Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Appreciating Main Street December 6, 2011

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Entering Janesville from the west along old Highway 14, you'll see this grain bin signage welcoming you to town.

I REMEMBER YEARS ago driving through the heart of Janesville along well-traveled U.S. Highway 14 in southern Minnesota. The town of 2,100 teemed with traffic following this main east-west route.

Today, as motorists bypass Janesville along the four-lane highway completed in 2006, the town barely stirs on a Sunday afternoon. Certainly, I should have expected this change when I drove into Janesville several months ago. Yet, the stillness, the boarded up buildings, the quiet Main Street surprised me. It shouldn’t have. What other result should I expect when a major highway reroutes around a town?

Janesville's downtown business district on a Sunday afternoon in August.

I possess no stake in this community nor am I critical of the Highway 14 improvement. The fixes to this treacherous roadway were necessary for motorists’ safety. I wish all of Highway 14 across Minnesota was a four-lane route, especially the deadly stretch between Mankato and New Ulm.

But back to Janesville…I’d never turned off the highway into the downtown business district, never in all the years I’d passed through this community along the old Highway 14. I’m almost ashamed to write that. But Janesville was just one more town to slow me down in getting from one destination to another.

Therein lies part of the problem. We are all in too much of a hurry, way too much of a hurry.

We need to pause, to turn off the interstates and highways and drive onto Main Street in Small-Town, U.S.A., park our vehicles and walk. Look at the buildings. Peer in the windows. Admire the character of old buildings. Stroll into a business and make a purchase. Strike up a conversation with a local.

An antique store anchors a a downtown corner across from the elevator.

The entry to a radio and TV shop.

A jolt of color in downtown Janesville.

Lovely historic brick buildings grace the downtown. So much potential exists here.

I noticed this beautiful tile outside a former bank.

More potential in this building...

The past preserved in lettering on the side of this brick building.

The intersection at old Highway 14.

I encourage each of you, wherever you live, to take the time to appreciate the small towns in your region or the Main Street in your community.

If you live in a metropolitan area, consciously choose to drive out of the city and into a rural area and onto Main Street.

If you already live in a rural area, choose to appreciate what you have, to remain positive and upbeat about your local businesses.

I expect that if I was to drive into Janesville on a week day, I’d find a busier downtown than the one I discovered on a Sunday afternoon in August. I can’t judge a community by one visit, of that I’m sure. But I do know that I can choose to slow down, look and appreciate Main Street in Small-Town, U.S.A.

So can you.

The post office, a community meeting place in small towns like Janesville.

NOTE: All of these images were taken in downtown Janesville on a Sunday afternoon in August.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Shopping local: service sells December 5, 2011

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A candy shop in the 200 block of Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.

DO YOU BUY LOCAL?

Seems like a simple question, doesn’t it?

I’d like to answer, “Yes, I only patronize the Central Avenue mom and pop businesses in downtown Faribault and never set foot inside a big-box retailer.” But I would be lying.

I do shop at places like Walmart in Faribault and occasionally at other big-box stores 15 miles away.

However, I don’t run up to the Burnsville Center a half hour north on Interstate 35 except to shop at the next door National Camera Exchange.

That leads me to a little anecdote. Late Saturday morning my 17-year-old told me he was driving to Menards to purchase a sheet of plywood and other materials for a high school science team project. I put the kibosh on that, advising him to wait until his dad arrived home from ringing the Salvation Army bell. I thought perhaps my husband had materials in the garage that could be used to build a car ramp. (He didn’t.)

I asked my son why he couldn’t just buy his materials at a Faribault lumber yard, thus saving time and a 30-mile round trip. Students were apparently told they could get a better deal at the out-of-town big-box store.

That’s probably true if you just walk in and purchase materials. But, I wondered whether the local lumber yard had been approached by a teacher and offered the opportunity to price match.

By the time my husband arrived home, the local lumber yard was closed and there was no option except to go out of town.

A small-town lumber yard in nearby Janesville, not to be confused with the Lamperts referenced in this post.

Last year, when we were planning to replace five windows, two front doors and the siding on the front of our house, we briefly toyed with the idea of going to a big-box retailer. Instead, we bought from a Faribault lumber yard. Yes, we paid more for product. But the personal service extended to us far exceeded anything I’ve ever experienced through a big-box retailer. When we had a problem, John from Lamperts responded and solved the issue. He kept tabs on our project and was always there to answer questions and offer advice.

Service sells me on buying local. Ace Hardware in downtown Faribault is a stellar example of customer service. Walk in the door there and an attentive employee immediately greets you, asks if you need help, leads you to the merchandise and answers any questions. The place is always busy and it’s not because prices are lower. It’s the service. And the free popcorn is a nice small-town touch, too.

Burkhartzmeyer Shoes, a family-owned shoe store along Central Avenue in Faribault.

Several blocks away, you’ll experience equally great service at Burkhartzmeyer Shoes, a third-generation family-owned shoe store. The folks there will measure your feet and assure you get a perfect fit. Have special needs? Burkhartzmeyer has specialists on staff to assist. Service, friendliness, care and quality product sell this shoe store to me and so many others. And the shoebox tied with cotton string and a sucker attached is a nice small-town touch, too.

During the warmer months, I like to shop local for fresh produce at the farmers’ market,Twiehoff Gardens and Nursery, and Trump’s Orchards. Again, the friendly service and fresh, quality products sell themselves. The advice on baking squash or on choosing just the right apples for crisp are nice small-town touches, too.

Bottom line, service sells Main Street.

That all said, I, like most of you, live on a tight budget. Cost matters to me. But oftentimes, so does service.

DO YOU SHOP LOCAL? Why or why not? What would entice you to shop local more often?

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A bit of Sweden in Wisconsin October 26, 2011

J. Ingebretsen's av Stockholm on a corner in Stockholm.

STEP INSIDE J. Ingebretsen’s av Stockholm along Wisconsin Highway 35 in Stockholm, Wisconsin, population 89, and a sense of serenity sweeps over you.

Perhaps it’s the Scandinavian influence. Or perhaps it’s the charm of this quaint Lake Pepin-side village casting a spell upon you that evokes a feeling of peace.

The sign suspended from the front of Ingebretsen's, if I got the translation correct, means "crafts." The dala horse is a popular Swedish symbol.

No matter the reason, the atmosphere inside Ingebretsen’s, a Scandinavian gift shop, conveys a sense of orderliness, simplicity and a feeling that all is right with the world, or at least in this part of western Wisconsin.

On a recent day trip from Minnesota across the Mississippi River, my husband and I discovered this wisp of a village, which, except for all those inviting shops lining the main drag and side streets, would likely stand as another shuttered small town.

But Stockholm hums with activity, its streets packed with vehicles, its sidewalks teeming with folks drawn here by the quaintness, the laid-back feel of this historic place, the smorgasbord of shops that range from precisely orderly Ingebretsen’s to cluttered, books-tilting Chandler’s Books, Curios.

Step inside Ingebretsen’s, an offshoot of the main store in Minneapolis, and you’ll forget the traffic only steps away along Highway 35. You’ll focus instead on the display of dala horses. You’ll draw your hand across woolen blankets that ward off the chill of autumn, soon-to-be winter. Your eyes will turn toward the earthen-hued pottery lining shelves.

Inside the front window of Ingebretsen's, lovely pottery.

A collection of dala horses inside Ingebretsen's, a traditional symbol of Sweden. As the story goes, woodcutters from the province of Dalarna whittled away the long winter months carving these toy horses for children.

Even the pleasant shopkeeper with her crisp apron and refined demeanor fit my image of a Scandinavian. I immediately fell in love with the rough stone that defines this historic building.

You’ll admire the rough stone walls of this 1878 building, first used as a general store, then as a hotel, hardware store, confectionary, barbershop, speakeasy and café. Before it was abandoned and then reborn several years later, in 2003, as this Scandinavian import shop in Stockholm.

Wisconsin. Not Sweden.

The upper level of the restored Ingebretsen's building.

It's all about the details in Stockholm, like this clutch of flowers hugging stone at Ingebretsen's.

PLEASE READ my previous post published October 24 on Chandler’s Books and watch for more stories from Stockholm.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Sampling chili along Central October 18, 2011

HOW DO YOU LIKE your chili? With a shot of whiskey? Beer? An extra dash of cayenne?

All three were among ingredients incorporated into some of the chili served Saturday during the 2011 “Main Street” Fall Festival Chili Cook-Off along Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.

I was there, tagging behind my husband Randy and sister Lanae as they raced ahead of me, determined to taste all 33 chilies in an hour. (I had my camera, thus the lagging.) We didn’t quite accomplish our goal; some vendors ran out of chili and we missed a few.

But we all ate enough to fill our stomachs and then vote for our favorites.

Randy and Lanae apparently know a good chili when they taste one as the chili they selected—John Stepan’s at Geek Central—won the cook-off contest with 13 percent of the vote. John wouldn’t divulge his secret recipe to us, but he did mention something about soaking the chunky, green pepper-laced beef in an oriental sauce. And that was about all he would reveal.

I photographed only one chili and it happened to be the winner, John Stepan's chili at Geek Central.

I nearly voted for John’s chili, but instead cast my ballot for Glenn’s Towing. The guys manning the booth claimed motor oil and ground-up rubber as ingredients.

My sister and I took that as a challenge to finagle the truth out of them. They offered us 25 cents off a gallon of gas if we could guess three of the unusual ingredients. I suggested vinegar. Wrong. Lanae suggested brown sugar. Right.

But we failed to guess the other two, three actually, as it turns out: whiskey, cream cheese and cocoa. No discounted gas for us.

The catchy display of vintage toys at the Glenn's Towing booth.

A wagon-load of pumpkins were for sale in front of the Nook & Cranny, where Carl Mortenson's chili was served.

Theirs wasn’t the only chili including alcohol. At the Nook & Cranny, Carl Mortenson served his Guinness-infused chili.

And across the street at Flair Furniture, another chili taster thought beer might go well with the cowboy and cowgirl chilies served by competing father-in-law/daughter-in-law David and Mara Thiele.

The Thieles offering their western style chili at Flair Furniture.

At Hoffman Law Office, you could add your level of heat toppings to your chili. The felony level: Hell-fire Habanera

In fact, if you ever imbibe in this chili smorgasbord, I’d recommend buying a bottle of water to cleanse your palate or quell the tongue-burning fiery chilies—and we’re not talking temperature here.

Just for the record, plenty of fire-free and alcohol-free chilies were served.

An especially festive table at the Crafty Maven.

The Paradise Center for the Arts served chili and promoted its upcoming MASH production.

At the Signature Bar & Grill, General George Custer (aka Dave Custer) served his chili.

There really was a costume contest, albeit for kids, not adults. Although we missed the actual costume parade down Central Avenue earlier in the morning, I caught this Raggedy Ann and Andy and their dad later.

All in all, if you enjoy chili on a fall day, Faribault’s Fall Festival Chili Cook-Off would be the event for you. This year it cost a reasonable $2 to purchase a plastic spoon and then meander—or race—from booth to booth for two hours trying chili. We didn’t get there until about noon, so had only an hour to sample. Give yourself more time, especially if you want to visit with other fest-goers, check out the businesses and really take in the atmosphere.

FYI: Proceeds from the Chili Cook-Off benefit the Faribault Main Street program designed “to create an attractive destination in which businesses prosper, the community benefits and residents and visitors enjoy a quality downtown experience.” To learn more, click here.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Sign junkie October 14, 2011

A note on the door at Medallion Case.

YOU MIGHT NOT APPRECIATE business signage like me. Heck, you may not even pay much attention to signs unless, of course, you are looking for a specific place. Then you would notice.

But I notice signs because I consider them to be works of art, reflections of personalities and history, trademarks of small-town life, and sources of entertainment.

I’m not talking about the mass-produced, generic signage that marks a chain store. Rather, I mean those handcrafted and/or custom signs (and notes) you’ll find on small-town Main Street or along rural roadways.

Recently, signage in Nerstrand, a village of 233 residents in eastern Rice County near Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, attracted my interest.

And because most of you aren’t going to drive to Nerstrand to see these signs, you can just view them here.

Then, once you’ve perused my discoveries, I challenge you to go out into your own communities and search for sign art.

WARNING: If you accept this assignment, you may become a sign junkie just like me.

No confusion about the meat market business located here along Main Street Nerstrand.

Additional signage on the Nerstrand Meats building highlights the products available.

Another business sign along Nerstrand's Main Street.

This sign on the corner of a Main Street business in Nerstrand directs motorists to Grace Lutheran Church.

Just so you believe me, here's Grace, under the water tower.

BONUS: I’ve tossed in two signs from rural Dennison also.

This sign at the end of the driveway at 2290 Goodhue County 49 Blvd will direct you to Potpourri Mill Log Cabin near Dennison. That's Vang Lutheran Church in the background.

Once you drive up to the log cabin, you'll see this season appropriate sign outside the front door. Inside you'll find the Harvest Thyme Craft Show, which runs weekends through October 16.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The truth about goldfish revealed at a convenience store October 11, 2011

YOU’RE ON THE ROAD. You need to pee. You also need a beverage to quell your thirst. It’s a hot afternoon. So you pop into a convenience store.

You use the facilities, select a bottle of tart lemonade and then head for the check-out counter.

That’s when you spot this message scrawled on the whiteboard, propped between the Minnesota State Lottery and Jean Ross sunglasses displays:

The message posted recently at a southeastern Minnesota convenience store.

And then you think to yourself, “What is the meaning of this message?”

When you inquire, you learn that this is the “thought of the day,” with a new parcel of wisdom or tidbit of information posted whenever the manager is on duty.

It’s as simple as that.

As you walk out of Parkside Gas and Grocery on Main Street in Nerstrand, you think, “Well, I just learned something new.”

And then you have this fleeting thought that you should rush out and buy a goldfish, stash the fish tank in a closet and test the validity of this statement.

But then you remember just how much you dislike cleaning a fish tank.

HAS ANYONE ever tried this? Do goldfish really turn white when kept in the dark?

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Window-shopping in Janesville, Minnesota September 14, 2011

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I ENJOY WINDOW-SHOPPING. But when I window-shop, I’m not typically perusing merchandise to purchase. Rather, I’m shopping for signs to photograph. It’s cheaper that way; you don’t spend money except on your gas to reach whatever destination you choose.

For me, that is Main Street in Smalltown, Minnesota. Signage regulations are less strict in these rural communities, folks more trusting. I discover the most intriguing/interesting/unusual/creative signs here. Pick your adjective—all three would apply.

So let me take you today to Janesville, population 2,100, located along U.S. Highway 14 only 15 miles east of Mankato. I stopped there several weeks ago on my way to and from (yes, we stopped twice) Indian Island Winery with my husband.

Entering Janesville from the west along old Highway 14, you'll see this grain bin signage welcoming you to town. I've always wondered: Did the farmer specifically build 10 bins to fit the town name? Or did someone come up to him after the fact and say, "You know, J-A-N-E-S-V-I-L-L-E would fit on your bins."

But before I show you my discoveries, here are two interesting tidbits about Janesville: The town has a nine-hole reversible golf course, one of among only a few in the U.S. If you know what that means, you know more than me. I am not a golfer.

Secondly, in a house near downtown Janesville, along old Highway 14, you’ll see a dummy peering through an upstairs attic window. It’s been there for years. Why? No one seems to know the truth. But its placement there has led to all sorts of speculation as imaginative as an imagination allows.

Now, moving along, I’m pleased to present photos of signage from Main Street, Janesville, Minnesota, for your entertainment. Enjoy.

This handcrafted graphic sure makes for a memorable Blasing Electric sign hung on the side of a building across the street from the library.

I know you folks in bigger towns, especially in the Twin Cities metro, take your television access for granted. But not so in rural Minnesota. Here's a pitch for better service posted on a window at Will's Radio & TV.

But you might not want to stop and check on that satellite service until Monday, according to this sign posted on Will's front door. Will is at a doctor's appointment.

Hot weather also offers a good excuse to close up shop. I can't recall where this note was placed, but either on a beauty or sewing shop door.

Homemade signs like this one are always a bonus find on small-town Main Street.

Jethro's Soda Shop, which is no longer open, sports a misspelled word. Can you spot it?

Finally, my last photo, which is not a sign, but merchandise in a window of the corner drugstore. The ruled tablet brought back grade school memories for me. Gotta love it. Main Street in Smalltown, Minnesota.

DID YOU FIND the incorrectly spelled word on the window of the former Jethro’s Malt Shop? That would be “BRAUT.” My husband contends that is the German spelling of “brat.” I contend he is wrong as my research shows that “die braut” in German translates to “bride” in English.

(NOTE: I edited most of the above images to better showcase the words.)

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Take time to stop and appreciate small towns August 11, 2011

In tiny Belview, you'll find the 1901 Odeon Hall. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Queen Anne style building features a barrel-vault ceiling. Still in use today for wedding receptions and community events, etc., Odeon Hall once also featured vaudeville shows, motion pictures, concerts and more.

I WANT TO THROW a challenge out there. The next time you’re driving through/near small-town Minnesota, or small-town wherever, stop. Pull off the highway and drive along Main Street. Park your vehicle. Get out. Walk. Look. See.

Notice the buildings, the architecture, the signage, the history. Consider what centers the town: the café, the post office, the grain elevator, the churches, the school—if there is a school.

Families, retirees and even single people choose to live, to work, to worship together, to celebrate, to mourn, to live their lives here. This is their home, not just some town in the middle of nowhere that you must pass through to get from destination A to destination B.

I have, in recent years, begun to appreciate the small towns and rural areas of Minnesota more than ever. I grew up on a dairy and crop farm in southwestern Minnesota, which is about as rural as you can get. But I haven’t always valued that upbringing like I should.

As I’ve gotten into the art of photography, I’ve begun to view these towns with a fresh perspective. I notice what, in the past, I’ve overlooked or taken for granted because of my rural roots.

Let me show you some photos I took recently in and near Belview, a community of 375 located four miles north of State Highway 19 in northwestern Redwood County. Belview lies about 10 miles from my hometown of Vesta, another one of those small towns that motorists zip by without a second thought. I bet you didn’t know that Vesta is the home of the nation’s first electric cooperative. I thought so.

That’s the thing about small towns. If you stop and walk and look and see, and I emphasize the word, see, you will discover more than just a place to drive through when getting from point A to point B. You will discover the heart and soul of community.

Move in close to view the details, like the front of Odeon Hall. I attended a cousin's wedding dance here decades ago. Imagine the celebrations inside this historic building.

Most small towns, like Belview, are fortunate to still have a place where you can get your hair cut and styled. I appreciate the simple lines of this brick building located along Main Street.

I discovered this poster in the window of a Main Street building advertising a local band, HickTown Mafia. The band plays "country with a kick, rock with an attitude," according to the group's website.

I found this abandoned former gas station (I think) on a downtown corner. This charming building practically shouts for someone to reopen it as a bakery, coffee shop, antique store or some other such venue. Perhaps the two local wineries/vineyards and other area vendors could market their products here.

The Parkview Home, a Belview nursing home, was once home to my maternal grandfather and to other extended aging family members. I've been here often to visit relatives and, during high school, to sing Christmas carols with the Luther League. The building was damaged in a July 1 tornado (note the blue tarp on the roof) and residents have been temporarily displaced.

Northwest of Belview, you'll find picturesque Rock Dell Lutheran Church. My Uncle Merlin and Aunt Iylene Kletscher were married here in November 1964, the last time I was inside the church.

A side view of Rock Dell.

Near Rock Dell you'll find Swedes Forest Township Hall in the middle of corn and soybean fields.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about Belview, click here and here. Also read my previous post about Rainbow Antiques, Crafts and Junque in Belview by clicking here.

TAKE MY CHALLENGE and report back to me on the treasures you discover in a small town or rural area.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

An old-fashioned grocery store, moosehead and all, thrives in Ellendale August 5, 2011

In the small town of Ellendale, kids bike to Lerberg's Foods for groceries and the occasional slushie. Here two sisters and a friend slurp their slushies while sitting on bags of water softener pellets next to the pop machine.

WHEN ANDREW LERBERG bagged a moose in northern Minnesota in 1919, the animal was brought by rail to Ellendale and the moosehead proudly displayed in the family’s grocery store.

Ninety-two years later, that moosehead still hangs at Lerberg’s Foods, above a framed photo of Andrew with his trophy and above processed fruits and vegetables stacked on grocery store shelves.

Look down the grocery aisle to your left and you'll see the moosehead that is part of Lerberg's lore.

Ross Sletten, who purchased the business in 2007 from Andy Lerberg, will tell you the moosehead came with the store and that originally the rifle used to shoot the animal rested in its antlers. Not any more. Times have changed.

But not everything has changed at Lerberg’s. The original tongue-and-groove maple floor, tin ceiling, small-town-friendly atmosphere and more speak to the history of this 1914 brick building and to the long-standing grocery store owned by three generations of Lerbergs—Andrew, who started the business (in another building) in 1901, Arthur and Andy.

The original tongue-in-groove maple floor in front of the meat counter.

The produce department of Lerberg's Foods.

Ross began working at Lerberg’s in 1976 and, on a recent Sunday, three of his five kids—Brett, 18, Cassidy, 14, and Noah, 12—were all working at the store that anchors a corner of the main street in Ellendale, population around 600.

This long-time employee, now owner/manager, is clearly proud of his grocery store, which he claims is the oldest grocery store in Steele County and the second oldest in Minnesota.

That’s easy to believe when you walk upon the worn tongue-and-groove floor between the narrow aisles—of which there are three—pause to appreciate the tin ceiling, and listen to Ross. He’ll tell you about the tailor who had a shop in the store’s current-day upstairs office or about the eggs, ducks and chickens locals once traded for goods.

He’ll point out the store’s original coffee grinder resting on a shelf above the dairy section or direct your attention to the original wooden butcher block back in the meat department and still in use today (grandfathered in, he says).

Lerberg's Foods owner/manager Ross Sletten points out the original butcher block, which he still uses.

Cassidy Sletten, 14, checks out groceries on a Sunday morning.

He runs a business which, on a Sunday morning, teems with customers—folks picking up a few groceries after church, kids treating themselves to slushies from the machine at the front of the store, a 9-year-old purchasing several cartons of eggs for his mom, a guy buying three bags of water softener salt.

Located just the right distance (meaning too far) from Albert Lea, Austin, Owatonna and Mankato, the store draws customers who will shop locally rather than drive to regional hub cities, Ross says. He can offer competitive prices, he says, through his supplier, Nash Finch.

A street-side sign in Lerberg's front window thanks customers for their patronage.

Already, 12-year-old Noah Sletten is thinking about his future and maybe someday taking over the business. “I think it would be kind of fun to own something old,” Noah says, then smiles.

For someone like me, who grew up in rural southwestern Minnesota and frequented a grocery store with tongue-and-groove floors, a tin ceiling, a candy counter (where I bought my favorite Bazooka bubblegum for a penny), a toy rack and groceries lining two aisles, discovering Lerberg’s Foods brought back so many memories. I couldn’t get enough of this old-time style store.

The only thing missing, I told 14-year-old check-out clerk Cassidy Sletten before leaving her family’s store, was the old-style screen door that would bang behind me. She gave me a puzzled look.

“Ask your dad,” I said, smiled, and walked out the door.

Candy at the end of a check-out counter tempts kids. There are peanuts for the adults.

And right before you walk out the door, you'll see this strategically-placed rack of toys.

A side view of the grocery store looking toward the main street through Ellendale. A customer is carrying a bag of water softener pellets, stacked in front of the pop machine. The slushie slurping kids had to temporarily give up their hang-out spot so he could grab three bags of salt.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Bad news from Hope July 27, 2011

The Hope Post Office, which I photographed on Sunday.

I WISH I DIDN’T have to update a story I posted just yesterday about the post office in Hope, south of Owatonna off Interstate 35. But I must, and the news isn’t good.

On Tuesday the United States Postal Service released the latest in a lengthy list—try 3,600-plus—post offices that could be closed to save money.

Hope wasn’t on that list.

But apparently it was on an earlier list as I discovered just minutes ago. While researching another topic online, I came across two newspaper articles about the proposed closing of Hope’s post office. Community residents have already gathered at a meeting to express their dismay with the planned closure.

Click here to read a story published in The Owatonna People’s Press.

Click here to read another story published in the The Star Eagle based in Waseca County.

Residents of Hope and the surrounding area, according to the articles, will have to wait about three more months before a decision is made on the proposed closure.

You’ll read in these stories how residents fear losing the one central place that connects them, how they worry about the impact on local businesses and more.

Their concerns are legitimate. I said it in my previous post and I’ll say it again. In a small town, a post office serves as a community gathering spot. It isn’t just a place to pick up mail, buy stamps or send a package. It is part of the heartbeat of small town Main Street.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling