Page 1

A gathering place for Canton residents page

Geneva’s Hideaway sweetening Peterson



Heritage Grove celebrates ten years page


The milestones of Lanesboro

2011-2012 Community Progress Edition

Organizational process for NTC page





Root River Ag improves facility

Business Anniversaries



Celebrating a history of service pages


Buster’s Country Meats and Catering has new owner By Jade Wangen

of time doing paperwork for permits and inspections. They

also put on a new addition to the building this fall.

“The state made it mandatory to put on a smokehouse for the

Cody Koebke started working at Buster’s Country Meats outside of Spring Valley when he was in high school. He grew up in Spring Valley and graduated from Kingsland High School. Koebke knew he wanted to own his own business, but he wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do. While working one day, owner Buster Johnson asked if he would be interested in taking over his business one day when he retired. “I got a two-year degree in business administration at RCTC,” said Koebke. “I worked into it slowly.” Johnson and Koebke made the transition over the summer. Koebke didn’t only buy the business from Johnson; he bought the house, the land, and the buildings that came with it. It took a lot of work for Koebke to make the transition from employee to owner of his Cody Koebke took over as owner of Buster’s Country Meats and Catering in July 2011. own business. He spent a lot Photo by Jade Wangen

Mabel working on new community center By Jade Wangen

Jim Westby was the Mayor of Mabel for several years. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of controversy in town over the construction of a brand new Community Center. After Westby lost the last election, the council and the Mabel Economic Development Authority asked him to continue on as project manager for the Community Center project. The issue of spending $1.2 million on a new building has at times divided the town. “Some people feel it’s going to be a big tax burden on the residents,” said Westby. The city worked for a long time to raise money to offset the amount they would have to bond for the project. As it

turned out, they only had to borrow $400,000. And people are still donating money. Westby recently received a check for $5,000 from someone in California. Proponents of the project feel that the building will benefit the town tremendously. Not only is it a place for people to have gatherings like wedding receptions, reunions, and meetings, but it will house the council chambers and the city offices as well. Westby’s job as the Project Manager is to make sure all of the requirements are being met and things are moving along as planned. Construction is currently well under way. “The last day of construction is supposed to be January 26,” said Westby. He added that they will be finishing the landscaping and other outdoor

things in the spring. There are already four wedding receptions booked for the new building, one or two possible class reunions, and Winn Coop’s annual board meeting. According to Westby, the Lions may hold their Cancer Telethon there next year. The building was designed by Vantage Architects out of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, but Westby explained a lot of ideas came from the group on the original committee. They looked around at community centers in other towns to see what they liked and didn’t like. The reception hall can hold 300 people comfortably. See MABEL Page 2 

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sausages and stuff,” explained Koebke. “I thought it would be good to put the catering in there, too.” It is comforting to Koebke that they can do everything on site now, and save time and money, as they used to send things to Grand Meadow for smoking. Monday through Thursday they do their own slaughtering on site, and Koebke said they have anywhere from seven to eight beef cows and 10-12 hogs a week come through there. Right now Koebke is putting in 70-80 hours a week, but he has no problem with that. He is enjoying his new life, and is very glad he took over the business. “Things have calmed down a little now,” he said. He added that things were very busy during hunting season when people brought their deer in to be processed. Buster’s Country Meats has been around since 1979, and See BUSTER’S Page 12 

Trailside Campground debuts in Rushford Village By K irsten Zoellner

Rushford Village is one step and a few months closer to getting a hold of more of those often elusive tourism dollars. Newly developed Trailside Campground will make its debut along the Root River Trail this spring, as seasonal tourists begin pouring into the area. Located on former farmland, just north of the state trail and scenic highway 16 and south of Highway 30, the 48-site campground is the product of more than two years work of toil by developer Harold Naber, owner and operator of Eagle Cliff campground in Lanesboro. “We’d been looking for an additional location to take advantage of the state bike trail,” notes Nabor. “In 2009, we had a waiting list of 72 at our Lanesboro location. There

was definitely a demand for more seasonal camping sites in the area.” Nabor had previously owned a used auto dealership in the community and knew it was a prime location. “The Rushford area supported us so well and we met so many good people. Still, Nabor didn’t see anyone trying to take advantage of the community’s tourism business. “The demand is still there,” he adds. While the drive and commitment was there from the developer, several hurdles attempted to push the project back. The 15 acres on which Trailside Campground sits was initially purchased in February 2010 from Val and Mary Gudmundsen. However, when Nabor tried to secure a clear deed, it turned out that more than 50 years ago, as See CAMPGROUND Page 8 

Page 2


Monday, January 23, 2012

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Continued from Page 1 Another five tables of ten people can be added. The council meeting room can also hold 50 people. There is a projection screen on one side of the hall for movies, videos, or presentations. A large window brings in a lot of natural sunlight. A stage will be set up, and there are plenty of speakers in the room. Westby said there will be stipulations for people having their events there. They must have a licensed caterer, and

they must purchase alcohol from a local licensed vendor. “We are really hoping this generates support for local businesses,” said Westby. Westby added that he personally doesn’t feel the building will be a large tax burden on the residents of Mabel. It is a tax exempt building since it houses the city offices. It has the potential to generate a lot of revenue throughout the year, as well as stimulate local businesses. The city is not only able to offer the building for receptions and parties. “A lot of

Photo by Sherry Hines people don’t know this,” said Westby, “but we are also set up for auctions here.” Double doors in the main room open up to allow for a trailer to bring items in for auctions. This increases the money-making potential for the city. For most people, this addition to the community will bring nothing but good things. Westby believes this will help bring more people to the community, help stimulate local businesses, and help Mabel be a place that people want to visit.

A gathering place for Canton residents By Jade Wangen Along the highway outside of Canton there is a place to fuel up your vehicle, as well as eat a good meal. For the last four years, TJ’s Café has been not only a convenient place to stop on your way through town, but also a place for local people to meet and socialize. They have recently extended their hours for Friday night fish dinner. Jenny Kleppe leases the building from Preston Dairy and

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Farm, who runs the feed store in the back. It was almost four years ago when she worked with her husband, who is a logger. She used to come to Canton for lunch, and when the restaurant closed down, she considered reopening it with her friend Tammy. For the last two years, it has been just Kleppe running the show, with the help of employees Vernon Zafft, Dustin Zafft, and Melissa Manhart. She admits that sometimes it gets crazy, but she is having a lot of fun. “If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t still be here,” said Kleppe. According to Kleppe, they have received a lot of business on Fridays since extending their hours. During the week they see a lot of farmers come in for breakfast and lunch, and a lot of regular visitors who like to drink coffee, play dice games, and visit with friends. TJ’s Café also provides the Canton Senior Dining meals.

Kleppe said there are eight people in Canton they deliver meals to, and up to ten people choose to dine at the restaurant. Kleppe said Preston Dairy and Farm has hay sales on Mondays, which gives them a lot of business on those days. They have also seen an increase in customers since the Canton Pub stopped serving lunches Monday through Thursday. The café also serves as a convenience store. “We sell a little bit of everything,” said Kleppe. There is even Amish woodwork collectibles sold there, made by local Amish residents. “I enjoy coming here every day,” said Kleppe. “I have great help, and the customers are great. They really appreciate that we are here.” Kleppe lives north of Decorah by North Winneshiek School with her husband and three children. TJ’s Café is now open from 5-8 p.m. on Friday nights.

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Dustin Zafft, Vernon Zafft, and Jenny Kleppe can be found at TJ’s Cafe in Canton. Photo by Jade Wangen

Monday, January 23, 2012


Page 3

Heritage Grove of Harmony celebrating ten years Incremental improvements for much more than just that. By Jade Wangen transportation for residents, Center for the Arts Ten years ago this year, Har- Kristi Kiehne has been the and planning activities. mony created a place for people to go who were not ready to go into the nursing home, but still not able to live on their own. Heritage Grove was built as an assisted living center, but it is

Housing Director for the past four years, and she does a little but of everything, including giving tours to potential residents, hiring staff, setting up doctor appointments and

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Kiehne explained that one section of the building is for independent residents, one section assisted living, and one for memory care. The independent residents live on their own in an apartment, but are able to purchase any services they want or need, such as housekeeping and medication care. They are also able to join the rest of the residents for meals and activities if they wish. The assisted living package comes with cleaning, laundry, meals, nursing care, and other services as needed. Up to six people can living in the memory care part, and there is a staff member there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This makes it very personalized care for those residents. “It’s a good job,” shared Kiehne. “The residents and staff make it fun.” Kiehne said one thing they have tried to do more in recent years is to do more activities with the residents. “We like to take them places in the community, to the grocery store, or uptown for pie and coffee, things like that,” she said. There are currently two openings at Heritage Grove. Over the last few years there have been openings, and there are many possible reasons for this. “I do think the economy makes a difference,” said Kiehne. “Especially if kids are unemployed and can take care of the parents.” Kiehne added that people like to stay in their homes as long as possible, and there are many services in the community that can help with that. Many would agree that Heritage Grove has been a good addition to the town of Harmony these past ten years. “It’s absolutely a benefit for the town,” said Kiehne. “It fills a niche that is needed. It provides seniors with another option, a way to get the services they need but still live in a homelike atmosphere.” Kiehne mentioned the ambience of the building, the benefit of the residents being able to socialize with others without having to go outside in the cold weather, and the beautiful dining room in which they can enjoy meals with others. Nothing special is planned yet, but Kiehne said they will probably have an open house celebration this summer to commemorate their ten-year anniversary. For Heritage Grove it is a good time to celebrate a decade of providing senior citizens with a nice place to live.

Everybody wins when we buy local! Support your community.

By Karen Reisner Raising money for the refurbishing of Chatfield’s old elementary buildings has been a challenge in this time of tight budgets and slow economic growth. However, progress is being made in part by stretching the funding with the gifts of time and labor by members of the community. The elementary school was closed in the spring of 2009. The Economic Development Authority (EDA) took ownership from the school district in February 2010. The vision of renewal for the historic property as Chatfield’s Center for the Arts will be costly and will require both government and private funding. Chatfield City Clerk Joel Young gave me a tour of the buildings, pointing out the improvements and the work in progress.

During this past year the most visible improvements are the removal of the 1954 building and the installation of a curved sidewalk in front of the remaining buildings similar to the sidewalk that was present before the construction of the 1954 building. The interior of the auditorium has had a partial facelift of its own. Volunteers helped paint the floor and walls. The back stage walls were also painted. Air conditioning has been installed, along with electrical wiring improvements. Curtains were taken down and years of dust beaten out of them before rehanging them. Efforts will be made to maintain the historical character of Potter Auditorium as much as possible. Improvements to the American Legion Room (former kindergarten See CHATFIELD Page 5 

The American Legion room at the Chatfield Center for the Arts. Photo by Karen Reisner

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Organizational process for NTC By Karen Reisner On January 16 the National Trout Center’s (NTC) board of directors met for the first time for an organizational meeting at the Jailhouse Inn. Some members who sat on the Steering Committee are now on the board and some will form an Advisory Committee. Members of the committees and some members of the Preston City Council and staff enjoyed a luncheon before the board meeting. George Spangler started by thanking Steering Committee members for their service since the committee was created and organized in 2009 by the Preston EDA. Spangler identified members of the first board of directors including John Carlin, Jeff Cooper, Joe Magee, Dan Christianson, David Williams, Mike Tomashek, Marlene Huston, Nick

Brandvold, Jeff Broberg, Phil Pankow, Kathy Dahl, and George Spangler. Because Attorney Dwight Luhmann, Chairman Preston EDA, was unable to be present, the board approved a resolution to have him notify members by mail of their board appointment. By-laws previously adopted by the Steering Committee were adopted as presented. David Williams reviewed a history of the organizational steps leading to the National Trout Center becoming an independent non-profit organization. Articles of incorporation were filed by Luhmann with the state in May of 2010. The temporary facility on 120 St. Anthony Street was opened in June 2010. Nick Brandvold, now on the board of directors, became the first program coordinator in May 2011. The Steering Committee approved the

Preston Liquor LLC 811 Hwy. 52 North, Preston Phone 507-765-2565 We invite you to celebrate with us! We’ve been serving the region since 1990 and we appreciate your support all these years!

bylaws in September 2011. An application for recognition by the IRS as a tax exempt organization was submitted in December 2011. The NTC has completed two seasons of summer operations with nearly 1,500 visitors. Summarized in the bylaws are three goals of the NTC: 1) to educate people “about trout biology, ecology and behavior, trout habitat, the conservation and restoration of cold-water stream habitat.” 2) “to promote the arts, cultural heritage and experience of trout fishing and angling in cold water streams and rivers...” and 3) “to develop and operate a national trout center in the city of Preston, Minnesota that provides exhibits, research, education and programs focused on trout biology and behavior, trout habitat and cold-water streams.” According to the bylaws, the board of directors can have seven to twelve members. A two-thirds majority is required for large, transactional votes. Spangler added the city of Preston can have two representative directors. They can identify two of the twelve or nominate two additional members, which will require a change in the bylaws to have a fourteen member board. Program Coordinator and Operations Manager Karin Grimlund was appointed as an ex officio member of the board. Officers Christianson nominated Spangler to be chairman, saying he deserved the honor and responsibility. Spangler suggested someone new could better serve the center and broaden the responsibilities. He added he was not unwilling to

All of us would like to thank all of you. Anton Adamek, Preston Eunice Biel, Harmony Kevin Blanchard, Stewartville Janet Brevig, Preston Derrick Chapman, Rochester Vicki Christianson, Harmony Tammy Danielson, Fountain Gabby Gatzke, Preston Sam Gibson, Preston John Goutcher, Preston Tyler Grundman, Preston Col. Stan Gudmundson, Rushford Michelle Haugerud, Harmony Sherry Hines, Harmony Shari Jones, Spring Valley

Monday, January 23, 2012

Loni Kemp, Canton Julie Kiehne, Lanesboro Gary Peterson, Spring Valley Peggi Redalen, Rushford Karen Reisner, Fountain Paul Trende, Preston Amanda Sethre, Fontain Jason Sethre, Fountain Alissa Shannon, Preston Abby Stocker, Lanesboro Sheena Suckow, Harmony Mitchell Walbridge, Fountain Jade Wangen, Harmony Kirsten Zoellner, Rushford Village Sarah Wangen, Preston

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.

Thank you for your support over the past 27 years!

continue to contribute. The chairman position will be for one year. Dahl suggested that Spangler believed Tomashek, who was not present, should be chairman.

Spangler was elected chairman and Tomashek was elected vice chairman. Pankow was elected to serve as secretary See NTC Page 5 

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We appreciate the opportunity to serve our customers for over 19 years. Ronald Schreier

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Celebrating Fillmore County DAC! Providing opportunities and support in a nurturing environment for over 27 years! Fillmore County DAC, licensed in Day Training and Habilitation services, assists persons 18 years and older to find meaningful community employment and to enjoy the DAC’s recreational program. Our sincere, compassionate, and caring employees truly make the difference. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our employees for their dedication and hard work! For outstanding support we thank all our employers that we work for. Generally, there is a work group of three or four individuals and a job coach. Our employers that we currently work for are: Preston B&B Bowl Serviceman’s Club Fillmore County Journal Trailhead Inn and Suites Park Lane (piano playing) Harmony Work-It Circuit Harmony Community HealthCare Wheelers Bar and Grill Village Square Jem Theater Heritage Grove (piano playing)

Lanesboro Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center Wykoff Shooters Bar Spring Valley Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Good Earth Village Houston Festivals and More Kandiyohi County Kandi-Works DAC

Thank you so much for having us work for you!

The Fillmore County DAC also thanks all who donated to the DAC in 2011. We are very appreciative! The Fillmore County DAC also owns and operates the

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We sell gently used items, greeting cards, and beautiful quality rag rugs. Come in and see the selection!

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Continued from Page 4

and Christianson to serve as treasurer. The four officers will make up the Executive Committee. The board approved a resolution to empower the Executive Committee to make fiscal decisions that fall within the approved budget. The budget was reviewed. It was noted that the city of Preston has been writing the checks. Spangler suggested they should be able to relieve the city clerk of that responsibility. Christianson said they should be able to separate their books from the city’s. Dahl maintained the separation of accounts can be made when the NTC receives its non-profit status.


Continued from Page 3 room) have been made including fans, lights and fresh paint. Grant money paid for chairs, tables, etc. for the room. The Legion Room serves as a community center for the city. The initial improvements to the room were paid for with funds from the Chatfield American Legion Club. New security lights have been installed at entrances to the buildings. The ceiling in the hallway of the 1916 building has been reconstructed and painted. The auditorium, which seats nearly 900 people, needed additional bathroom facilities as it only had two stalls serving the auditorium. A ladies’ restroom with four stalls was added in the 1916 building (former locker room). The actual stalls were recycled from the 1954 building. Other improvements included the creation of a Green Room out of a storage room for the comfort of a show’s star or a conductor. A doorway opening was installed through the thick brick wall for improved access to the dressing room. This allows the cast to access the dressing room without mixing with audience members that may be in the hallway. A toilet was reinstalled for the dressing room. Fencing was removed in back of the buildings. The area serves as a community parking lot. Ninety-four window panels were given a fresh coat of paint. Young said a recent grant will be used to replace one row of spotlights in the auditorium and to replace the worn carpet runners in the aisles. An information kiosk will be placed out front. Hand rails that were constructed in Spring Grove may already be installed in front of the auditorium. Work on a kitchen is in progress. Preliminary work has been done excavating the old gymnasium. This area may be turned into a more intimate theatre setting with good acoustics, movie theatre, or bothsome time down the road when funding becomes available. With the improvements already completed, demand for use of the auditorium is expected to increase in 2012. Contributions The 2011 funding for improvements came from the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation, Arlin C. Falck Foundation, a Small Cities Development Program Grant, Valspar Paint through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Fund, and the Chosen Valley Community Foundation. When the property was turned over to the EDA, Chatfield Public Schools contributed an additional $275,000 which financed the removal of the 1954 building.

Page 5

A Permanent Home for the Center Formation of two ad hoc committees to work toward the goal of a permanent center were approved. Spangler said the Space-Building Committee will work on two critical needs. First, the temporary NTC is located in a building leased from George and Kay Spangler. The lease expired December 31, 2011. Currently there is a month to month agreement that needs to be resolved. Second, there is the effort to be included in the state bonding bill, to obtain funds to be used for predesign, acquisition of property, and construction of a permanent home for the NTC. About a month ago, Spangler made a presentation to state senators on the

Senate Capital Investment Committee. Spangler noted this is a bonding year. He suggested funds could come over a period of years. There are three potential building sites. Land will need to be acquired, possibly clean up of a “brownfield” site will be necessary, and plans for the building will need to be made. Cost estimates are rough at this stage, about $3.5 million. The intention is to make the building the point of interest, including “an in-house, living stream laboratory.” Broberg will serve as chairman of the Space-Building Committee. A second ad hoc committee is the Fund Raising Committee, which will be chaired by Christianson.

Donations have been made by Chatfield groups in the past including the Chosen Valley Community Foundation, Firefighters Activities Association, Booster Club, Commercial Club, American Legion Club, EDA, the city of Chatfield, and F&M Bank. Some Legacy Grant money was obtained through the Minnesota Historical Society. Additional monies from the school district were spent on asbestos abatement. Groups that have contributed their time and labor include the Fillmore County Sentence to Serve, Fillmore and Olmsted County Community Service Programs, the Center for the Arts Advisory Committee, the EDA, the Chatfield Heritage Preservation Commission, the Boys Scouts, Lion’s Club, Wit’s End Theatre Company, Mike Fenske Painting, Pathfinder C.R.M., and the Chatfield Schools Community Service Class. 2011 Activities at the Center Over ten thousand people have been to Potter Auditorium to enjoy plays, concerts and other activities in 2011. Events, which were mostly held in Potter Auditorium with some in the American Legion Room, have included Chatfield High School

plays (One Act Play and Cantorville Ghost), St. Olaf Norseman Concert Band, Lorie Line Concert, Todd Green Concert, Memorial Day Program, The Battle Cry of Freedom, Acting Out (one act plays), Sounds of Hope Concert, The King and I, Rochester Barbershop Chorus, Karl Burke Concert, Chatfield Firefighters’ Variety Show, Laurie McClain Concert, Juice Newton Concert, Jerry Rau Concert, SE MN Youth Orchestra Concert, A Branson Style Christmas, and Chatfield Community Christmas Concert. More than thirty-three hundred people have had an occasion to use the American Legion Room for numerous board meetings, conferences, dinners, club meetings, concerts, a science fair, and birthday, Christmas and other public group or family celebrations. The buildings were used during the visit by President Barack Obama this past August. The facilities are rented out by the EDA. Ticket sales totaled about $110,000 in 2011. Young said businesses downtown as well as other businesses in the region benefit from the number of people drawn to the Center for the Arts.

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Monday, January 23, 2012


Business An

These Fillmore CounTy Businesses City of Rushford Village

Root River State Bank

Rushford State Bank

Rushford Village, MN 158 Years of Service

Chatfield, MN 156 Years of Service

Rushford, MN 145 Years of Service

Mabel, MN 119 Years of Service

Prosper Lumber

First Southeast Bank


Hyland Motor Co.

Prosper, MN 100 Years of Service

Himile Construction Rushford, MN 57 Years of Service

Canton, MN 67 Years of Service

Harmony Telephone Co. & Cable TV & Service Harmony, MN 67 Years of Service

Spring Valley Senior Living


Spring Valley, MN 54 Years of Service

Bank of the West

Spring Valley, MN 67 Years of Service

Rushford, MN 45 Years of Service

Rushford Foods Harmony Foods Preston Foods

Village Farm & Home - True Value

43 Years of Service

Fountain Building Center

Fillmore County DAC

Fillmore County Journal

Fountain, MN 28 Years of Service

Preston, MN 27 Years of Service

Preston, MN 27 Years of Service

Mabel, MN 27 Years of Service

Preston Liquor, LLC Preston, MN 22 Years of Service

Root River Saloon

Major & Company Accounting & Tax

Lanesboro, MN 22 Years of Service

Preston, MN 19 Years of Service

Rushford Economic Development Authority

Visit Bluff Country

Poet Biorefining

Harrington Enterprises

Cedar Valley Resort

LeRoy, MN 13 Years of Service

Whalan, MN 11 Years of Service

Studio A Photography

SMG Computer Solutions

Preston,MN 16 Years of Service

Preston, MN 14 Years of Service

River Hills Chiropractic Lanesboro, MN 7 Years of Service

Preston, MN 3 Years of Service

Rushford, MN 19 Years of Service

Preston, MN 2 Years of Service

Monday, January 23, 2012


Page 7



are Proud To serve The CommuniTy First Southeast Bank Harmony, MN 119 Years of Service

Norman’s Electric Service, Inc Rushford, MN 66 Years of Service

Gehling Auction Co.

First State Bank of Fountain Fountain, MN 111 Years of Service

Rushford, MN 109 Years of Service

Lanesboro Sales Commission

Torgerson’s Paint & Floor Covering, Inc.

Lanesboro, MN 65 Years of Service

Hammell Equipment, Inc.

Preston, MN 39 Years of Service

Chatfield, Rushford, Eitzen, Harmony, MN 36 Years of Service

Connaughty Industries

Brown Tire, Battery & Transmission

Rushford, MN 26 Years of Service

Rushford, MN 25 Years of Service

RiverStar, Inc.

Trailhead Inn

Rushford & Winona, MN 17 Years of Service

Preston, MN 17 Years of Service

Rushford Area Chamber of Commerce

Bluff Country Computer Works

Rushford, MN 11 Years of Service

SMG Web Design Preston, MN 2 Years of Service

Farmers Coop Elevator

Harmony, MN 65 Years of Service

Buster’s Country Meats & Catering

F&M Community Bank Preston & Chatfield, MN 101 Years of Service

Winona Health Rushford Clinic Rushford MN 61 Years of Service

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Page 8


CAMPGROUND Continued from Page 1

the land had passed down through an inheritance, there had been a mistake on the deed. That error took at least six months to clear up. The next hurdle was getting the campground approved with the local zoning ordinances of Rushford Village. Unfortunately, the village had no applicable zoning ordinance in place and Nabor was once again forced to wait until the village had documented an official ordinance. Construction of the campground began in July of 2011. The campground is scheduled to open April 1, 2012. “This site may not sit right along a river, but to be honest, the river can really beat us up,” acknowledges Nabor. “Ten times since 2000 we’ve had to deal with flooding at

that site.” The Rushford Village site, while not adjacent to the Root River or Rush Creek, is in close proximity to both, and as the local Trails and Tourism boards as well as Tri-City groups cooperating between the village, Rushford, and Peterson continue to work out tourism potentials Nabor knows the waters are a big draw. “It’s a huge asset,” he enthuses. “We’ll be able to utilize two other canoe, kayak, and tubing outfitters in the Rushford area. Hopefully, it’ll boost their business, too.” Even though Trailside Campground has the same developer and will use much of the same staff to maintain it, it will be a completely separate entity from Eagle Cliff. The majority of the sites will be year-long leases and will have 50 amp electrical service, sewer, and water to each site. Twenty of the 48 sites, which are 3,200 sq. feet in size, are already

Monday, January 23, 2012

spoken for and Nabor expects it won’t take long until 30-35 are filled with committed clients. The remaining sites will be available for temporary rental for either campers or more primitive tent camping. There are no forseeable future projects for Nabor once Trailside is up and running. “There are a lot of regulations and requirements that inhibit development progress by the small individual. Still, we’re going to keep going forward. This is only a start. People will realize that the Rushford area has a lot to offer.” Persons interested in Trailside Campground can contact Emily Spende at 507-467-2598.

“WELCOME TODD AND SUE” Farmers Co-op Elevator Co. has hired a new General Manager. All of the employees would like to extend a warm welcome to Todd Rosvold, and his wife Sue, to the area. Please come and join us in welcoming them at a “meet and greet” on:

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Page 9

Rushford ABC striving to improve community By Kirsten Zoellner By now, there’s a good chance you may have heard people talking about branding. But, how exactly does one go about putting a brand on a community? According to Doug Botcher, Chairman for the Rushford Area Branding Council, “A brand is an identity, be it community or product.” Botcher sites many examples of branding which we’re all no doubt familiar with, including Volvo safety, Las Vegas entertainment, and M&Ms “melt in your mouth” goodness. “It is what you are known for,” he continues. “Something people can identify with, and in our case for it to be a strong enough identity for people to want to travel to the area to experience the brand.”


It’s certainly no secret that Rushford has long-sought tourism for the area. It’s becoming more and more difficult for small towns to continue to support themselves and they, therefore, need to look outside of their community for support. What’s more, towns like Rushford have found it increasingly important to cooperatively work with other municipalities. In the case of the Rushford Area Branding Council, Rushford Village and Peterson play just as important a role in establishing their identity. “Geographic proximity is an obvious reason,” notes Botcher, “But the three communities are bonded together by the school system, local businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, and other factors. I like to think of

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the three as siblings; we don’t always get along but we rely on each other and count on each other for support.” With a strong community brand, Botcher believes there is a far greater chance of success. The Branding Council came about as a part of the process with the invitation of a representative of DDI, Destination Development, Inc. That resulted in a presentation to interested community members in September 2009. “There was interest prior to that,” notes Botcher, “But that visit is what got it moving.” The council has been officially meeting since December 2010, with three regular meetings per month since January 2011, at the Rushford Fire Hall. The council, which has been active since the beginning, is comprised of Doug Botcher (President), Peggi Redalen (Vice-Chairman), Terri Benson (Secretary), Kevin Klugtvedt, Lori Hungerholt, Nikindra Hungerholt, and Terry Lesser, who have all been active since the beginning of this effort. More recently, Nan Lesser and Peterson members Jennifer Wood and Gail Boyum have joined in the efforts. There are currently no Rushford Village members, but that’s not to say the group isn’t recruiting. Since the initial organizational meeting, the council has scrutinized extensive amounts of data and materials. According to Botcher, the process began with a review of all previous assessments that have been conducted on the area, including the MN Design Team report from April 2008; the Comprehensive Land Use Plan by Yaggy Colby Associates (November 2008), Roger Brooks (DDI) Decorah seminar (May 2009) and the DDI assessment Brooks made of Rushford in September 2009. Local observations and information from citizens has also been key. “We reviewed each of these documents to develop a list of characteristics that we would

study to see if they could lead us to the community brand,” says Botcher. “We reviewed each document, line-by-line at our regular meetings. After cre-

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Page 10



Continued from Page 9

list to determine where it fit in terms of a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat (SWOT analysis), or if it fit in more than one of those categories. We looked at geography, commerce, education, industry, services, and individual human elements, to name just a few, to place those elements into one or more of the SWOT categories.” The Council certainly didn’t stop with previous assessments and analysis. The council recently contracted an outside source to get feedback on what the community sees as positive aspects of the area. Dubbed, “The Rushford Question,” the cooperative effort had the premise of getting the community looking at the positives of the area. “It’s an attempt to find something we can hang our hat on,” added Carolyn Dunham, Question Project Manager. 500 questionnaire letters were mailed, by 95 percent random

sample, within the community. “The idea,” noted Dunham, “Is to get the buzz going.” The effort also hopes for more positive community interaction and discussion. February 21 is slated for the completion date of the Question Project. At that time, Dunham will report back to the organizations so they can determine how to move forward and implement a plan. Now, in the post-analysis portion, the council is evaluating some of what Botcher calls, “Brand candidates.” “With the resultant community input, we hope to be able to mesh the responses with what we have discovered to-date,” declares Botcher. Of course, at the writing of this, the council didn’t want to let on just what those candidates might be, but perhaps in the near future. The council will continue to need community support. “With a brand selection, community businesses will be encouraged to participate with their business plans and business practices, and other

Fountain transitions, a new era By Karen Reisner The city of Fountain has had three transitions this past year, a new city clerk, a new employee in public works, and a brand new police car. City Clerk In August 2011, Rhonda Flattum was hired by the city of Fountain as the new city clerk after the retirement of Stan and Sharon Speer, who had served the city in that capacity since 1970. Flattum has worked in banking all her life, most recently at the

Associated Bank in Lanesboro. This is a new beginning for her, working as a city clerk. When the opening for the city clerk job was advertised, Flattum said she was looking for a local job in a small town where she would be working with people in accounting and administration. She likes the job, enjoys learning new things, and is a self starter. Working in Fountain, a city with just three employees, she views their work as a team effort. Flattum says the new job

Left to right: Public Works Dan Byer, Police Chief Tom Mosher; and City Clerk Rhonda Flattum stand in front of the city’s new police car. Photo by Karen Reisner

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community residents will be encouraged to become proud spokespersons for the brand,” stresses Botcher. “I hope everyone understands that we started out as a group of local residents that knew very little about branding. Along with researching, organizing, evaluating and discussing the elements of branding, we all have been educating ourselves to become much more knowledgeable about the topic. This has been a learn-as-you-go process and there has been a lot of learning.” “This will become a community-wide project before it is completed. We are a group who has devoted a lot of time to this project, but when implementation time comes, there will be many opportunities for all community members to become more involved. We will need more help to make it happen.” For more information on the Rushford Area Branding Council, visit www.rushfordabc.orgX is a challenge and exciting. If something comes up that she is unsure of, she relies on neighboring city clerks or the Speers to answer her questions during this time of transition and learning. Flattum is a mother of three adult children that have left the nest. Two of her children are married and have given her and her husband four grandchildren. She lives on the family farm near Lanesboro with her husband Lowell, who farms. Public Works Dan Byer has stepped into the shoes of Herman Freese, who retired in October. He is now working full time in Public Works. Byer, who worked construction and installed acoustical ceilings for 32 years, was laid off during the economic slow down a couple of years ago. Byer started to work part time helping Freese at the Wastewater Treatment Plant in June. Byer took classes on his own dime to earn three licenses. He says he has learned a lot and still has a lot to learn. Byer, who lives in Fountain walks to work, enjoys being his own boss and his new job, finding it interesting. He like Flattum enjoys working with his co-workers. Byer is married with two grown and married step-children. Police Car and Pumper Truck The city retired its 1996 Ford Crown Victoria police car and purchased a new 2011 Dodge Charger. Police Chief Tom Mosher, who works part time for Fountain and part time for Ostrander, said most of the equipment in the car was updated also. He admitted to being a “Dodge” man, and said the Charger broke all records in the State of Michigan Police tests rating for 0 to 60, 0 to 100, and water breaking. The city is also replacing its old 1979 pumper fire truck with a 1992 Pierce-pumper. The new, used truck won’t have to travel far to its new home, as it is being purchased from Chatfield.

Geneva’s Ice Cream Shoppe attracts a crowd in Peterson. Photo by Kirsten Zoellner

Geneva’s Hideaway & Ice Cream Shoppe sweetening Peterson By Kirsten Zoellner You’ve seen them in just about every small town; buildings for sale. Take for instance an 1980s era 8-plex apartment building. Sure it may have that lovely outdated carpeting and décor, but what if you looked beyond the obvious. For Terry and Cindy Highum, that’s exactly how Geneva’s Hideaway came into being. Now, the building exists as an eight-unit lodge, with spacious room, including complete, fully-equipped kitchen, private bath, and spacious outdoor spaces including a barbecue pavilion. One 600 sq. ft. bedroom suite and seven 700 sq. ft., twobedroom suites are available year round. Keeping up with modern conveniences, amenities include air conditioning, cable television, and non-smoking rooms. The Peterson couple purchased the property in the spring of 2000 after seeing it sit for sale for quite some time. Renovations began almost immediately, with four units being ready for rental by the fall of the same year. By the next spring, the entire building had seen updated and refined aesthetics. While Peterson boasts two established Bed & Breakfast properties, Geneva’s Hideaway allows for more hotel-like lodging and has been popular with repeat clients, such as families and groups attending specific functions. Since its opening, Geneva’s Hideaway has seen a steady stream of tourists pass through the town of 253 residents. In addition, Geneva’s Hideaway caters to outdoor enthusiasts, bicyclists enjoying the Root River State

Trail, as well as anglers, canoeing, kayaking, and tubing on the Root River. Taking it even further, Geneva’s Hideaway will assist with those wanting overnight canoe trips or a simple picnic lunch along the waterfront. As they move toward the future, Terry Highum can see a potential to grow, despite already having his hands full. “We have a nice business with deer and turkey hunters in the spring and fall and we’d like to continue that.” So, Geneva’s Hideaway is the lodging, but where do day guests and day travelers dine? Enter Geneva’s Ice Cream Shoppe. Situated in a building right on Main Street, the shoppe is only a block from the state trail, and features a myriad of mouthwatering delights. Of course, that building itself has seen some history. According to Highum, it has been a little bit of everything, including an antique store, appliance store, general store, and gas station, even selling HarleyDavidson motorcycles out of the back in one era. Also set up to meet its new purpose, the shoppe is decorated as an old-fashioned parlor, and serves Hand-dipped Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, sandwiches, drinks, and more. Open mid-May through mid-September (weather dependent), the shoppe serves customers seven days a week. For more information about Geneva’s Hideaway and Geneva’s Ice Cream Shoppe, contact Terry or Cindy Highum at 1 (877) 7274816 (toll free), (507) 875-7733, or email at You can also visit them on the web at: .


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Monday, January 23, 2012

The milestones of Lanesboro

By Mitchell Walbridge The rural community of Lanesboro, located in the heart of bluff country, had an eventful year in 2011. The town is now looking forward to an exciting year in 2012. Again in 2011, strong leadership and cooperation has helped the Lanesboro community have a successful year. Progress was prominent in Lanesboro in 2011, and many milestones were met. The Commonweal Theater of Lanesboro celebrated its most successful year in its twentythree years of operation. The theater reported that more than 21,000 theatergoers attended a performance this year. Popular performances like the romantic comedy Parfumerie to Harper Lee’s time-honored story To Kill a Mockingbird drew in record crowds in the theater’s 2011 lineup. Two of the theater’s productions, To Kill a Mockingbird and Sylvia, ranked in the top three performances that the theater has presented. In addition to the theater’s

achievements, $10,000 was awarded to the Commonweal from the Southeast Minnesota Arts Council and an additional $38,250 was awarded from the Minnesota State Arts Board. The theater is excited to get its 2012 theatrical season underway with performance titles such as The 39 Steps, The Philadelphia Story, and the well-known Charles Dickens’ production A Christmas Carol. In addition to the Commonweal’s success, Lanesboro also hosted two unique events in 2011. Lanesboro was located on the route of the MS Tram, a bike tour to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. The recognized event drew in around 900 bikers and several volunteers into the community. Also, the Model-T car show was a popular event. Around 200 owners showed off their valuable Model-T cars along Parkway Avenue in Lanesboro. Lanesboro and the area trail towns also had a local celebration of the 25th anniversary

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of the Root River State Bike Trail. Looking ahead to 2012, Lanesboro is planning another great year as well. Along with annual traditions like Rhubarb Festival, Art in the Park, and Buffalo Bill Days, Lanesboro is working with neighboring communities to hold a special event in September which will be “Taste of the Trail.” The goal of the event is to feature all of the local foods that each town on the trail is known for. Each weekend would feature two different communities. Also, more trail development is expected to take place this spring. The trail going from Lanesboro east to Rushford will be repaved and widened from eight to ten feet. That portion of the trail will then match the Fountain to Lanesboro segment. Work is expected to begin in the spring and last through part of the summer. The local businesses of Lanesboro contribute to making Lanesboro a successful community. Two businesses were recognized for their anniversaries. The Das Wurst Haus was recognized for 28 years of service on Labor Day in 2011. Owners Arv and Janus Fabian have retired from the business which now houses Bittersweet Boutique and Antiques, an intimate boutique with a great selection of natural fiber clothing for women. Lanesboro Tours and Treasures, Cheryl’s Apparel, and Molly the Trolley, owned by Rick and Cheryl Lamon, was recognized for their 7 years of service to the community. There are also a few new businesses that are contributing to Lanesboro’s fame, including a new bed and breakfast, Casa Verde, ran by Jeremy van Meter and Catherine Glynn. Casa Verde is the new eco-friendly bed and breakfast in Lanesboro. Also, Smokey River BBQ, a new restaurant has opened. Part of Lanesboro will be getting a makeover in the spring of 2012. With the help of a Legacy grant, the landscaping of the trailhead starting at main street and extending to the Lanesboro Visitor Center will be redone. Some of the improvements that will be made will include better seating areas, new bike racks, and modern, updated landscaping. The improvements will give the area a more elaborate look for tourists and locals. Lanesboro is looking forward to an eventful year in 2012 packed with exciting programs and festivals. City administration, the chamber of commerce, town locals, and businesses will all be working hard to maintain Lanesboro’s communityoriented reputation to make Lanesboro a successful community in 2012 as in previous years. The leaders of Lanesboro will also strive to continue Lanesboro’s reputation as the “quirky crossroads of the arts and outdoors,” as Lanesboro was named in an edition of Minnesota Monthly magazine.

Page 11

“What’s up, Doc?” By Kirsten Zoellner While the current business climate may leave some thinking small towns can’t support local business, there’s at least one Whalan business proving them all wrong. Dale ‘Doc’ Peterson, of Doc’s Auto Body and Repair humbly claims to be just a “Little guy,” but this business in the heart of Whalan is thriving with support from both its own community and those within the county. “We’re a one-stop, full-service auto body and mechanical repair shop,” notes Doc. “We’ve got an experienced staff, including a full-time mechanic and a full-time auto body technician. I think we thrive fairly well in a small community.” The community of Whalan has indeed been good to Doc’s, as has towns such as Lanesboro, Whalan, Rushford, Preston, Harmony, and Chatfield who’s citizen seek out both the quality services and the commitment to people. “It’s not just a business,” as Doc points out. “We’ve got quite a social network, with people poppin’ in to chat or for coffee, too.” Peterson, who formerly worked in corrections in Olmsted County, knows that’s just a part of what’s making his business thrive. “A friend used to walk in to chat and ask me, ‘What’s up, Doc?’ It’s just stuck, I guess.” Purchasing the business nine years ago, Peterson saw that the steel facility, which was literally half the size, was clearly not cut out for future growth and would need some improvements and upgrades to grow the business. A sizable addition

to the facility in those early years expanded the business to include full-service automotive work, making room for a hoist and paint booth. With no service to small or large, Doc’s offers routine oil changes and mechanical checks to body damage and glass repair and everything in between. “We’re in the heart of deer country,” chuckles Doc. “That and working hard at customer service has kept us going.” Living in Rochester, but with local family ties in the county, Peterson knows he’s got a good thing here. “We had an unbelievable opportunity back into a community,” he enthuses, “Even if it took a long time until people noticed we were here.” When asked about further growth, Doc points to the local struggles for small business. “It’s been hard at times just to maintain it and that limits how much we can offer. But we work hard. We’d love for our name to get out there more.” While the deer may not be jumping much lately, it sounds like you can stop into Doc’s anytime. Doc’s Auto Body and Repair is located one block south of the Pie Shoppe in downtown Whalan. To schedule an appointment, call 507-4673598, or stop in for a consultation.

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Page 12



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has people from all over traveling to the small business in the country for their quality meat and small-town customer service. They also do catering, which keeps them busy during the wedding season. There are eight employees that work for Koebke and help keep things moving along. According to Koebke, they have a lot of local customers, as well as people from Albert Lea, La Crosse, Cannon Falls, and as far away as Mason City. “It’s a trusted name,” said Koebke. “It’s the quality product, and the customer service.” In July, the name will officially be changed to Ody’s Country Meats and Catering, but it will still be the same family business, the same quality product, and the same personalized service that will bring people in from all over.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Root River Ag improving their Wykoff facility By Karen Reisner Root River Ag Service in Lanesboro was started by Jeff Redalen in 2009. Redalen bought the Lanesboro Ag Service building and started his own company. That year, Root River Ag also bought a building in Wykoff. According to Jeff’s brother, Steve Redalen, there are plans underway to do some remodeling at the Wykoff site. “We’re improving our facilities, making them safer for workers, and more efficient for operations,” said Redalen. Redalen works with his brother at Root River Ag in agronomy and sales. Their brother The team works together, along with their other brother Justin, in both Lanesboro and Wykoff selling feed and seed to farmers. They Wykoff location is primarily for the fertilizer part of the business.

“What’s going on in our plant right now is we are putting in a conveyor for the semis, and expanding our presence over there,” said Redalen. “Wykoff is a good place for us.” Redalen recommends fertilizers for farmers and helps them with plant growth and health, as well as weed control. He has a degree in Economics with a minor in agronomy from the University of Minnesota. The brothers grew up on a farm, and they have years of experience and education behind what they do. “Jeff has been in many different organizations, too. He has managed many coops in the area,” said Redalen. “He has probably been in every acre in the county.” Root River Ag is a full service feed company. According to Redalen, they do custom mixes, bulk delivery, and sell alfalfa and oats, among other things.

City of Ostrander has new website By Jade Wangen Rhonda Klapperich became the City Clerk/Treasurer for Ostrander in 2009. It wasn’t long after she began that she suggested the city get its own website.

“I thought it would be nice to get some information out there,” said Klepperich. In April of 2010, the city began to move along with the project. The council agreed to the idea, and Klapperich talk-

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ed to employees at SMG Web Design to make plans. Klapperich spent some time gathering information for the website, including businesses in town, contact information, city information, and events going on in town. Ostrander is a small town with a population of just over 200 people. But they are still going strong, and there are several businesses in town that bring people to the area, such as Susie’s Roadhouse, The Wolf ’s Den, Ostrander Care and Rehab, Security State Bank, the Farmer’s Coop, the Village Swan, and more. There is a daycare that is featured on the site, Missy’s Munchkins, and there are pictures to go along with it. All of these are together on the website to show a small but special community. Klapperich feels the website very handy for being able to post alerts to residents, such as a water main break, or other information they feel is important people receive. And although SMG Web Design takes care of updating the site, it has been set up so that Klapperich can access it for emergencies. “I keep coming up with other little things that would be nice to have on there,” said Klapperich. Ostrander has not grown much in the last year, but they have accomplished a lot for their residents. Klapperich said they received a grant last year that allowed them to purchase new bases for the ball field, a volleyball net, net for the tennis court, basketball nets, and two baskets for Frisbee golf. They try to maintain what they have and improve what they can to bring people to town. “We try to do what we can with what we have,” said Klapperich. More information on what’s going on in Ostrander can be found at www.cityofostrander. com.



He explained their feed supplier, Big Gain, has a wonderful feeding program for raising baby calves. He said they have found that if you double a calf ’s weight in the first eight weeks of life, they will produce anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 pounds more milk in their first lactation. “That’s exciting stuff,” said Redalen. “That’s the kind of stuff we need, better animal care, better health. It all goes

hand in hand.” The remodeling in Wykoff will be extensive, but Redalen said it will look nicer, and be so much more efficient than it is now. “That’s what we’re excited about,” he added. Down the road they may consider seed service from the Wykoff site, but right now it will just be fertilizer. They are committed to staying in Wykoff for the long haul, and are glad they have a presence there.

The Root River Ag building in Wykoff will undergo remodeling this year. Photo by Jade Wangen

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Progress Edition 2012  

The special section Progress edition in the Fillmore County Journal.

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