Week in Review 6-13
Cancer survivors find, provide hope at gathering
Richard Owens didn’t know many of the people sitting at the tables around him on Sunday, but he knew he had something in common with each of them. They were all cancer survivors.
Owens, along with his wife, daughter and granddaughter, attended the 22nd annual National Cancer Survivors Day celebration at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.
Owens, now 70, was retired and living in Idaho when he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005.
"I didn’t like the treatment regimen the doctors in Idaho had prescribed so I decided to go to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion," he said. Doctors here recommended he start chemotherapy and radiation right away, then have surgery and more chemotherapy.
While being treated at Mayo Clinic, he and his wife decided to move to Rochester, and in May 2006 they found out he was cancer-free. His life is back to normal, and he shares his story with others who have cancer to give them hope.
"Some of the people here are newly diagnosed, but they’re meeting people who are 20, 30, even 40 years out of their cancer," said Janine Kokal of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Education Program.
The event is hosted by the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and the American Cancer Society.
Seat belt law takes effect
When a new state law toughening seat belt enforcement took effect Tuesday, Kathy Cooper of Northfield, Minn., thought of one person — her daughter, Meghan.
It was 10 years ago on Tuesday when 15-year-old Meghan, celebrating the last day of school at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School, got into a friend’s car, didn’t buckle up and died when the car crashed.
For the past decade, Cooper has been fighting for a primary seat belt law, meaning officers can pull over vehicles and ticket occupants solely for not wearing seat belts. Until now, officers could issue a seat belt ticket only if they’d stopped the vehicle for another reason.
The measure passed on the final night of this year’s legislative session.
"As you can imagine, it was very emotional," she said. "It was for my Meghan. After all these years, Meghan honey, we did it."
Lefse maker opens larger facility
Norsland Lefse, a well-known commercial lefse maker in Rushford, opened in a new location Monday and has added a coffee shop, bakery and Scandanavian gift shop. Large windows in the gift shop allow visitors to watch the lefse-making process. The lunch menu in the coffee shop includes lefse sandwiches, lefse wraps and hot dogs in lefse.
Owners Mark Johnson and Scott James ran the business from a place on Elm Street since 1997, but the building was flooded in August 2007. The 28 inches of water and muck also damaged nine of the company’s unique rolling machines, built by former owner Merlin Hoiness.
The machines were rebuilt, and the business moved to the former Tri-County Electric Cooperative facility. (The co-op had moved to a new building outside of town.) The 9,000-square-foot building is four times the size of Norsland’s former plant.
Norsland Lefse grills and packages 250,000 rounds of the flat, flexible Norwegian bread each year. The lefse is sold in area grocery stores and can be ordered online.
Street market reopens for the season
One of Rochester’s most popular annual events — Thursdays on First & Third — reopened for the summer this week in downtown Rochester.
The market is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and will have more vendors, music and food this year, organizers say. Between 10,000 and 25,000 hit the market every Thursday, and about 100 vendors set up.
There will be two stages for music this year, on First Avenue Southwest and at the Peace Plaza.
The market will be every Thursday through Sept. 10.
Hormel launches new Spam ad campaign
Hormel launched a new campaign Tuesday that urges consumers to "spice up everyday meals by simply adding Spam products."
Spambled Denver Sandwiches, Spam LT, Bacon Cheese Spamburger Hamburger, Spambalaya Jambalaya and Spam Patio Potato Salad are just a few of the recipes that Hormel has given Spam enthusiasts "to chew on."
"Our goal is to build upon the recent success of Spam product sales by showing our consumers simple and creative ways to use Spam products more often," said Dan Goldman, senior product manager of Spam Family of Products, in a statement. "These advertisements take everyday recipes a step further, to say, ‘Spam products can banish mealtime monotony.’"
Austin-based Hormel Foods Corp. makes Spam, whose sales have been strong during the recession.
An updated Web site with dozens of recipes and games was launched with the ad campaign.
Riverland to train wind turbine workers
Riverland Community College in Austin will begin offering this fall a new program to teach people how to maintain and repair wind-power turbines.
Riverland has developed the program using grant money it received last year to add programs to prepare workers for high-wage, high-demand occupations. The two-year program will be offered at Riverland’s Albert Lea campus.
The demand for wind turbine workers has increased in recent years as wind power is increasingly tapped as an alternative energy source.
Students will study design, operation and maintenance theory and application of multi-industry turbine technology usage. Graduates will be qualified to work as wind turbine operators and supervisors, earning on average $20 to $24 per hour, Riverland officials say.
Pool changes will cut custs, boost revenue
Austin Municipal Pool opens today, a week later than usual. The pool will also close a week early, on Aug. 16. The city implemented the shortened season for budget reasons. The city estimates it will save about $15,600.
To try to make more revenue from the pool, the city has also decided to rent the pool for private parties on Saturday and Sunday nights.
The main pool, slide, diving well and tot lot can be rented for $150 per hour, or without the tot lot for $135. Another option is to rent just the main pool and slide for $100 an hour.
State considers turning over U.S. 63 to city, county
Rochester, Olmsted County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation are negotiating a deal by which control of Broadway through Rochester would be turned over to local government and U.S. 63 would be rerouted to conjoin with U.S. 52 as the highway passes through the city.
Right now, U.S. 63 runs north-south through downtown Rochester and is called Broadway in city limits. The state controls the highway, even in the city, which means it decides issues like speed limits, signage and access.
Ceding the route to the city and county means local governments could decide what happens to the street, including whether to close it to facilitate downtown redevelopment. Local control might also make it easier to plan a light rail connection between downtown and the Rochester airport.
U.S. 63 traffic would be conjoined with U.S. 52 on Rochester’s west side as it goes through the city, much like U.S. 14 conjoins with U.S. 52 as it passes through part of town.
The city might submit a feasibility report on taking over Broadway by fall, MnDOT spokeswoman Kristine Hernandez said.
Discussions have focused on MnDOT turning over Broadway to the city between 28th Street South and 37th Street Northeast, Hernandez said, and turning over to Olmsted County the portion between 37th Street Northeast and 75th Street North. A total of 9.2 miles of the highway is involved in the discussion.
MnDOT is willing to discuss the turnover because U.S. 63 through the city carries mostly local traffic, Hernandez said.
Wiens Food Center ends 18-year run
Scott Wiens tried to get a buyer who would take over his grocery store, the only one in Lewiston, but failed.
Wiens Food Center will close at 6 p.m. June 20.
"I did the best that I could trying to find a buyer for this," he said. But after four months, he and his wife, LouAnn Wiens, decided to close. They will sell the building to the Hardware Hank next to the grocery store along U.S. 14.
"It was a business decision," he said. "We decided it was time to move, to take the option (from the hardware store)."
The store had 22 employees, including two full-time. It's another blow to a community that learned earlier this year that it would lose many of the 275 jobs when Herff Jones consolidates its photography manufacturing in Charlotte, N.C.
Hundreds wait in the rain to go green
When Amanda Larsen of Rochester got in line for the Olmsted County's annual compost bin and rain barrel sale Saturday, she was behind 45 others hoping to buy a barrel or bin at half price: $39 for a composter, $45 for a barrel.
"It was raining and there was a long line, but most people were enthusiastic," Larsen said.
That's just what Debbie Lloyd of Rochester encountered, although she was farther back in line.
"Although it was rainy and around 50 degrees outside, everyone seemed excited," Lloyd said. "Everyone was bundled up and in rain gear."
The two women were among hundreds who stood in line, some showing up as early as 5:30 a.m., in the west parking lot of Apache Mall.
There were nearly 400 people in line at 8 a.m.
Nearly 800 rain barrels and 800 compost bins were sold, said Jack Stansfield, who works for Olmsted County. It's evidence of the interest in going green, he said.
Cancer survivors share messages of hope
Richard Owens didn't know many of people sitting at the tables around him on Sunday, but he knew he had something in common with each of them.
They were all cancer survivors.
Owens, along with his wife, daughter and granddaughter, attended the 22nd annual National Cancer Survivors Day celebration held at the Mayo Civic Center.
Owens, now 70, was retired and living in Idaho when he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005.
"I didn't like the treatment regimen the doctors in Idaho had prescribed, so I decided to go to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion," he said.
The Mayo Clinic doctors recommend he start with chemotherapy and radiation right away, then have surgery and more chemotherapy.
While being treated at Mayo Clinic, he and his wife decided to move to Rochester, and in May 2006 they found out he was cancer-free.
His life is back to normal, and he shares his story with others who have cancer to give them hope.
UMR, RCTC tuition likely to bump 3 percent
The first class of University of Minnesota Rochester freshmen should expect to be greeted not only by fanfare, but also a 3-percent tuition bump.
Not to be outdone, Rochester Community and Technical College is bracing for its own 3-percent increase for next year.
The University of Minnesota's Board of Regents is expected later this month to approve the increase as President Robert Bruininks' proposes his budget for 2010. The regents are expected to act June 24 on the proposed budget.
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor James H. McCormick has recommended a 2.8-percent increase at two-year colleges and 3 percent at four-year universities. The MnSCU trustees are not expected to act on the proposal until July.
Vet continues service record
Once again, Al Holtan has been called into service.
The rural Wabasha man served in Vietnam, where he was wounded, and was in the Middle East during Desert Storm. He has retired from the Army Reserves.
But on May 2, Holtan was installed as commander of the state chapter of the Disabled American Veterans.
That he received the honor that day is ironic. It was on May 2, 1969 that a sniper shot him when he was patrolling in southern Vietnam, and he returned from serving in Desert Storm on May 2, 1990.