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News from the week of September 17, 2003

New peace planned at Slaughter Slough

Fourteen decades ago, the gently rolling hills east of Lake Shetek echoed with horror and anguish. But next week, words of peace and reconciliation are planned for the place known infamously as Slaughter Slough.

A dedication ceremony is set Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m., to commemorate those who lost their lives near Shetek on August 20, 1862. The event will also honor the ten Lakota boys who rescued eight Shetek captives in November of that same year, and the Dakota people who once called Southwest Minnesota their home.

A rock cairn comprised of four large boulders will be dedicated in honor of the 1862 Shetek settlers, the Dakota people, and the Lakota rescuers.

Four people will speak at the ceremony: Richard Bryan, a member of the Dakota community near Pipestone; Dr. Richard Carpenter, a descendant of one of the Shetek captives; Bill Bolin, long-time Tracy educator and researcher of local history; and Steve Kallin, wetland manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The monument site—about two miles northeast of Currie in Murray Township—is located on 640 acres that was purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year for $960,000. The federal agency plans to restore the land as a Waterfowl Production Area. The 640 acres are a part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Orchard owner is helping apple growers in Kosovo

Plump, Honeycrisp apples at the Holmberg Orchard were being picked by the bushel basket Friday. Bagged Red Baron, Wealthy and Harlson apples chilled in coolers. Fruit-loving customers inspected the summer's bounty.

“It's a wonderful opportunity, and a chance to broaden my horizons,” explained the Redwood County apple grower and entrepreneur. “And I really hope that I can help.”

Holmberg flew from Minneapolis on Saturday and arrived in Europe on Sunday through a volunteer program sponsored by the Land-O-Lakes farm cooperative and an international refugee committee. Her mission will be to help apple growers near Pristina, Kosovo.

“They are trying to get the farmers back on their feet. I was asked to help them with their marketing.”

Her work will take her directly to small farms of Kosovo, where she will make marketing presentations to apple growers. She'll also make suggestions for improving production.

“If you are going to market, you have to have a good product to start with. If there is any way that I can help them improve the quality of their apples, I'll do it,” says Holmberg.

The daughter of Elvera Bisbee of Tracy, Holmberg said that she has been assured that the Kosovo countryside is safe for foreigners. But she's also been prepared to see armed United Nations soldiers everywhere. Destruction from the war is still visible. The economic and political systems in Kosovo are struggling to re-establish themselves.

Why was she invited to participate in the Land-O-Lakes program?

Holmberg figures that her name came up through her involvement with the Minnesota Apple Growers Association and the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Association.

She and her husband, Lee, planted their first apple trees in 1987. Customers have been buying apples from the orchard for at least a dozen years. The orchard is located about 3 1/2 miles northwest of Vesta.

Casey Jones Trail plan builds steam

Planning continues for a proposed 65-mile multi-use recreational trail linking Pipestone and Redwood counties.

Members of the Friends of the Casey Jones Trail Association met in Slayton Sept. 4 to discuss the development of a comprehensive plan for the trail. Judy Otto, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, is drafting the plan.

Robert Klingle, Murray County economic development director and a member of the Casey Jones group, said that the comprehensive plan is an important step. A completed plan, approved by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources commissioner, is needed before money can be pursued to build the trail, Klingle said.

Klingle said that at least one public meeting on the plan will be held, probably in early November in Lake Wilson. Subsequent informational meetings could be held in Pipestone and Currie, he said.

The proposed Casey Jones trail would start and end at Split Rock Creek State Park near Ihnen on the west, and Plum Creek County Park near Walnut Grove on the east. Biking, rollerblading, hiking, horseback riding, and snowmobiling are envisioned uses of the trail. Four-wheel all-terrain vehicles would not be allowed.

The estimated cost for two parallel trails (one paved, and one unpaved) is $13 million.

The current Casey Jones Trail designation calls for a dual track trail. Klingle said the dual track concept may have to be re-visited because a single-track path would be less expensive and need less right-of-way. He noted that there are paved trails elsewhere in the state that allow snowmobile traffic.

AURI continues mission, despite state budget cuts

By Val Scherbart Quist

Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), the nonprofit corporation dedicated to value-added resources, took a big hit during the budget crunch of 2003.

For more than 15 years, AURI has worked to find unique ways for producers to market their products. This year, 57 percent of AURI's budget has been cut, down to $1.6 million for each of the next two years. In addition, 25 percent of last year's budget was unallotted.

The result has been several cuts within the institute, said AURI Communications Director Dan Lemke.

The largest number of cuts was made in the Crookston office, where AURI headquarters is located. There, one position was eliminated, and two positions were reduced to half-time. In addition, a pilot plant, which was used to assist entrepreneurs throughout the state in developing food products, was closed. A product development lab remains open.

The Morris office, which did not have a laboratory facility, was closed earlier this spring. One AURI employee was cut there, and the other now works from home.

The Marshall and Waseca offices fared better. Marshall's office, which is located at Southwest Minnesota State University, had only one employee cut, in the meats area. Lemke said focuses of the Marshall site have been, and will continue to be, important areas of research for AURI. Marshall has a fats & oils lab, as well as a meats lab.

In Waseca, one project person's job was cut to half-time. Waseca is home to a co-products utilization lab, and AURI's communication department.

“It has been difficult. There is no department that is more than one person deep,” said Lemke. “We have had to focus and prioritize.”

He said that because the cuts are still fairly new, it is not known quite yet exactly how they will affect AURI's ability to provide grant opportunities to producers.

“There will be grant opportunities still available for worthy opportunities,” he said. “We're still trying to get a handle on that. We're kind of learning as we go.”

Sunday open house set at Garvin Park

An open house is planned at Garvin Park Sunday, Sept. 21, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Free apple cider and hot dogs will be served at the park's main picnic shelter. About a dozen local artisans and exhibitors will have displays.

A dedication ceremony for new playground equipment at the park's lower campground is set for 4:30 p.m.

The Lyon County Park Board and Lyon County Board of Commissioners are sponsoring the event.

Garvin Park's main entrance is a mile and a half north of the intersection Hwys. 14 and 59. The park's 700 plus acres are located along the Redwood River. The park has 30 campsites, five picnic shelters, four playgrounds and hiking and horseback trails.

WW II soldiers gather

Fifty-nine years after they had boarded a bus together as new draftees in the United States Army, ten of the former soldiers got together for a reunion in Tracy.

Turning out for the August 30 reunion at the Mediterranean Restaurant were:

Harold Cooper and Donald Johnson, Walnut Grove; Floyd Routhe, Leonard Kodet, Glen Hoffman, Redwood Falls; Alvin Person, New Ulm; Harold Lothert, Morton; Alvin Bock, Fairfax; Andy Hacker, Morgan; Don Radel, Evan.

On August 30, 1944, the men were part of a busload of new soldiers that left Redwood Falls. Each was in their late teens or 20s. Many were farm boys; many had never before traveled far from home. All were from Redwood County. They were like many other busloads of young men who left home to join America's military forces during World War II.

“None of us knew what was ahead of us,” said Cooper, who in early 1945 became an infantryman fighting the Nazi army in Germany.

After basic training, then men were scattered to different units and duties. They began holding a reunion on the anniversary of their 1944 departure from Redwood Falls about five years ago.