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Root River Ag Services expands to Fountain page

Root River Market Coop provides for Houston

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First Southeast Bank completes remodel page

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Preston businesses anticipate veterans cemetery page

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Peterson eyes strategic plan

2013-2014 Community Progress Edition Business Anniversaries

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Arts Campus Initiatvie takes root in Lanesboro page 11

Celebrating a history of service pages

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Siskow Deli and more in Ostrander By Barb Jeffers barb@fillmorecountyjournal.com

Ryan Hoefs greets customers with a smile at Siskow Deli in Ostrander, Minn. Photo by Barb Jeffers

Rushford preps 43 project, looks long-term By K irsten Zoellner kirsten@fillmorecountyjournal.com

“This is not something we want to do. If we weren’t having utility problems, we wouldn’t do it.” That was the overall mood last fall of the impending state Highway 43 project scheduled to run through the heart of Rushford in 2014. Since September, following the results of a preliminary feasibility report by Otomo Engineering that detailed some of the potential $3.5 million project, the city has gradually coming to grips with what’s before them. The city was already painfully aware of the conditions of some of the utilities that lay under the stretch of roadway when news of the project trickled down from the state level. Many of the utility issues were brought to light by and worsened by flooding in 2007, including 1885 pipe works which are rapidly deteriorating and causing excessive inflow and infiltration to the system, as well as a series of 1959 pipes which are

also in poor condition. The project is expected to be massive. Upgraded utilities and completely reconstructed streets and sidewalks will be long-term positive for the city, but for a city still recovering, the impact seems staggering. The total cost of the project hovers just over $3.5 million with the city’s share at $1,695,858, including assessments. The estimated assessment costs are $337,142. The assessments are expected to be shared over 64 properties, with the properties to be determined as those with the most benefit. MnDOT will contribute $1.5 million to the project, but no more. Businesses have grown in the last seven years, with several new upstarts, but the potential effect the project could have some reeling. Already dealing with having to give up the city’s main thoroughfare for the duration of the project, the community is essentially at the mercy of the state is regards to alternative routes

and project standards. The length of the project schedule concerns many, but City Administrator Steve Sarvi has attempted to reassure the public and business owners that the city will do all it can to move the project along. Still, the city appears to be taking the project in stride and attempting to put as positive a spin on it as possible. In November, the city hired long-time marketing consultant Sally Ryman to assist the city with communication and marketing for the business community. Ryman has spent more than 30 years of her career with companies such as Minnesota Rural Electric Association, Land O’Lakes, Viafield, and Farmers Co-op Elevator in Rushford. “I’ve got an extensive background in getting people to work together better,” notes Ryman. “For the community, it’s a headache; an inconvenience. For businesses, this is their lifeblood. We need to work together See RUSHFORD Page 8 

The city of Ostrander, Minn. is fortunate to have a new business in town. The business, owned by Amanda Siskow, opened on December 2, 2013 and has been the newest “hot spot” in town. The new combination business is called Siskow Deli and Blown Away Salon. A deli and salon in the same building may not be an ordinary combination but for Siskow it is extraordinary. She is happy to be working two careers that she loves and being able to do them in the same place. As if the deli and salon are not enough to stay busy, Siskow also has convenience items and

an area for consignments in the building. The deli offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast items include waffles, breakfast sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, cereal, muffins, and other favorite breakfast foods. Daily lunch specials have been “very popular,” said Siskow, with area residents enjoying the variety of noon meals that have been offered. Siskow stated that the lunch specials are mostly comfort food such as hot beef sandwiches, turkey with potatoes and gravy, goulash, and creamed chicken over biscuits to name a few of the lunches the deli has offered. Siskow said she serves approximately 20 lunches per day right See SISKOW DELI Page 10 

Rack’s Bar and Grill contributes to local economy By Jackie Horsman jackie@fillmorecountyjournal.com

Steve and Karla Tart purchased their business in April 2013, but their vision had started way before that. For years the Tart family had been customers at Tootie’s, a bar and grill, in Spring Valley. Three of four years prior to buying the business from Tootie Foster, Steve and Karla had seriously considered the decision they ultimately made. Karla explained, “We went to Tootie’s after the kids’ games at Kingsland and we wanted to see it continue to be a place where you could bring your family.” The Tarts have done just that with a separate dining room area that closes at 9 p.m. with the understanding that children do not belong in a bar setting in the evening. Their vision was so strong the Tarts opened Rack’s for business on June 5, 2013, just a few short

months after purchasing the building. “All the contractors kept telling us there is no way we could be ready to open by then, but we kept saying yes we will and yes we can,” Steve chuckled as he reminisced. And they did. They opened with a completely remodeled bar and dining room. The feel of the restaurant is cozy and warm, very picturesque like a true Minnesota lodge. With all the work that went into the finished product, the Tarts are quick to give credit to their family and friends who helped with demolition and stood by them through reconstruction. Steve and Karla take pride in knowing they hired local building contractors and purchased building supplies locally as well. “I believe all of our contractors were from right here in Spring Valley with the exception of the plumber who See RACK’S Page 12 


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FILLMORE COUNTY JOURNAL • PROGRESS EDITION

Mabel’s Winneshiek Medical Center expands hours By Angie Rodenburg The Mabel Clinic has recently undergone some positive changes. Thanks to the clinic partnering with Winneshiek Medical Center, they have been able to expand their hours of operation to better meet the needs of Mabel residents and surrounding towns. “The goal was to improve patient access in southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa and to bring healthcare closer to home,” said Kirsten Wyffels, Mabel Clinic’s Doctor of Nursing Practice. The clinic’s previous hours operation were very limited, only being open Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Now the clinic is available to patients Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Norma Dahl, a resident of Canton appreciates the expanded hours and the kindness of the medical staff. “I can get in to be seen on short notice,” says Dahl. She also raved about Kirsten Wyffels saying, “She works with me. She takes the time to be with me and get to know me. She is genuinely concerned about her patients.” The feedback the clinic has received has been overwhelmingly positive thanks in large part to the caring staff. Kathy Petersburg works alongside Wyffels as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner. SueAnn Kinneberg and Jeff Barry serve as Licensed Practical Nurses and Mindy Osmonson works in Lab & Office Support. There is also additional staffing support from Winneshiek Medical Center. People in particularly

appreciate not having to travel a long distance to receive quality care. Kirsten Wyffels said, “We have seen a positive growth in patients serviced and can offer same day appointment availability along with immunizations, anticoagulant support, and nurse only blood pressure monitoring.” Wyffels added, “In addition to family practice services, we also offer laboratory services on site, including Walkin Wellness Testing, a lowcost option for people who want to monitor their own health in an easy and convenient way without a doctor’s written order. The results are mailed directly to the patient and not billed through insurance. Also, athletic physicals are available anytime and cost is $30 paid at time of service.” Having a partnership with Winneshiek Medical Center also connects patients to additional services if needed. Wyffels stated, “We have the ability to refer patients to specialists located at Winneshiek Medical Center and other facilities as needed. We are fortunate that Winneshiek Medical Center offers expanded radiology services as well as audiology and rehab services.” The vision of Winneshiek Medical Center is to “be the preferred health system, providing quality health care services and programs throughout our region by working collaboratively to serve our rural communities.” They are certainly holding true to their vision statement as they help small towns like Mabel better serve their communities.

Expanded hours at the Mabel Clinic has pleased patients like Nichole Halvorson (right) who sees DNP Kirsten Wyffels. Photo submitted

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Root River Ag Services has expanded to Fountain By Barb Jeffers Root River Ag Services has taken ownership of the former Spex Feeds in Fountain, Minn. adding to its Lanesboro, Minn. and Wykoff, Minn. locations. Root River Ag Services is an independent farm service company. Originated Justin Redalen in 2009 by owners Jeff, Michelle, and Justin Redalen Root River Ag Services began in Lanesboro when the trio purchased Lanesboro Ag. The site in Wykoff was also bought at this time mainly for fertilizer storage. As of October 13, 2013 Spex Feeds in Fountain became an integral part of Root River Ag Services. Justin stated, “Until purchasing the Fountain Elevator we did not have the facilities to mix our own feed,” which is a great addition. The ability to mix their own feed will be a positive for the owners and customers alike. Justin explains that by cutting out the middleman, not paying someone else to mix feed, the savings can be passed on to customers. Root River Ag Services “can make custom mix for just about any animal” with the addition of the Fountain site, says Justin. Having grown up in the area and having experience in farming, the Redalen’s have the knowledge to provide customers with the services they need. Some of these services include buying and selling grain, corn drying, customer fertilizer application, feed nutrition services, ag chemicals, and grain bank. Jerry Arnold, Feed Mill Manager, who has worked at the Fountain site full-time since 1975 and was part owner at one time, has many years of experience and expertise to offer customers also. Root River Ag Services is a retailer for dry fertilizer and Wyffels seed corn and sells bagged feed as well as bulk feeds. Additional items available are seed for any crop, pet foods, bird seed, water softener salt, and farm supplies. Root River Ag Services is an independent farm service company

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Future plans for Root River Ag Services is to work hard for their current customers and to obtain new customers so the business can keep growing. The company currently has five full-time employees and several seasonal/

part-time employees. Business hours in Lanesboro are Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. - noon. The address is 101 Beacon Street and the phone number is (507) 467-2402. Business hours in Fountain are Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. The location is 109 Main Street. The phone number is (507) 2684994.

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FILLMORE COUNTY JOURNAL • PROGRESS EDITION

Monday, January 27, 2014

First Southeast Bank completes remodel By Barb Jeffers The First Southeast Bank of Harmony, Minn. began a large remodeling project in October of 2012 with the purpose of providing additional space as well as added privacy. The project was completed in October of 2013 and is very impressive. The renovation had been discussed for six years prior to starting with many options discussed, including building a new facility in a different location in town but the consensus was to stay on Main Street where the bank has always been

an important part of the community and is easily accessible to residents. Improvements made were enlarging the bookkeeping space, changing the drive-up area, extending the lobby, and adding a new accounts office. Offices were remodeled, décor was updated, and a public restroom was installed as well. The addition size is 25 x 90 feet with a full basement underneath the addition to provide much needed storage space. The project manager of the design and build was the Samuels Group of Wausau, Wisc.

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which according to the company website, samuelsgroup. net, “provides comprehensive construction, remodeling, furnishing and design services for new and existing projects.” According to bank President Chris Skaalen, both employees and customers appreciate the improvements that have been made with customers giving staff complimentary comments on the new look of the bank. Chris states “everybody loves it” saying that the biggest thing customers have noticed is more privacy. The First Southeast Bank was established in 1893 as the Harmony State Bank and today is owned by the Jerome and Barbara Bushman family. The family purchased the Canton State Bank in 1989 and it was merged with the First Southeast Bank of Harmony in 2011. A wide variety of services are offered at First Southeast Bank including debit/ATM service, internet banking, telephone banking, safe deposit boxes, e-statements, visa credit and gift cards, savings bonds, checking, savings and investments, loans, and fax and copying services. More changes are coming to the bank in the near future as the website, www.firstsoutheastbank.com, states “over the next few months, we will be unveiling a number of new products to make your banking experience better.” It is obvious that First South East Bank wants to be on the cutting edge of the technology offered to banking institutions. The website elaborates on these changes stating “we are excited about the recent offering of QuickBooks download for your statements and a mobile banking website in the near future” which will undoubtedly be used by many customers. “Also in the works is a bill pay application which will allow you to schedule and pay your bills from the comfort of your home, business or mobile device” the website states. More information will be announced on these new services in the near future. The First Southeast Bank of Harmony is located at 3 Main Ave. N. in Harmony. Bank hours are Monday - Thursday 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Friday - 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Driveup hours are Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. The phone number is (507) 886-6922.

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Canton makes progress on previous liquor store building By Mitchell Walbridge In 2013 the City of Canton made a decision to retain ownership of the city’s municipal liquor store with plans to close the business and use the building for other purposes. The city’s plan was to liquidate the remaining inventory and renovate the building for town use in the future. The oveall goal is to utilize the building as Canton’s city hall. The last day of business for the Canton Municipal Liquor Store was October 31, 2013, and since then the Canton City Council began looking at renovation options as early as the November city council meeting. Plans include restructuring many parts of the building, even making the structure more energy efficient. The city will try to contract

the work out to local contractors as long as the expenses stay within a reasonable budget alignment. The first work to be done will be the interior including gutting the building as a winter project. There is a lot of work ahead with this project and the city will continue to discuss the stages of the process at upcoming monthly city council meetings.

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FILLMORE COUNTY JOURNAL • PROGRESS EDITION

Monday, January 27, 2014

Preston business community anticipates veterans cemetery By Mitchell Walbridge After almost five years of planning, conversations, meetings, and congressional bill development and promotion, the community of Preston, Minn. is full of anticipation for the state veterans cemetery that will be fully developed in 2015. A veterans cemetery is a unique and special place, and not many cities have the rights to say that they’re home to one. As state veterans cemeteries are meaningful places for laying those who served to rest, their prestige is preserved by how far and few-between they are. As Fillmore County Journal reporter Karen Reisner pointed out in a previous article, “The closest state veteran cemetery is Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spooner, Wis., approximately 193 miles away.” Also, the one veterans cemetery that Minnesota has is located in Little

Established in 1964

Falls, a distance of nearly 250 miles away from Preston. While Preston will be home to Minnesota’s second veterans cemetery, it was no easy task arranging the town to be the designated location. The idea, which started with a conversation between former Senator Sharon Erickson-Ropes and Fillmore County Commissioner Chuck Amunrud, blossomed over time, particularly ramping up in 2012 and 2013. The Fillmore County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a warranty deed promising title more than 150 acres of land to the state in August, 2013 for the veterans cemetery. Since then, the Department of veterans Affairs awarded $10 million in grant money to cover 100 percent of the allowable costs associated with establishing Preston’s Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery—thanks to Representative Walz (D-MN) and

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Representative Runyan (R-NJ), who held a bipartisan field hearing in Preston to examine the proposal of Preston being the host town for a state veterans cemetery. Also, a large portion of thanks is deserved to the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Cemetery Grants Program which has been around since 1978. Now that funding is in place, planning for development is the next step with work to begin as a formal groundbreaking ceremony took place in early November. However, there is even more planning going on as well, only this time it’s within the business community in preparation of the anticipated spike in Preston’s economy. Preston Area Chamber of Commerce President Sarah Wangen commented, “I think that in addition to the honor that Preston has been given with being named a host town of a state veterans cemetery, we have a community responsibility to welcome the families of the veterans and provide as much hospitality as we can. We, the business community of Preston, should be putting our best foot forward in order to serve our residents, visitors, and tourists.” In conversations it has been mentioned that visitors will indeed need services such as lodging and food, and no doubt, some visitors will take up on Preston’s retail locations. Preston Food’s Manager Tim Kiehne stated, “I think that the veterans cemetery coming to Preston will definitely bring dollars here—to gas stations, restaurants, as well as bringing retail. Though we always see an increase in traffic during the summer months, I think that we can expect to see a small increase.” Kiehne mentioned that individuals may forget some necessities if they are staying in the area and would take advantage of Preston Food’s inventory to satisfy their needs. Elizabeth (Ib) Gatzke, owner of Chic’s Pizza Place and Restaurant, shared her insight on the cemetery coming to Preston, saying, “I really think that it is going to help everyone in the city. In fact, it’s a good thing for the entire area. I’d like to think that we’d be able to serve even more people, but as far as how many, we’ll have to wait and see what 2015 brings.” Rita Simonson of Preston Floral and Gifts is also unsure what the Preston Veterans Cemetery will mean for her. “I’ve been meaning to call around and see what I should be expecting. I’m not sure what the need for

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flowers will be. Only time will tell for sure.” Other area lodging businesses like the Trailhead Inn and Country Trails Inn will most likely take advantage of those traveling from a distance for an interment ceremony, while restaurants like the Branding Iron

and B&B Bowling will cater to dining needs. The City of Preston, business owners and residents alike, will strive to do their best in serving those who come to Preston to pay tribute to veterans in their resting places. Beginning now, the town initiates working together to provide as much as possible.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

FILLMORE COUNTY JOURNAL • PROGRESS EDITION

Whalan Community Center given new life By Kirsten Zoellner It happens almost daily. Old buildings are torn down, leveled to the ground, to make room for modern progress. In the heart of Fillmore County, in our small communities, more and more are laying claim to these historical remnants,

reclaiming them not only for the past, but for the future. Last year, we told the story of how one town of 63 people, Whalan, Minn. saw residents, former residents, and other area folk came together in effort to save the town’s early 20th-century city hall.

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The massive effort was strictly volunteer and amassed nearly $50,000 and countless hours, resulting in an open house celebration this past September. Not surprisingly, the ball didn’t stop rolling there. “Something needed to be done,” said city mayor Larry Johnson. “It was either tear it down or renovate it. A group of community-minded citizens came forward to take it on and raise funds. It all started from there.” The group was spearheaded by Whalan-native Donna Novotny, of Chatfield, Minn., who initially approached the city about the town hall and community center five years ago. A member of the Ladies Auxiliary, who had long used the facility as their post home, Novotny and the spirited ladies group began saving their money from local fundraisers. “It seemed so hopeless,” she notes in retrospect. “It took us a while, but we eventually got up to $5,000 and went to the council with seed money for it. It really seemed like, ‘We are never going to be able to do this.’” Still, the group persisted. The city contributed $20,000 towards the project and it seemed like it was underway. “We started and went as far as

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however, and attention soon turned to the second level of the town hall. The building, which the committee says was built well, minus the foundation, had been without running water or bathrooms and saw addition of a heating and cooling system, plumbing, bathrooms, and a kitchen. The wood floors were refinished and new windows were added. While the base of the project may have been the town hall, it was clear that the community center was an integral a part of the multi-faceted project and preserving the city’s legacy. Novotny’s aunt, Doris Peterson, had been a curator at the Lanesboro museum and felt a similar museum was needed in Whalan, centered within the refurbished town hall as part of the second story community center. The museum officially opened in 2002, but tragically, Peterson passed away shortly after. It didn’t take Novotny See WHALAN Page 11 

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we could. They looked at me like, ‘Huh? Are we going to be able to do this?’” adds Novotny. “But you never know what you can do until you start,” she enthuses. Getting a little help from their friends, the group continued on and sometime after, Novotny received surprising news. “I was told about a quarter of the way in that we were the recipients of funds from an estate. I was told a portion was to be given to Ladies Auxiliary through the VFW and American Legion. It was very generous. The kicker of the whole thing was that I had to sit on it for a while. It was so hard to do, but you can’t count something until you have it in your hand!” That funding breathed life into the project again and the collaboration continued as private donations and small grants poured in over time, eventually topping more than $30,000. “There were a lot of hard workers, and some disbelievers, but in the end it was so amazing.” The project was far from done,

Page 5

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2013 • Rushford, MN 160 Years of Service

First Southeast Bank Harmony, MN 121 Years of Service

First Southeast Bank

Rushford Village, MN 160 Years of Service

First State Bank of Fountain

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Houston, Caledonia, Spring Grove & Rushford, MN 100 Years of Service

Davis Construction

Spring Valley Senior Living

Canton, MN 58 Years of Service

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Preston, MN 20 Years of Service

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Thompson Motors of Wykoff

Harmony Telephone Co. & Cable TV & Services

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Hyland Motor Co.

Gjere Construction, Inc.

S&A Petroleum Lanesboro, MN

Root River Appliances & Floor Covering Northwest Aluminum Preston, MN 54 Years of Service

Fountain, MN

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Scheevel & Sons, Inc.

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Fountain Building Center

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Preston Dairy & Farm Association

Ody’s Country Meats & Catering

Cedar Valley Resort

Root River Ag Service

Spring Valley, MN

Harmony, MN

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Hyland Motor Co.

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Bank of the West

56 Years of Service

Richard’s Pump Service, Inc.

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Merchants Bank

Mabel, MN

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Merchants Bank

Spring Valley, MN

Harmony, MN

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Community Bank

Gehling Auction, Co.

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POET Biorefining

Farmers Coop Elevator

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Susie’s

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F&M

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FILLMORE COUNTY JOURNAL • PROGRESS EDITION

RUSHFORD

Continued from Page 1

a little more and have a broader scope.” Ryman hit the ground running in her new position, heading up a November 18 business outreach meeting with the business community, EDA, Chamber of Commerce, and local officials. “We’re pushing businesses to get ready and we want the community to step forward,” said Ryman, and it’s not just businesses that the marketing communication plan is targeting. “It’s businesses of retail, manufacturing, and service, as well as churches, social groups, whether they are directly on Highway 43 or not. We want to get a handle on it for our constituency. Everyone will be impacted and we stress the need for cooperation with the whole community. It will take a positive attitude from everyone. We’re dubbing it, ‘The Summer of Inconvenience,’ but, it’s not insurmountable if everyone works together.” In formulating a marketing communication plan with heavy emphasis by all on communication, Ryman and the committee studied several other projects within the state and several similar in Indiana, whether they were deemed successful or not. “We noted several things about the successful projects,” notes Ryman. “The business communities made a concerted effort in advance of the project. Also, they

didn’t run marketing and construction on two parallel paths. They also hired a coordinator to work as a liaison between the city, businesses, and the community at large.” Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the foremost determinations of success came from taking an optimistic view. “People talked positively about the project. Yes, it’s an inconvenience, but we will have water and sewer that will last another 100 years, as well as a new street,” added Ryman. “Some are looking at it like a 6-month flood, but we’re looking at the fact that we have six months to prepare. The real key is keeping positive.” The business community has been challenged by the steering committee to come forward with precisely what their needs are. Businesses and local entities are also being encouraged to spruce up on-site and online presences. In addition, the city and chamber are planning to update and maintain all websites, as current as possible, and are likewise encouraging others to do the same. Websites will be linked during and after the process to bolster further communication. Ryman admits she looks back on the direction her former community of Moundsview took on a 10-year infrastructure project of its own. On that city site, updated project information is clearly listed with easy-to-find quick links and includes phase mapping, current schedule, con-

tact information, and all other documentation relating to the project. “There was no excuse for not knowing what was going on,” noted Ryman in regards to the approach. “We are going to keep everyone informed. If the crews aren’t working, or if something has to happen, people will know why and how much it will delay the schedule, if any. We’re not anticipating any interruptions, but we will get the information out, by any means.” So far, the city has concrete plans for monthly business and public meetings, weekly updates, and opportunity for added email notifications. It also calls for the use of social media, frequent press releases, and perhaps the local ace communications channel for Rushford, as well as some possible cooperative efforts with the school district. “The next 30-60 days [are] critical [for] collecting information and formulating schedules,” adds Ryman. “Through communications and coordination we’re stressing support of our businesses. In a bold step, the city is encouraging local events and their expansion. “We don’t want people to pull back on scheduled events, but to expand on them. The key is making sure contractors know the details of events in working with event coordinators. We don’t want apprehension. Instead, we’re encouraging businesses to increase services and look for a wide array of opportunities. We need a good experience, or as good as it can

All of us would like to thank all of you. Angie Rodenburg, Houston Jackie Horsman, Wykoff Jana Olson, Rushford Tammy Danielson, Fountain Gabby Kinneberg, Preston Col. Stan Gudmundson, Rushford Michelle Haugerud, Harmony Sherry Hines, Harmony Gary Peterson, Spring Valley Peggi Redalen, Rushford Village Karen Reisner, Fountain Paul Trende, Preston Amanda Sethre, Fountain Jason Sethre, Fountain

Sheena Tollefson, Harmony Mitchell Walbridge, Fountain Jade Sexton, Preston Kirsten Zoellner, Rushford Village Sarah Wangen, Preston Yvonne Nyenhuis, Lanesboro Barb Jeffers, Fountain Eric Leitzen, Mabel Steve Harris, Lanesboro Hannah Wingert, Preston Jeanette Schmidt, Preston Becky Hoff, Harmony Judith Thomas, Spring Valley Loni Kemp, Canton Kathy Little, Houston

All of these individuals are involved in bringing the Fillmore County Journal into your home every week in print and online. As reporters, columnists, graphic designers, web developers and salespeople working for the Fillmore County Journal, we are proud to live and work among the people we serve in Fillmore County and beyond.

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Monday, January 27, 2014 be.” The steering committee will be rolling out the official marketing communication plan at the February 1 area chamber of commerce annual meeting, highlighting what’s going to be done and what’s available. Part of that plan also includes the city intention to forward the newly developed brand through this opportunity. “We’re anticipating a brand challenge,” notes Ryman. ““There’s a lot of noise with Historic Bluff Country, the Root River Trail, and the Rushford Peterson brand. We need to present it all in a way that can support the community easily. People need a reminder why they should bother with going through the obstacles.” And the city is not bothering with just the short term. “It’s a good plan. It’s flexible. Things are going to change here and there, but this is very open and allows for flexibility,” stressed Sarvi. “But, one thing we’re trying to look at is longevity, to look past the project. The adopted steering committee mission statement backs that notion stating, “Not just looking at a positive outcome during the process, but long-term as well… to assist them through impacts, support the brand … maximizing opportunities long-term.” On the other side of the project spectrum, Administrator Sarvi is working to iron out the construction end of the project. While work was initially projected to be bid this month, bids are expected

to be out towards the middle to end of February, early March at the latest. Sarvi is confident the city will have the bids back in time to review and approve. A May start date is anticipated, but is dependent on weather. The timeline is roughly six months. “We’ve tried to whittle down and cut what we could,” notes Sarvi. The city will require two crews working simultaneously for efficiency, beginning with the north and south ends, and stress then being put on finishing areas in front of R-P Schools and Farmers’ Cooperative Elevator as quickly as possible. “We’ll do whatever we can to speed the project along. The one unknown is the final cost,” added Sarvi. “We’ve stretched it every which way.” Still, he believes having an effective marketing communications plan and a positive community will be key to lessening the blow of the project. “Bits and pieces of this are really going to stink, but we’re going to get through it. We learned through the flood recovery that we can do anything with hard work, good communication, and working together. Hopefully, by the end of it all, we’ll have a great new main street through town and businesses that are used to working well with each other, strengthening each other. We’re going to get through this. The more we work together and are open and communicate issues in advance, the better this is going to go.”


Monday, January 27, 2014

FILLMORE COUNTY JOURNAL • PROGRESS EDITION

Rushford Village implements comprehensive plan By Kirsten Zoellner Following a thorough fiscal impact report and public input session last July and the restructure of a planning and zoning commission last fall, the City of Rushford Village concluded a long-term effort to develop a modern and workable comprehensive plan. “In development for the future, it’s a tool to help with your vision and street to achieve that vision,” noted Kristina Peterson of Yaggy Colby and Associates, this past November. The 35 page document highlights a 10-point outline and encompasses 17 goals for the city now and in the future. Several other documents were utilized and review in the new plan development. Following the goals are action steps for each. “It gives the council a big target to look at when planning,” noted Mayor Dale Schwanke last fall. The plan will also assist with

ideas, programs, and collaboration. “People spent a lot of time on this. Questions were asked, research done. It’s a good document and a good discussion,” said Schwanke. “It really forced us to think a, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ kind of thing.” The most critical piece of the plan, according to Peterson, was land use. Covered in the document are issues and concerns with land use, as well as regulations that pertain to usage. The land use goal, number 10, reads, “Protect the Natural Resources during development.” Action steps include encouraging site designs that minimize surface water run-off, allowing alternative energy systems such as solar energy and wind energy systems according to the city ordinance, the creation or preservation of trees on city managed lands, the consideration of a

tree preservation requirements for developments, and a consideration of stricter requirement for slope protection, not only limiting development on steep slopes but prohibiting the creation of steep slopes. Other key goals include the embracing and documentation of city history, the maintenance or increase of population, and provision of a range of housing choices for new and existing residents with changing needs. The protection of natural resources is a forefront goal, as is the creation of an open space and recreation system that highlights and protects the natural resources. Public infrastructure is an obvious target and goals pertaining to it include the provision of a well-maintained local street network and support improvements to the regional system, the provision of efficient and well-maintained local water

and sewer system, and assurance of a variety of sustainable and accessible community facilities within the region. As a roughly 75 percent agriculturally-related community, the plan calls for agriculture to remain the primary use in historically farmed areas and respecting the establishment of zoning districts. Agriculture remains significant in the encouragement of storm water practices, while supporting the protection of the Root River in cooperation with the DNR and other agencies. An increase in the city’s economic development efforts and promotion of the city as an affordable, convenient location to start a business are also included. While a large portion of the plan is for the sustaining growth of residents, the plan does note a desire to improve tourism activity. The adopted vision state-

Root River Market Cooperative provides for Houston By Angie Rodenburg The common phrase “many hands make light work” certainly rings true for Root River Market, Houston’s local grocery store cooperative. In 1998, the privately owned Red’s IGA closed its doors leaving Houston residents without a grocery store for two years. It was during this time that a group of people decided to organize a committee and raise funds to open a grocery store. This cooperative jointly owned and operated by its members gave residents back the convenience of a local grocery store and gave them a stake in the business. Root River Market opened its doors in 2000 and has been serving the community ever since. Offering a full line of grocery items, fresh produce, and fresh meat, Root River Market has been meeting the needs of their customers and have even expanded their offerings by opening an instore bakery in May, 2012. Marsha Benson of Houston said, “It’s a neat, clean store with a friendly staff. They have a wide variety of products. I purchase almost all my meat at Root River Market as I know it’s fresh and processed correctly. I know it’s hard for a small town gro-

cery store to survive nowadays, but I know this one does. I am an official member of the store as I want it to thrive.” “Members of the cooperative are from all over the area,” said Root River Market’s General Manager Richard Carr. “Currently we have 550 member owners. There is no requirement for our customers to become members, anyone can shop here. Membership has its benefits, such as discounts, voting rights, and serving on the Board of Directors.” A share of ownership stock is a one time fee of $100. Not only has the opening of the Root River Market gotten the community involved as members, but it has also created jobs. Root River

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ment supports this notion, detailing, “A rural community where the surrounding beauty and preservation of farmland, hills, valleys, waterways and wide open spaces offers unforgettable scenery, vast opportunities for outdoor recreation, and an unsurpassed quality of life for residents.” Last, but certainly not least, the comprehensive plan encourages continued regional planning and inter-governmental collaboration initiatives. This is critical to the cities ongoing efforts with projects such as Destination Medical Center, Taste of the Trail, and Tri-City planning. “All in all, I certainly see progress,” stated Mayor Dale Schwanke, reviewing the city’s goals for 2013, prior to the start of the new year. “The comprehensive plan was a huge goal.” The comprehensive plan can be found on the City of Rushford Village’s website at: www.rushfordvillage.govoffice.com. Market currently employs 22 people. It also makes it possible to shop locally versus shopping in Winona, Minn. or La Crosse, Wis., keeping more dollars in the community. General Manager Carr added, “Root River Market supports our community and our schools and provides employment opportunities.” Root River Market has also shared their business model with other small towns that have a difficult time keeping a privately owned grocery store open. They have already had talks with Lanesboro and Mabel. Carr said that Mabel is currently setting up their cooperative and that land was recently acquired for the store building. The success of the Root River Market is a great example of what can happen when a community decides to pull together and invest in the success of their own town.


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FILLMORE COUNTY JOURNAL • PROGRESS EDITION

SISKOW DELI

Continued from Page 1

now and stated that is “pretty good,” especially for just having recently opened. Customers really enjoy the biscuits and gravy special on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is reasonably priced at $4.99 for a full lunch and $2.99 for a half lunch. Other customer favorites are the wraps and club sandwiches. Recently Siskow had a peppered turkey wrap as a lunch special that people really enjoyed. The coffee at the Siskow Deli seems to be another favorite especially on cold winter mornings. The deli offers other great choices including soups and sandwiches such as BLT’s. Siskow’s restaurant skills come from years of working in the restaurant her mother owned in Alaska. She enjoys serving good food to people and loves to be around people which explains why Amanda also has a passion for running a salon.

With 10 years experience working in salons, both her own and others, she is excited to have her own again. Blown Away Salon is a “full service” salon for men, women, and children, stated Siskow, offering cuts, color, highlights, and perms. Siskow also has convenience items on hand including staples such as bread, milk, eggs, flour, and sugar. Siskow said she likes to have these necessities handy for people so if they happen to run out they will not have to drive to another town to get them. Also on the shelves are things like coffee, aspirin, cough drops, and many other useful items. Consignment items include handmade crafts from residents around the area as well as hats from the state of Washington made by Siskow’s mother. Amanda Siskow hopes to expand her business in the future by adding more menu items in the deli including box

Peterson eyes strategic plan By Kirsten Zoellner As a large-scale County 25 reconstruction looms on the horizon of 2015 for Peterson, the city has been whittling down the scope of the project. During that process, the strong need for a citywide strategic plan has come into play on more than one occasion. “It’s really been pushed along by the fact that we have to do County 25, but we need to develop long-term goals and plans,” noted Peterson Mayor Jennifer Wood. “It’s been mentioned, but there wasn’t a lot of interest. This council is really open to the idea.” Wood also attributes recent fiscal impact studies and opportunities for grant funding as another factor in the city’s desire to plan with a broad, well-thought vision. She also partially credits a professional services firm with continuing to spur on the notion. When the city was in the initial stages of the County 25 Project, the idea of securing grant funding for portions was often mentioned. However, in order to garner that funding, many of the grants required a more thorough and strategic plan that what the city currently had available. The city was told, “You need to think differently about the approach. If you have a plan for the future,

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for more than just this project, you can take the projects and make them fundable and look at all sorts of funding agencies for workable options. You want to be proactive and to have project thought out to fit the program.” “We might perhaps define the scope of project differently if a grant was available and could include other things. It might even make it more feasible to get grants if certain aspects of the project are included,” said Councilor Dick Lee last November. It was decided, at that time, to focus solely on the creation of a master plan for the County 25 project. and revisit the idea of a more encompassing strategic plan at a later date. Grant funding would certainly be an appreciated assistance for the city, but essentially, the city would have to have the plan first and that would take considerable time and they were already under the gun to nail down the road project. “We have to have a plan, something to present,” noted Wood at the November 18 meeting. The need for a comprehensive plan is clear to the city. “It gives you an ongoing goal of where the city is going,” noted City Clerk Megan Grebe last fall. “It’s a fluid document that can be updated as

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Monday, January 27, 2014

lunches for people who are on the go and she would also like to add some outdoor seating. This spring Siskow will be planting a garden to grow fresh vegetables for use in the deli, which will give customers additional fresh options to choose from. In the salon Siskow would like to eventually have a second stylist and be able to offer additional services including spray tanning, manicures and pedicures. The consignment area will continue to take in more items giving visitors more choices of unique handmade crafts to choose from. The Siskow Deli and Blown Away Salon are located at 306 Main Street in Ostrander. Deli hours are Monday through Friday - 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday - 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The phone number at the deli is (507) 657- 2502. The salon is open by appointment only and appointments can be scheduled by calling (507) 251- 4640. things happen.” Now, as the scope of that project has been reviewed and revised by subcommittee, the city has once again turned its attention towards the creation of the larger plan. At the end of last year, the city hired the firm of David Drown Associates, a consultant firm specializing financial planning, to assist in the process. The work will include a basic review and recommendation of the city’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Given the firm’s past fiscal planning with the city, it seemed a good place to start. “We see this happening in other communities,” said Wood of the innovative planning. “We need to throw out and look at all ideas any time we can get funding to help. We need to look at this to have improvements within the city that won’t come directly from the tax payer base. “We need 2014 to get everything in a row,” stressed Wood. “One thing that’s very important. A part of our reason for doing this is to keep all of our great businesses and increase tourism. It’s not a win unless all of them win and prosper.” The first of two scheduled meetings was held at city hall, with both the city and David Drown Associates, January 15. Following a tri-city meeting on January 22, the city will pick up its second strategic planning meeting the following Wednesday, January 29. The meeting is expected to last at least four hours and include the full city council, including newly appointed councilor Will Guise.

Fundraising concert brings back local favorites By Barb Jeffers When it comes to seeing your favorite artists in concert you don’t count the cost. Billy Dean will be performing once again in Chatfield, Minn. along with Dan Mahar, both who have become familiar faces in the area. Billy Dean has proven to be an exciting and touching entertainer as well as a great songwriter with over four million albums sold, five number one songs, and 11 top 10 singles, according to his website, w w w. b i l l y dean.com. Billy Dean has given his fans songs such as “We Just Disagree,” “Only The Wind,” and of course, “Billy the Kid,” which seems to have become his trademark song. In an interview last year with myself Billy Dean stated he enjoys playing at smaller venues such as Potter Auditorium because “people can hear the words” of the songs and the setting is more personal. Dan Mahar has also performed in the area several times in the past and connects with his fans in the area. Mahar, a

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former guitarist with Dean’s band “The Regulators,” left the band in 1995 to create Mahar Music Works. Dan is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and guitar instructor, according to his facebook page, www.facebook. com/danmahar. According to Megan Kleven, Director of the Chatfield Center for the Arts (CCA), the concert is a fundraiser for CCA to “be able to build up programming and get more and better entertainment for the Chatfield Center for the Arts,” which local residents will certainly applaud. T h e concert will be held February 1, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. in the Potter Auditorium at the Chatfield Center for the Arts located at 405 S. Main Street in Chatfield. Ti c k ets are $25 in advance and are available at Root River State Bank, F&M Community Bank, and the city clerk’s office in Chatfield or can be purchased online at www. chatfieldcfa.com. Tickets at the door will be $30. Phone Megan at (507) 867-2927 for more information.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

WHALAN

Continued from Page 5

long to make the decision to step into her aunt’s shoes to keep the museum going. Somewhere along the line, in putting the town’s history on display in the renovated second story, the group discovered what Novotny calls the crown jewel of the museum. “The second level is a performance hall, with a built-in stage,” she says. “In a building downtown, the original, canvas stage curtain was found. The colorful curtain has advertising from all the city’s then-merchants. Not wanting to miss a chance to showcase a bit of history, the

curtain, which hangs over the full stage width, was reclaimed and brought back to its former glory. “It’s like a treasure; the history of the town. It holds great meaning for us.” While the majority of work on the museum and community center has been done, Novotny admits there is still much to do, including adding modern amenities like a computer system. “Diligence will do that and keep going,” she adds. The committee will be selecting a coordinator to oversee continuation of building upkeep and usage as well as forming a historical board, appointing a board of directors. Novotny will remain museum curator.

FILLMORE COUNTY JOURNAL • PROGRESS EDITION

The facility has already seen a burst of excitement and usage. City council and legion/ auxiliary meetings are held in the building and the community center has recently seen reunions, a 90th birthday party, a wedding reception, local fundraisers, and is a key destination during the Stand Still Parade and Taste of the Trail events. “It was fun and very rewarding and took collaboration by many, many people, young and old. It took people and time, but now I feel like we can deliver,” she continues, laughing. “In the end, it’s the people’s building and we’re going to start tooting our own horn now!”

Arts Campus Initiative takes root in Lanesboro By Angie Rodenburg Lanesboro’s trails, access to the Root River, and small town charm has made it a popular tourist destination throughout the years. Named one of the “100 Best Small Art Towns in America” and one of the “Top Twelve Small-Town Art Places in the Nation”, these accolades are due in large part to the work of the Lanesboro Arts Center (LAC). Now the Arts Center has created a new initiative that will help Lanesboro stand out among the rest. The Lanesboro Arts Campus project was designed strategically to immerse Lanesboro residents and visitors in the arts all while making an investment into the economic growth of the town. Sara Baskett, the Arts Center’s Program and Marketing Director elaborated on the project saying, “The project includes buildings

that house the arts (Lanesboro Arts Gallery and St. Mane Theatre), pedestrian walkways, and arts in public spaces.” For instance, they will be adding sculptures and seating areas and possibly even an amphitheater to the green space by the historic walking bridge along the river. “It will serve as an artful wayfinding system throughout downtown -- promoting walkability and expanding upon the existing three signs by artist Karl Unnasch, and the Discover Sculpture Explore Lanesboro medallion walking tour,” added Baskett. “The Lanesboro Arts Campus is about interweaving the arts into the fabric of a community,” says John Davis. “By integrating arts into city infrastructure and in public spaces, the Arts Campus project provides new opportunities for people to experience

art, to inspire and be inspired.” This elaborate project is not only exciting for art enthusiasts, but also for the community as a whole. “By creating new and vibrant spaces for people, and by revitalizing city infrastructure to make parking and walking more welcoming to community members and visitors, the Lanesboro Arts Campus project will offer a boost to the local tourism economy,” said Baskett. She added, “Research has shown that arts and cultural events boost Minnesota’s economy. Tourists are drawn to Minnesota and Fillmore County for the arts, the Root River State Trail, the wonderful B&Bs, great restaurants, and more. The arts are a big piece of the puzzle that attract folks to spend money in Lanesboro and Fillmore County, either by visiting here or relocating here.” Another exciting aspect of the project is the fact that it is a completely original idea. Last spring, LAC received a national $25,000 innOVATION award from Ovation’s Inaugural InnOvation Grant Program for the Arts Campus project. Lanesboro will be leading the way with this new project as LAC Executive Director John Davis is planning to demonstrate the Arts Campus project as a national model for integrating art into communities while promoting economic development. LAC has also received a National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant in support of the Lanesboro Arts Campus project. This brilliant idea is being realized by the combined efforts of the Lanesboro Arts Center staff and board, the City of Lanesboro, the Lanesboro Chamber of Commerce, artists Ed Bok Lee and Karl Unnasch, landscape architects from Hoisington Koegler Group Inc., and consultants with Forecast Public Art. “We are fortunate to have so many supportive partners in this community,” says LAC Executive Director John Davis. The Lanesboro Arts Campus project is funded by foundations, businesses and individuals. According to Baskett, “To date, more than $600,000 has been

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After extensive fundraising efforts and renovating, the Whalan Community Center is being enjoyed for a variety of events. Photo submitted raised from foundations and $150,000 has been raised from individual/private gifts.” However, fundraising is not complete. People can still participate in funding the project by calling

the Lanesboro Arts Center. Though the project has been 10 years in the making with various phases, the majority of the work on these projects will be completed by October, 2014.

After 10 years in the making, the Lanesboro Arts Campus Project progresses to expand art, as well as boost the local economy and tourism. Photo submitted

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FILLMORE COUNTY JOURNAL • PROGRESS EDITION

RACK’S

Continued from Page 1

is from Grand Meadow, but he’s family,” said Steve. Even now, they hire locally for things like snow removal in the parking lot. Rack’s employs 22 workers, all of which live locally. “Most are from Spring Valley and a few from LeRoy,” according to Karla, “And of course many are family. Our children all work here, Steve’s mom is our accountant and Steve’s sister works for us too.” In fact, Steve explained further, “My sister Judy is a cook at Kingsland and she helped us out so much when we first opened. Karla’s brother-in-law, Arland, is a chef in the family and he gave us a hand too.” The Tarts have become an integral part of the Spring Valley

economy by hiring local residents and utilizing many of the local businesses in town. Helping your neighbor succeed and your neighbor helping you in return is something that comes naturally to the Tart family; they never even considered looking outside of their own community to help complete their dream because they had everything they needed right in their own backyard. The Tarts’ business is quickly becoming an important asset to the Spring Valley community and the Kingsland district. They host Bingo for the Kingsland Athletic Booster Club on Sunday nights, with all proceeds from Bingo benefiting sports programs. Rack’s also contributes to local fundraisers and causes through donations and were a drop off spot for Toys for Tots in

Steve and Karla Tart are the owners of Rack’s Bar and Grill in Spring Valley. Photo by Jackie Horsman

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Fillmore County this past Christmas. Giving to the community is important to Steve and Karla. “If you don’t have support from the community, you can’t stay open,” Steve explained, “And the community has been good to us, they have supported us and we have a great loyal customer base so we want to take care of them too.” Along with offering a full dining menu, Rack’s also offers things for community members to do. In the summer, the bar and grill has bean bag tournaments and in the winter sponsors three D&R pool teams. The Tarts hope to offer more entertainment options for the area by bringing in more music and live bands. “We would love to have a parking lot party with a live band,” Steve chimed excitedly. Along with these offerings, Steve and Karla both expressed the importance of making sure people get home safely. “I’ve driven people home if needed and I’m glad to do it,” Karla said, “Sometimes Steve has followed me in their car or truck too.” The Tart family reminds us all how privileged we are to live in a small Minnesota town. Helping one another and always contributing to the greater good can help you achieve your dream. While both Steve and Karla work outside of Rack’s; Karla at Mayo Clinic, Steve hauling pigs and together still farming; their vision is to retire with Rack’s and then pass it onto their family for generations to come. Many years from now, it is important to Steve and Karla that the legacy of ‘community’ continues. They hope to see Rack’s continue to contribute the local economy and offer a place for people in the area to meet, have a bite to eat and relax. Rack’s opens Monday-Saturday at 11 a.m. and serves both lunch and dinner. Breakfast is served on Sundays only, starting at 8 a.m. While family members are ever present, the best time to catch Steve and Karla are Friday and Saturday nights. They invite you to stop in and say hello, check the place out and let them know what you think.

T

Problem solved but problem remains for City of Wykoff By Jackie Horsman In an interesting turn of events, it was decided that Steve Bushman would provide consultation during the construction of the waste treatment plant for the city of Wykoff. Previously, Bushman had visited with the council and offered his services in December. The council was given a compensation plan to be reviewed at that time. Since then, the company Wykoff has hired, WHKS, to construct the new plant offered Bushman a job doing the very same thing. The good news is Wykoff will now have a consultant for little or no extra cost. There is a possibility that Bushman would be able to continue to consult after the project is finished. While the stars aligned for the city to solve one problem, one still remains. Wykoff is still in need of a city maintenance employee with a class B license. Al Williams has long been the city’s maintenance worker and announced his retirement last November but has not been able to follow through with his retirement because the city is unable to find a replacement. In light of this, the council voted to restore Williams’ pay, up to $20/hour, until a replacement can be found. Construction bids for the

new waste treatment center will be opened on Thursday, February 27 at 3 p.m. If interested, bids can be brought to City Hall. The council also passed 2014 town designations as follows: Security State Bank will be the official depository, Councilman Comstock is authorized to sign checks if Mayor Hare is absent. City Clerk Davis is authorized to make deposits and withdrawals concerning city accounts. Thomas Manion, Jr. was designated the official city attorney for Wykoff and the Fillmore County Journal was designated the official newspaper of the city. Committee appointments were also designated at the January council meeting. Councilman Vreeman will handle streets, sewer/water as well as parks and recreation. Councilman Grabau will help oversee snow removal/sanding, streets and assist with parks and recreation. Councilman Comstock will advise with sewer/ water and snow removal/sanding. Councilwoman Larson was assigned to community education and pest/weed control complaints. Larson, along with Mayor Hare, will also represent the Joint Trails Committee.

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2013-2014 Progress Edition