Schmidt, Administrative manager at Lundeen’s

Photo provided

The look of the Victor Lundeen Company today. donating their time and efforts to different causes, committees and clubs. “To have the history of a family-owned company for 100 years is an opportunity most people don’t get to experience,� he said. “We begin to think about the people who have worked with us over this period and we just want to thank each and every one of them as they are the people that have made the company successful.�

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owner Buzz Lundeen said. The business has also saw many valuable employees through the years. Administrative manager Paul Schmidt, who has been with the company for 29 years, said the atmosphere at the store is full of happy and proud employees that enjoy coming to work and helping customers with all their needs. “When I started working here, my first impression of Lundeen’s was that of a great place to work,� Schmidt said of his first few days at the store. “Some of the employees working there at the time had been there for over 50 years and that type of longevity is not very common, even in those times,� Change has also been a big part of the store’s history as the company followed the trends, technological advancements and the growing needs of the clients. The company’s central theme of printing is still at the forefront, but former hot items such as typewriters and carbon paper have fallen by the wayside. “Today we stock and sell computer printer ink jet cartridges and toners, that were unheard of as little as 25 years ago,� Lundeen said. “The computer has changed our operation greatly. While the Internet provides customers with a wide variety of options, our own computers can guide us in keeping in stock those items that are selling well so that they are on hand when people call or stop in.� The company has also expanded over the years as it has purchased land across the alley for customer parking and bought land from former building neighbor, Norwest Bank (currently Wells Fargo), to increase its space for office, warehousing and retail sales. In appreciation to the community, Lundeen and his staff have also given back


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Running even a small hobby-sized vineyard can be a daunting task. Local producers often rely on family and friends to get grapes picked on time, but the harvest also makes for a great social and family activity. XNLV134798

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MN wine country: Local growers ďŹ nding avorful grapes that can thrive in Otter Tail County By Rian Bosse

Daily Journal ith several feet of snow on the ground and temperatures well below zero, it might be hard to imagine Otter Tail County as anything like Napa Valley. But a growing number of local grape growers and wine makers say that idea is not too far off. “Minnesota has an opportunity to prove itself,� said Steve Nelson, a winemaker who runs a seven-acre vineyard with his wife, Barb, on a farm northeast of Fergus Falls. “As a wine growing region and a unique wine growing area, I think it really does. Minnesota has the opportunity to teach America and the rest of the world about the quality of Minnesota wine.� Nelson gained an interest in grapes after reading an article on a Minnesota variety in the late 1990s, and attended a growers conference in the Twin Cities. A native of Otter Tail County, he spent part of his life in California and was interested to find out if the variety of cold-hearty grapes could actually grow this far north. By chance, Nelson had lunch that day



with the University of Minnesota’s Elmer Swenson, who was instrumental in the development of the Frontenac grape, the first cold-hearty grape to become popular in Minnesota. Taken by what he had heard, Nelson returned home with the wood ready to build his vineyard. He started in 2000 with 100 vines, 60 of which survived the first winter. Fourteen years later, he has 4,200 vines, 600 for every acre of his seven-acre vineyard. “Minnesota seems to be able to grow anything that will survive here as good or better than other places,� Nelson said. “Part of it is just the freshness and the soil and the climate.� Grape vines tolerate a variety of soils, making them fairly easy to grow. Because there are different soil compositions across Minnesota, each region can have its own unique flavor and style within the wine. Minnesota’s large amount of water, its sunshine and hot climate in the summer also make for ideal grape growing conditions. Because growers have started to take advantage of the hearty, cold weather grapes that survive harsh winters, more va-



Photo Proviced

Scott Demartelaere inspects some grapes in his vineyard. Growing grapes for wine has become a popular activity in Otter Tail County. Local producers believe the trend will continue for years to come.

A proving ground


Steve and Barb Nelson make a avorful red wine with these Petite Pearl grapes that grow on their seven-acre vineyard. rieties have been developed. The Nelsons grow several red varieties in their vineyard, including the Frontenac and Frontenac Gris, the Marquette and Petite Pearl. La Crescent is the premier white in Minnesota and the Nelsons also grow the Frontenac Blance. They also have new Prairie Star vines, which they will have to wait several years for before use. The number of options have made winemaking a popular endeavor for small-scale hobbyists as well. While the Nelsons are in the process of gaining a license to sell their wine under the name Laughing Otter Winery, Scott Demartelaere enjoys the time

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See Wines — Page 60




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Matt Jennen (left) and Brent Jennen played together as kids, work together and even vacation together. They’re co-owners of the farm that their grandfather purchased after World War II.

Continuing a legacy Young farmers taking the reigns By Heather Rule

Y XNLV139136


Daily Journal

oung farmers are continuing the traditions of their family members before them. There’s Justin Stock, who’s a fifth-generation corn and soybean farmer at Stock Farms in Fergus Falls. Brothers Matt and Brent Jennen represent the third generation as co-owners, running the family corn and soybean farm just west of Fergus Falls. “When it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood,” Matt Jennen said. The Jennens, just 14 months apart in age, grew up roaming around the farm. They really got into

farming, so much so that sometimes they didn’t want to go inside. “When we were 4 years old, we would sleep on the floor of the tractor,” Matt Jennen said. Their interest in farming didn’t seem to slow down from there. The brothers each graduated from North Dakota State University with agricultural degrees. They got their start taking over the family farm after their uncle retired in 2006. “Farming is a complicated business,” Matt Jennen said. “You have to have knowledge of so many different things. No year’s ever the same.” There’s a lot to follow that really encompasses looking at the entire world. Matt Jennen lives at the farm with his wife and kids. Brent Jennen lives in town but plans to move with his family out to the farm. Some people have asked the brothers how they can work together, being family and all. But it’s really second nature to them.

“We just know that we can work together so well,” Brent Jennen said. “We’re always on the same page.” Matt Jennen agrees, mentioning that “same page” as well. “It’s actually really nice having somebody to bounce ideas off of that’s on the same page as you,” Matt Jennen said. “We’re just kind of the same but then different in the right ways. It wouldn’t be nearly as fun without the other one.” It’s a family affair for Stock, too. His dad is the CEO, his older sister is in the business and Stock manages the crop production. He’s always helped on the farm, running more and more equipment as he got older. He went to college at the University of Illinois, graduating in 2005 in agricultural economics. He interviewed for sales jobs for agricultural businesses, but he never ended up going that direction. “I always knew at some point I wanted to come back and farm,” Stock said. “People know you’re going


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Justin Stock sits in a tractor on the Stock Farms property. All the corn they raise is processed locally. farmers enjoy their farming lifestyle. “It’s definitely a challenging line of work,” Stock said. “It’s very rewarding at the same time. To me, it’s carrying on a legacy. I couldn’t imagine raising a family any other way.”

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to go back and farm eventually. I’ve always enjoyed the lifestyle of it.” As the production manager, Stock decides on the fertility plans, pest control and the overall production of growing crops. He oversees the harvest and grains handling. The men have seen some changes with farming over the years as well. One change in particular: “How expensive everything is,” Brent Jennen said. Technology is probably the most major change though, the farmers agree. The speed of it has changed things, the size and sophistication of farming equipment has increased, and the amount of harvesting has doubled over the past decade. Tractors and combines today are the equivalent of five to 10 of what Stock’s dad started with, he said. Stock also can have an iPad with him, for documenting and tracking purposes. “Oh, certainly the technology in the last 10 years has increased dramatically,” Stock said. “I’m sure there’s more and more just on the horizon.” Even with all the technological advances, there’s still no such thing as routine in farming. It all depends on the weather and any mechanical issues that may crop up. Still, all three of these young

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Fueling the community Ethanol plant still thriving By Joel Myhre

Daily Journal t is said that on a hot, mid-August evening one can actually hear the corn grow. And the corn grows for miles around Fergus Falls. It was that which spawned the idea of building an ethanol plant near Fergus Falls, according to local farmer Don Bradow. “We had to do something with the excess corn,” Bradow said. Since it started producing in 2007, the Green Plains Renewable Energy ethanol plant in Fergus Falls has provided an outlet for area corn farmers. “The ethanol plant has definitely made for a better (corn market),” said Tim Schoenhart, operator of the Farmer’s Elevator. The plant also provides 43 jobs, is a customer for the local railroad, for truckers, for electrical and natural gas utilities, and for a host of others. The impact is enough, said Economic Improvement Commission Director Harold Stanislawski, that he’s willing to forgive the loss of about $6 million in local investment, which occurred with the plant’s sale to Green Plains in April 2011, for a fraction of the price of construction. “It was unfortunate that investors lost their money,” Stanislawski said. “But any farmer that looks at this fairly would tell you that they’re better off now than without a plant.”


The process Ethanol is, in essence, corn that has been crushed,

Joel Myhre/Daily Journal

Above: The ethanol plant on the west side of Fergus Falls became operational in 2007, and was purchased by Green Plains Renewable Energy in 2011. Right: The plant uses about 21.3 million bushels of corn annually. fermented, and then distilled in a series of pipes, tanks and pumps to make concentrated alcohol. In fact, if chemicals were not put into it, it could be consumed as drinking alcohol. As plant employee Brandon Crowser said, “If we didn’t have tanks, pipes and pumps, there wouldn’t be much left (of the plant).” The plant converts about 21.3 million bushels of


corn annually, or close to 600,000 tons, to make 7.5 million gallons of ethanol, or 2.82 gallons of fuel per bushel. The number of gallons per bushel, according to Green Plains company spokesperson Jim Stark, is something the company continually look to increase. “We continue to focus on ways to improve on our existing technology,” Stark

said. “If we can get more starch out of the corn and produce, say, three gallons per bushel, that’s better for everyone.” Once the sugar has been removed for fermentation, what’s left of the corn — protein and fiber — is used for a multitude of purposes. The plant produces 7 million bushels, or close to

See Ethanol — Page 57

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Dan Lawson, standing, holding Catherine, helps Isabelle write a note to a friend living in Missouri. home for the family. It met germs that could make Isa13 special requirements iah sick. to ensure the boy’s health: While Isaiah called the there is no basement or house “his� new house as carpet in the house, and it it was being built, the Lawhas an air exchange system son’s see the experience a to keep the home free of See Lawson — Page 36

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Daily Journal It’s been just over a year since the Lawson family moved into a house on the edge of Fergus Falls, built to reduce the risk of disease due to mold, fungus and bacteria for their oldest son, Isaiah. Dan and Christine’s son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in January 2012, at age 3. The family spent the next 16 months as Isaiah, now 5½ years old, went through surgery to remove a grapefruit-sized tumor, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, a stem cell transplant and immunotherapy. He completed the final treatment in April 2013. In September 2012, when he was about eight months from completing his treatment regime, the community of Fergus Falls came together to build a modest


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Daily Journal ealth and wellness in Fergus Falls is sometimes looked at as a one player game. Lake Region Healthcare covers most health-related areas, but chiropractic is still a field it hasn’t reached. Instead, it’s up to the smaller guys and gals to fill that need in the community. With nine practicing chiropractors in eight offices, there are plenty of options for those looking to feel better in Fergus Falls. Nine may seem like a lot, but most chiropractors in town say it’s not overcrowded. “It’s fairly saturated, but there’s such a need for chiropractic in Fergus,” said Tysdal Chiropractic’s Dr. Zack Tysdal. “Chiropractic is continuing to grow and become more accepted as we continue to realize that our health is our greatest asset. Chiropractic plays a huge part in that.” Dr. Guy Anderson of Advanced Care Chiropractic said chiropractic is still underused locally. “I think more people should utilize (chiropractic), and not just because I’m a chiropractor,” he said. “If people knew the value of chiropractic, we would need twice as many chiropractors in town or more.” When Cole Chiropractic’s Wally Cole began practicing in Fergus Falls in 1968, there were four chiropractors. He estimates the ratio has stayed about the same from chiropractic to medical. Each of the eight chiropractic offices in Fergus Falls has a different feeling to it, and because of the flexibility that comes with operating a chiropractic office solo, chiropractors are able to create any image they would like. Some of the local chiropractors wear scrubs, others wear jeans, and a few like to sport ties. “Everyone has their own style,” Tysdal said. Seven of the eight offices are solo practices, and Carlson said that’s because group practices can get complicated. “In a group setting, everyone needs to be on the same page or you have problems,” he said. Fergus Falls’ newest chiropractor, Dr.

Jon McDonald of the Fergus Falls Spine and Injury Center, practices on his own, but he recently moved from Salt Lake City, Utah where he was part of a group practice. “I prefer to practice with others in the office,” he said. “It’s hard to say why there are so many solo practitioners here.” Nationwide, about 10 percent of people visit chiropractors, but in Fergus Falls, that percentage seems to be higher, said Dr. Randy Carlson of Carlson Chiropractic. “We have a good part of the population working in agriculture. Many of these people have an innate sense to take preventative care of themselves like they would with their machinery,” Carlson said. “Farmers are also more educated than they used to be.” The older age demographic of Fergus Falls might be a reason so many residents see chiropractors on a regular basis, said Dr. Bruce Vistad of Vistad Chiropractic. He estimates that about one-third of his business comes from seniors. “Older folks need chiropractic to keep them out of pain and moving,” he said. McDonald said word of mouth is a major reason chiropractic is so well accepted in the area. Most who have seen chiropractors in Fergus Falls have had a great experience, and there aren’t a lot of negative things said locally. “I have people who have been coming in here since darn near when I started,” Cole said. “Once they realize they are in control of their body, they come in to keep it in balance and in alignment so they can function properly.” Vistad said it’s all about the first step. “People who haven’t been to a chiropractor before are always a bit skeptical, but just about everyone leaves going, ‘why haven’t I don’t this before?’” he said. Cole has seen some families for five generations, and he said it’s the results that keep people coming back. “Chiropractic is often more effective and less expensive than the medical,” Tysdal said. “Chiropractors will continue to thrive because of the results.”




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FF hospital in good health By Debbie Irmen

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Daily Journal The overall stability and continued independence of Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls can be attributed to several factors according to its leaders — a strong balance sheet, the ability to make timely, local decisions and the confidence of physicians to make referrals to outside sources as they deem necessary. “Making timely decisions is important. We don’t have layers of bureaucracy to go through,� said LRH CEO Larry Schulz. “We listen to what services residents need and want and are able to take it to the board for a timely decision.� Maintaining a strong balance sheet has also allowed the hospital to stay viable at a time when other health care facilities have joined larger providers in order to expand services. LRH has set aside money over time to allow it the capital capacity for borrowing purposes, allowing it to remain fiscally strong as well. It has also looked at ways to provide services residents want in a cost-effective way, Schulz said. “We look at potential partners and ask

who else can we work with to mitigate some of the challenges as we continue to provide health care in the region,� he said. From building the Cancer Care and Research Center, the walk-in clinic, joint care center and developing a relationship with Prairie Ridge Hospital in Elbow Lake in 2011, the hospital has responded to the needs of residents, said Schulz, keeping both medical care and jobs local. It’s important to retain jobs for support and medical functions, but is also important in keeping healthcare costs affordable for customers, he said. The overall strength of LRH is evidenced in its increased patient revenue over the last few years, growing from $111 million in 2008, to $230 million at the end of fiscal 2013. Other initiatives that have helped the hospital remain viable while responding to residents’ needs include the community garden, which provides fresh produce to food programs, and phasing out the Athletic Republic program and changing its focus to a Health and Wellness Hub at the Mehl Center, providing fitness, nutrition and health education for people with chronic




ew things are more

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smile. Photo provided

Dr. Cabrera checks the heartbeat of a patient at the Walk-In Clinic in Fergus Falls.

CEO says new initiatives, merger with clinic have helped for strong balance sheet

— Larry Schulz, CEO, Lake Region Healthcare

signs will be placed around Lake Alice. As people walk the lake, they will see signs which show various exercises, from beginner to advanced levels, to complete at that station. In the spring, the hospital is opening a home medical supply and equipment center, allowing customers to receive prescribed equipment such as oxygen tanks, CPAP supplies and more. LRH also will be offering cardiology services this year, contracting with physicians from larger healthcare facilities on a scheduled basis. In 2010, the hospital and clinic merged its operations, expanding the number of employees from 620 to 950. It also increased the number of physicians, including several in specialized medicine, from 46 in 2008 to 71 in 2013. With this growth, the clinic has run out of space for medical services, prompting the need to build a new

See Hospital — Page 32

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diseases or temporary health conditions. It will also continue its Foss Swim School. As part of that program, Natalie Knutson and Carolyn Gustafson are training to be Certified Special Population Specialists, who will use an individualized approach with clients, to assess, motivate, educate and train clients regarding their health and fitness needs. They will design safe and effective exercise programs based on the needs of clients, according to the hospital web site, They may receive referrals from and refer clients to other healthcare providers as appropriate. Additional health services are in development at the Hub, including weight management, health and nutrition education, preventative wellness, comprehensive health assessments and disease-specific wellness programs. The goal is to create a one-stop hub for optimal health, Schulz said. Another recent wellness program initiated by LRH is its circuit training, designed to create a health community outside the hospital walls. It began with signs located throughout its campus, and in the spring,

“We listen to what services residents need and want and are able to take it to the board for a timely decision.�

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Hospital: Considered a ‘tweener,’ FF From Page 31 clinic. If all goes well, Schulz said construction could begin this fall, with the move into the new facility scheduled in the spring of 2016. Given the complexities of providing medical services and the need to keep that care at home, which help LRH maintain a strong fiscal balance sheet, Schulz said, hospitals in general face numerous challenges in providing cost effective care. Among those challenges is how hospitals are reimbursed for services. Hospitals generally fall into three categories — urban hospitals, such as those in Fargo, St. Cloud and the Twin Cities; those that provide critical access care, which are smaller 25-bed or less rural hospitals, such as Breckenridge, Perham, Wadena, Elbow Lake and Staples; and Prospective Payment System Rural Hospitals, unofficially called “tweeners,� which is the lowest reimbursed hospital category and the one Fergus Falls fits into. Hospital funding comes primarily from Medicare reimbursements, at about 50 percent, Medicaid accounts for slightly less than 10 percent, insurance pays about 35 percent, self-paying individuals make up

about 5 percent and there are some smaller government program funds. Urban hospitals are paid on complexity of services. Costs are higher to start with so reimbursement rate is higher. For critical access hospitals, geography plays a key role in their reimbursement rates, which are also higher. Tweener hospitals, like Fergus Falls, Alexandria, Willmar, Detroit Lakes and Bemijdi, which are larger than a CAH but smaller than an urban hospital, are paid based on a Diagnosis-Related Group. What this means is various procedures and the typical costs associated with performing that procedure are charged at a specific rate, or the itemized costs are grouped together. Those costs may vary from patient to patient. However, if additional services are deemed necessary by the surgeon or physician, or if recovery is shorter or longer, it means reimbursement for those costs above the determined amount aren’t paid through traditional funding options. A person’s insurance provider may not pick up the costs, either. Hospitals have contracts with a host of individual insurance providers that must be negotiated

Photo provided

Cancer Center nurses Jamie Nordick (left) and Kerian Stenstrom work to set up a treatment line at the Infusion Center. nearly every year. Insurance companies pay on contracted rates, which may be less than a hospital’s cost to provide the service. This all amounts to a big challenge for those facilities who strive to provide affordable healthcare, according to Schulz. “The more services we can provide and the more people we serve,� he said, “means we generally can spread out the cost of

overhead to hold down costs to patients as much as possible.� LRH has increased its education efforts in the past several years by offering its circuit training, and such community programs as the recent Walk to Waikiki, in which about 500 people walked and recorded their mileage, with the goal being a populace committed to healthy habits.







operation faces unique challenges

FF office has mission to protect health Daily Journal ave you ever driven by a building, read the name and wondered what they did in the community? On Pebble Lake Road in Fergus Falls, sits such a building, as the Minnesota Department of Health holds a district office in the city. Most buildings that are not public are written off as administrative offices or storage for larger companies, but the district office in Fergus Falls does several important jobs in the community. “We have staff doing many things,” said epidemiologist Isaac Triebold. Triebold, who is the regional resource for infec-


tious activity, said the duties of his employees include inspections of restaurants and pools, well testing for facilities that do not have city water, inspection of longterm care facilities, investigation of health care complaints, planning for public health Zach Stich/Daily Journal emergencies such as pandemics and bioterMinnesota Department of Health Sanitarian Supervisor Rick Toms inspects a lororism, engineering services for commucal business during a routine inspection. The MDH’s district office offers several nity water supplies and much more. “My day-to-day is extremely varied,” different services to Fergus Falls and the surrounding community. Triebold said. “In brief, as an epidemiolo- as pediatriations and family practitioners, Triebold has also had an interesting gist I track disease in the population in my on reporting and management of infectious brush with potentially deadly disease. In territory in Minnesota. I am the regional re- diseases, I try to stop the spread of coma case a few years ago, Triebold, an FBI source for infectious disease in West Cen- municable disease and mitigate outbreaks, agent and another epidemiologist from the tral Minnesota. I work with local public and provide trainings to people within the health agencies, health care providers, such region, amongst many other things.” See Health — Page 34


By Zach Stich


Congratulations LB Homes on winning the 2014 Community Impact Award from Aging Services of MN for the Harmon Killebrew Hospice Day at Target Field event.


This award is given for going beyond the role of health services and senior housing to supporting and improving the greater community, while demonstrating social responsibility as a corporate citizen. LB Homes salutes Nita Killebrew, KLN Family Brands and all who made this event possible. We look forward to our next Harmon Killebrew Hospice Day on Sat. August 16, 2014 at Target Field.

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Community Impact Nita Killebrew (third from left) widow of the late Harmon Killebrew, Tammy Anderson, Lakeland Hospice Foundation Director and John Zwiers, COO of LB Homes received the Community Impact Award from Chair of the Board of Directors of Aging Services of MN, John Riewer (far left), and President and CEO of Aging Services of MN, Gayle Kvenvold. (far right) Jodi Speicher, Chair of the Stars Among Us Awards Committee of Aging Services.



Contact Tammy Anderson, Director at the Lakeland Hospice Foundation for more information.




Melkert uses cancer experience to relate By Debbie Irmen

Daily Journal Pat Melkert is crazy after her experiences with cancer. Crazy to help others going through diagnosis and treatment, that is. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990. She underwent the traditional treatment and was “cancer-free� for 17 years. Her breast cancer recurred and she had a total mastectomy in 2007. She went through 14 months of radiation and now finds ways, big and small, to help others through their cancer journey. “I believe I can talk to people and make them feel better,� Melkert said. But she does more than talk to people. She was one of the women who started the Pink Posse, a group of women who raise money and take action to help others. Melkert, along with several others, works at the garage sale, volunteers at Lake Region Cancer Care and Research Center, buys lunch for people taking chemo at the cancer center, buys wigs so women who lose their hair during chemo can wear a wig at no cost, and purchases yarn that others make into hats and shawls for every patient who comes into the center. She also buys gas coupons and Fergus Bucks from the Chamber of Commerce to help people in a crunch. She knows about the little things that make a big difference in the lives of people living with cancer and she ensures that they have those comforts. A hairdresser by trade, and as someone who lost her hair during chemo treatments, she knows how traumatic it is for a woman to lose her hair. “People have said to me what’s the big deal, it’s just hair,� Melkert said. But no one has agreed to shave their heads when she has asked them to, she said. “It is a big deal.� The shawls are comforting, too, she said, because “you get cold when having treatments.� Melkert’s life work and outlook have changed since she had cancer — the doctor won’t say she is cancer-free, but rather says it’s not active. She doesn’t dwell on her experiences, but rather directs her focus on others, making life a little easier for those with cancer, she said. She is more candid with people, and her outlook is totally different. “Maybe (it’s different) because I realize how precious every day is,� she said.

Health: Inspection a primary aspect of state department From Page 33 main office in St.Paul, needed to interview a man that came in contact with inhalational anthrax. After interviewing the man, the group found that there was no criminal activity, but the danger was still present. “After we had talked with the gentleman and ruled out any bioterrorism, the next thing we needed to look at was the environmental aspect. Anthrax is what you would call a spore-former, so we needed to check out objects that he had come in contact in his travels,� Triebold said. Other jobs at the district building tackle different aspects of everyday life. Rick Toms, sanitarian supervisor, and his staff also are active in area communities as they work behind the scenes as safety specialists in food and lodging. Covering Grant, Stevens, Traverse, Otter Tail , Becker, Mahnomen, Norman and Polk counties, Toms and his crew of four inspect restaurants, hotels, resorts, pools and other facilities to make sure that its building, equipment and food are up to code. Each member of the sanitary unit covers roughly 220 facilities throughout the year, with the busiest months coming in the summer due to resorts and festivals. An inspection of a facility, based on

Zach Stich/ Daily Journal

Sanitarian Supervisor Rick Toms talks with a local business manager about its inspection. After a successful inspection, Toms discusses areas that could be a concern. size, usually takes an hour to an hour and a half. Inspection can range from looking at temperatures of food, looking at the cleanliness of a facility, seeing proper storage of items and any safety hazards that could get in the way of workers. Toms wants to dispel the stereotype of sanitarian inspectors as a person that is “out to get� businesses. “We focus on educating businesses on what they need to do to comply with regulations. We do do some enforcement, but we would rather see them spend the money to make the re-

pairs then to pay the fine, because any time they pay a fine, they still have to do the repairs,� Toms said. Now, when driving past the Minnesota Department of Health district office in Fergus Falls, area residents will realize that it isn’t merely desk jockeys, storage or a call center for a larger entity, but full of workers that are involved in the community. They may not stand out on a daily basis, but the importance of their work continues to keep us safe and sound.

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Lakeland Mental Health Center’s Fergus Falls office includes 66 staff members. not all were full time. Across all of its locations, LMHC has 189 workers, 66 in Fergus Falls, ready to help individual needs. The ages of LMHC’s patients are varied, from age three all the way to 92. The number of concerns the center cares for is widespread as well. From depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, to men’s domestic violence groups, the center is available for a number of care needs. “It’s not always easy for individuals to recognize that they need help,” said Teresa Budke, Administrative Specialist at the Fergus Falls location. “We make it as easy as possible for indi-

viduals to come to us.” Individuals and families often come on their own when they know they need help. Still, some patients find their way to help through doctors, specialists, law enforcement and social services. The care is given in a variety of services as well. LMHC works through outpatient therapy, psychological evaluations, court services, outreach services, children support services and many more. “Really, people get to us by recognizing that they could use some help in the area of mental health,” Young added. “They can pick up the phone and talk to people in our intake de-

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partment. Those people make suggestions about who would likely be skilled at working with them.” No matter how patients come to LMHC, the important thing for both Young and Budke is that they’re getting help. Meeting their needs helps them continue to do what they do every day. “I’ve seen it from both ends in intake and administration, and it’s definitely a positive in your day when you hear that feedback from clients,” Budke said. “Hearing from our referral sources and people in the community about the good services and the positive effects our staff has had, that makes it all worthwhile.”

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Daily Journal A rise in mental health awareness and the need for care has been evident across the country in recent years. In Otter Tail County, that need is met by a variety of care options. That doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges, however. For mental health care workers in the county, overcoming those challenges is often a positive endeavor. “When we can work with a child, an adolescent, a family or an adult, and come to the end of a course of therapy where they tell us things are going so much better in their lives, that’s the most rewarding thing,” said Barb Young, a clinical social worker at Lakeland Mental Health Center in Fergus Falls. For Young, one of the biggest challenges in giving care is simply getting clients to recognize their needs. Even with advancements in the science and approaches to healthcare, some in need are still hesitant to seek help. Others simply don’t recognize its importance. “As much information that we can put out there helps people understand that their mental health is a piece of the picture,” Young said. “I’d like to think that in this century we’re doing a better job of knowing that your mental health and physical health are entwined.” Lakeland Mental Health Center has six locations to meet mental health needs across the area. In 2013, those centers served 12,240 clients. The Fergus Falls location served 4,358 of those clients with a staff of 66 at the end of the year, though


By Rian Bosse


Lawson: Family of 6 has returned to normal routine some of the people he saw or met during that time, but being young and often medicated for pain and the effects of treatment, he doesn’t remember much of the actual ordeal. But the result of the family’s cancer journey has changed them, she said. “We as a family have a much stronger Christian faith,� said Christine, as the children played in the background. Debbie Irmen/Daily Journal “And we are finding contentment and peace every day because we have four Benjamin, left, Christine and Isaiah Lawson work on a kids, not three.� letter Isaiah wrote.




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little differently. “This was never a house built just for us,� Christine said in a story published when the house was being constructed. “This house was built to show people that hope is real.� Since moving in, the family of six has returned to a normal routine and grown with the addition of Catherine, born in October. Isaiah and his sister,

Isabelle, are students at Claire Ann Shover School, and 2-year-old Benjamin enjoys his mom’s attention during the day. The family has also since learned there is no evidence of cancer in Isaiah’s body and tests show his bone marrow has fully recovered. His prognosis going forward is very good, his mother said. With the past behind him, Isaiah seems none the worse for his experience, Christine said. He remembers



From Page 27




Transit company continues to grow By Chris Reinoos


See Transit — Page 61




Daily Journal y any measure, 2013 was a big year for Transit Alternatives. The Fergus Falls-based transportation company expanded into Breckenridge, added a second bus in Perham, built six more garage stalls at its Fergus Falls offices and even added Saturday service in Fergus Falls. After a year which Director of Transportation Services Daryn Toso called one of the busiest in the company’s history, things don’t look quite as packed in 2014. But that doesn’t mean business has slowed down. Quite the contrary, in fact. “This cold winter has Toso made it pretty busy because people would rather hop on our warmer buses than start their own vehicles,” Toso said. The company was able to see such growth last year through increased Minnesota Department of Transportation funding. Much of what the company can do in a given year is based on the funding they receive, Toso said, and last year there happened to be more money in the pot.

This year will see more modest growth, including adding a bus line that will run from Fergus Falls to the Fargo-Moorhead area. Toso said the company recently purchased the bus and hired the driver for the route. Transit Alternatives gave about 12,800 rides in December 2013, according to Toso. With the new Fargo-Moorhead route, that number figures to jump over 13,000 in the coming months. Along with expanding its routes and services, Transit Alternatives also saw an expansion in their customer base. The elderly and disabled still make up the majority of riders, but Toso said the company has seen large gains in preschoolers using the service and smaller gains in people using it to get to work and in students using it to get around after school. Because Transit is not affiliated with the school district, Toso said they cannot organize any bus pickups themselves. That has to be left up to the parents. “If the parent calls us, then we can set up rides and pick them up at schools,” Toso said. The Saturday Fergus Falls bus, which is on the road from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., gathered steam quickly after being introduced last September. Within a month, people were filling up the Saturday bus, according to Toso. While there is no concrete plan to do so, Toso said he could envision adding another Saturday route if the demand called for it.



Viable alternative



Chris Reinoos/Daily Journal

Transit Alternatives buses make stops all across Fergus Falls, including twiceweekly trips to Walmart. The company has 16 buses available in Fergus Falls and six others running in the area.






Old home, new life FF couple revitalizes 127-year-old house By Rian Bosse

Daily Journal t takes vision and determination to keep an old house feeling new. Thankfully, Mary and Mike Robertson have plenty of it. The Fergus Falls couple resides in a 127-year-old home on South Oak. When they purchased the house in 1985, it was an eye sore and neighbors were looking for ways to clean it up. Now, the house holds a bright space at the end of the street. “Mary can see potential,” Mike said. “She could see right through all the disrepair.” Despite worrying Mike’s parents over the potential costs that would go into fixing up and living in the old house, the couple


spent hours on updates, including sanding wood floors, painting and installing drywall. Through the years of work, the couple raised four kids, all of which remember the house fondly as their childhood home. As they look back on their 29 years in the house, one theme remained the same: keeping the structure contemporary while still recognizing the history it holds. “This house always caught my eye because it’s different,” Mary said. “To me, in a nutshell, we’ve done what has needed to be done and just little by little made small changes.” A tour of the home showcases the historic-turned-modern style the two enjoy. Through the front door, visitors are greeted by a large staircase with the original railings. The high ceilings also give an im-

Photo coutesy of the Otter Tail County Historical Society

The Robertson’s house on South Oak was once owned by influential Fergus Falls businessman R.J. Angus in the late 1800s. mediate feeling of spaciousness. While the house isn’t unnecessarily large, there is definitely space to relax. “I like big,” Mary said. “I like that it is spacious. That has always drawn me to it.” Off the entrance is a large living room with the original floors and decorative ceilings. At the center is a fireplace made from

Italian marble, also an original piece with the house. Walking through, Mike mentioned that the wide room was the first to hold a square dances in town. Over the windows, the Robertsons have kept hanging drapes that give the old Victorian feeling. While the afternoon light wanes outside, the windows still offer



communities. Together.

Bremer Bank is connected to every community we serve. We’re committed to helping families thrive, businesses grow and giving back through employee volunteerism, local bank donations and grants from our owner, the Otto Bremer Foundation. Because ultimately, when our clients are successful, we’re successful, and our whole community is healthier. Fergus Falls • 736-0110 800-908-BANK (2265) Member FDIC. © 2014 Bremer Financial Corporation. All rights reserved.

Rian Bosse/Daily Journal

Rian Bosse/Daily Journal

The Robertson’s large living room displays original flooring and the intigrate designs of the original ceiling. The room was once a popular place to hold square dances.

An original Italian marble fireplace is the centerpiece of the Robertson’s large living room. It is one of the many pieces still original to the 127-year-old house.



plenty of lighting for the room. The main bay window looks out past the front porch and into the neighborhood. Surrounding the house is a view of the Otter Tail River, one that was cherished by a former resident who helped shape Fergus Falls. Before the houses across the street, the window view was a favorite of Richard J. Angus, who owned the house in the late 1800s. Angus moved from Scotland to Fergus Falls as a boy, establishing a life as a farm family. As he became an adult, he took to the entrepreneurial spirit, owning a number of farms and working in the bank and finance industries. His career took him across the Midwest until he later moved back home, where he helped finance much of the building in Fergus Falls and, as one document in the Otter Tail County Historical Society described, was “fond of the people of Fergus Falls and the people (were) fond of him and cherish the work he has done and is doing.� As an avid outdoorsmen, Mike, who grew up several blocks from the house, shares the same passion for the natural view that Angus once had. Mary, who moved to Fergus Falls in elementary school, cherishes what the old house and its upkeep has brought their life and personal style. “I think we’ve evolved,� Mary said. “There was the day of doilies and more Victorian style, and I definitely prefer a more traditional-contemporary style, but I don’t feel like we’ve ever been stuck in a rut.�

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Mike and Mary Robertson have kept their 127-year-old house contemporary through the 29 years they have owned it. While some changes, like the stucco outside, were made before they purchased the house, it still resembles its old self.





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Daily Journal Traditional church services are not necessarily the ones that young adults are champing at the bit to attend. Stained glass windows, robes and liturgy don’t relate to them, said Dallas Rostad. “That’s grandma’s church,” he said. But then there’s Nexus, an interactive faith community in which the central message is to love God and people. It meets at 6:30 p.m. Sundays at The Spot in downtown Fergus Falls. Rostad is the leader of Nexus and youth director at Grace United Methodist Church. Nexus launched in summer 2011, first meeting at the church Sunday mornings, before moving to The Spot in spring 2012, because “the ministry needed to be outside of the church walls,” Rostad said. Nexus is really a brain-child of his. About six years ago, he read the book “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why It Matters.” Rostad described the book as delving into how the way Christians are behaving is turning off those they are trying to reach. So Rostad got to thinking. “How could we continue to do church in the same way… knowing what we know?” he said. “What would that look like?” It looks like a reinvention of the church

Heather Rule/Daily Journal

In Dallas Rostad’s absence, the Rev. Wesley Gabel, of Grace United Methodist Church, leads the Nexus worship at The Spot. format, with more interaction in a more informal setting. At least, that’s what Nexus looks like. They don’t keep each week the same, but Nexus usually starts with some dialogue about the past week and prayer requests. The evening also offers songs and communion. Rostad will often share on a topic, though “people are free to interject at any point,” he said, because they are all “ministering to each other.” “Everyone’s going to bring something to the table,” Rostad said. “Because everyone has something they can bring to the conversation, I believe. The whole idea of Nexus is anyone and everyone is invited.” He wants people to bring their fears and doubts, which isn’t something traditional church has room for, according to Rostad. Nexus removes the church boundaries and allows for discussion among the group about everything from current events to relevant cultural items. Younger adults tend to gravitate toward the informal, interactive style of Nexus. That’s key, connecting with those ages 18 to 30, for example.

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in her 60s to members of Rostad’s youth group. Missy Strande belongs to Grace United Methodist with her husband and children, and they also attend Nexus. The draw for her is the openness and community feel. “It’s where you can actually sit and talk with people,� Strande said. “Where in a church service, you don’t get that opportunity.� Nexus might attract 15 people on an average Sunday night. Rostad made it clear he’s not trying to do anything in particular to get people in the door, rather, he wants it to be a natural thing. So what makes Nexus successful? “I think people just want something that’s real,� Rostad said.

Krekelberg, Skonseng & Miller, P.L.L.P. Heather Rule/Daily Journal

Nexus leader Dallas Rostad leads a discussion with the group at The Spot. “That age range, yeah, it’s difficult,� Rostad said. For younger people, traditional church may not be relevant, when they want to connect, want things to be authentic and want to be shown how it relates to them now. Because, again, the stained glass windows and liturgy just might not get it done. Josie Schmidt, 18, and a senior at Fergus

Falls High School, is a member of Grace United Methodist and involved with Rostad’s youth group. However, her preference for worship is Nexus, which she regularly attends. She likes that discussion-based service. “When I’m at Nexus, it’s more relaxed and more free for me to speak my opinion,� Schmidt said. “I just think it’s a little



bit more practical for the younger generation.� You’re more free to worship how you’d like to, and Schmidt likes the discussions surrounding the hot topics in today’s world. It’s also a very welcoming and nonjudgmental setting. Everyone is accepting, and the mission is always focused on love, she said. “Dallas does a really, really, great job,� Schmidt said. “He’s always open to other people’s opinions and ideas. I guess I like that part of it.� Some who attend Nexus are members of Grace United Methodist, or are in Rostad’s youth programs. Others make Nexus their sole church home. The demographics vary from families with kids to those


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The Rev. Wesley Gabel joined the staff at Grace United Methodist Church in Fergus Falls this past summer.

Daily Journal

“In Fergus Falls, there are many congregations, but there is one church. We ďŹ t as part of one church...but we’re not the whole story.â€?

To the Rev. Dr. Wesley Gabel, who has been in the area since last summer, Grace United Methodist Church is just one piece of a larger, faith-community puzzle. “In Fergus Falls, there are many congregations, but there is one church,� Gabel said. “We fit as part of one church...but we’re not the whole story.� Gabel is here to help tell the Grace United Methodist part of that story. He was appointed last July after working as a pastor at Bethany United Methodist Church in Rochester for the past 13 years. He made the move with his wife, Diane, and son, Joe, who’s a junior in high school. They also have three grown children. This isn’t the first time Gabel has been up to this area, but it’s been awhile. He was 6 years old the last time he was here. He enjoys what a fun community it is, with so many people who live here because they

want to be here, he said. One thing he’s already been impressed with at Grace United Methodist is the Christmas ministry. Take the Christmas Day service alone. In his 32 years as a pastor, he’s never conducted a Christmas Day worship before. For the past 31 years, Grace United Methodist has served Christmas dinner on December 25. It served 275 this year, Gabel said. “Now that’s a can-do church,� he said. In his role at his new church home, Gabel hopes he can help develop people into fellowships that build their lives. “Our mission to make disciples of Jesus,� he said. “To develop and create a community of faith and love.�

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The Rev. Tim Molter sits with his wife, Anna, and their son, Joshua, 2, in their living room and worship space at their Fergus Falls home. They moved to town this past summer to plant a church: Calvary Chapel in Fergus Falls.


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“We’re really focusing on following what the Bible teaches. We teach the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book.”

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— Tim Molter, Calvary Chapel small, but they know it takes time to grow a church. “We’re here for the long term,” Molter said. He’s originally from Fergus Falls, but his wife is a California native, who didn’t want to return to Minnesota the last time she visited. That all changed last year. “A year ago, the Lord started to reveal that this was his plan,” she said. “I enjoy it here very much.” Molter recognizes the very strong sense of faith in the community. His hope is that people learn more about the Bible, and he wants to disciple people, he said. Molter invites people to “come and see” what Calvary is all about. “Our desire is to see everyone in this town come to faith in Jesus Christ,” he said.

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Daily Journal The focus of members from the non-denominational, Christianity-based Calvary Chapel in Fergus Falls is all about the B-IB-L-E. Yes, that’s the book for them. “We believe everything in the Bible,” said the Rev. Tim Molter. “We’re really focusing on following what the Bible teaches. We teach the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book.” Tim, along with his wife, Anna, and 2-year-old son, Joshua, moved from California to Fergus Falls at the end of July. Their church on the West Coast sent them out here to start a church. “The Lord just pressed upon my heart to come back here and start a church,” Molter said. Molter conducts worship and Bible studies right out of his living home, for now. He hopes to move to a building eventually, but the home setting “really helps build a strong foundation,” Molter said. “We’re still meeting people,” he said. “We’re just building relationships.” Whether it’s at the Salvation Army, Walmart or just out and about in town, they’ll meet people and invite them to worship at Calvary. Their numbers so far are

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Daily Journal Tears welled in the eyes of Tammy Churchill as she sat in her office and talked about bringing generations together at Church of Peace United Methodist, rather than just go by one viewpoint that’s been handed down. “I get just as emotional as I’m preaching,� she said. “Sermons tend to be a little passionate.� Churchill, a certified lay minister, began her ministry at Church of Peace United Methodist in June. She is in the midst of graduate school at Bethel Seminary and is working toward her license in pastor certification which she hopes to have this spring. There was a need for pastors in smaller, rural churches, due to so many retirements. She saw that firsthand during Christmas 2012 in her hometown of Hewitt. “I’d sort of been wrestling with the call for a number of years,� Churchill said. “(I) felt a certain sense of responsibility to respond. It’s ended up being a really lovely fit.� She’s spent a lot of time educating herself on the requirements of the position and building relationships within the congregation. One of her strengths is connecting with people, she said. Lots of positives have

Heather Rule/Daily Journal

Tammy Churchill embraces conversation-style preaching when she’s at the pulpit at Church of Peace United Methodist in Fergus Falls.

“I get...emotional as I’m preaching. Sermons tend to be a little passionate.� — Tammy Churchill, Church of Peace United Methodist emerged the past few months, instilling new hope. “They have a lot of pride in the heritage,� she said. “They have been thrilled that we’re starting to see some new faces come in. There’s new life in the church.� Going deeper in the spiritual walk is what Churchill wants for the con-

gregation. “How can we let that light shine through us so that we can be Christ for other people, so that they just see it in us?� Her preaching style is conversational and she asks questions, rather than just standing there and talking. Learning is greater when there’s conversation, she said. One of the biggest blessings of the community, Churchill finds, is the willingness to work together. It’s easy to talk about your faith, and the church communities work so well together. She wants kids to have that experience of different churches as well. “They just get such a well-rounded view of the Bible and how we share the Bible,� she said.





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sion and service opportunities. “There’s a special energy here, and I think a real Christian spirit and excitement about getting involved in the church and in our faith,� Wielinski said. He likes the ecumenical opportunities in town, since there are so many Christian churches here. The return to OLV and the lakes region has also given Wielinski the chance to reconnect with old friends. He didn’t waste any time this summer walking down memory lane with visits to Pelican Rapids and Detroit Lakes. “I’ve enjoyed walking around Lake Alice again and visiting some of the other lakes,� he said.

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Daily Journal The Rev. Alan Wielinski took a position with Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church that started July 2, 2013, but he’s not brand new to Fergus Falls or OLV. He worked at the church as a transitional deacon 30 years ago, and as a part-time associate for a couple years in the 1980s. He’s also worked in Pelican Rapids for 10 years and spent four years at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Elizabeth. “So I’m well-acquainted with many people in the area,� said Wielinski, who grew up in Little Falls. “I was up for a move, and then this parish opened up. I never really thought I’d be back.� Wielinski was selected by the Bishop to serve at OLV. Just prior to returning, he worked at the parishes of St. Peter and St. Paul in St. Cloud. A lot has changed at OLV since Wielinski was here three decades ago, like the build up of the music ministry as well as the focus on outreach and service. “They have accomplished much in building up their campus,� he said. “There’s also been a building up of a community. And it’s great to see the school thriving.� Wielinski talked excitedly about the





Durbin answers ďŹ rst call in Fergus Falls


By Heather Rule

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Daily Journal Augustana Lutheran Church has a fresh face leading the way. He’s new to town and has accepted his first call after recently graduating from the seminary. But that doesn’t mean he lacks experience. “I have served in pretty much a full role before,� said Ben Durbin. He had an internship in North Dakota that provided him with a lot of experience. He preached, led weddings and burials. Augustana Lutheran called Durbin to lead its congregation, and he was installed at his new church home Feb. 16. He’s coming here from the Twin Cities, along with his wife, Ruth, but he is no stranger to small towns. He grew up in a community of about 4,000. “Fergus Falls just seems like a town that I think probably has a pace that I’m looking for,� Durbin said. “I’m more comfortable in small towns.� What Durbin knows about Augustana is mostly what he’s learned from

the church call committee. It’s a congregation where people know each other really well, and those close relationships add a lot to a person’s life, Durbin said. “They seem like a really strong community that cares about one another and that’s committed to caring for one another as they live out their faith,� he said. His first goal during his first call here is to listen to the congregation and learn about them, as well as the community in general. He doesn’t have a particular agenda of the way things will be, but he said he wants to contribute to the community and present Christ’s love for people that he encounters. “I’m excited to become part of both communities and give myself to them in whatever way I can,� Durbin said. “My first commitment is to getting to know the people of Augustana and the neighborhood. And once we know each other, then we can start thinking about how we’ll serve the commu-

Photo provided

Ben Durbin, newly-called pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls, says he’s excited to become part of the church community and the overall community of Fergus Falls. nity.� In general, Durbin is really excited about preaching, serving as a pastor, and working with the congregation in efforts to serve the community. “That’s the big thing,� Durbin said. “I’m really looking forward to it.�


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Chris Reinoos/Daily Journal

Early Childhood Family Education Coordinator Karen Hanan said the new space in the Heritage Building allows more room for children, including Easton Eckhoff and Payton Wolden, to move around during the day.


By Chris Reinoos

Daily Journal After bouncing around several locations over the past decade, Fergus Falls Early Childhood Family Education Coordinator Karen Hanan thought the program had found a long-term home at McKinley School. But once again, the program was on the move. “Some of these different locations we’ve been at, we’ve been so far removed from the school district itself that being in the building was wonderful,� Hanan said. Leaving McKinley School and setting up in the Heritage Building on Highway 210 meant starting over again to a certain degree, something


about which Hanan and many parents were concerned. But after several months in the new building, all sides have seen the positives and have warmed to the location. Parents, including Annie Alt and Sarah Holmbeck, said they appreciate the ample parking and ease with which they can drop off and pick up

their students. Staff members, including Hanan, love the extra storage and movement room the space provides after being “a little scrunched at McKinley,� according to Hanan. The increased space has also meant Hanan has been able to accept more

See ECFE— Page 50




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Modern feel, traditional look Hillcrest renovations bring school forward, up keeping a foot in past By Chris Reinoos

Daily Journal Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in Fergus Falls relies on donations from community members and graduates for additions, improvements or renovations. As a Christian school, it does not receive government funding and cannot take any proposals to a public vote. Luckily for school officials, Hillcrest graduates are often quite generous to their alma mater. “The building needs a lot of help, but it’s an icon for our alumni,” Hillcrest Principal Jeff Isaac said. But that support also comes with the idea that many alumni want to see the building maintain its nostalgic appearance. It can be a tough balancing act, but Hillcrest President Steve Brue thinks they achieved it with its summer 2013 renovations. “Both the architect and the carpenters that worked on the job did an outstanding job of retaining that classic look,” Brue said. School officials raised more than $1 million for the renovations to the school’s classroom wing, which the school board formally approved last spring. Construction began the day after school let out last May and continued through the summer. New walls, ceilings, floors, doors and lockers were all part of the project. Smart boards and flat-screen televisions were added in several rooms and the school greatly expanded its media center.

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Armin Jahr, a Hillcrest science teacher, said the changes have been very beneficial to both the staff and students. One of Jahr’s classrooms, a chemistry lab, was updated as part of the project. “The old lab had a really cool look to it, but it wasn’t really functional because the Chris Reinoos/Daily Journal lab desks took up so much space,” Jahr said. Students at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy have responded positively to the school’s “The new lab is much more functional. It’s renovations to its classroom areas, including new floors, ceilings and lockers. like a dream come true.” But Brue, Isaac and other school officials school’s open house in October, Brue said have much of a marketing or sales pitch for wanted to do whatever they could to main- the response was overwhelming positive. the school,” Brue said. “There always need tain most of the look for which the school While some things have changed since to be upgrades.” “Those that have seen it before and after, is known. Gone are the hardwood floors these alumni graduated from Hillcrest, most and high ceilings, but the wooden window of them see these changes as necessary to their jaws always drop,” Jahr said. “They walk in and say, ‘Oh I wish we had this frames and wooden doors look very similar keep the school moving forward. “If everything stayed the same as when when we were here.’ They’re very excited to the older ones. When many alumni returned for the my mother attended here, I don’t think we’d about it.”

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ECFE: District has 5-year lease at Heritage Building Otter Tail: Construction, From Page 47 children into the program than she could at McKinley. Although the classrooms at the new location fit only about 15 children at a time, there is lots of wide-open space outside the rooms where teachers can move with larger groups. “I love that she’s here,” Holmbeck said of her daughter Marissa, 4. “It’s turned out to be a great experience for her.” Before the year started in the new building, some parents expressed concerns about not having any outside playing area, Hanan said. But in Hanan’s view, it is less important where kids play at this early age; rather, it is how they play that is crucial to their devel-

opment. “The reaction from the parents has been very positive,” Hanan said. “When they’ve been here, they see what we do and how we’re able to make it child-friendly.” Indeed, the lack of outside space or an available gym has not bothered Alt, whose son Cullen is currently enrolled in ECFE. “He doesn’t realize their large room isn’t a gym,” she said. “He thinks it’s big and he can run around in there.” The school district signed a five-year lease at the Heritage Building with the option to opt out of the deal after three years, according to district Business Manager Mark Masten. Hanan said she and her

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The Early Childhood Center is located in the former Pamida building on the east side of Fergus Falls. staff will look to take full advantage of their time. She wouldn’t mind finally having a place to call home. “Those of us that are out

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From Page 13 And challenges related to those businesses.” During that same time, Otter Tail Corporation’s wind turbine business was struggling for political reasons. “One of our challenges (with DMI) had to do with the government not making a timely decision on the continuation of production tax credits,” McIntyre said. “As a result of that, the future for wind wasn’t very certain.”

A call to action It was in 2011 when changes came in earnest. Compounding the risk problems was the utility’s need for cash and credit, due to CapX 2020, a massive electrical transmission project, and environmental upgrades to the Big Stone plant. “We had already gotten to a point where we knew we needed to take risk out of the company, in order to regain a better credit quality rating and access to the capital markets,” McIntyre said. The two projects, Erickson said, represented an opportunity for Otter Tail to invest in the utility business and ultimately receive benefit in the form of increased rates. “(The projects) were the most significant investments the company has had since the 1970s,” Erickson said. “They definitely represented an earnings growth opportunity.” The board developed a “portfolio criteria,” a list of traits that matched Otter Tail’s management strengths, as well as the “personality” of the majority of its investors. From the management side, the board agreed that

manufacturing was something Otter Tail knew how to manage effectively. “I think of the utility as manufacturing,” McIntyre said. “We transform a raw product into electricity. We have to manage waste. There are a lot more similarities than you might think.” In addition, Otter Tail Corporation’s typical investors — retirees with Midwestern roots — are anything but Silicon Valley sharks willing to gamble it all on the next big thing. “All you have to do is attend an annual meeting to know who most of our investors are,” McIntyre said. “Sixty percent of our retail investors are people who put a high demand on the dividend as a significant part of their income. We have to focus on earnings.” Assessed against those criteria, Otter Tail’s board found several companies that didn’t fit their profile. • Idaho Pacific Holding, which processes potatoes granules, was dependent on the price of fertilizer, the price of potatoes, the weather, and the price of natural gas. “You can see lots and lots of risk in all those things, and they needed to be aligned and managed,” McIntyre said. “That wasn’t our strength.” OTC sold IPG in May 2011. • DMS Health Technologies, which provides diagnostic imaging devices to hospitals, clinics and others, was both capital and labor intensive, McIntyre said, and like DMI, had its share of risks. “Medical imaging was up in the air because of what ObamaCare was going to mean,” he said. OTC sold the company in February 2012. • Otter Tail sold DMI in August 2012, a move Parker

Otter Tail’s non-utility companies:

What remains

Photos provided

Top: T.O. Plastics has cleanroom capabilities at its OTSEGO plant to serve medical device customers as well as other customers with cleanroom and ultra-high tolerance demands. Here the T.O. Plastics employee is inspecting a thermoformed plastic tray made to hold a medical device. Bottom right: Medical centers are among Foley Company’s large construction customers. Projects like the one pictured here often include multi-floor vertical expansion to a campus building. Bottom left: Quality control inspection is important at Vinyltech. Here an employee is checking the pipe bell. Middle left: This is a belling station at the end of one of Northern Pipe’s production lines. Northern Pipe Products is a PVC pipe company located in Fargo. afford to be a team that goes for the fence and strikes out too often.”

The future The sales of the four companies mean that Otter Tail’s business mix is about 75 percent utility and 25 percent other companies. It’s a ratio that McIntyre believes investors are comfortable with. “Twenty years ago, when we started down the path of diversification, we got a little heavy on the diversification side,” McIntyre said. “We needed to have a risk appetite our investors expected and the rating agencies

would be comfortable with.” While McIntyre said there are likely to be some tweaks in terms of the company’s portfolio in the coming years, he feels comfortable with the nucleus, and believes it can achieve a 4 to 7 percent average annual growth rate. “We are never totally satisfied, but we’ve made great strides,” he said. “We have found a pathway that makes good sense.” Parker agrees. “I think Otter Tail is certainly encouraging investors,” he said. “I think their prospects are far more predictable.”


The companies that Otter Tail has retained are a mix of manufacturers and construction companies that McIntyre says are, for the most part, recession proof. Vinyltech, Northern Pipe and T.O. Plastics make PVC pipe for municipalities and a variety of industries. Aevenia and Foley Company construct energy facilities and mechanical buildings, respectively. “We looked at businesses that are not as cyclical, that have a demand when the economy is not as robust,” McIntyre said. From a management perspective, McIntyre said, he feels confident in his own ability and his managers to maximize efficiency and profitability out of the companies that remain. “Eighty to 90 percent of all our business issues go back to management,” said McIntyre, who has 30 years of experience in operations and financial management through Northern States Power. “There are three to five levers you can control in manufacturing. I can’t manage a pipe plant, but I can work to determine which levers to push to improve the plant’s efficiency and quality.” McIntyre also feels the businesses that remain are much more alike, and thus have similar problems, and solutions. “Unlike our earlier experiment in diversification, we have more of a manufacturing base, more synergy, things we can take from one company to the next to the next,” he said. McIntyre compares Varistar to some of those successful Minnesota Twins teams of the 2000s. “We’re a bunch of overachievers who want to hit singles, can play multiple positions, and know how to play the game,” McIntyre said. “We can’t

For The Journal Aevenia offers the most comprehensive array of energy and electrical construction services in the Midwest. Aevenia’s services are backed by the expertise that comes with more than 40-years’ experience in the energy and electrical construction industries. Aevenia is based out of Moorhead, Minnesota and has 193 employees. BTD Manufacturing provides a complete spectrum of custom metalwork services including metal fabrication, forming, welding, tool and die work, machining, power coating and robotic welding. BTD services its customers out of six facilities across the Midwest. BTD’s headquarters is located in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Since 1913, Foley Company has been providing mechanical construction services for large commercial projects such as airports, stadiums, hospitals, water treatment plants and convention centers. Foley has three offices with their main office located in Kansas City, Missouri. Foley Company has 253 employees. Northern Pipe Products produces high quality PVC water and sewer pipe, in sizes through 24” in diameter, at their world-class manufacturing facility in Fargo, North Dakota. NPP regularly ships pipe to 16 states throughout the Midwest, Northwest, Southern U.S. and to Canada. Since 1948, T.O. Plastics has been designing and manufacturing quality thermoformed plastic products and packaging solutions for the medical, industrial, consumer, food, electronics and horticultural industries. T.O. has two facilities and is headquartered in Clearwater, Minnesota. Vinyltech Corporation is a manufacturer of water main and sewer PVC pipe products. These pipes are sold through waterworks distributors for use in municipal water, wastewater, and water reclamation systems. Vinyltech is located in Phoenix, Arizona.



said was particularly important to investors. “The wind turbine business was really feast or famine,” Parker said. • E.W. Wylie Corporation, which specializes in flatbed trucking and trucking logistics, was acquired in part to haul DMI’s wind turbines. Without DMI, and as a company much smaller and different in nature than other Otter Tail holdings, it was sold. • Finally, Fergus Falls-based Shoremaster didn’t fit the company’s risk profile. “Shoremaster depends on discretionary income,” McIntyre said. Otter Tail sold it in February 2013. McIntyre said he wishes success for each of the four companies Otter Tail sold. But the fact that Otter Tail’s financial profile has improved over the last year speaks volumes about the company’s decision to sell them and re-invest the cash and good credit into the utility. “The rating agencies have upgraded us. The utility expansion is projecting well. We’re improving and enhancing our diversified companies,” McIntyre said. “Our strategies are working on all counts.”

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Daily Journal hen Brad Strand began teaching – and it wasn’t that long ago – blackboards and chalk were the tools of the trade. “I still remember my hands all cracked and dried out,� he said. With the invention of the electronic whiteboard, it’s a whole different ballgame. “It’s made me a better teacher,� he said. The electronic whiteboard, online lectures and soon-to-come electronic quizzes, are high-technology tools math teachers are using in Fergus Falls and at high schools around the country. And while math is the same as when Isaac Newton invented calculus in the 17th Century, Fergus Falls teachers say the technology adds enthusiasm and gives students a better chance at understanding the material. “Students just love technology in general, and when you use technology for teaching, they get involved in it right away,�


Joel Myhre/Daily Journal

John Makielski (far forward), Josephine Schmidt and Drew Pearson work out an equation on their calculators while teacher Brad Strand shows how he solves the problem while his calculator is on the Promethean Board video screen. high school math teacher Travis Johnson said.

Magic board When turned off, the Promethean Board looks like the traditional white board. However, when turned on, the board provides a whole new experience. Driven by a program called ActiveInspire, the board lets teachers show students pre-drawn notes and graphics that are downloaded from the Internet, along with



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Brad Strand, demonstrating a calculus problem using the Promethean Board, says having the ability to show students how he solves the problem is important to learning.

Classroom on video Last year, using the white board and a microphone, Strand uploaded each of his lectures to YouTube and made them available on the school district web site. He said the podcasted lectures are great for students who miss class due to illness or activities, or for those who want to review the material. “(The lectures) are not perfect,” Strand admits. “I’ll make mistakes. I should redo some of them, because I’ll often tweak them to make them better.” Math teacher Richard Risbrudt, in fact,

takes the recorded lectures a step further. For the past three years, he has implemented the “flipped classroom” approach. “Flipped classroom” students are assigned to watch the lecture outside of class as homework. Risbrudt produced 475 podcasts of lectures, each from eight to 20 minutes long, and all are available on the school district web site. The next day in class, students do what would typically be homework, with Risbrudt there to help and answer questions. Risbrudt does allow students to take the class the regular way, watching the lectures at school and doing the homework at home. “However, when they see the other kids’ questions getting answered, they tend to lean in the same direction,” he said. Risbrudt said he’s seen the typical lower-level student get the concept sooner on average. “Kids have a lot of questions in science and math,” he said. “If they get their questions answered and understand the material and the concept, they enjoy what they are doing and get a better grade.” High school math teacher Linda Zsedemy said the key is having the teacher create their own lectures, rather than having the students watch generic online lectures on a particular subject. “I think having videos with the same teacher, the same day-to-day language, makes the learning experience that much stronger,” she said.

Tablet quizzing Of course, the disadvantage of podcasted

See Math technology — Page 54


video, while writing formulas on the board in real time – similar to the teleprompter on National Football League games. Strand also uses a camera on his desk with his graphing calculator, so students can watch him solve a problem in real time. “It’s important that students see how you solved the problem, see your work,” Strand said. In addition, the work that is done on the boards can be saved and stored. “It just makes things more efficient,” Johnson said. “Instead of a chalkboard, for example, the Promethean board gets things quickly and easily.” The board gives teachers the opportunity save written lectures for students to print. Strand said it allows students to focus on absorbing the material rather than simply taking notes. “I think note taking is an important skill, but I think there’s a balance,” Strand said. “There are times I want kids not to be taking notes, but to simply listen and absorb what I’m saying.”


Math technology: District will move to instant quizzes in next few years


From Page 53 lectures is the lack of “formative assessment,� the part where teachers look around the room to determine who is understanding the material and who isn’t. Fergus Falls math teachers say the technology is available to help teachers do better formative assessments as well, in the form of online, instant tests. Strand said he believes soon teachers will be able to give students instant tests, where students enter an answer on their

phone or tablet, and the teacher can immediately determine what percentage of the students answered correctly. Both Strand and Zsedemy said they believe such testing would be used primarily to determine whether the majority of the class is understanding a particular concept, or whether more review is needed. “You can see body language, but in a class of 30, you might miss a few,� Zsedemy said. “It definitely would catch kids that need more help.� The technology allows instant online


quizzes now. Jesse Thorstad, technology specialist for the district, says there are plenty of applications online. “That sort of thing is available online to anyone who wants it,� he said. Thorstad also estimated that 60 percent of high school students own their own smart phone or electronic tablet. “When you think about it, 60 percent of kids are carrying handheld computers more powerful than what we had in the schools five years ago,� Thorstad said. “It makes sense to leverage what they’re bringing to

school every day.� The issue, Thorstad said, is that 40 percent do not. District officials are still weighing whether to purchase devices for every student, or adopt the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy that many districts use. “The question is how we provide devices for students who don’t have them,� Thorstad said. “That’s not a leap we’ve made yet, but something that we’re definitely interested in, and one I see us doing in not too distant future.�

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From Page 26 200,000 tons of distillerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grains annually, which is sold to area cattle and dairy farmers. The company also in recent years added a corn oil extractor at a cost of $2 million. The oil extraction process produces 7.7 pounds of oil per bushel of corn, or about 15 million pounds of corn oil annually. The oil is industrial grade, sold to biodiesel customers, livestock producers and plastic manufacturers. Once the process is complete, the ethanol gets shipped in Otter Tail Valley Railroad cars to the BNSF rail yard in Dilworth. From there, it typically heads south. Stark said the biggest consumers of ethanol are California, Texas, Florida and the East Coast.

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Because of the distance between west central Minnesota and major population centers, Stark said, expansion of the Fergus Falls ethanol plant isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t likely. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t look to expand from an ethanol standpoint,â&#x20AC;? Stark said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When we look at opportunities to expand, we acquire other facilities.â&#x20AC;? Having ethanol plants stretching over a wide geographical area, Stark said, allows Green Plains to diversify their corn. If the crop is good in Minnesota, it might not be good in Tennessee. However, he said the Fergus Falls plant may one day be a candidate for an algae bioprocessing facility. That process would capture carbon

dioxide released during ethanol production and deliver it to greenhouses where algae are grown. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We can take the (algae) technology to other plants,â&#x20AC;? Stark said.

The future of corn While expansion may not be in the cards, Stark said, heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s optimistic about the plantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future. The high price of corn in 2012 certainly didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help ethanol producers. Stark said Green Plains was not profitable in the second and third quarters of 2012, and slowed production at its plants, including Fergus Falls, to 90 percent. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When corn prices are high, everyone slows their use of corn, including feeders,â&#x20AC;? Stark said. Since then, however, Green Plains has been profitable, and the recent decrease in corn prices certainly canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hurt. Stark, however, said the plantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s relationships with local corn farmers, and its policy of locking in corn prices at a profitable level early, rather than waiting for a spike in the market, helps manage risk.

The future of ethanol As for the long-term market for ethanol-based fuel, Stark said he has confidence ethanol can compete in the global marketplace. For one, wholesale ethanol is cheaper than petroleum, with the discount varying between 10 and 54 cents per gallon. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ethanol is the cheapest liquid fuel to produce, bar none,â&#x20AC;? said Stark, who also noted that

Joel Myhre/Daily Journal

The plant produces about 7.5 million gallons of ethanol annually. U.S. ethanol is consistently competitive in price to ethanol made in other parts of the world, such as sugar cane ethanol from Brazil. For another, ethanol is higher in octane than is petroleum, which provides more value to gasoline. And while the federal government mandates that 10 percent of all petroleum contain ethanol, Stark said it also makes logical sense for refiners to use it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a refiner, you have to meet the obligation to blend in ethanol,â&#x20AC;? Stark said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But it also makes sense economically, because that 10 percent costs less, and is higher in octane, than petroleum.â&#x20AC;? As for ensuring the 10 percent ethanol mandates continues, Green Plains certainly will have local farmers on their side. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ethanol is the right thing to do for rural communities,â&#x20AC;? Bradow said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a great thing to have in town.â&#x20AC;?


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From Page 23 with the experimental side of winemaking ever since. Demartelaere, who is an architect, said he has notebooks filled with notes on different wines heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s made. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s actually similar to architecture,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You basically design a wine and, depending on how many different varieties you mix together, it gives you a different type of wine. Architecture is just how many different building components you mix together to get the type of building you want.â&#x20AC;? At one time, Demartelaere thought he would turn his winemaking into a business, but the time consumed by even a small vineyard can be daunting. Grapes have very specific times they must be treated for diseases and then picked when ripe. Because of how sweet they are, they are popular food for birds and other critters and must be picked before being eaten. Of course, harsh winters can kill off even the heartiest of grapes as well. Even with all the challenges, however, the

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Minnesotaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s soil composition and summer climate make for perfect grape growing conditions. Demartelaere family has fun with the busy hobby. Demartelaere labels his wine with the name Stockland Vineyard, donating the finished product to charity auctions and giving bottles to friends. The social aspect initially drew him to the hobby and is what he believes continues to fuel its growth. The craft of the hobby seems to drive its popularity as well. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You can make wine a lot less expensive than you can buy it,â&#x20AC;? Demartelaere said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Homemade wine can be just as good if not better than store-bought wine.â&#x20AC;?

For the Nelsons, wine has been a popular beverage throughout history. Having the opportunity to make something locally that is unique to the area and to add the growing summer tourist season is also one of its draws. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People just like wine,â&#x20AC;? Barb said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Now, they are finally experimenting and tasting them.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re sitting on a sleeper here,â&#x20AC;? Steve added. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Minnesota has the quality if growers and makers demand it of themselves. I thinks it is just going to continue to be a growing industry.â&#x20AC;?

Station: FF still growing

Transit: Countywide

service being discussed obstacle to making any plan work. But he is willing to listen. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d certainly like to help out where we can, but it has to be feasible and make sense and not just be one person on the bus,â&#x20AC;? Toso said. But those plans are for another time. This year, the company hopes to focus on the services it already offers and getting even more ridership. Next year could be a different story. Toso has heard there could be more state transportation funding available and he would certainly be interested in getting some of that funding for Transit Alternatives. After all, Toso can only slow down so much.

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From Page 37 There are some biggerpicture items for the company as well. One such project could be a more county-wide service. Otter Tail County Commissioner Doug Huebsch said the County Board is in very preliminary stages of studying how such a large system would work or if it is needed at all. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what the ridership would be and we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know if thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a need,â&#x20AC;? Huebsch said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mean we shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tackle it.â&#x20AC;? Toso has had early discussion with county officials about a county-wide service, but any plan would be years in the making. From his end, Otter Tail Countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s size poses a large



The biggest problem Hanan, Fjestad and other solid waste employees have encountered is spreading awareness of the center to as many people as possible. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Many people still seem to think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just for municipal garbage haulers when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not,â&#x20AC;? Fjestad said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to get the word out to them.â&#x20AC;? Activity over the past few years has picked up a bit, according to Hanan, but is

still not at the level of other county stations in Battle Lake or Pelican Rapids. While the station in Fergus Falls may never be as busy as others throughout the county, mainly because Fergus Falls residents pay for curbside garbage collection more frequently, Fjestad and Hanan are hoping for continued growth. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My hope is today that people are at least accepting that the facility is compatible with whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s out there,â&#x20AC;? Hanan said.


From Page 18





Tours: Some have

Heather Rule/Daily Journal

Left: Maxine Schmidt starts off a tour of the Regional Treatment Center this past July by showcasing some photos of the Kirkbride facility. Tourists of the Regional Treatment Center wait to board the bus that will take them around the grounds.

included former RTC patients, employees

From Page 4 through media. A lot of it is through the Internet and word of mouth.” Among the thousands who’ve ventured to Fergus Falls to see the historic Kirkbride facility are people from 40 of the 50 states. It’s also attracted international visitors from eight other countries like Poland, Ecuador, Norway, Ireland and England. In 2006, the state hospital stopped providing transportation for the tours, and the building became vacant in 2009. But “there was never any doubt on continuing” the tours, Maxine Schmidt said. “We had bumps in the road and kept going,” Gene Schmidt said. Tours that stand out for the Fergus Falls couple are ones with school kids; Maxine Schmidt is excited to see the interest they have about the RTC. Then there have been tours where former RTC patients or employees are on board and willing to talk about their experiences. They even had a lady take the tour once whose father was an RTC patient. As a young girl, she was told her father was dead. She later found out that he sustained a head injury from a tree accident and was sent to the RTC. “And she was in tears at the end of the tour,” Maxine Schmidt said. The touring duo has learned a lot over the years, including all of the interest people have in Kirkbride buildings, which Maxine Schmidt was pleasantly surprised to learn. Gene and Maxine Schmidt are absolutely glad they have continued with the RTC tours for all these years. They do it for the people, since so many of them are just amazed at the building itself. “It has been a remarkable experience,” Maxine Schmidt said. The Schmidts hit the 9,000 milestone this past year and gave what could be the final tour ever. “We were feeling a little apprehensive that it might be the last tour,” Gene Schmidt said. It all depends on the plans of the city of Fergus Falls and developer Historic Kirkbride. Plans are in the works for an estimated $41.4 million redevelopment project to save the building from demolition. Maxine Schmidt has maintained her optimism from day one that something would be done with the RTC, but she also knows it’s not a done deal yet. She hopes a developer’s agreement is signed by year’s end. “This is a huge project,” Maxine Schmidt said. “And you don’t do it overnight.”

Photos provided Photos provided

Middle left: Television journalist Boyd Huppert, of KARE 11 from the Twin Cities, joined the Regional Treatment Center tour this past fall so he could tell the story of the tours. Bottom left: Many spots on the tours of the Regional Treatment Center presented photo opportunities for tourists.

Top right: Gene and Maxine Schmidt, of Fergus Falls, have given tours of the Regional Treatment Center on Friday afternoons for years. Middle right: One tour group at the Regional Treatment Center was an all-school reunion. Bottom right: Gene and Maxine Schmidt lead a tour group in the second floor east detached part of the Regional Treatment Center.



That's me. Your neighborhood Banker. A local professional who knows what you look for in a community bank. Demi S. Rian Bosse/Daily Journal

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Frank Oswald brings his life-long passion for guns and 22 years of experience in the military to his new repair shop, Center Shot Gunsmith, in Henning.

By Rian Bosse



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Daily Journal In a time of so many large-scale gun dealers and manufacturers, a gunsmith might seem like an antiquated profession. Henning resident Frank Oswald sees things a little differently, however. On Feb. 1, Oswald opened his new gun repair shot, Center Shot Gunsmith, in downtown Henning, turning his hold on a lost art into a way to keep busy in semiretirement. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what I do,â&#x20AC;? Oswald said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I love to restore, clean and just make the not so recognizable into something nice.â&#x20AC;? Oswald moved to the small town two years ago with his wife, Kelly, from the Twin Cities, looking for a return to the rural life he knew growing up in Andover. The Oswalds were immediately drawn to the friendly atmosphere of the town. When they made the move, Frank took a job at the local post office and Kelly as a bartender at a local pub. With the friendly reception, Frank said news of a gun repair shop was welcomed with enthusiasm. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been a single person who hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t come up to me to say hi,â&#x20AC;? Oswald said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I love it here,â&#x20AC;? Kelly added. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The people Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve met are like instant family. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll

do anything for each other here.â&#x20AC;? Since opening, Oswald said heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s had a steady stream of interest bringing in firearms. He only does repairs, restorations and customizations on firearms and does not sell guns or ammunition. While he canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do large overhauls, Oswald said he does pretty much anything short of redoing barrels. Running his worn hands over a bright stock he recently finished, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to tell he takes pride in his work. Oswald recently retired from 22 years in the Marine Corps and Army National guard, so working with firearms has become part of who he is. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For me, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just second nature. It really is,â&#x20AC;? Oswald said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A lot of it I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even have to think about.â&#x20AC;? Center Shot isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a typical business venture either. While Oswald recognized he could meet the need of a local gunsmith in the rural area, it also serves as a way for him to pass his time in retirement. Kelly said sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s happy to see her husband doing work he loves. Oswald is just happy he can bring something useful to the community â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and that he finally has time to do it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is my retirement,â&#x20AC;? Oswald said with a smile. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is what Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll do until I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do it anymore. This will be the last job Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have for the rest of my life.â&#x20AC;?



Oswald brings long-time passion for guns to area



Dedicated to his art Willet provides tattoo services in Henning area By Rian Bosse

Daily Journal f thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one thing Steve Willet knows, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tattoos. With 36 years in the business, heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s certainly learned a thing or two. Having a passion for drawing since the age of 5 has given the artist a skilled hand as well. Now, Willet has packed up those talents and moved them to the lakes area where he hopes he can do some good. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Slowly but surely the word is getting out,â&#x20AC;? Willet said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve had an overwhelming response from the people who have seen the work I do. I already have people from all over the place calling to make appointments this summer.â&#x20AC;? Willet moved his shop of 14 years, Unusual Expressions, from Minneapolis to


Rian Bosse/Daily Journal

Steve Willet recently moved his tattoo shop, Unusual Expressoins, from Minneapolis to downtown Henning. Willet prides himself in having 36 years of experience in the tattoo business.

See Willet â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Page 82

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Texting technology keeps Underwood students informed By Paula Wojcik


tion benefits stretch beyond that. There are many school teams and organizations that use texting to keep connected with members. He said when the National Honor Society does a community service project, the advisor will text message the kids reminders for where to be and when to be there. Coaches also use texting to alert the team of any changes in

who have their phones in class,â&#x20AC;? said Hamann. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If we hear them, they are taken away. For the most part, though, it has not been a problem.â&#x20AC;? The trend is growing for technology in the classroom, and while some teachers already allow cell phones in their classes, it is not the norm yet. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are getting closer to that point,â&#x20AC;? Hamann said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Cell phones are a valu-


Paula Wojcik/For The Journal

Underwood School has been using text messaging to keep students informed. able tool for data, research, even reading the newspaper. We are getting close to accepting them in the classroom. As a school, we are not there yet, but it is coming.â&#x20AC;? Hamann said there are definite concerns with full implementation of this type of technology in the classroom. â&#x20AC;&#x153;With social media what it is today, we cannot be too cautious in what we put out there,â&#x20AC;? Hamann said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The world is getting smaller. Anybody can see what you put out there whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Facebook, Tweeting or even texting. We really want to urge our students to keep that in mind when they are posting things. Once itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s out there, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s out there forever.â&#x20AC;?



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practice schedules or even play rehearsals. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I even use it to contact all my teachers, especially when there are late starts or cancellations due to the weather,â&#x20AC;? Hamann said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Texting is a great way to get the word out quickly.â&#x20AC;? For all the benefits of texting, there are definite drawbacks, especially when cell phones enter the classrooms. Underwood, like every other school district, has set rules and restrictions regulating cell phone use during school hours. While some teachers may allow cell phones in class for their Internet features and specific lessons, limits must be enforced. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have no doubt that there are some students


For The Journal ommunication is key in the success of any business. The business of education is no different, and with the advances in technology, excuses for lack of successful communication are falling to the wayside. Underwood High School is one of several schools in the area keeping connected with technology. Through use of text messaging, administrators, teachers and coaches are further opening the communication lines with the students and their families. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Officially, the text alert system is for school closings, late starts, cancellations and program changes,â&#x20AC;? said Superintendent and K-6 Principal Jeremy Olson. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have been using the School Reach program for the past three years, and families can indicate if they want to be contacted via text, email or phone calls.â&#x20AC;? The program has been successful for the district despite a minor hiccup when they stopped using it due to concerns regarding text messaging rates. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Most people have unlimited text plans now,â&#x20AC;? said Olson, â&#x20AC;&#x153;so, we havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t had any real concerns since we restarted the service. From what I understand, texting is a feature most parents like because of its convenience.â&#x20AC;? Not only are the parents happy with the service, but the administration is as well. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This allows us to get a hold of people using different means,â&#x20AC;? said Olson. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are able to reach more families this way.â&#x20AC;? High School Principal John Hamann agrees with the benefits of the technology. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Of course the main use is for alerts,â&#x20AC;? he said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;but the communica-



BATTLE LAKE on Highway 210

Check out our new C-Store!

Paul Wojcik/For The Journal

Battle Lakeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s downtown street project is nearly complete.

Road to success

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For The Journal The plans for pedestrian, bicycle and ADA improvements in downtown Battle Lake were set in motion late last summer


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as crews began construction just before Labor Day. The deconstruction of the road and sidewalks may have negatively impacted local businesses, but the owners are optimistic and project the benefits will outweigh the costs. Because the businesses were made aware of the impending detours, many were able to successfully prepare by modifying their stock and/or business hours. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The construction didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really affect our numbers too much,â&#x20AC;? said Meg Haviland, who owns Grannyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pantry with her husband Terry. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We knew it was coming so we planned for it.â&#x20AC;? The ice cream and candy parlor, which usually stays open through September, would have seen a significant hit to their books had the Havilands not been prepared. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We just decided that Labor Day would be the end of our season,â&#x20AC;? said Haviland. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We were grateful they didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take the sidewalk away before that.â&#x20AC;? Benâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bait also saw a slight decline in business with the implementation of the detour. Owner Bennet Stich indicated the placement of the barricades created some confusion, especially with those not familiar with the project. Considering the construction was primarily focused downtown, placing the barricades at the intersection of highways 78 and 210 deterred potential customers from visiting the bait store located on the outskirts of town. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Had the barricades been placed more up town, the construction would not have

See Street â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Page 82

Rebranding otter country


spective of how outsiders view our area.â&#x20AC;? Association board member Dan Hurder, of The Otter Supper Club and Lodge, said the association can use the study to rebrand Otter Tail Country, and better position the area as a tourism destination. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We now have access to general public perceptions,â&#x20AC;? Hurder said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;From everything spanning fishing to recreation to resorts â&#x20AC;&#x201C; now we know what people are interested in and what brings them to Otter Tail. Now we can market appropriately to highlight those areas of greater interest.â&#x20AC;? As a result of the study, the Otter Tail Country Tourism board intends to incorporate the word Lakes more prominently in its name: Otter Tail Lakes Country. They intend to perform a complete re-branding organizational image to reflect the study and will adhere to the branding guidelines. The associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plans include a complete redesign of the visitorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guide to reflect new branding as well. The new guide will also feature an online/mobile friendly Go-Guide. Keeping with the trend of technology, a fully redesigned website to reflect new branding will also be completed. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Through the generous support of the commissioners, we are able to create a whole new website for Otter Tail Lakes Country,â&#x20AC;? said Leonard. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It will be more

Journal ďŹ le photo

Turtle races are a popular summer event in Battle Lake. comprehensive and integrated regardless of affiliation with the association. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And it will benefit visitors and residents alike,â&#x20AC;? he continued. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Instead of having to visit each communityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s individual website for a listing of events, our site will feature a one-stop source for all area events. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be a very comprehensive site.â&#x20AC;? The study also pinpointed aspects of the area that visitors most associated with. According to study findings, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the images of Otter Tail County that respondents ranked most positively relate to the natural environment and the small town feel of the area.â&#x20AC;? The study also revealed that visitors are quite loyal to the region, with the vast majority expecting to visit again as well as recommending Otter Tail County

to friends and relatives. With its new look and tag line, A Thousand Lakes, A Thousand Memories, Otter Tail Lakes Country is gearing up for an exciting year.



   6 #+("0%5"0&"04)'-&2  "*&4&"22+&"*&.5-2.5- .301  ",2. /,.-0) ",2. /,"2



For The Journal A successful tourist destination needs many elements â&#x20AC;&#x201C; most importantly, tourists. However, if it is not determined who those tourists are, how can one effectively promote its resources? From an idea that originated from Otter Tail County Economic Development Committee (facilitated by County Commissioners), Otter Tail Lakes Country Tourism Association commissioned a marketing study to rebrand Otter Tail Country Tourism to better market the vast resources the area has to offer as a tourist destination. Partially funded by Otter Tail County, research for the marketing survey was conducted by the University of Minnesota - Morris Center of Small Towns and the local regional Extension Office with input from U of M Tourism Center. According to Otter Tail Country Tourism association board member Nick Leonard of East Silent Resort, the study has yielded an impressive return on their investment. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For the first time we really have taken an assessment of how visitors and consumers view the area,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This study is all about perception. As local residents most of us already know what our county has to offer, but now we gain a new per-


By Paula Wojcik


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Daily Journal or some in the restaurant and bar business, an expanded menu might go by unnoticed. But in a small town like Ashby, it can mean a lot the entire community. That was the idea behind a recent expansion at the Ashby American Legion. After a bar shut down downtown last year, manager Jim Karl noticed residents and possible patrons were leaving town. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There was nothing open in the evening,â&#x20AC;? Karl said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There was no place to get a burger and fries or a bite to eat, so we thought we were losing that business out of town.â&#x20AC;? To draw people keep people from leaving town at night, Karl and the


Rian Bosse/Daily Journal

Jim Karl, manager of the Ashby American Legion, expanded the kitchen menu after a bar closed downtown and patrons were leaving town for dinner. Karl believes the expanded menu will help keep people in town, which should help other businesses as well. Top left: Small portraits line a veterans display in the Ashby American Legion. American Legion expanded its dinner menu options. From that point on, burgers, drummies and chicken strips became hot new items. As much as Karl wanted



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even something typical can mean a lot. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When one business starts closing and others follow, then towns like Ashby shut down,â&#x20AC;? Karl said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Every business means a lot in a small community.â&#x20AC;?


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Steve Moran, left, Rod Moe and Rickie Adams share a drink at the Ashby American Legion. The post is dedicated to causes in the community and honoring veterans from the area. Top Right: The Ashby American Legion expanded its kitchen menu this fall in order to help keep patrons from leaving the city.

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picnic and a number of weddings and other events throughout the year. The building is also home to a number of artifacts and memorabilia commemorating local veterans and their service. Two large cases display photos, helmets and uniforms from past wars. On the back wall, an original flag from the Legionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s precursor, the Grand Army of the Republic, hangs with just 48 stars. Karl said the new menu has started to draw some more people and that the Legion is always willing to expand a little more. As the first few regulars make their way through the front door in the early evening, the bar seems like any establishment typical to the Midwest. But for Karl,


prides itself in what it gives back to the community. On the wall just behind the bar at the center of the establishment is a glass-covered board with the postâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s donations from the past year. Its total for the last year: $13,000. Karl said that is usually a consistent number from year to year. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gambling license, including traditional and e-pulltabs, also helps bring money to local needs. The Legion also brings its walleye fish fry to the Minnesota Veterans Home in Fergus Falls every year. The large size of the building also offers a variety of community-centered events throughout the year. It holds its annual Parking Lot Dance every year, the Rod and Gunsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Coots


but they left town for everything else,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We need to keep business like that here.â&#x20AC;? Open Monday through Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m., the Ashby American Legion serves a tasty spread of baskets, including drummies grilled chicken and even a flat hot dog. The prices are competitively priced and to-go orders are available. The only days the menu is closed is on the Legionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s traditional fish and steak fries, which it still holds twice a month. While it might seem like a small step in the continuing endeavor to bolster the small community and its business, the expansion is another way the Karl and the Legion hope to continue its support of the area. In his 13 years as manager at the Ashby American Legion, Karl said that is one thing that makes the post unique. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the way (the American Legion) supports the community,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The way it gives money back to the community and how the community also supports the Legion.â&#x20AC;? The 230-member Legion

EL Veterans Memorial to open soon By Chris Reinoos

Daily Journal Clint Grove has lived with the Elbow Lake Veterans Memorial project for the past three years. He has felt equal parts happiness, frustration, anger and satisfaction at different times. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have seen the best of people and we have seen the worst,â&#x20AC;? said Grove, the president of the Grant County Veteransâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Memorial Support Organization. Now, the project is mere months from completion. Grove said things have turned out better than he could have hoped for. After discussions to have the memorial located at the Grant County Courthouse stalled, Grove turned to the Prairie Ridge Hospital Board of Directors. It didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take long for Grove to know this was the place for the memorial. He said the board has been extremely helpful. Hospital officials have offered to pay for the long-term maintenance of the 50-by-60 foot memorial, which will reside just off a private road leading to the hospital. The new location allowed Grove and others to change the design. Initially, bricks with the names of veterans etched into them were to be placed into the ground on the memorial site. Now, the bricks will be put into two el-

evated fixtures made out of granite. Each fixture will be able to hold about 350 bricks, according to Grove. Having the bricks above ground was a welcome design change for many veterans and their families, Grove said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We like to say itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s designed by veterans, for veterans,â&#x20AC;? he said. Grove has traveled all over the state in recent years, looking for ideas for the memorial. But he said he hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seen any memorials quite like this one. Along with the granite fixtures, there will be benches on the plot, as well as a master list of the veterans whose names are etched on the bricks. Grove is also hopeful to add a map of Grant County, etched in granite, in the middle of the memorial at some point in the future. Construction is scheduled to begin as soon as the snow clears this spring, with a dedication ceremony tentatively planned for July 4, 2014. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Fourth of July is everybodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s holiday,â&#x20AC;? Grove said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Individual towns in Grant County donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have anything special going on, so itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a perfect day. We anticipate a pretty good turnout when that day comes.â&#x20AC;? While the July 4 dedication is the ultimate goal, Grove will just be happy to see the memorial built at all after encountering many obstacles the past three years.


Chris Reinoos/Daily Journal

Above: Clint Grove has spent three years working on the Grant County Veteransâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Memorial, on which construction will begin in the spring with a goal of a July 4 dedication ceremony. Left: About 700 engraved bricks will ďŹ t in two elevated ďŹ xtures at the memorial.


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Cosmos looks to better year in ‘14 S

that 90 percent of the company’s sales come from buyers in the Twin Cities area. Many of these companies have been ordering parts from shops in China, Mexico and Taiwan for the past several years. But Chandler has heard from some of these companies that the products delivered are not of a high quality. “Sometimes it isn’t just the lowest cost,” Chandler said. By getting back a few of their old customers and reaching out to new ones, Grove and Chandler expect business to pick up in 2014. “Last year was just OK and we are looking forward to a little better business in 2014,” Chandler said. But Grove also cautioned that uncertainty surrounding the national Affordable Care Act could play a part in the company’s future. Although he doesn’t expect much impact this year, 2015 and beyond will be crucial years for Cosmos Enterprises’ health care costs. But just as with the overseas competition, Grove hopes to find a way to grow his business despite the obstacles.

Chris Reinoos/Daily Journal

Production manager David Bates (left), with President Robert Grove, among Cosmos’ 22 employees.



Chris Reinoos/Daily Journal

P.O. Box 30, 26 Central Avenue, Elbow Lake, MN 54531

Cosmos Enterprises President Bob Grove (left) has faith in his employees, including Randy Hanson, to deliver higher-quality products.


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Daily Journal ince the economic recession of the late 2000s, business hasn’t been quite the same for Cosmos Enterprises, a machine shop located in Elbow Lake. They have lost many customers to overseas factories that offer cheaper manufacturing. But the company’s President Bob Grove said Cosmos has learned how it has to compete with these more affordable options. “We discovered where we can beat them is quality and delivery,” Grove said. Slowly but surely, some of the work lost to overseas factories is coming back to Cosmos. After a lackluster sales year in 2012, business was slightly up in 2013 and officials are expecting even more growth this year. Much of the work coming back from factories in places like China is the manufacturing of bigger or more complex parts. Grove and Cosmos sales manager Kelly Chandler said those factories are adept at highvolume manufacturing but they lack the ability to excel with more complex work. “Some of these parts you have to be pretty creative to make and I think that’s how domestic shops will shine,” Grove said. Cosmos Enterprises has 22 employees, six of whom are non-production staff. Despite more automated machines in their workshop, the physical employees are still vital to the company. The vast majority of the company’s business is done in the Upper Midwest, Chandler said. Chandler and Grove estimated


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Using quality to compete with foreign manufacturers




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Chris Reinoos/Daily Journal

Recent expansions at the Elbow Lake grain elevator have given employees more space to work and have increased loading times for products such as corn.

Fertilizer plant on way EL co-op looking to increase efďŹ ciency


By Chris Reinoos

Daily Journal The Elbow Lake Grain Co-op has grown substantially the last few years. With big plans for 2014, the co-op shows no signs of slowing down. The co-op will be building a new fertilizer plant later this year, according to General Manager Al Mashek. Construction on the new-7,200 ton plant is set to begin in June, and Mashek said the project should be finished by November. Local farmers have been pleased with the recent expansions and are excited by the new fertilizer plant as well, according to

Mashek. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s positive and they appreciate a place close by that they can have rail access,â&#x20AC;? he said. Rail access has been the impetus for most of the coopâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s moves the past handful of years, Mashek said. The co-op added a new drying system in 2010, along with 1.4 million bushels of storage space for their switch from smaller grains to predominantly corn. The space has given co-op employees more room to work, making the entire operation more efficient, Mashek said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re able to load trains a little faster and have more grain on hand,â&#x20AC;? he said. The expansion projects have also enabled the coop to have more trains on hand. Because rail transportation can be sporadic at times, having more transportation options on site has kept the co-opâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s deliveries running on time,

according to Mashek. The co-op has not added employees during its recent expansion. Mashek said more workers have not been needed because the current employees have been so effective working with the new space. Along with its grain work, the co-op also deals in agronomy and fertilizer products. The new fertilizer plant, which will be located in Elbow Lake, should increase the efficiency on that side of the business, Mashek said, with faster loading and unloading times. Planning for the new plant started about two years ago and the process has stayed on track during that time, Mashek said. As with the grain expansion, the fertilizer plant has been planned with one thing in mind: the customer. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think we can provide a better service throughout the year,â&#x20AC;? Mashek said.

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Ranum has passion for service NYM supervisor has been with county for 28 years

She spent most of her career as an eligibility worker but took over as income maintenance supervisor three years ago. Coworkers said she has to handle a lot of tough cases but always does it with a smile and positive attitude. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Cheryl is extremely personable and easy to talk to,â&#x20AC;? said eligibility worker Candice Oseien. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She kind of watches over things here and puts out our fires.â&#x20AC;? Much of what Ranum does involves providing financial and social services to residents and determining appropriate benefits on a case-by-case basis. The endless stack of paperwork is necessary, but she said her favorite part of the job is working with people. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a people person,â&#x20AC;?

Seth Johnson/Daily Journal

While Cheryl Ranum spends much of her day behind a pile of paperwork, her favorite thing to do is spend time with her daughters Jessica and Ellie, and granddaughters Avery and Annabel (above). said Ranum. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rewarding to help people. On the flip side, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s frustrating when we canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t because of rules. When people get stuck, they come to me.â&#x20AC;? MNSure has turned the world upside down for the entire department, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not the first time Ranum has seen a significant change. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In 1990 or so, they developed our first computer

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has answers to what are sometimes tricky questions when cases arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t black and white. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She is a friendly face in the office, and she is also our public face,â&#x20AC;? Sondag said. Working for the Department of Human Services can be draining, and Ranum said itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important to take some time to laugh once in a while.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have to keep our sense of humor around here,â&#x20AC;? said Sondag. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It can be a stressful, dreary job.â&#x20AC;? When sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not putting out fires at work, Ranum said she enjoys spending time with her daughters and grandchildren. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I would say my hobby is my 16-year-old,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We love to go to movies together and watch sports.â&#x20AC;?

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system,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We spent a whole summer with no vacation moving paper files to computers. Thousands of cases needed to be entered manually. I remember the first time a mouse came with our computer system. Just think of what has happened in the last 20 years.â&#x20AC;? Eligibility worker Pam Sondag said Ranum is very knowledgeable and always

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Daily Journal Fergus Falls is where much of the Otter Tail County business takes place, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s often easy to overlook the county offices and employees in New York Mills; however, there is one person in the countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s east offices who would be hard to forget. Mother, grandmother and income maintenance supervisor for the Otter Tail County Department of Human Services, Cheryl Ranum has been working with the county since 1986. Her job might be tough, but her laugh and smile are contagious. Ranum began working in office support for the Department of Human Services in Fergus Falls 28 years ago.


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Daily Journal ince opening last fall, Ottertailâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new bike path has been a popular place. Now, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be a little bit more of a beautiful place. This spring, new trees will be planted along the path that runs from Highway 78 down Highway 108. Being so popular of a place, community leaders felt it deserved some additional work. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s amazing. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m amazed by the number of people who use it,â&#x20AC;? said Keith Fleischauer, a member of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s planning committee. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Right from the start this fall and they used it all the way up until it had

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too much snow on it.â&#x20AC;? Since itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s completion, the popular destination for exercise and biking adventure has just been, well, a stretch of pavement. With the update, members of the community hope it will be the start of a number of projects meant to spruce up the path. The $10,000 project is thanks to a grant and design assistance from the Minneosta Department of Transportation and the efforts from the tight-knit community. Fleischauer also credited local resident Tom Behn, a former MnDOT employee, with guiding the town to the available funding. MnDOT will furnish close to 100 trees that will set root along the path. In the future, a second phase has been planned for

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the stretch that runs from the intersection of the two highways down Highway 78 to where the path ends. Other projects are in the works to follow as well. Fleischauer said there are hopes for new benches and bike racks along the path. Plans for informational signs to be placed where a Native American burial mound was accidentally interrupted during the pathâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s construction have also been in the works for some time. Eventually, Fleischauer mentioned there could be trees across the highway as well, creating a canopy effect driving into town. Much like the bike path, the beautification project has become a community effort. The city has agrees to water the trees

for the first few years and First National Bank will also help with watering as well. As far as getting the trees in the ground, the community will need to provided volunteers for the tentative planting date of May 17th. In his 17 years on the planning committee, Fleischauer said heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s seen the people of Ottertail do their part to make their town a better place. This project should be no different. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This towns always rose to the occasion to do stuff like this,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always good to see.â&#x20AC;? Residents interested in helping with the spring planting can contact Fleischauer or anyone in the city offices.




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Ottertailâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new bike path will be lined with about 100 new trees this spring. The project is thanks to a $10,000 grant from MnDOT and the work of community volunteers. Future projects are also in the works to give the path a more natural look.

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Engineer: Alice water levels will return to normal Daily Journal While the lower water level of Lake Alice in recent years has been disappointing to residents, city officials assure that the level will return to normal within a year. The city council’s decision to lower the lake level over the past couple of years has bristled neighboring residents. “Lake Alice used to be a park with short grass down to the lake,” lake resident Deb Nelson said. “Now, with the cattails, it no

longer is. It’s disappointing.” The level was reduced to accommodate construction on the south side of Lake Alice, said Pat Reisnour, an engineer for Interstate Engineering, who did the project on behalf of the city. “If the lake level would have been high, we would have had water in the water and sewer trenches,” Reisnour said. Reisnour did say there were side benefits, such as the death of the stickleback min-

nows, which eat vegetation that helps reduce phosphorus levels. The lower levels also prompted the growth of cattails, a natural filter that also helps reduce phosphorus levels. “In its natural state, Lake Alice should have cattails on it,” Reisnour said. The cattails also reduced the numbers of waterfowl on the lake, since it significantly reduced shoreline access. The reduced waterfowl numbers, and the natural waste they give off, meant less phosphorus in the lake

as well, Reisnour said. However, Reisnour assured that Lake Alice will return to normal levels, once the rain comes, of course. He said in a normal year, it would take more than a year to return the lake from the level it was at to the normal level, “but we have not had a normal year,” Reisnour said. Though he couldn’t predict summer rain, Reisnour said Lake Alice would return to normal levels in the fall of 2014.

Alice: State legacy

grant might cover some of the cost

From Page 7 man, and the bad algae odor would be significantly reduced. The options for dredging the lake would be either to drain it completely, or to create a lagoon and dredge it with the lake still full of water. The muck could either be hauled away to farmland or a landfill. There also is a possibility of building an island of muck in the lake, so to speak. “Dredging is one of the most effective options for removing sediment,” McConn said. Another option would be to, in essence, flush the lake out. There are times of the year when higher levels dissolved phosphorus are in the water. During those times, chemicals would be added to the water, allowing the phosphorus to be carried away, eventually, into the Otter Tail River. The cost of the flushing method is less, but it also would take a longer time, and move the phosphorus down the river for others to deal with. “We essentially would be pushing phosphorus downstream to someone else,” Reisnour said. “It would be a lower cost for Fergus Falls, but we’re pushing the problem to Lake Winnipeg.” What is more, the phosphorus would eventually build up again unless there was a plan to stop Lake Alice from being used as a storm sewer drain. One plan created by Interstate Engineering would divert the storm drains around Lake Alice, treat the water by creating a wetland, underground piping system and grit chamber, and send the treated water to the Otter Tail River. The cost of such a system would be about $3 million. Long-time resident and former Otter Tail Power employee Charles Grunewald has a plan that would pump water from the Otter Tail River’s downtown dam to the lake at night, when power is cheaper, and then have it flow back to the river by a system of pipes

Joel Myhre/Daily Journal

Lake Alice’s 1.1-mile shoreline only a block from downtown is popular with runners and walkers alike. during the day. Such a system, Grunewald said, would allow for fresh water to flush out Lake Alice, reducing phosphorus levels, without having to divert the storm system. “It’s not free, but I believe it’s a more frugal approach,” Grunewald said. As far as preventing phosphorus from goose droppings, solutions vary from the non technical, such as “Do Not Feed the Geese signs,” teams of people using rakes to shoo them away, getting dogs to scare them away, to more involved, such as planting additional natural vegetation or adding a chemical to the water which is distasteful to waterfowl but not harmful.

Paying for it all No approach to cleaning up Lake Alice would be free. And right now, the city doesn’t have the money. Over the past year, the city has made about $700,000 of improvements to the south side of the lake, including streets, utilities and lighting. The funds were courtesy of a tax

increment financing generated from an Otter Tail Power office building. The TIF district is gone. And clearly, residents around the lake aren’t willing to accept the steep price of assessments. “I certainly hope (city officials) don’t think the residents are going to pick up the tab for this,” Kunz said. There are some potential pots of state money, City Engineer Edwards said, but they certainly aren’t guaranteed. The Minnesota Clean Water Land and Legacy fund, which uses three-eighths of a percent of the state sales tax, requires that 33 percent of the sales tax revenue collected is used for clean water efforts. Such grants are competitive, however, and Edwards said it is unlikely the entire Lake Alice plan would be covered. “We’re certainly not envisioning 100 percent grants to cover all this,” Edwards said. “We have to decide what makes the most sense before we apply for a grant,” he added. Mayor Hal Leland said he believes dredg-

ing makes the most sense, but a complete sewer system diversion does not. “The cost of diverting the storm sewers is definitely prohibitive,” Leland said. “I think we need to dredge Lake Alice, but I don’t think we can afford to divert it.” McConn points that there is also an option of waiting and hoping funding becomes available in later years. “There have been a lot of studies done over the years. They all say that unless some changes happen, Lake Alice will continue in the same pattern,” McConn said. “In other words, 20 years from now, we can still say ‘let’s do this to Lake Alice.’” Provided they weren’t the only ones to foot the bill, residents agreed that having a cleaner Lake Alice would be preferred. “Lake Alice is definitely a draw, and a nice place to have a home by,” said Jim Danner, a local Realtor who has homes listed along Lake Alice. “Whatever they do, it would be nice to have a plan and see it executed.”

Patch: Trucking


From Page 11 “It’s been a great thing, and yet tough to manage,” Ewan said. Ewan, who has relatives living in western North Dakota, said the effect of the oil industry on western North Dakota is clearly noticeable — new restaurants, hotels, apartments, retail stores provide the evidence. “Every time I go out there, there’s something new,” he said. But the stories Ewan has heard about the “wild west” mentality — particularly crime — he feels are overblown. “There’s certainly a different element due to the workforce that’s out there,” Ewan said. “But it’s still safer than a lot of places I’ve been. I really don’t mind working out there. It’s not bad. It’s just different.” Whether that will continue in the coming years or lead to a more permanent move, Ewan isn’t quite sure. “Right now it works for us to be here, but it’s hard to know what the future may hold,” Ewan said. “It’s unique to be a part of, but it’s definitely a challenge.”

Red Rock Transportation

Photo provided

Pictured above is a rail terminal Interstate Engineering designed for loading liquid propane. Of course, the pay also has also significantly increased. Laurel said CDL drivers make about twice the money they would in Minnesota. “It’s good to see these down-to-earth guys making great money,” Laurel Nelson said. The Nelsons say the operation certainly has had an impact on the Fergus Falls economy. In addition to the $1 million payroll going to employees who live in the Fergus Falls area, the company used Fergus Falls contractors to build the company’s shop and office buildings in Watford City, purchased trailer homes, vehicles, office furniture in Fergus Falls. Red Rock also operates the accounting office locally, and serves many of the trucks in town. “It’s definitely having an impact on Fergus Falls,” Brent Nelson said. Red Rock driver Forrest Hanson, who has been with Red Rock for three years, said he also has seen dramatic changes in the Oil Patch since he started. “It’s wild out there,” said Hanson, who drives to job sites that range from 60 and 200 miles from Watford City. “The building going on is just incredible.”

Interstate Engineering Platting — the splitting up of a large piece of land into distinct parcels — is a specialty of Interstate Engineering, which has an office in Fergus Falls. In the Oil Patch, the demand for the surveying services needed to create well plats is huge. Those who own the mineral rights on a piece of land have the right to drill, operate

Photo provided

Pictured is a view of western North Dakota’s landscape from a Red Rock Transportation truck. and maintain a well. However, the surface of the land can be used for other purposes, such as ranching, farming or building buildings on it. But it is important that the easements — or designated areas for oil wells or pipelines — are mapped to ensure buildings are not built over pipelines. Thus, engineers who have the skills to do such surveying and mapping are in short supply and great demand in western North Dakota. That’s where Fergus Falls resident Pat Reisnour comes in. Interstate, with its headquarters in Jamestown, for several years has offices in Sydney, Mont., and Williston and Belfield in western North Dakota. “Our business has been there before the oil boom,” Reisnour said. “We have the local connection.” The demand for land surveying and mapping services has required Interstate to use the Fergus Falls office for many jobs. Reisnour, who has made eight or nine trips to western North Dakota over the past year, typically will make a trip to meet the client, get the specifics of the work required, and then take the work back to the

Fergus Falls office to complete. “It’s hard to get skilled staff out there,” Reisnour said. “We use the Fergus Falls office to augment our staff and get the work done.” Reisnour also has done platting for railroad lines, which have been constructed because of the demands of loading crude oil, importing drill piping and fracking sand. Reisnour said while the activity has slowed since its peak a couple years ago, it’s still a sight to see. “The traffic levels on Interstate 94 are tremendous,” he said. “There’s no quiet time out there. It’s open all hours.” While big engineering firms have come in to do work as well, Reisnour said he believes Interstate’s long-time presence gives the company an advantage, and stability if and when the oil boom subsides. “Our office was always working for communities, counties. They always did,” he said. “When the oil is all gone, those communities will still be there, but nobody else will be.”


The demand for trucks is massive in the Oil Patch. Trucks bring water to the wells, since water is a key component in the process of extracting oil from shale. Trucks also deliver the oil to pipelines and rail lines. Brent and Laurel Nelson, owners of Nelson Auto Center in Fergus Falls and natives of North Dakota, decided to invest in Red Rock Transportation about seven years ago when asked by Guy Thompson and Robert Pfiefer, who felt there was a burgeoning demand. “Gary felt the oil industry out there was poised for a boom, and wanted to know if we wanted to be a partner,” Brent said. “We said yes.” Since then, the company has grown from four trucks to 45, and from six employees to more than 70. Red Rock’s primary functions are to haul oil from the wells to the pipeline or rail head. They also haul salt water from the well head to disposal wells. The Nelsons say the work has consistently outpaced the supply of drivers. To attract new employees, they built a mobile home park in Watford City, and created the five-on-five concept: shuttling employees to western North Dakota for five straight days, and then giving them five days off.


demand reason Nelsons invested in Red Rock



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Helping sustain the herd PR’s Tyler Scott leading effort to improve deer population By Zach Stich

Daily Journal ou’re walking through the woods, smelling the autumn breeze as you climb into your stand, setting up and preparing to lock in your sights on that perfect buck. All of a sudden you hear the rustle of dry leaves from your side. You turn your head and catch a glimpse of a majestic year and a half old buck, striding toward your stand. You steady your gun, look through your scope – and you let it go. Pelican Rapids native Tyler Scott and other members of the Heart O’ Lakes Whitetails Quality Deer Management Association ask hunters to do just that as the group looks to improve the overall deer population and increase the older age class of antlered deer in the area. Over five years ago, members of the QDMA group noticed that due to intensive harvest and harsh winter conditions, the deer population had taken a hit. The local chapter was established four years ago in



hopes of helping the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources maintain sustainable herd in its area. “The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has done a good job at managing a sustainable herd statewide, but yet in many areas around the state there are areas in which numbers have been below carrying capacity for quite some time now,” Scott said. “A number of QDM chapters, such as ours, have popped up around the state to help micro manage their local herds” Scott has noticed that since the group has started their efforts, there has been a few older age class of deer in the area, but he realizes that this will be an ongoing process. “This is not going to be a change we are going to see overnight. Results we are looking for may take up to 6-10 years as more and more hunters become aware of the efforts put forth by their neighbor.” The QDMA also promotes and encourages the future of hunting as they raise funds through raffles

Photo Provided

Pelican Rapids’ Tyler Scott, left, and the Heart O’Lakes Whitetails Quality Deer Management Association have worked to help increase an older class of deer in the area. Here, Scott and a friend show off their recent trophy bucks. and banquets to support young hunters. The Heart O’Lakes Whitetails was instrumental in pushing for and financially supporting the National Archery in the Schools Program at Pelican Rapids Elementary School. Currently, Sheri O’Brien’s physical education class, assisted by Brent Fraizer, has incorporated the program into its curriculum. “We have received nothing but great remarks on how much the young students have gravitated toward the sport of archery. Our organization plans to continue to support the program going forward as we hope this will only grow in popularity,” Scott said. The group also hold a local turkey hunt, taking 10 hunters, between the ages of 10-16, for a weekend of hunting, educa-

tion and gun safety. “The weekend experience starts out on a Friday night with a big meal followed by a couple of guest speakers presenting on turkey hunting and gun safety when afield. The evening is summed up with a meet and greet of the hunters participating and the guides who have volunteered their time to take each of the young hunters. This particular event has been a true blessing to be a part of for all of us,” Scott says. Scott encourages area hunters to get active in managing the deer population in their area, with the first step being communication. “If I were to suggest anything on helping to better your deer hunting opportunities it would be to get in contact with your neighbors. The only way we as neighbors can

Photo Provided

The Heart O’Lakes Whitetails also sponsor a turkey shoot for young hunters. Scott, left, and the group have helped sponsor archery in the Pelican Rapids school district, as well as education for younger hunters. effectively better our deer herd is by keeping an open line of communication on yearly goals and motives in which to improve our local deer herd together,” Scott said.

If you are interested in getting active with the cause, you can contact Branch President Steve Kulsrud at 651-239-9041 or by e-mail

‘Yes’ vote means new look for Pelican Rapids School


Zach Stich/Daily Journal


Bringing Solar Energy to our Community

By Zach Stich

The Pelican Rapids High School is steadily preparing for its renovation as drafts for the renovation are underway. The nearly 100-year-old school will be excepting bids for the project in late March to early April.

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case several new amenities, including drop-off area, handicap-accessible fine arts auditorium, improved running track and multiple classroom improvements. After the completion of drafts, the school will start excepting bids in late March or early April.

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groups. This way we hope to find out what the public wants from their local schools and if they have any concerns we need to address,” Wanek said. Wanek and the school board are currently waiting for the a detailed plan from the architect that will show-

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Daily Journal Winding your way around the nearly 100-yearold Pelican Rapids High School, you could see that the building had yet to have stepped into the 21st century. But after the night of Wanek Nov. 5, 2013, the community of Pelican Rapids voted to bring its school into the modern era by approving a $21.9 million renovation. The project, estimated to be completed in the fall of 2016, was initially met with animosity by local voters as a group known as PR Care looked to squash the referendum. Pelican Rapids Superintendent Deb Wanek has said that since the election, tension has gone down and detractors have remained silent. The next step in the plan is to have the building committee hold community meetings where residents can express what they want from the district. “We hope to do a strategic planning process in the very near future and hold various community

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After the storm: Some Wahpeton residents still recovering By Chris Reinoos

Daily Journal A severe storm on Aug. 6, 2013 hit the neighboring towns of Breckenridge and Wahpeton, N.D. at about 4:30 p.m. The storm came on intensely and left in a flash, lasting about 30 min-

utes. But unlike the storm itself, some of the damage has been long-lasting. Darcie Huwe, Wahpeton’s finance director, said there was $20,000 worth of damage to vehicles belonging to members of the city

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dents. “We did see quite a few building permits for siding and shingles work,” Huwe said. The damage in Breckenridge was not nearly as severe, according to the city’s Director of Public Service

Roger Avelsgard. Some trees and limbs did come down the day of the storm, but those were cleaned up quickly. A flagpole went down in the city, but that was also taken care of promptly by the city’s public works and


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utility employees. “After a storm, you’re going to have some of that,” Avelsgard said. Huwe said the northwest side of Wahpeton seemed to suffer the bulk of the damage. She expects most housing work to be finished by late summer, including work on her own home, which suffered about $30,000 worth of damage. Despite some work left to do to recover from the storm, Huwe said the fighting spirit of Wahpeton residents has been encouraging. “Residents are pretty amazing when there is a natural disaster,” she said. “That urge to get things back to the way they were or better is pretty impressive.” Come in and visit with Mike or Willie about your new dock, lift, and accessories.


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Richland County officials planning many events Daily Journal The initial plan from Richland County officials to celebrate the county courthouse’s 100-year anniversary was a modest coffee-and-doughnuts lunch sometime this year. But soon enough, “the horse was out of the barn,” according to Richland County Commissioner Dan Thompson. From that initial concept, dozens of Richland County officials and residents have put together a year-long celebration for the courthouse and, by extension, the county itself. “This is supposed to get people to know that they own this


Chris Reinoos/Daily Journal

Dan Thompson and Kaye Braaten have been instrumental in the planning and organizing of this year’s 100th anniversary celebration of the Richland County Courthouse. well. The committee has booked time on a Wahpeton radio station through October to promote different county government departments. While many details still have to be ironed out, Braaten said the final event of the celebration will be a picnic outside the courthouse this fall. “The courthouse used to be

the social place and we want it to end as the social place,” she said. For Thompson, this year is all about reminding people of how the government works for them and just how much government employees enjoy their work. Now, he and many others have a lot longer than a coffee break to do just that.

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county and they own this government,” said Kaye Braaten, a former county commissioner and one of the main organizers of the celebration. The celebration kicked off last month with an employee appreciation luncheon and will continue into the fall. While not many things are set in stone so far, Braaten and other members of the planning committee have been dreaming big. Braaten has reached out to the office of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to try and book him for an appearance over the summer. Braaten has even written a letter to Chief Justice Antonin Scalia requesting he visit Richland County as



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Novak enters new role with NYM schools By Rian Bosse

Daily Journal A lot has happened in Blaine Novakâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 25 years with the New York Mills school district â&#x20AC;&#x201D; in and out of the classroom. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When we moved to New York Mills, my wife and I had Novak no children,â&#x20AC;? Novak said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At this point, we have grandchildren in the district.â&#x20AC;? Novak entered the 201314 school year as the districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new superintendent. Since coming to New York Mills, Novak has served a number of roles, including science teacher, coach, athletic director, Community Education director and, for the last five years, as High School principal. Ever since he first moved to the small town, Novak, a native of Foley, knew it would be a good fit. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just a great place to live and to have your family,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When we came here to New York Mills to get a start, we knew it was a good fit for our family. It was just a homey community and someplace we wanted to embed ourselves.â&#x20AC;? Novak was given the job last March and took over in September. Growing as an educator in the community has had its advantages and

Novak points to the unique educational atmosphere within the school and town as one of the primary influences in his career. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We just have exceptional students. I think our student body is filled with exceptionally good people,â&#x20AC;? Novak said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have a community that supports the educational community so well. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something that is not unique to just New York Mills, but not necessarily found to the degree that we have it here.â&#x20AC;? The districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s K-12 enrollment is 720 this year. Novak said he will keep focused on everyone of his students, even in a new roll. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The proudest moments always are when you see the students excelling or you see the student graduating who, two years ago, didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t plan on graduating,â&#x20AC;? Novak said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really watching the students succeed. If thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a proudest moment in school itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s watching your students excel to a high level or exceed beyond what they thought they could.â&#x20AC;? Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an attitude Novak said he believes is widespread in New York Mills. With the community unique in its agricultural and industrial economic base, the support educators receive has created a history of excellence. Novak has plans for that to continue. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I do feel that we are going to continue to offer a great opportunity for education here,â&#x20AC;? Novak said.

Deanna Klein

218-739-7022 Street: Business owners say beneďŹ ts worth cost From Page 66 affected us as much, especially with the tourists,â&#x20AC;? said Stich. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The detour really hurt business because people were confused by it. They didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know if they could cross the barricade or where to go. It was just easier for them to bypass the whole stretch.â&#x20AC;? The detour also had a negative impact on the Shoreline restaurant.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;People just didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to deal with the detours unless they were local,â&#x20AC;? said owner Pat Kalk. However, Kalk indicated that things could have been worse. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Tearing up the road at Labor Day was better than doing it in July,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At least we were able to enjoy the majority of the tourist season.â&#x20AC;? So what is the outlook

for the 2014 tourist season? Business owners are optimistic. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be great,â&#x20AC;? said Kalk. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Numbers-wise, we should be good. Summer always brings people in, especially the tourists.â&#x20AC;? Haviland and Stich echo the sentiment. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am hopeful the bike trail will bring even more business to us, especially in the

fall,â&#x20AC;? said Haviland, who is considering keeping Grannyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s open into October this year. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Of course, weather is always a factor, but this connection to the bike trail gives us the potential of a little longer season. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We supported this project from the beginning,â&#x20AC;? she continued. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Terry and I feel it was a smart decision by the city.â&#x20AC;?

Willet: Specializes in tattoo reworks and cover-ups From Page 64 downtown Henning at the end of last year. While the area might seem like an unusual choice to open up a tattoo shop, Willetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unmatched experience has a long reach. From the North Dakota oil fields, Fargo, Minneapolis and the surrounding area, people are traveling miles for Willetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s expertise. His specialty, reworks and coverups, also comes as a great service to those whose past experiences in other shops havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been what they had hoped for. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m bringing people into town that wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t normally come to Henning,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bringing money into town that wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t here before, and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s definitely part of what I want to do.â&#x20AC;? With his passion going into every piece he works on, his service and the fun atmosphere in his shop makes for an unforgettable experience. The

personal aspect of the business, workâ&#x20AC;&#x153;The key for me is this community. ing together with and meeting new I love this community and I enjoy bepeople, is what he enjoys most about ing part of it,â&#x20AC;? Willet said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For me, his work. for this business, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about the comâ&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a people person. I just enjoy munity, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about this town. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about meeting new people, making them this school and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about drawing laugh and having a good time,â&#x20AC;? he people to this area.â&#x20AC;? said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to make you laugh and feel comfortable when you come in. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to feel of Henning part of something and want to be here.â&#x20AC;? Willet hopes heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll keep meet- Upholstery & Cushion Co. ing new people in the months to Specializing in Pew come â&#x20AC;&#x201D; for the sake of his busiCushions and Commercial Upholstery ness and the sake of his community. Since the 1980s, Willet Full Service Upholstery Shop has come to Otter Tail County, One Stop Does it All! which has always been an area Over 30 Years Experience he enjoyed, and moved here in 2010. He hopes his business can (218) 583-2111 become an asset for the Henning community and surrounding +(11,1*01Â&#x2021;*/(116&2773URS area. XNLV138504





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Progress 2014 Fergus Falls Daily Journal  
Progress 2014 Fergus Falls Daily Journal