What’s Eating Rural America?

Mental Health in our Rural Communities (Part 1)

We are Northerners. We are small-town Americans. We come from hearty stock. Our backs are strong and our wills, even stronger. We don’t like handouts. We work. We live. We persevere. We are mentally tough and emotionally ready.

Or at least we’d like to think so.

Despite being far from the speed and the bustle of the city, regardless of our clean air and pristine water, even with our close-knit communities and disproportionately large numbers claiming faith, we rural folk are not immune to the stress of the modern-day world. We still fall prey to Continue reading “What’s Eating Rural America?”

Cultivating a New Kind of Crop

Some new farmers moved to town last year. You might have noticed their first crop lit up in yellow and green along the Warroad River as you cross the Highway 11 bridge. Avis and Bill Kennel, the owners of the house with the palm trees, certainly wouldn’t label themselves farmers, but indeed they have planted a crop, and it will bear fruit. Already has, in fact. Continue reading “Cultivating a New Kind of Crop”

Espe’s Keep the Live Christmas Tree Tradition Alive

Linda and Duane Espe didn’t intend to start a family tradition when they planted trees on a piece of acreage that wouldn’t grow any crops. But, seven years later when family friends began asking if they could come out and cut a Christmas tree, that’s exactly what happened.

Now, 34 years into it, a tradition that bonds not only their own but countless other families is alive and well at Espe’s Christmas Tree Farm, located east of Wannaska on the corner of County Roads 4 and 9 near Hayes Lake State Park. Continue reading “Espe’s Keep the Live Christmas Tree Tradition Alive”

Roseau’s Four Seasons Senior Center

A Place for Everyone

Donut Day. Live music. Lefse making. Shopping. Dancing. Fitness and nutrition classes. Cultural day trips. Extended holiday tours.

This is just a sampling of the many different activities going on each month at Roseau’s Four Seasons Senior Center. Into its 40th year now and after many moves throughout the decades, Four Seasons has been comfortably at home in their current building on Center Street since 1997. During that time, the shingles have worn through, but on the plus side, membership has grown from 120 to 228 (annual + lifetime), and the variety of adventures and educational opportunities available has increased exponentially.

Turns out, having things to do and people to be around is a pretty big deal, especially for Seniors. Continue reading “Roseau’s Four Seasons Senior Center”

Wannaska survives the trends of rural decline

Rural America faces plenty of economic challenges, from the sharp decline in the number of family farms and, in turn, the small-town economies that supported them, to the disproportionate reliance on manufacturing jobs, to a severe shortage in child-care providers.

Of course, these are broad-stroke issues within a greater problem facing the country at large, but despite the gloomy outlook touted by commissioned studies, universities, and rural betterment institutes across our 50 states, there are still small community success stories happening everywhere you look.

Wannaska is one such story. Continue reading “Wannaska survives the trends of rural decline”

Warroad Alum walks 50 miles to help raise $405K for MS Research

At mile 49, physically weary from two and a half days of walking in 90-degree weather, Abby Wilmer stopped and gathered with the others to honor their purpose. 231 walkers, their families and the many volunteers of the Challenge Walk MS had all come together to raise awareness and money for medical research and support programs for people living with multiple sclerosis.

The gathering was emotional, and near the end, Abby and her team “Bee the Change” – named for her family beekeeping business and a forward-looking hope for the future of MS treatment – were invited to the front. Continue reading “Warroad Alum walks 50 miles to help raise $405K for MS Research”

Togetherness: the greatest milestone

Joyce and Melvin Ortmann have known each other forever. Before there was 62 years of marriage. Before there was world travel. Before there was a quiet, shared grief upon losing their only daughter. Before there was a legacy of nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Before all that, they cross-country skied the snowy fields on the outskirts of Warroad while their parents visited over coffee. They played as kids do, tracking the snow, sliding the haystacks, coming back into the house wet and red-cheeked in their childhood joy. Continue reading “Togetherness: the greatest milestone”