Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Giving blood during COVID-19 June 18, 2020

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I’VE NEVER GIVEN MUCH THOUGHT to donating blood through the American Red Cross. It’s just something I’ve done, off and on, for years, after finally following Randy’s lead. I discovered that donating was easy. Drink plenty of fluids on donation day. Show up, healthy, at the appointed time with my RapidPass health screening paperwork in hand, go through a brief pre-donation physical screening and then move on to the table to start the donation process.

But the familiar routine of giving blood all changed with COVID-19. Suddenly, I thought twice about donating. Did I really want to do this in the middle of a global pandemic? Donating blood requires being up close with those screening and drawing your blood. But then I decided I needed to trust that all necessary precautions would be taken to keep me safe. They were.

I arrived masked, as required. Just like everyone at the community center donation site. My temperature was checked twice, once before I even entered. Tables were widely spaced in the former gymnasium. The foam form I squeezed during donation was covered. And only one worker tended to me, unlike in the past. Or, I should qualify, a sole Red Cross employee took me to the point of inserting the needle into my vein. It was then that everything changed. And it had nothing to do with COVID-19. Pain shot through my arm. Pain so intense that I had to muffle my outburst. I don’t recall my exact words. But they were something like, “Either you need to fix this or take this needle out.”

Let me assure you that I have a high threshold for pain having broken two bones, suffered from severe osteoarthritis in my hip and undergone eight surgeries in my lifetime. Blood and needles don’t scare me. But sharp pain like this, that bothered me. The supervisor took charge, professionally assessing that the needle likely needed to be pushed deeper into my vein. She made the adjustment and the pain eased to soreness. The likely cause of the problem, she explained, was scar tissue build-up on the vein.

My blood flowed freely into the bag. Soon I was done and sent to the refreshment table for juice and/or water and individually-packaged snacks. Then I was on my way, my first blood donation during a global pandemic successfully completed. Nothing to it. I considered that the new precautions put in place likely should always have been part of Red Cross protocol.


From The Gaylord Hub article.


For blood donors in one Minnesota small town, though, the changes due to COVID-19 reached beyond masking, social-distancing, more screening, etc. According to an article in the June 11 issue of the weekly, The Gaylord Hub, a recent blood drive in Gaylord “proved challenging.” And that wasn’t only because of deferrals and no-shows. The newspaper story states that “Gaylord coordinators were unable to serve the usual sandwiches, chips, pickles and beer.” Yes, you read that right. Beer. I’ll allow you to decide whether drinking beer right after giving blood is a good idea.


My blood donation card, now filled. I recently received a new one in the mail. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


One new idea announced this week seems like a really good one. Starting June 15 and at least through the summer, all blood donations will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Positive results indicate the donor may have had previous exposure to the virus and could thereby be eligible for the Convalescent Plasma Donation Program designed to help those battling COVID-19. That screening makes sense and is just one more way donors can help others. So, next time I give blood, I’ll learn whether the crud I experienced at Christmas with a temp, fatigue, feeling down and out, and a severe cough that lingered for weeks was just a routine seasonal virus. Or more.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


A 1979 interview with Mike Max & reflections on community journalism June 12, 2020

A CARDBOARD BOX, stacked in an under-the-roof storage space on the second floor of my house, holds layers of yellowed newspaper clippings. Not stories of personal value because they are about me or my family. But rather stories I wrote, as a community journalist.

In March 1978, newly-graduated with a mass communications degree from Mankato State (now Minnesota State University, Mankato), I started my multi-faceted job at The Gaylord Hub. I was the first-ever journalist hired at the small rural weekly in Gaylord, the county seat of Sibley County. Prior to that, family at the then second-generation family-owned paper covered all the editorial work.

I did everything from writing news stories and features to taking and printing photos to writing headlines to going to the printing plant and then swinging canvas bags full of newspapers into the back of a van for delivery to the post office. I learned nearly every aspect of community newspapers except selling and designing ads and covering sports. Under the guidance of a supportive, encouraging and kind editor and publisher, Jim Deis, I grew my skills and my passion for small town community journalism.


A feature I wrote in 1979 republished in the June 4, 2020, issue of The Gaylord Hub.


Forty years after I left The Hub, the newspaper still arrives weekly in my mailbox. Jim passed many years ago. His son, Joe, just a kid when I worked at the paper, now serves as the third-generation editor and publisher. And last week he republished a feature, No need for the bubble gum, I wrote in July 1979. Perhaps my one and only sports story. I interviewed the Max brothers—Mike and Marc—for a feature about their sports card collection.

I recall going to the brothers’ home in Lakeside Acres and the piles and piles of bagged, boxed and loose cards numbering some 7,000. But I didn’t remember details of that interview with the 9 and 14-year-olds. So rereading that story I wrote 41 years ago proved entertaining, especially considering where one of those boys landed. Mike Max went on to become the sports director for WCCO-TV in the Twin Cities. And more recently, he expanded to hard news by covering the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.


WCCO personality Mike Max, up close in a photo I took in 1979. Photo by Audrey Kletscher from The Gaylord Hub.


But back to that 1979 feature I wrote. Here’s my favorite quote from Mike:

“I was always interested in sports. I saw packs (of collector cards and bubble gum), so I would sneak some money and buy a whole bunch,” he said.

That was despite his mother’s orders to buy “only one pack.” He would buy about eight packs, hide seven in his pocket and show his mom the “one pack” he had bought.

Barb Max said she found out about her son’s tricks, but years later.

I love that part of the story.

But I find equally humorous this paragraph from my feature:

The two plan on keeping their cards, but speculate on selling some of them if the price is right. “I’ll save them until I get real old,” Marc said. “I’ll save them until they’re worth more and more, but maybe someday sell them if I need money real bad.”


A section of the republished story from 1979.


Reflecting on that feature of four decades ago, I am reminded of the importance of community newspapers. These are the stories we are losing as more and more small town weekly newspapers, and even some dailies, are folding. Declines in advertising revenue and subscribers, rising expenses and the growth of online media alternatives have all factored into the demise of print journalism. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that saddens me. We are losing such a valuable part of our communities. The watchdogs. The storytellers. The historians. The source of information about public meetings, community events, deaths—news in general. The media is too often under attack, blamed for reporting too much bad news. Don’t kill the messenger, I say.

I will always remain grateful for the two years I worked as The Cub from the Hub, a name tagged to me while in Gaylord. There I learned and grew as a writer, always striving for integrity, honesty and balanced reporting. By far, feature writing proved the most enjoyable aspect of my work. From Gaylord, I would go on to report for The Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch, The Mankato Free Press (St. James bureau), The Owatonna People’s Press and The Northfield News. Some were temporary fill-in jobs, others full-time. But no matter where I worked, I worked long, hard hours at low pay to cover the community. I reported the hard news and attended endless city council/school board/county board meetings into the late hours of the night. And sometimes I wrote, too, about kids who collect sports cards. Kids like Mike Max and his younger brother, Marc.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


The unlucky leprechaun April 17, 2019

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo March 2015.


NEARLY 40 YEARS after I left my first newspaper reporting job, I still receive The Gaylord Hub each week. The third-generation family-owned Hub holds a special spot in my heart. Here I initially put my journalism education to work, covering the southern Minnesota town of Gaylord and surrounding areas in Sibley County.

Part of my job included checking reports at the Sibley County Sheriff’s office where I sometimes had to push to access public records. Being young, a woman and the first full-time staff writer (outside of family) put me in the occasional challenging position of not being taken seriously. Locals quickly learned, though, that I would stand my ground and intimidation didn’t work with me. Jim Deis, the editor and publisher, always backed me up and for that I was grateful.

All that serious talk aside, I met plenty of wonderful folks who embraced my writing and photography. The diversity of my job ranged from writing a feature about current WCCO TV sports director Mike Max and his brother Marc’s sizable baseball card collection to covering massive church, school and chicken barn fires to filing through initial complaint reports.

But I don’t ever recall anything quite as unique or humorous as the story I read in the April 4 issue of The Hub under a column labeled Sibley County District Court. As I read the story aloud to my husband, I couldn’t stop laughing. Here’s the line that prompted my laughter:

According to court documents, the Sibley County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to Westgate Apartments in Gaylord at 3:55 a.m. on March 25 for a complaint of a man dressed as a leprechaun running up and down the halls and creating a disturbance.

My first questions: Why would a man dress as a leprechaun? It wasn’t St. Patrick’s Day. And what exactly does a leprechaun wear? Green clothes, hat, pointy shoes?

I read on that the responding deputy spotted a man “with something red on his head” driving a vehicle out of the parking lot. The driver took off but was eventually stopped, admitted to drinking and also driving with a canceled license. He’s now been charged with multiple crimes.

Randy listened without interruption. Then he offered this assessment: “Sounds like his luck ran out.” And that would be right.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Event raises awareness of mental health issues with practical help January 22, 2019

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo used for illustration only.


I EXPECT EVERY SINGLE ONE of you has experienced the loss of someone you know to suicide. I expect also that every single one of you has been affected by mental health issues, directly or indirectly. That is reality. A reality that today is getting more exposure as we realize the importance of mental health and of helping one another through life’s challenges.

We are not meant to deal with stuff alone. I firmly believe that. No one, no matter how strong they appear, lives free of struggles. So, yeah, that person, that family, who seem to have it all together, to live the perfect lives, well, don’t believe it for a second. Every. Single. One. Of us. Has something.

I’m especially grateful for the increased awareness of mental health issues in recent years. We mostly no longer shush talk on the topic of mental illness. That is a good thing.

In Minnesota, recent attention has focused on the mental health of farmers, who deal with a tremendous amount of stress. I get it. Indirectly. My dad farmed. Stresses of work, weather, finances, crop prices and more loomed always. Add to that my dad’s post traumatic stress disorder from fighting on the front lines during the Korean War and he struggled at times. Except back then such struggles weren’t acknowledged. He’s been gone for 16 years now, too late to benefit from today’s enlightenment.


Source: The Galaxy


This coming Sunday, January 27, We Walk 4 Life Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Awareness presents a free public educational event with Stories of Hope & Healing. And practical training on Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR), described as “3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide.” CPR for mental health.

Ted Matthews, a rural Minnesota mental health counselor, is the keynote speaker during the 1 – 5 p.m. event at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gaylord. Two survivors of loved ones who committed suicide will also talk. The high risk for suicide groups of farmers and youth will be the focus of Sunday’s We Walk 4 Life.

I applaud this community effort to educate, increase awareness, open discussion and save lives. Together we can form those personal connections, show that care, refer to professionals who can, and do, make a difference. No one should ever have to go life alone. No matter how alone they feel.


Please note that QPR training at the Sunday event requires pre-registration by calling (507) 381-4082. Class size is limited.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


When a small town Minnesota newspaper implements a “pay for” letter policy August 11, 2016

SHOULD A NEWSPAPER charge for publishing a letter to the editor?

My Minnesota State University, Mankato, journalism professor Robert Shipman would likely turn over in his grave if he read that question. He impressed upon me that the editorial page is the heart of a newspaper. A staunch supporter of community journalism, he would not advocate paying for letters to the editor. Neither do I.

I have great respect for this newspaper man who nearly 40 years ago taught me the basics of journalism—instilling in me a strong sense of fairness in writing balanced news stories. Opinion, he emphasized, should be reserved for the editorial page.


Gaylord Hub election letters policy - Copy


This brings me back to charging a fee for letters to the editor. Interestingly enough, my concern is prompted by a notice published in The Gaylord Hub, a third-generation family newspaper where I accepted a reporting job right out of college.

Decades after I left my two-year stint at this small southern Minnesota weekly, I still get The Gaylord Hub. Unlike most community newspapers, The Hub does not have a strong editorial page. Rare are the editorials. However, locals often voice their opinions in letters to the editor. There’s been significant controversy in Gaylord related to school issues.

But now the publisher/editor has established a new policy for election-themed letters. Policies for letters to the editor are the norm at newspapers. Many publications restrict length; monitor for libelous and offensive content and personal attacks, etc.; and don’t publish election-related letters in the final issue before an election. But, in a quick perusal of the internet, checking out several major dailies across the country and several Minnesota daily and weeklies, I found none with a “pay for” publication fee.

The Little Falls based The Morrison County Record, for example, states that “Letter writers are encouraged to stick to the issues and the positions on issues and qualifications of the candidates.” Letters that lean toward advertising aren’t published.

In Gaylord, though, under the new policy, if you want to write a letter supporting or opposing a candidate or a political party, you’ll have to pay for it. Thirty dollars for up to 300 words for a Paid Election Letter.

I get where the newspaper is coming from with this policy. Some people will abuse the system by viewing the editorial page as a free advertising opportunity. But to blanket apply that to all election-focused letters seems a suppression of opinions. The policies established by The Morrison County Record seem more appropriate, more balanced in curbing potential abuse while maintaining freedom of expression.

That said, there was a time when newspapers printed obituaries and engagement, wedding and birth announcements at no cost to readers. No more, at least in most publications. Would my college professor opine that change. He likely would. Robert Shipman was Old School community journalism. He was all about integrity, unbiased reporting, getting facts right and, above all, always always spelling names correctly. He taught me well. He taught me that the opinion page is the heart of a newspaper.


Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The new letters to the editor policy published in the August 4 edition of The Gaylord Hub.


From small town Minnesota: When no one would be queen July 22, 2016

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As we were leaving, Miss Elysian royalty were handing out Car Show trophies.

Miss Elysian royalty handed out Car Show trophies at the community’s Fourth of July celebration in 2015. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo used for illustration purposes only.

ARE HIGH SCHOOL teens too busy to reign as small town royalty? That’s the assessment of one local pageant organizer.

According to an article published in the The Gaylord Hub, only one girl applied for the role of Miss Gaylord 2016. That lack of interest caused organizers to call off the coronation which is part of this southern Minnesota community’s annual Extravaganza celebration in August.

Brianna Hahn, chairperson of the Gaylord Royal Ambassadors, cited competition from sports, summer jobs and post-secondary education for the waning interest along with a smaller than usual pool of potential candidates this year. Additionally, Hahn noted that surrounding communities are facing the same problem.

I checked several neighboring towns and found the royalty tradition continuing with a Miss Winthrop at Farm City Fun Fest, Miss Henderson at Sauerkraut Days, Miss Nicollet at Friendship Days and Miss Le Sueur at the Giant Celebration.

But I expect Hahn is right—that other rural Minnesota communities are experiencing declining numbers, too, in queen candidates. Is your community one of them?

Are small town queen competitions becoming a thing of the past? Should changes be made to continue the tradition? What are your thoughts?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Source cited: The Gaylord Hub


An obit: I didn’t know Jim, but now I do April 27, 2016

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A fence surrounds the Urland Lutheran Church Cemetery in the Sogn Valley area.

A fence surrounds the Urland Lutheran Church Cemetery in the Sogn Valley area. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2010 used here for illustration purposes only.

MORE AND MORE, I READ OBITUARIES. Probably because I am aging and more people I know are now dying.

I didn’t know Jim Mueller of Clearwater, though. Yet I still read his 22 column inch obit published April 21 in The Gaylord Hub, a small southern Minnesota weekly where I worked as a reporter for two years right out of college. The Hub arrives in my mailbox each week, a tangible reminder of my past and of the passage of time.

James Henry Mueller left his hometown of Gaylord in 1973, five years before I arrived. If he had still resided there, I likely would have interviewed him. He was that kind of guy. Socially active. A storyteller. A businessman. A character. He would have made for an interesting feature.

Consider this line from the beginning of his obit: Jimmy grew up doted on by his ma and arguing with his pa.

But it is the ninth and final paragraph of this lengthy obit which makes me wish I’d known this 88-year-old:

Jim’s many hats included: Veteran Navy Man, Well Driller, Grain Bin Mover, Beer Seller, Horse Wrangler, and Postmaster. He was a smooth dancer and an ace at bridge. He will fondly be remembered as a Teller of Tales, A Spinner of Yarns, and a Preacher of Sermons.

In addition, paragraph eight notes that Jim donated his body to science. Even in death, his story continues.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN. How would you like to be remembered? What hats would others say you wore? What do you think of this trend to personalize obituaries with insights and commentary?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


From small town Minnesota: Should Gaylord keep its noon & 6 p.m. whistles? March 2, 2016

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I photographed this aged water tower, which looks a lot like the 1917 one in Gaylord, several years ago. It stands in Freeport, Minnesota, along Interstate 94.

I photographed this aged water tower, which looks a lot like the 1917 one in Gaylord, several years ago. It stands in Freeport, Minnesota, along Interstate 94.

WHAT IS THE PRICE of history, of nostalgia, of tradition in a small town?

Folks in Gaylord, a county seat community of some 2,300 in southern Minnesota, are grappling with that question as the city replaces its aging water tower with a new one.

Should the city spend several thousand dollars annually for inspections and $100,000 every 10 years for upkeep of the 1917 tower? Or should the tower be torn down? And, if so, what happens to the siren attached to it?

The issue isn’t simply one of economics. That’s clear in Facebook comments on the City of Gaylord Facebook page. Residents and former residents are discussing not only whether to keep the tower, but whether to continue with the tradition of blowing the noon and 6 p.m. whistles. A siren on the old water tower blares twice daily as it has for decades. The whistle has become a hot topic of discussion.

Wabasso's water tower, painted in the school colors and adorned with a white rabbit, the school mascot.

This aged water tower stands in Wabasso, Minnesota, where I attended high school. Wabasso means “white rabbit” and is the school’s mascot. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I understand the small town nostalgia bit. I grew up on a farm near Vesta, a town of several hundred with an old water tower (long gone) and those roaring daily sirens. I also lived in Gaylord where I worked as a newspaper reporter for two years fresh out of college.

The noon and 6 p.m. whistles (and if I remember correctly, even a 9 p.m. whistle) in Vesta alerted residents to the time of day. Time for dinner. Time for supper. Time to get home and prepare for bed.

This water tower stands in Canton, Minnesota, near the Iowa border. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

This water tower stands in Canton, Minnesota, near the Iowa border. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Do those whistles still hold importance in 2016? Are they necessary? Are they welcome?

In perusing comments from Gaylord, I read of overwhelming support for keeping the whistles.

Folks write of the whistle in terms of small town charm and values, nostalgia, memories, historical importance, uniqueness and more.

One Gaylord native says of the siren:

It was the singular mechanical device that, by itself, taught us Gaylord kids what responsibility meant. If I and my siblings weren’t walking in the door at noon and six, there was hell to pay. It is a legacy.

Another commenter surmises:

I have continued the tradition and taught my children to listen for the whistle. A watch just isn’t enough when you are talking about kids. They need an audible reminder of the progression of time. The noon whistle is a blatant reminder of the time of day, as is the 6:00 whistle. I think it is an important tool for responsibility as we raise the next generations. The matter of $5,000 – $10,000 is actually a small price to pay when averaged out for a big payout. Besides, what is more monumental in a small town than a noon and/or 6:00 whistle. Can’t get that in the “big city”.

The City Council will decide on the 1917 tower and the whistle in several months. For now, they’ve taken this stand:

The council has determined taking it (the old water tower) down makes the most sense in the long run. The City is looking into keeping the whistle in some capacity…An alternative whistle is being explored; an unused severe weather siren (behind the Prairie House), is proposed to be relocated to the old water tower site.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS on keeping the aged tower and/or daily whistles? Let’s hear.

FYI: Click here to reach the City of Gaylord Facebook page. Read the comments and even listen to the siren.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Beer, brats & bare feet January 24, 2014

RIGHT NOW YOU’RE likely wondering about that title, Beer, brats & bare feet. What’s the connection?

The commonalities, my friends, are the letter “b” and Minnesota.

Let me explain.

The other morning a customer stopped by the automotive machine shop which my husband runs in Northfield, Minnesota. Nothing extraordinary about that. Customers filter in and out all day.

Imagine wearing sandals right now outdoors in Minnesota.

Imagine wearing sandals right now outdoors in Minnesota.

But this customer arrived in sandals. On a day when temperatures hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit and the windchill plunged the “feels like” temp even lower. This guy wasn’t wearing socks with his sandals, as you might expect, although he was wrapped in a winter coat.

Naturally, my spouse inquired about the bare feet and sandals. The customer replied (and this is not an exact quote) that he was tapping into his inner hippie.

Alright then.

My husband loves brats and grills them in the winter along with meats that I will eat. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

My husband loves brats and grills them year-round along with meats that I will eat. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Over at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in rural Gibbon, Minnesota, parishioners are apparently tapping into our state’s Scandinavian and German heritages via a Sven & Ole Book Fair at an All You Can Eat Pancake & Bratwurst Dinner from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, January 26.

Bars made by Lutherans, but not from St. Peter's Church. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Bars made by Lutherans, but not from St. Peter’s Church. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Also on the menu are applesauce, cheese, cookies and bars. Yes, bars. How Minnesotan is that?

And how Minnesotan that the book fair comes via Sven & Ole’s Books in the nearby noted German city of New Ulm. And, yes, the proprietor’s name truly is Sven and his brother’s middle name is Olaf, Ole for short, according to the bookstore website.

Icy cold beer served up in a Minnesota Vikings mug.

Icy cold beer served up in a Minnesota Vikings mug. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Now about that beer, which I think would be a better accompaniment for brats than pancakes. I like neither brats nor pancakes, although I am 100 percent German. But I do like bars, the kind you eat. And I enjoy an occasional mug of beer.

I learned through a recent column in The Gaylord Hub, a small-town newspaper where I worked as a reporter and photographer right out of college, about the Minnesota Historical Society’s “Beer and Brewing in the Land of Sky Blue Waters” lecture/workshop offering. It is funded through grant monies from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as part of the Minnesota Historical Society in the Libraries Adult Programming.

August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

A “discussion of brewing history along with beer tasting by Schell’s,” a New Ulm brewery, was recently held at the Gaylord Public Library, for adults 21 and over with valid ID, according to info written by Gaylord’s librarian. Two days later, nearby St. Peter hosted the same beer event at its community center.

So there you have it. Beer, brats and bare feet in Minnesota. Cheers.


© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Dispelling a Mayberry myth in rural Minnesota December 16, 2011

Man in custody after shooting in Gaylord

Two men arrested after incident with police officers in Winthrop

Three years since rural Green Isle homicide

These disturbing headlines all published recently in a single issue of a 10-page small-town Minnesota weekly newspaper.

How life has changed in the 31 years since I pounded out news articles there, for The Gaylord Hub, on a vintage manual typewriter. The biggest news stories during my 1978 – 1980 tenure as a reporter were fires and motor vehicle crashes and the controversy over the expansion of local chicken barns.

I didn’t write about eight bullets fired into a Gaylord home in an alleged gang-related shooting or a scuffle between police and a suspect or a three-year unsolved homicide.

And I didn’t have to report on a courthouse shootings like the one which occurred Thursday in quiet Grand Marais, an artsy get-away destination along the shores of Lake Superior.

Thirty years ago, small towns were still relatively untouched by violent, drug-related or other crime. Not so anymore. One need only pick up any weekly newspaper to read about major crimes that rock even the most rural regions.

Just this week in Redwood County in rural southwestern Minnesota, warrants were issued for 31 individuals on felony drug charges following a year-long, five-county investigation, according to information published in The Redwood Falls Gazette. Most suspects have been arrested and charged.

That’s my home county you’re talking about here, a place of small towns, grain elevators, farm sites, and corn and soybean fields—about as rural as you can get.

This isn’t Mayberry anymore.

While I can wax nostalgic about how things “used to be,” the reality of life is this: Times have changed. People have changed. Respect for parents and authority and laws have eroded.

Crime, once considered a big-city problem, reaches deep into the most rural of locations.

It is sad.

But it is the truth.

IF YOU LIVE in a rural area, have you see increases in crime? Explain. How have you, personally, or your community been impacted? How is your community dealing with crime? Please submit a comment and share.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling