A Brief Look Back, while this blog remained quiet…
The last two years have been different, to say the least. Ortonville businesses have gone through some tough times – and our economic development focus combined resources & time to post all information on MNbump so that there was a one-stop resource of information and assistance. It has been amazing to see how our residents strived to support local – which was amazingly evident when the Big Stone Lake Area Chamber created the “COVID-19 Business Support Campaign” and kicked it off with a live telethon hosted by KDIO 1350 AM and on a Facebook Live to take orders for gift certificates in any amount for local businesses – encouraging people to use the cards later as businesses were bouncing back (and some chose to never use the cards, creating a donation). The Chamber had raised over $20,000 before the telethon had started – $80,000 during the telethon – and ended the efforts by raising $107,275 for local businesses – with 2,074 gift certificates and cards – April 1, 2020! Our Chamber has one staff person and some very dedicated volunteers.
A county-wide Concert of Prayer was held on April 5, 2020, in the evening which had Deacon Paul Treinen leading the prayer for the sick, Pastor McKewin a prayer for Health Care, Pastor David Homrighausen for the vulnerable & afraid, Pastor Phil Oslund for Economic and Business, Pastor David Tonn for leaders, Pastor Lynn Thomas for Students, Teachers & Schools, Pastor Nissen for Churches, Pastor Richard Larson for Essential Works and Minister Jim Rach for Police & Sheriff – along with Franky Koval, Jon Rogers, and Julie French provided music! Wow – looking back on this event – it was amazing! Back when I’d only been on a few Zoom meetings and had just read through some of the capabilities – I was asked by Mary Ross if a Concert of Prayer could be held online and somehow tied in with the radio broadcasting… I talked with Julie French with KDIO 1350 AM – and told Mary “Sure, I think we can do that”. Of course, all the clergy and music were each at their own locations and so was everyone joining. Everyone could either listen live from KDIO, watch via Zoom or they could watch on Facebook Live (that was the plan, and it worked!) The moment when we were to go live, I was sitting in my living room with a laptop…. I remembered thinking of the commercial “No, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night” commercial – then said a quick prayer and went live. Everything went as scheduled/planned – amazing! Such an awesome evening of coming together!
On one more looking back… as it pertains specifically to the City of Ortonville… The City received $136,818 in CARES funding on the first round – and with true dedication to our businesses, utilized $105,399 of that funding to provide grants to Ortonville businesses. With so much turmoil and unknown… it was amazing to be living in a community and County that pulled together to support one another.
We were fortunate to have so many outdoor opportunities while we were socially distanced… check out this blog post on MNbump – https://mnbump.com/living-rural-during-a-pandemic/ — we were also very fortunate to have great health care, public safety, and first responders of every kind!
Now, to kick off this blog again – what’s happening in Ortonville!
A few current projects the Ortonville EDA is working on and some great community highlights:
Child Care! Working with a core group of community members and organizations, we are going through the Rural Child Care Innovation Program through First Children’s Finance. Goal? Expand the infant and toddler slots within the area covering the Ortonville School District as well as find community goals to support the existing childcare programs that are in operation. LINK to more info
eCommerce Training for Businesses – working with Big Stone Area Growth and their Blandin grant to bring training to our businesses to expand sales online!
Local family – Artie & Krista Arndt has purchased the Econo Lodge – most know Artie from Artie’s Bait & Tackle and Krista as an awesome Child Care provider for years, here in Ortonville. Check out my interview with Artie…
Lakeshore Wonders has opened on Main Street in Ortonville with homemade ice cream – along with so much more – what a summer treat that will be for those coming back to their lake cabins & summer homes!
The last 1.3 miles of the bike trail will be paved in 2023! The trail connects Ortonville’s Lakeside Park to the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge. For more details check out this LINK!
Northside Park is getting ready for Summer Rec – and was just awarded a grant from Countryside Public Health SHIP to install an outdoor bottle filler w/drinking fountain – which I’m sure will be well used during Summer Rec practices and hosting their games! For more information on signing up for Summer Rec check out this LINK
Riverside Park Campground has received electrical updates – and is very conveniently located to the bike trail, fishing, groceries, downtown eateries, and shopping – and near a free RV Dumpsite. $10/night. For more information, check out this LINK.
The recent performances from the Ortonville School Theater Department have been amazing!
The Ortonville Park Board met last night at their regularly scheduled meeting – I’m writing to cover just a couple of their agenda items.
In new business, Scott Simmons announced he would be stepping down from the Board – but stressed he would be happy to help on projects and assist in an advisory role when the Board calls on him. I’m covering this item to take a moment to extend a HUGE THANK YOU for the work that he has done on the Park Board – and his many volunteer hours planning and creating Ortonville Central Park’s new Disc Golf course last summer (you can follow their updates on the Central Park Disc Golf Facebook Page) I’ve added a few photos of their work to reflect what a major undertaking this was by Scott and the many awesome volunteers. Scott is the Manager of the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge and Wetland Management District and also serves as the Coordinator/Manager for the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge – just a little extra note on the expertise Scott brings to our parks as a volunteer!
And also under new business – I was very excited to hear– the Board plans to review the work and presentations that were previously compiled from the National Parks along with the community survey that had been collected to review park usage and ranking input for the City park system.
The Ortonville City Council, the Ortonville Planning Commission, and the Ortonville Park Board had voted unanimously to support the City’s application to the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Community Assistance Program (with staff assistance provided by the Ortonville EDA) for the preparation of an overall Park and Recreation Plan for the City.
The assistance came through the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program.
I am posting information from this previous work/research so that we can all take a refresh on the presentations that they will be reviewing. The students who had prepared the presentations did so through new eyes on the parks and from information about our community that had been provided before they arrive in Ortonville. Their work is intended to spark thoughts on what can be created within our park system. There is more information that they provided and I will be gathering that and including it on this post at a later date. Enjoy the review of information – and if you feel so moved – attend a future Park Board meeting and share input or offer assistance! Summer Rec is already organizing for the 2021 season and it sounds like there could be some new and interesting activities – keep a watch out for more information on that! The Parks Board meets the first Wednesday of the month at 6:15 p.m. in the Community Center.
During this process, there was a Community Survey taken in regard to the Parks. Below are the results.
It has been a long few months for the majority of our small-town businesses – and today, June 10th, marks a day that truly gives a lifeline to many of our hardest-hit establishments. They are not open to full capacity yet – but this surely helps! Our Restaurants and bars – while some were able to offer curb side service and delivery it was difficult to cover the expenses – and then they were able to add capacity by utilizing outdoor seating. While outdoor seating was still very limited to the number of people they could serve, many were excluded from the opportunity due to their location and space and of course the investment that would be required in order to provide that outdoor seating. BUT, today is a better day. It was great to drive through our Main Street and see so much activity just before noon today (header photo).
The best way we can show support for these businesses that have invested so much in our community is to walk through their door and ENJOY! Today we celebrate all of our businesses in Ortonville and look forward to the day they can expand to full capacity!
Below are a few of our latest businesses that have been able to expand during the latest COVID-19 updated regulations.
And during this time, Hasslen Construction built (investing even more in Ortonville than they already have!) a new storage building – picture below.
Looking at the past 10 years… listing the businesses that have made major capital investments (investing in the permanent structures & securing our brick and motor tax base in the City of Ortonville for years yet to come). Investing in our town. I personally have found this list to be impressive! Let’s take a few minutes to reflect and celebrate these awesome investments in our community! – and if you see that I missed someone, give me a shout by using the contact form on this website. (you’ll see a photo and then a very brief description – click on each of their links to see more about each business)
Bluestem Dental photo taken during construction. Parking lot is now paved & building complete.
Bluestem Dental – or newest business and building in town which just recently opened. The lots were cleared and construction began… what a conversation piece as we anxiously awaited the completion! Located on First Street and houses 10 jobs.
Lingonberry Lodge on Main Street (2nd Street)
Lingonberry’s Pastry & Coffee Shop
Lingonberry Lodge a beautiful lodging option overlooking Main Street and right next door to Lingonberry’s Pastry and Coffee Shop which opened earlier but within this current 2020 10-year capital improvement review. Khadija (pictured above right) is a “Clinton” girl that has come home to Big Stone County – how’s that for a possessive attachment on my part to the owner of these two businesses? 🙂
Ortonville Mercantile & Gallery
Ortonville Mystery Games (escape room fun – always changing!)
Then there is Greg & Sue Lockwood that made three investments seemingly one right after the other! They invested in a home, restored it and now is one of our short-term rental options – then they restored the “old bank building” – and I mean restored!! — to house the Ortonville Mercantile & Gallery. This is a great stop even if you’re not shopping & just want to walk through and see the details of their amazing restoration… original doors from other historic buildings, the bricks, and beams which are all truly fascinating to stop in and see. Of course, I’ve yet to stop in this business without finding something to purchase before I leave! (maybe I need to learn a little self-control?!)
Northridge Apartments are located just north of the ball fields and south of the new building lots – and close to the golf course, senior housing, and municipal swimming pool.
Northridge Apartment Complex
It is pretty exciting to have this facility get a complete makeover into market-rate apartments! The City of Ortonville/Ortonville EDA Housing Committee worked with the Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) (Housing Institute Program) for an 18-month course looking at Ortonville housing needs. MHP also assisted with our housing study. The first request to review our housing study is now the current owners of this building and major remodeling is underway. We are very excited to see this project completed!
This building was originally completely (and beautifully!) updated by Julie Anderson & Dale Anderson and is now with new owners (Brenda and Sarah Keller, mother/daughter). An excellent stop – check out the link to their Facebook page and scroll through the delicious dishes they serve!
Jacob Bollman, OD and Todd Trudel, OD purchased this building and with major investment converted this space to a beautiful eye clinic and also made it possible for Woodland Centers to come to Ortonville also!
Wow. You do not need to be in the market to buy a bike in order to enjoy (really enjoy!) stopping at the Old American Bike Barn when you’re in town! There is always something new (old…) – the inventory is always changing. I remember when I stopped in shortly after they opened and Kevin told me they had to take the website down until they could figure out how to handle the inquiries! Tough problems to have when you open! ha Stop in and talk with Tina or Kevin!
One of Ortonville’s historic buildings – saved! What an amazing restoration while keeping retaining so much of the history. Not sure I’m comfortable talking history about a building that spent many a night roller skating on these beautiful floors! Roller skating is still drawing our youth to gather and enjoy – and the facility continues to provide wonderful accommodations for weddings and other large venues. Only now with a much-updated facility/amenities. Thank you, Mark & Sheila Thompson!
Kandi Hamann has an amazing flower shop – and then she also purchased the building next door, opened up/connected the buildings and has provided additional space for the flower shop and also space brought two new businesses into town – Arachne Yarns and Richard Krogstad’s studio! For special occasions (especially during the holiday seasons, there are additional vendors that “pop-up” for an extended weekend shopping event also. What an addition to downtown!
The Smallest Art Gallery – connecting two buildings. Both restorations/investments made in the last few years.
Kathy Marihardt. Where do I begin!? We have a community of amazing artists in Big Stone County and the surrounding area, with Kathy being one. So many art activities utilizing various spaces in the school and buildings throughout Ortonville… then Kathy quietly purchases a building displaying her art along with hosting artists from the area and quite some distances away to show their art – with a “meet the artist” evening for each. What an experience! When the building next door became available, she purchased it and went to work rehabilitating that building to expanded her space. There is always something new!
With a major rehab to convert this very large industrial space to house retail and office space, along with showroom and storage – Dustin created an amazing space along Highway 75 by utilizing a building that had sat empty for some time and was in need of the upgrades. The perfect space and location for this business!
This building was originally built by Brad Snortum for his landscaping business. He later built (another capital investment in Ortonville!) on First Street. Amy and Darren Lang purchased this building and converted the building to house Helping Hands Therapeutic Massage & Body Works which is their daughter, Kelly. They also provided space for KDIO 1350 AM Radio – which thankfully the timing was perfect since a storm had totaled the building that they had been located in for many years – and we were now fortunate to keep them in Ortonville with the use of this space! (The Lang’s would make a very good “blog story” someday… they’ve moved to the area, transformed this building & opened Kelly’s business, their son Troy has an excavating service and although Darren has full-time business that he works out of town – he also has started a quality duck guide service for Big Stone County hunting along with trips for duck hunting in Maine. They also have a short-term rental lodge and RV spaces to accommodate their hunters. And don’t let that leave you wondering what Amy does… she helps it all run smoothly!
Conroy’s updated this building which had been a clinic building years ago, housed the City Office for a short period of time and then was empty. Thankfully, Chris and Traci found potential in this building and invested to update and convert this space to meet their needs.
In the past 10 years, Larry’s has remodeled the front inside and out and then converted the back to useable office space. Tuckpointing, new roof and new interior walls & floor and new HVAC!
It takes some investment to tuckpoint an older building of this size! The Swihart’s also restored the upper floor to living space – what a view of Main Street (and the Lake) they must have from up there!
Investors Advisory Management Group – Ortonville Office
What an area success story! They were established in 1990 by two physical therapists – Paul Treinen and Wade VanDover – in the basement of the Ortonville Hospital. They now consist of over 30 clinics in several states! (Link to the location map) The old Ortonville Hospital had set empty for a number of years before Big Stone Therapies purchased and started the renovations which were no small undertaking. We are fortunate to still have this building still standing strong in Ortonville — and to have Big Stone Therapies continue headquartering out of this area.
Dan & Brenda Kafka made a move to Main Street in Blair Johnson’s building for a major expansion – and then purchased the building next door to combine the two building into yet another expansion! This Main Street business has quite a reach bringing in customers from all over the state and beyond.
And… who kicked off the amazing updates to downtown Ortonville? Blair Johnson! We lost the original structure on this lot to a fire and we were fortunate that Blair decided to expand his business and build a brand new building in its place to keep his expansion on Main Street. They say this type of investment can have a domino effect – and in this case that appears to have happened!
It is great to see two new structures built at one of our main entrances into Ortonville – Dollar General on the Southeast corner and Casey’s General Store (below) on the Northwestern Corner. With the Museum & Chamber located on the Southwestern corner and the Municipal Airport located on the Northeastern corner – all provide a very nice entrance to our community!
And, speaking of Ortonville Area Health Services and community investment… we need to give a shout out to an amazing Doctor who has been a pillar for both – our Dr. Bob Ross!
Dr. Bob was the recipient of the 2019 Rural Health Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Bob joined the Ortonville medical staff in 1977 and hasn’t sat still since. In 1989, Dr. Bob and his partners formed the Big Stone Health Care Foundation. The Foundation, along with Dr. Bob and the entire Board’s vision, has provided health care opportunities to our community that otherwise would not have been possible. We thank Dr. Bob, his wife Mary, and their entire family for the sacrifices that have been made in order for him to be one of the leaders for his partners, the staff, and most importantly his patients. Congratulations, Dr. Bob!
The first Wednesday of the month was a busy time – so in reviewing what Wednesday would work better… with the Chamber meetings on the 2nd Wednesday, we’ve moved the new scheduled date for the Social Media Lunch to the third Wednesday of the month. (However, to note, there will be no meeting in February) We can discuss the 2020 schedule further at our next meeting to make sure this fits and schedule accordingly.
January’s Topic: Facebook Event Pages
Why are they important
How to Create a Facebook Event
A hint on the “why”… there are a few reasons, but one is that your event can be added to the MNbump Event listings for the County. As of today’s insights, the MNbump Facebook page has reached 8,742 different Facebook users over the past 28 days – but we not only reached them… the stats show that the posts in the last 28 days received 11,728 engagements (which is the number of times people have engaged with our posts in the last 28 days – likes, comments, shares). So, when we connect your event with our Facebook page, you’ll be reaching more people! … and of course, we’ll discuss the other advantages too.
Reminder: These are informal lunch meetings where everyone brings their own lunch and drink – and joins in conversation after the initial presentation.
If you missed the last lunch, you missed a good one! 🙂 Video below.
November’s Social Media lunch was held on November 20th with Kelley Nemitz of 360 Design House, Inc. We had a number of our “regulars” that could not make it to the presentation that day so Kelley was kind enough to let me videotape so that they were able to view later. And, since then has ok’d my request to post the video on our website for all of our businesses to view! The handouts from the presentation are being emailed to those that had registered for the meeting. Check out the Gallery section (LINK) of her website for examples of her work.
On a side note, it was great to have Jackie Turner of the Southwest Initiative Foundationjoin us for this Social Media Lunch! Jackie and the Foundation were instrumental in starting our Social Media Lunch program several years ago. Things have evolved but the concept is still in place.
This was a great presentation – hope you get a chance to take a look! I did not include the question and answer portion at the end – which was very interesting; however, there were some questions and discussions that were a bit more personal to a business or two and best left out of this public viewing. (to be a part of those conversations, you need to join us for lunch!)
We will have a speaker/presenter from Canby for this month’s Social Media Networking Lunch.
We are changing up the “Wednesday” to November 20th Time: Noon Location: Ortonville Media Center, 412 2nd St NW, Ortonville, MN
(lower level of the Ortonville Library)
Branding is one of the most important parts of your business. An effective brand strategy will set you apart from the crowd, tell your unique story, help you attract your ideal customers, and establish trust, all while staying true to who you are. Whether you are starting a new business, or just need to clarify your existing one, crafting an effective brand strategy is essential.
If you’re thinking about branding but you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, join us on November 20th. Kelley Nemitz from 360 Design House will present the basics of branding and give tips on how to get started. Topics will include:
What is a brand?
Telling your brand story
What is my brand purpose?
Defining your ideal customer
Establishing brand positioning
Crafting your brand style (logo, colors, fonts, images, grids/layouts, tone of voice…)
Reminder: These are informal lunch meetings where everyone brings their own lunch and drink – and joins in conversation after the initial presentation.
If you plan to attend the meeting, please fill out the form below – so that I can gauge if we have enough seating. However, if you do not RSVP and at the last minute decide to come – please do!
Of course, I’ll start out with a picture of the amazing brunch (peach french toast with sausages) that was catered by Crazy Apron Catering. It was truly as delicious as it looks!
I’m a member of one of our local organizations in Ortonville that gets together once per month (September through May) and enjoys great food, conversation and a presentation by a person or organization from the area. This month’s presentation was a delightful (and humorous) share by Claudia Sellin on her book “You Can be Anything You Want to Be! Says Who?” The video below provides an introduction to the book – then she went on to share various pieces of the book… which were so relatable and hilarious! I’ve just started the book… and picked up a few copies which will make perfect gifts! As one of the MNbump bloggers, I find this book to have an extra interest… reading about the life of someone who also grew up in Ortonville (bonus for me: as a babyboomer), moved away and has now returned to Ortonville – there seems to be so many of those stories lately and I’d love to hear them all!
On a side note, the MNbump website is currently underway with a new section for businesses, organizations, and churches to help connect our residents. So if you’re looking for an organization to connect with check out this link (updates will be added over the next few weeks): https://mnbump.com/all-categories/