Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Shut-down fall-out ripples through southern Minnesota families January 16, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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The art of Roosevelt Elementary School student Anzal Abdi displayed during a 2018 Faribault area student art show at the Paradise Center for the Arts. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo March 2018, Used here for illustration only. I prefer peace over conflict, resolution over discord.

 

I’M NOT ONE TO CREATE discord and division. I really don’t like conflict. So it’s not often I write on current political topics. Hot topics seem to bring out the worst in people, especially in online comments. So be forewarned. I moderate comments. I’m OK with disagreement. But only if it’s civil.

Here goes, the current day topic that has me shaking my head in disbelief:

This whole border wall funding-federal government shut-down makes zero sense. Why? Because federal employees and ordinary citizens who have nothing at all to do with the border wall are being hurt. Financially. Emotionally. I am surprised this situation has continued for this long. But then I’m not surprised. And, no, I won’t expand on that. You can read between the lines.

Only in recent days have I heard the stories of southern Minnesotans feeling the effects. My nephew for one. He is an air traffic controller. Currently unpaid. He and his young family of five are OK for now. They have enough money saved to cover expenses for the next several months. But they are expecting a baby in April and that’s a concern.

Another young couple is also expecting a baby soon. And they are in the process of buying a home. But with the partial federal government shut-down, the home loan process is stalled. Talk about stress.

The third family is also expecting a baby. The expectant father works for the federal prison system. For now, the family is OK. They still have their health insurance coverage, a major worry with that baby coming.

I can only imagine how many more individuals and families are feeling the financial fall-out of no paycheck. How many folks are awaiting loans and more, all delayed now because of the impasse? How many people on vacation now find they can’t visit federal sites they planned to see or are caught in long lines at airports? One can only hope a resolution is reached soon as effects of the shut-down ripple through our economy, our country.

TELL ME: Are you personally affected by the shut-down or do you know of someone who is affected?

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Enough August 24, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I EXPECTED IT. As soon as I read that the suspect in the murder of small town Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts is an alleged illegal immigrant, I knew this would become a political issue. I knew, too, that the venom of hatred in this country would strike like a coiled snake.

From the President to too many politicians (including right here in Minnesota) to everyday Americans, the poison is spreading. A young woman is dead and that seems to have been lost in the spewing of anger and hatred and pushing an agenda for immigration reform.

Enough.

Beyond that, the family which operates Yarrabee Farms, where the suspect was employed, is receiving death threats, threats to burn down their buildings, even threats to kill their dog.

Enough.

What has happened to common decency in this country? What has happened to respect for a grieving family? What has happened to the ability to see crime as crime and not something linked to an individual’s skin color or residency status?

I know there are those who will disagree with me, who will jump all over this post and argue. But, because this is my personal blog, I will not give hatred a platform. I choose to honor Mollie.

In the words of Yarrabee Farms co-owner Craig Lang, also a Republican candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture this summer: “…now is not the time to discuss immigration.”

Now is the time to respect a family and community which are grieving. They, and Mollie, deserve more than the politicization of her death.

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NOTE: I moderate all comments. I decide what publishes here.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Voting for a scarecrow November 1, 2016

 

scarecrow-contest-253-pumpkin-head

 

WITCH (sic) ONE SHOULD I choose?

 

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Is this one It? Looks like a shady character hiding behind that signature hair style.

 

scarecrow-contest-255-scarecrow-in-flannel-shirt

 

This scarecrow stands out in the field. Just look at that perfect, practiced smile and that perfectly pressed plaid.

 

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The artistry here is certainly something to crow about.

 

scarecrow-contest-264-mummy

 

I’m struggling to wrap my head around the choices.

 

scarecrow-contest-265-rake-scarecrow

 

Is this unique scarecrow raking in the votes? If only there were exit polls.

 

scarecrow-contest-261-beware-display

 

I like this scarecrow entourage. But those signs bother me. BEWARE. Of what? And No crows. What’s wrong with crows? Yeah, I know they’re not robins…

 

scarecrow-contest-267-vote-for-me-sign

 

On the surface, I thought, how clever to post a campaign sign. But then I reread the words. Turning Green with Envy Needs Money popped out at me. You can’t sway my vote with sympathy, excess advertising, confusing rhetoric or via deflection.

 

scarecrow-contest-259-veiled-scarecrow

 

I hope the candidates will accept the outcome, respecting the democratic process that veils our votes in secrecy. No rigged polls here.

 

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There are so many choices. But really, these are just scarecrows. I shouldn’t take this election so seriously. There’s a more important election on November 8.

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FYI: These scarecrows are part of a Scarecrow Contest at the 100 Ladies and Gentlemen Craft Sale. That sale, located at 45986 Highway 56 just off Minnesota Highway 60 in Kenyon, continues from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. November 3 -6 and November 10 -13. All items are handcrafted.

Disclaimer: There’s nothing political about the craft sale. It’s just that–a craft sale.

© Copyright 2016 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.

Thoughts?

Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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

 

When the political campaigners call March 1, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I photographed this American flag recently in downtown Owatonna.

I photographed this American flag recently in downtown Owatonna.

THE PHONE RANG at 8 a.m. Not a good time to call. Early morning calls like that launch my heart into my throat. Nothing much good ever comes of a call made that early in the day.

The call came from a woman claiming to be with a cancer research group. I didn’t listen long enough to hear more. Her opening line caused me to slam the receiver into its base. She had no business phoning me; I’m on the do not call list. Plus, the timing of the call unsettled me.

Many times this past weekend I found myself hanging up without listening to an entire lengthy spiel. Not from some supposed charity. But from individuals representing Presidential candidates. Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump. Ted Cruz.

I tried to wedge my way into the scripted calls without sounding mean. It is not my nature to treat an unwelcome political caller with rudeness. Or at least I used to be that way. Now days I find bluntness almost a necessity to handle these unsolicited intrusions.

And so, when I could, I told the campaigner I’d watched the debates, at least some of them; am following the races; and am fairly well informed. And then I hung up.

Will today, Super Tuesday, bring a deluge of political calls? I hope not.

But I suppose I should consider the positive. At least I live in a country where I can get such calls, where opinions can be expressed, where I have a voice and where I have the option of hanging up.

Thoughts? I’m especially interested in hearing any creative ways you handle political phone calls.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Driving home a political point along a Minnesota interstate November 4, 2012

IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, you are fed up with all the political literature, billboards and advertisements.

If you’re like me, you don’t even read the campaign material that arrives in your mailbox.

If you’re like me, you don’t even want to answer the phone or door any more to listen to another pollster or campaign volunteer or candidate.

But then along comes a political statement like this, posted along Interstate 94 about 15 miles east of Alexandria (between mile markers 117 and 118 near the West Union exit):

Driving east on I-94, you’ll see the car ramp first, then the limo driven into the ground and then the message.

Creative freedom of speech

I don’t care what your political persuasion or whether you vote red or blue, support Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. You just have to admire the creativity and hard work of whomever planted this limo in the ground along a busy Minnesota interstate to drive home a political point.

Spotting this political billboard of sorts this past weekend truly caused me to pause and consider how very fortunate I am to live in a free country like the United States of America.

Here we are free to express our opinions, to let our voices be heard, to speak out, to tell others what we think, to vote. And, yes, I pretty much duplicated myself with all of those phrases.

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Cannon Falls pulls out the flags for President’s visit August 15, 2011

Amy Savvy cleans the windows at Amy's Savvy Seconds, next to the Cannon Falls Chamber of Commerce, on Sunday afternoon in preparation for President Barack Obama's visit.

IN A FEW HOURS, President Barack Obama arrives in small-town Minnesota for the first stop on a Midwest bus tour that will also take him into rural parts of Iowa and Illinois.

The folks in Cannon Falls, a town of some 3,795 in southeastern Minnesota, have rolled out the flags in a patriotic welcome to our nation’s leader.

Throughout the downtown Sunday afternoon, most businesses were displaying American flags in storefront windows. Flags were also posted along the downtown streets. Some homeowners displayed flags in their yards and mini-flags lined at least a block of the roadway leading to Hannah’s Bend Park, site of the President’s visit.

Along the road to Hannah's Bend Park, at least one homeowner had decorated with mini American flags.

An American flag hangs outside Schaffer's Antiques.

A street-side flag in downtown Cannon Falls.

Vintage building signage provides the backdrop for an American flag in this historic river town.

Whether Obama will ever see the many flags in the downtown remains unknown as his route into and out of Cannon Falls remained unofficially unknown to the locals I visited with on Sunday. At least one business owner speculated he would travel U.S. Highway 52 into town, which seems the most likely route.

Warren Schaffer of Schaffer’s Antiques recalled a shutdown along that highway when President Ronald Reagan passed by Cannon Falls.

The last visit by a U.S. President to this Goodhue County town occurred in 1928, when Calvin Coolidge attended the dedication of a statue honoring Col. William Colvill, a Civil War veteran who led the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment during the battle at Gettysburg.

Most Cannon Falls residents likely feel as antique shop owner Schaffer does about Obama’s visit. “He’s the President. This is a little town. This is a big deal.”

A Spanish American flag hangs on a wall inside Schaffer's Antiques. The flag, which shop owner Warren Schaffer thinks likely was a coffin flag, is not for sale. It makes a nice wall decoration, Schaffer says.

A flag in the window of the Cannon River Winery, a busy place on a Sunday.

A shot of Cannon Falls' main drag and a flag in the window of an insurance company.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Cannon Falls prepares for President Obama’s town hall meeting August 14, 2011

Two tents were set up at the entry to Hannah's Bend Park early Sunday afternoon.

I DIDN’T EXPECT TO GET SO CLOSE, to park in the parking lot next to the Cannon Falls Community Pool, stroll across the street and walk down the hill into Hannah’s Bend Park where President Barack Obama will participate Monday morning in a town hall meeting.

But my husband and I walked right into the thick of preparations Sunday afternoon with no questions asked, just like the locals and others who’d arrived by foot, vehicles and on bike to check out the hubbub.

An overview of the south end of Hannah's Bend Park, where President Barack Obama will appear.

One of the many families visiting the park to view the pre-Presidential preparations.

Bikers came to the park to check out the town hall meeting site.

Workers had already set up, or were setting up, picnic tables, tables and chairs, bleachers, fencing, amplifiers, tents and more. They were simply doing what they were told, they said, while pointing out the Secret Service guys in khakis and shades standing along the bank of the Cannon River. Nice guys, they said.

Among the workers were Tom Leonard and his sons, 14-year-old Isaac and 13-year-old Caleb, from Festival Production Services of Lonsdale. As subcontractors for the event, they had erected the press risers and were, when I approached them, finishing up the 8 x 12-foot Presidential stage.

Tom and Isaac Leonard work on the Presidential stage.

Tom Leonard was matter-of-fact about his efforts. “For me, it’s just another gig,” he said. “It’s like anything. It’s work.”

Caleb, however, seemed a bit more impressed with putting together a stage for the President. “It makes me feel kind of important,” he said as he swung a hammer.

Perhaps Tom Leonard’s laid-back attitude comes from having done many Presidential gigs, including an inaugural ball for George W. Bush. Sunday marked just another day on a job that includes rigging up staging for rock-n-roll bands and other customers.

Marilyn and Jeryld Carstensen were in town from St. James and scored two tickets to Monday’s Presidential appearance after getting in line at 4 a.m. Sunday. Their 22-year-old daughter, Regan Carstensen, has been reporting on the Presidential visit for The Red Wing Republican Eagle, so the couple has gotten caught up in the excitement.

Media, including Twin Cities-based Eyewitness News, were in town on Sunday.

Media were already converging on Cannon Falls Sunday afternoon. At Amy’s Savvy Seconds in the downtown business district, Amy Savvy had already done several television interviews and was preparing for another when I came across her cleaning her shop windows.

Amy Savvy cleans the windows at her secondhand shop. She planned to write a message welcoming Obama.

When I returned later, a television crew was inside Amy's Savvy Seconds.

“It’s a historic thing,” Amy said of the President’s Cannon Falls stop. She appreciated the extra business in town and had opened her second-hand store Sunday, and planned to be open again on Monday, days she’s typically closed. She was also working around her grandma’s funeral set for Monday, but figured her grandma would want her to take advantage of the extra traffic downtown.

A few doors down, Warren Schaffer was tending Schaffer’s Antiques, wishing the President would stop in and buy something. I looked around, spotted an eagle and suggested it as a possible Presidential purchase. Warren promptly informed me I was looking at a whiskey bottle.

Calling himself a “middle-of-the-road” guy when it comes to politics, Warren none-the-less shares in the community’s excitement over the Presidential visit. “He’s the President. This is a little town. This is a big deal.”

A street corner in the heart of downtown Cannon Falls.

Downtown Cannon Falls, population, 3,795, had seen a lot of traffic for a Sunday, Warren observed. He expects even more on Monday; his shop will be open on a day when it’s usually shuttered.

Through-out the downtown, most businesses have displayed American flags in storefront windows or outside. At the Cannon River Winery, a sign hangs out front welcoming the President.

A sign welcoming the President hangs on the front of the Cannon River Winery.

American flags, large and small, hang in most storefront windows.

The excitement in Cannon Falls Sunday afternoon was palpable. At Hannah’s Bend Park, my first stop in town, clusters of folks gathered, pointing out the brush that had been cut days earlier from the hillside, pointing toward the area where workers labored to get everything in place for the town hall meeting…

Tom Leonard was still hard at work, jumping up and down on the bleachers, apparently testing their stability. He’ll be back on Monday, taking everything down, moving on to another day, another gig.

Tom Leonard, along with sons Isaac and Caleb, checks the stability of the bleachers.

Speakers awaiting installation at the town hall meeting site.

CHECK BACK for a second blog post featuring photos of American flags displayed in Cannon Falls for the President’s visit.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

WARNING: Proposal would erode Minnesota’s Freedom to Breathe Act April 11, 2011

WARNING: Cigarettes are addictive.

WARNING: Tobacco smoke can harm your children.

WARNING: Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease.

WARNING: Cigarettes cause cancer.

WARNING: Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease.

WARNING: Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby.

WARNING: Smoking can kill you.

WARNING: Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers.

WARNING: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.

 

I didn't need to search long or hard to find these cigarette butts. Two were tossed into one of my flowerbeds by a neighbor. I found the third in the street by my house.

Just as Minnesota legislators are considering proposed changes to the state’s Freedom to Breathe law, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is finalizing plans to modify warnings on cigarette packaging and advertising.

Following requirements of The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the FDA has proposed that cigarette packaging and ads bear one of the above nine warnings along with a matching colorful graphic.

The shock value of the proposed graphics—like a toe-tagged corpse and a mother blowing smoke into her baby’s face—are an effort to make a powerful impact on the smoking public. Enough to make a smoker stop smoking.

The final graphics will be selected by June 22 and the warnings must be in place on all cigarette packages sold in the U.S. and in cigarette ads by October 2012.

As a nonsmoker, I’m all for this move to prevent, reduce or stop smoking.

However, I don’t support proposed legislation in Minnesota that would once again allow smoking in bars under specific conditions. Not that I frequent bars, but bars and restaurants are often interconnected, so this matters to me.

The plan basically would allow smoking in bars if a ventilation system is installed to remove the smoke. In bars connected to restaurants, the bar must be walled off with a door separating the bar and restaurant.

Come on. A door will not keep smoke from filtering into a restaurant. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t need smoke served with my meal.

I make no apologies for my strong stand against smoking and my intense dislike of cigarette smoke.

I’m also honest enough to admit that, in my youth, I tried tobacco products on several occasions, enough to realize smoking wasn’t for me.

My dad became addicted to cigarettes when he was in the military, serving on the front lines during the Korean Conflict. He preferred Camel cigarettes. Sometimes he also rolled his own.

My dad, a smoker for many years, first exposed me to cigarettes. Once he even let me puff on his Camel. Now before you start calling him an irresponsible parent, consider this.  He knew I’d cough and sputter and spit and never want to touch a cigarette again. He was right. Eventually he gave up smoking but never quit chewing snuff.

Although I never took up smoking, I was addicted to candy cigarettes as a kid. But candy cigarettes were as popular as Bazooka bubble gum back in the 1960s and no one thought anything of subtly encouraging kids to smoke via those chalky white sticks with the red tips.

As for the few Swisher cigars I smoked in my mid-20s, I offer no excuse except my ignorant, youthful stupidity. I bet many smokers who are now habitual tobacco users wish they’d never started.

If you’re a smoker and want to smoke in the privacy of your home, then go ahead. Just don’t invite me over because, physically, I can’t tolerate cigarette smoke.  I’ve had numerous bad experiences with cigarette smoke.

Back in the early 1980s, I worked for a southern Minnesota daily newspaper that allowed smoking in the office. I came home every night smelling like I’d been in a bar all day. My clothes reeked. My skin reeked. My hair reeked. I remember complaining, with several other nonsmokers in the office, about the smoking. Nothing changed, because the news editor smoked. She didn’t care. So what if the copy editor sat outside the conference room during the weekly staff meeting because he couldn’t tolerate the smoke? I wish I had joined him instead of breathing the toxic air. So what if the news editor should have been more considerate given the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act passed in 1975? None of that mattered.

My second worst experience with smoking occurred several years ago at a Winona hotel. The manager tried to pass off a smoking room as a nonsmoking room. The instant I walked into the room, I smelled cigarette smoke. The mobile air purifier that was running on high and the lack of a sign on the door stating that this was a nonsmoking room confirmed my suspicions. When I went to the front desk and demanded a nonsmoking room, the manager denied that he had given me a smoking room. I didn’t believe him. My nose and lungs don’t lie.

My other notable smoke experience also involves a hotel, this one at a southwestern Minnesota casino. I was there attending a cousin’s wedding reception. Although the hotel room my family booked was supposedly smoke-free, the odor of cigarette smoke filtered from the smoke-filled hotel lobby, halls and casino into our room. I barely slept that night because of the tightness in my chest caused by the smoke.

So, Minnesota legislators, listen up. Listen to representatives of The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and Clearway Minnesota, all of whom have been at the State Capitol opposing the proposed changes to Minnesota’s Freedom to Breathe Act.

Consider the 83.9 percent of adult Minnesotans (according to results of the 2010 Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey) who do not smoke. Please keep our Freedom to Breathe Act intact and smoke-free.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The Kletscher family legacy of public service February 4, 2011

WE’RE NOT EXACTLY the Kennedys. But the Kletscher family, my family, has a long history of political, church and community involvement.

My uncle, Merlin Kletscher, writes in the family history booklet he compiled:

“Many of us (in this older generation) have, like our forefathers, been active in our community. We have served our country in the military, on church councils, city councils, township boards, ambulance squads, fire departments, and school boards. We’ve served on Legion auxiliaries, vocational school cooperatives, electric power cooperatives and grain elevator board cooperatives. Fire chiefs, mayors and county commissioners are among our family—and it makes me proud. The list for our family could go on and on. The point here is that our families have seen the need, as our forefathers did, to serve others to make someone else’s life a better life.”

For the Kletschers, that service to others traces back to my great grandfather, Rudolph Kletscher, a German immigrant. In 1890, he started a mission church at his home near Vesta in southwestern Minnesota. The families who met in his farmhouse would eventually organize St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, where I worshipped as a child and which my mother and many other relatives still attend today.

I never knew my great grandfather, who died three decades before I was born. But his legacy of community involvement continued when his son Henry, my grandfather, served for many years on the Vesta School Board. When I was attending Vesta Elementary School, I would walk by a plaque just inside the front door engraved with my grandpa’s name. I suppose, subconsciously, that made an impression upon me.

My Uncle Merlin, the family historian, like his father before him, became involved in education by serving on two school boards. His community involvement is too long to list. But suffice to say that Rudolph Kletscher would be impressed with his grandson.

He would also be proud of my Uncle Harold, who held public office for more than 30 years in Vesta. Two of Harold’s sons likewise were elected to office.

In my immediate family, my dad, Elvern, fought on the front lines in the Korean Conflict and was active locally in church and Legion organizations and probably other groups of which I am unaware. He once unsuccessfully ran for Redwood County commissioner.

One of my brothers served several terms as a county commissioner. My older brother was the Westbrook fire chief for many years and his son is currently a volunteer fireman.

My eldest daughter holds a political science degree and today works in the State Capitol complex.

Like my Uncle Merlin, I am proud to be part of a family that gives back via public service.

MY COUSIN JEFF KLETSCHER, who is current president of the Minnesota Association of Small Cities and who served on the Floodwood City Council for 10 years before being elected mayor in 2003—he’s in his fifth mayoral term—was a DFL candidate for the House District 5B seat in northeastern Minnesota.

Jeff finished fourth among five DFLers in Tuesday’s special primary election. It was hard, he says, to be from a small community (Floodwood, population 503) with two big communities (Chisholm, population 4,960, and Hibbing, population 17,071) in the district.

DFL-endorsed candidate and Iron Range attorney Carly Melin easily won the primary with 50 percent of the votes. The 25-year-old is from Hibbing.

I’m not going to pretend that I am informed about northeastern Minnesota politics or the DFL candidates (other than my cousin) who vied for the office vacated by Tony Sertich, the newly-appointed commissioner for the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

But I can tell you that Jeff, like his great grandfather, grandfather and father (my Uncle Harold) before him, is living a legacy of service. He cares about rural and small-town Minnesota. Jeff’s length of public service (nearly 20 years) speaks volumes to me about his dedication to making life better for Minnesotans.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling