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US Senator Tina Smith Visits Ortonville Area Health Services

US Senator Tina Smith visited Ortonville Area Health Services this afternoon to listen and to learn how she can support communities to keep and sustain their health care in the face of a lot of really big challenges.  Her main questions today were:  how do you make it work in your communities, what are your challenges, what are the opportunities and what can she do to help bolster the areas, especially around workforce.  Other health care representatives present joining the discussion were representatives from Appleton Area Health Systems, Johnson Memorial Health Services (Dawson) and Lakewood Health Systems (Staples).  Carrie Bendix from the SW MN Private Industry Council (who also works with the workforce development board for the 14-county area) was also present to talk workforce.

There was great discussion shared amongst all in attendance which ended with Carson Ouellette, the Northwest Minnesota Outreach Representative for Sen. Smith, bringing the discussion to a close with “So I hate to cut it short but I do want to get a chance to see the award-winning OB department!”  With that, they wrapped up the discussion and took the tour.  (Ironically, Dr. Stacy Longnecker had left the meeting midway through to deliver a baby!)

US Senator Tina Smith talking with Maria Botker (OB & ER Nursing Coordinator) during the tour.

In reference to the “award-winning OB department”, Carson was referring to the 2019 Rural Health Team Award – in recognition of contributions improving the health of rural Minnesota at the Minnesota Rural Health Conference which was held in Duluth earlier this year.  (see video below)

We are very fortunate to have the Big Stone Health Care Foundation who has been key in recruiting many of our local people back “home” to work at Ortonville Area Health Services (OAHS) and to have a strong relationship and support through Sanford Health.

An interesting side note (one that I had forgotten) was that both Dr. Botker and Dr. Longnecker started their health careers way back “in the beginning” working as CNAs.

OAHS currently has six MDs with three more coming on board by November 2020.

Ortonville Area Health Services is dedicated to offering excellent care in all facilities of their health care system.  They serve the area through Ortonville Hospital, Northside Medical Clinic, and Clinton Clinic, Fairway View Senior Communities, and OAHS Home Health Agency.

Fairway View Senior Communities on our 18-hole golf course.

For more about Ortonville, you’ll find their community blog at and the City’s official website at

Written by Vicki Oakes

Meander Art Crawl Features Several #MNbump Artists – Oct. 4-6


The 16th annual Upper Minnesota River Meander Arts Crawl will be held on October 4, 5 & 6, 2019. The Meander is a free self-guided tour featuring 42 artists from 5 counties in western Minnesota. The annual event offers a chance for the public to meet with the region’s top artists in their home studios nestled among the small towns and family farms found in the Upper Minnesota River Valley.

We are happy to be able to highlight the #MNbump artists who will be participating in this years Crawl.   Click on the photos below to check out their locations for the Meander and also the links below the photos to follow their pages.  For full details on the 2019 Meander – the Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl click here for the link to their page.

The full brochure of all the events can be found on this link.





Blog by Kelly Lang: Your Life, Your Choice – Let the Healing Begin

As we continue our “People of the MNbump” series which highlights some of the talented people who live here in the MNbump – meet Kelly Lang!

Kelly started blogging last year when she began a series of posts sharing her journey (and struggles) through earlier health issues – with “When your life flashes before your eyes in a flood gate of memories…”  Her health has now come full circle which she documents in her first series of posts.  She now continues writing (blogging)… with her new writings starting out with:

“Hello!  It’s been a while since we’ve last connected.  Since finishing sharing my personal health journey story it was time for a sabbatical from blogging.  It’s been a great break, but I’m ready to start dabbling again.  That being said, I/our family has a story to share.  It’s a story about adventure, love, rescue, and so much more.  Are you ready to join me/us in an adventure?  If so, let’s embark on this one together!”

Kelly is the owner of Helping Hands Therapeutic Massage & Body Work in Ortonville.  It has been fun watching this wonderful young person as she started her new business and now taking on more…  As a self-employed businesswoman for 6+ years, their business has grown and they’ve spent a considerable amount of time diving into technology and reviewing different social media platforms.  They totally redesigned their own website and have added Instagram and Pinterest to their social media line-up (they’ve had their Facebook page for quite some time).   See her blog post “Loving Summer Changes” for the details of this summer expansion!

The MNbump will be sharing information on some of our local people that have blog posts and like to write and share their information.  Please note that the views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of anyone associated with the MNbump or Big Stone Area Growth.


Brent Olson’s Independently Speaking Column Enlightens Those Around the #MNbump and Beyond

Brent Olson leads a complicated life. His home is in Big Stone County, a small place hanging off the western edge of Minnesota.

Brent made a living as a farmer for 30 years. In 1977 he was asked to fill out a term on the Soil and Water Conservation District. He ended up staying 12 years, during which time the district won two Goodyear Awards, given for outstanding work in soil and water conservation. He was also the token Protestant on a Catholic hospital board which led to an epic trip across Saskatchewan with a van load of nuns.

He’s served on the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council, Big Stone County Pork Producers, the United Methodist Board of Ordained Ministries, and is on the board of the New Life Primary School in Mizac, Haiti.

He served on the first board of directors of a wildly successful ethanol plant and an utterly failed wind turbine project.

He was a 2012 Bush Foundation Fellow and his fellowship project, The Inadvertent Café, was profiled by Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune and eventually turned into a book.

As a journalist he’s written over 1,300 columns and articles, filed stories from six continents, and won a half dozen American Agricultural Editors Awards. He’s published six books – four collections of essays, a memoir, and a novel.

Brent has been a Big Stone County Commissioner for 15 years. In that time the county provided fiber optic broadband to all rural residents, helped create the first mental health center in the county and began an innovative project to retain and clean rain water from farm fields.

The MNbump will be sharing information on some of our local people that have blog posts and like to write and share their information.  Please note that the views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of anyone associated with the MNbump or Big Stone Area Growth.

The Creative Bite – a Blog by Danielle Green

Danielle Green, grew up in the small community of Graceville, Minnesota and now lives on the farm she grew up in outside of Graceville with her husband Matt and their twins Madelyn and Cooper.  Her parents are Chuck and Deb Walters of Graceville.

Here is the link to her blog –

Danielle’s blog highlights her love of cooking as and highlights her ideas of Eating Well, Being Creative and to Live Good

If you have any questions or feedback please contact her at!

The MNbump will be sharing information on some of our local people that have blog posts and like to write and share their information.  Please note that the views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of anyone associated with the MNbump or Big Stone Area Growth.



A View From Here: Resettling Big Stone County – a blog by Kathy Draeger

We know that there are many talented people in living in the MNbump and we are starting a series to highlight them!

Kathy Draeger, an Adjunct Assistant Professor; Statewide Director, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships with the University of Minnesota and a resident of the #MNbump is one of our local area bloggers that moved to Big Stone County after living in the Twin Cities area for several years.

Kathy started her blog post in 2007 and it has been fun to follow as she describes life and living rural and loving it.    Kathy and her husband Mike Jorgenson farm east of Clinton.  They have three children Alma, Jens and Lake.   Thanks for allowing us to share your blog page Kathy.  It’s been fun following your posts over the years and we are glad you are back!


Here is the link to her blog site:

The MNbump will be sharing information on some of our local people that have blog posts and like to write and share their information.  Please note that the views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of anyone associated with the MNbump or Big Stone Area Growth.







Arens Family Named Big Stone County Farm Family of the Year

Story and photo courtesy of The Northern Star Newspaper

THE TOM AND MARY ARENS FAMILY OF GRACEVILLE  was named the Big Stone County 2019 Farm Family of the Year. They will be among the Minnesota Farm Families of the Year to be recognized at FarmFest in Redwood County on August 6. The family is pictured at the Big Stone County Fair. Tom’s mother, Beverly Arens is pictured, along with the Tom and Mary, right; and their children, Michelle, who will be a junior at CGB this fall and Joe, who will be a freshman.

Eighty-four families from throughout Minnesota are being honored as 2019 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota.  In Big Stone County the Tom Arens family was named the 2019 Farm Family of the Year.  Tom’s father, Tony, purchased the Arens farm, rural Graceville,  in 1962. Tony and his wife, Bev, raised nine children on the farm. They grew corn, soybeans and wheat and raised 50,000 laying hens. Tom’s parents also had 500 cow/calf pairs and raised pigs. In 2009, Tom and Mary took over the farm.

The Arens’ raise corn, soybeans and wheat on 1,200 acres. They custom feed cattle in a 750-head pit barn and custom feed 3,000 hogs. Tom and Mary both handle daily chores that go with crop production, including planting, spraying and harvesting. Their children, Michelle and Joe, help with tillage, working the cattle, rock picking and other jobs. The Arens are members of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Graceville. Tom serves on the Graceville and Big Stone County township boards. The family has also been involved in the Almond Highlanders 4-H club.

The farm families will be recognized in ceremonies beginning at 1:10 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 8, at the annual Minnesota Farmfest on the Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls. The event is in the Wick Buildings Farmfest Center on the estate grounds.  University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel will open the program in her first visit to Farmfest. She began her duties July 1.   The families were chosen, one per county, by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture.

“The University of Minnesota takes pride in honoring these families. The farm families receiving this year’s honors exemplify what makes Minnesota agriculture strong,” Extension Dean Bev Durgan said. “They bring innovation, science and hard work to farming. They care greatly about the land and animals and delivering quality products to consumers worldwide.”

Did You Know – #5 of a Series – The Odessa Jail

an #MNbump Series – #5 The Odessa Jail

This is the fifth in a series about things in the #MNbump that we are calling #MNbumpExplore. You may or may not know about these places but we encourage you to go check them out, take a selfie or group photo with them and share the photos on your page, tagging or #MNbump on Facebook!

The old Odessa Jail building is still standing in Odessa and has been the subject of many conversations throughout the years.  We’d be interested in hearing some of them (if they are appropriate) on our page here and on Facebook.  The video below was found online and I am not sure who John the Mouse is.  It gives a video tour of the building.


The sign on the building says the Jail Cells were built by ET Barnum Iron Works ET Barnum Iron Works from Detroit, Michigan.  (click the link to see more info on that company, kind of interesting!)



About MNbump

How our name came to be…

We tried (very hard!) to come up with a short phrase that would sum up Big Stone County; however, we have such a variety that it was hard for us to agree on a short phrase! One thing we did agree on was … our location!!

Ask anyone around here where we live, and you’ll hear something like… “the western border of Minnesota on the bump”.
This site became to be as a result of …

The University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and the University of Minnesota Tourism Center were seeking five communities to participate in special tourism assessment project over the 18 months.

The focus of this project was to help small communities (Under 1,500 pop) across Minnesota discover opportunities to develop community assets for sustainable tourism.

Through community input during this process, marketing our tourism opportunities via web was identified as a top priority. With further discussion, it was determined that the web marketing could also provide an opportunity for residents to communicate.

For the complete history and sponsors for the MNbump initiative – CLICK HERE!

Main Street Industries New Garden Brings Attention to Clinton’s Main Street

Story and photo courtesy of The Northern Star Newspaper

MAIN STREET INDUSTRIES GARDEN is a new attraction on Clinton’s Main Street this year. The location was an empty lot, owned by Wally Sayles, who gave them permission for this great addition. Lisa Sayles, MSI Direct Support Professional, is pictured with some of the MSI consumers who have been involved in the project. The signage was provided by SHIP, a state program through the Minnesota Department of Health.


MainStreet Industries in Clinton is a very busy place year-round. This summer they increased one project to include a vegetable garden on an empty lot on Clinton’s Main Street.

In partnership with SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Partnership), which is under the Minnesota Department of Health, they were able to use SHIP’s $3,000 grant along with MSI’s funding to construct a patio in the front of their building. They also constructed – in-house, raised garden beds for their use.  Unfortunately, the MSI Greenhouse that had been constructed at the rear of their building was totally damaged from the past winter’s heavy snow.

Lisa Sayles, a Direct Support Professional at MSI, wished they could have a garden spot to plant a  garden. Her father-in-law, Wally Sayles, owns an empty lot on Main Street, and gave the OK for a garden there. Brent Olson began the tilling project. Wally talked to Bob Rinke, who came in with his tractor and donated his tilling services to the project. They also have a rain barrel and Lisa’s husband Dave provided them with another one.

SHIP encourages increasing access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables, so this project fit the qualifications to a tee. There are many statewide projects receiving assistance through this program – all in the interest of the improvement of its citizens health.

The program encourages increasing access to physical activity opportunities at schools and child care facilities, and works with state towns and cities, as well as employers and health-care sites.

SHIP representatives hold quarterly meetings, which Lisa attends, and they are encouraged to use healthy foods and wellness programs for their consumers.

MSI’s recent auction and supper is one of the ways they raise funds, as well as their work projects and services.  This year they are raising beets, potatoes, onions, lettuce, peppers and radishes in their raised beds, which were built in 2018.  While the late spring caused a delay in the garden project, as you can see by the photo things really grew well in their Main Street Garden. Here they have planted zucchini, squash, watermelon, pumpkins, red onions, snap beans, broccoli and cauliflower. They have been the recipient of donated seeds and also purchased seeds and plants.

They have signage designating their project, with some being produced to donate to the Big Stone County Food Shelf.  As a side-note, make sure to check out the “Can You Recall” feature on page three of this week’s Northern Star – gives some history of the empty lot.

The garden is getting a lot of attention as folks travel along Clinton’s Main Street – and now the MSI consumers, staff and others are just getting anxious for harvest!