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Answer Man: Jones Foundation a force for good in Red Wing

Scott Jones

Dear Answer Man, I read in the Post-Bulletin that a foundation has given $ 400,000 to make the new Mississippi River bridge in Red Wing more attractive . I'm concerned that the new bridge is going to be an eyesore compared with the historic bridge there now, so anything that helps with aethetics, such as lighting and railings, is appreciated.

What do you know about the foundation?

Actually, it's two foundations that are giving up to $400,000, and both deserve the thanks of anyone who lives or passes through Red Wing. They're the Jones Family Foundation and the Red Wing Area Fund , and the Red Wing City Council accepted the proposal a few weeks ago.

For today, I'll tell you what I know about the Jones group, which is a very interesting and thoughtful philanthropic organization. It was set up in 1988 as a "donor advised fund" with the Saint Paul Foundationby Ora Jones, Barbara Jones, Scott Jones and Anne Jones. They started with $10,000 and it's become a major driver for good projects in the Red Wing area.

The foundation's "primary areas of focus" are "family special needs, life-long learning, youth development and community sustainability."


Scott Jones , president of the foundation, was in the banking business for 35 years and was CEO of Signal Financial Services , a $1.2 billion bank holding company. He says on the foundation's website, "Our family has had the good fortune to live and work in the Red Wing community for three generations. We are a catalyst for the community and its citizens to reach their full potential through a thoughtful approach to philanthropy. It is exciting and rewarding work that our board carries out with creativity and passion. We are here for good."

Among the programs and projects it has supported are the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies , Red Wing Ignite and the Central Park band shell .

For more information on the foundation, which offers matching grants to qualifying programs, call 651-388-7941.

More on the Red Wing Area Fund next week.

More pearls about Merle

A few more Answer Maniacs have sent notes regarding my fine remembrances of Merle Haggard , the country music great who died last week.

As I noted on Friday , Merle and his ex-wife Bonnie Owens, a country star in her own right, performed at the Pony Express Ballroom in Mantorville in August 1996.

Shelda Stormremembers that night like it was yesterday: "It was a night to remember for sure, as there was not a bad seat in the house at the Pony Express ... Merle was one of a kind ... on another note, we also got to see his son, Marty Haggard, at Mayo Civic Center on Oct. 19, 1990. He sang and looked a lot like Merle at that time."


Shelda said her husband Alanplays steel guitar and had his own band for 45 years. She then followed up with a note that made me blush:

"I just want to tell you that, whether I have the time to read the P-B at all, I always read your column. Not only is it always interesting, it is also always informative, and you seem willing to tackle just about any question or request!"

Very true.

Dennis Hatleli, a devoted Answer Man reader in Lake City, also remembers that night well "because I was a member of the band that did the opening performance before each of Merle's two shows in Mantorville." He asked for a copy of ace P-B music writer Tom Weber's story on the event and we were happy to oblige him.

And here's a note from Paul and Anita Schouweilerabout the Pony Express:

"As a side note, on Oct. 31, 1996, Glenn Fjerstad, owner of the Pony Express, was elected to the Minnesota Country Music Hall of Fame . Bringing Merle Haggard to Mantorville may have helped his cause. In March 1996, Glenn also brought Boxcar Willieto Mantorville.

Last of all, loyal Answer Man reader Auxil Benevosocsent this: "I think you and I are old enough to remember 'Okie From Muskogee' and the social uproar it caused back then."

Sorry, Auxil, I'm much younger than you think.


The Central Park band shell in Red Wing is among community improvement projects that have been supported by the Jones Family Foundation.

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