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Why is it such a surprise when we find people with community ties involved in great things? Someone is involved with admirable things somewhere, so why not here? 

There are so many accomplished people in this area. Some are recognized, but there are many more who are active but we don't recognize.

In this past week I was reminded that Sander Jellum, who grew up in Ellendale, was witness to the flag raising at Iwo Jima in 1945.

It is noteworthy that Hunter Pence, son of Howard Pence, whose family ties have been long and strong in the Geneva area, plays major league baseball for the San Francisco Giants and recently was selected to play outfield in the All Star baseball game. Hunter’s team didn’t win, but Hunter was there to play. 

If you're a fan of the HGTV's show, "Brother vs. Brother," you may have watched as Albert Lea graduate Melissa Roche, who has her own design studio in Las Vegas, won $50,000. She competed as one of 10 contestants. Melissa was described as having creativity “unmatched in this competition.”

Jonathan and Drew Scott of the Property Brothers announced Melissa as this year’s winner. The brothers each led teams of five contestants during the competition and Melissa was on Drew’s team. Drew described Melissa as a "team player" and a "workhorse." 

Or how about Whitey Hagen, who picked up a chicken and started a campaign in the community that has gone on to raise over $1 million for Cancer Research in the little town of Geneva?

Or Don Broskoff, who spent two years in Vietnam himself, thinking of all the servicemen and women and wanting them to be remembered brought an Iwo Jima commeration to the Geneva Cemetary.

Or Jim Hanson, who wanted to fly like his uncle, Athan Langlie. His dad said, "Go for it if you've got the time and money." He rode his bike to the airport, mowed lawns, and waited for his 16th birthday so he could solo. He had a plane before he had a car and was licensed to drive. He now manages the Albert Lea airport and writes for five aviation magazines. He doesn't feel his work is a job and has flown to every county in the world except Russia educating school kids and adults in geography and history by documenting events of his flights.

Or Kim Hammer, who turned the former Clarks Grove State Bank into a "pot of gold" of information and enjoyment by opening it as a book store sharing her love of books to everyone.

Or Tom Lenort, who was just a kid when he started saving dead animals and fish, and is now known throughout the area for his workmanship as he saves memories of "the one that didn't get away" for many hunters and fishermen.

Or Warren Sorenson, who fell while painting and broke his back. He had a family to feed and a friend, "Squeak” Torgerson, who let him tend his gas station during his rehabilitation, something his doctor might not have approved of. "Squeak, who was an electrician and also sold appliances, later sold his business to Sorenson, and you guessed it. Salesmanship, trust and service turned it into the employment for many as it became the best known appliance store in the country. His son and grandson carry on the tradition.

Then there is Ashley Meyers, the little gal from around Hope who makes aprons and was featured in Martha Stewart magazine. Looking for a simple quality "work apron," she couldn't find one, so she bought drill quality material, moved her sewing machine to a shop on their acreage and thrilled many who were looking for something simple and sturdy.

Or the lady near Clarks Grove who started personalizing cake pans and went on to personalize almost anything for her wide array of customers.

And more.

Mike and Michelle Peterson had a passion for plants and launched one of the first tomato greenhouses in the neighborhood. Sonshine Gardens was built on faith and a very green thumb. Michelle said her biggest thrill is watching for the seeds she plants awaking to be strong, sturdy plants. Geraniums and other flowers shared some space and a new desire blossomed. Over 2,000 of the cemetery’s flowers blooming in red, white and blue are the work of Michelle and her family adding memorial beauty to area cemeteries.

Sue Stadheim Nasinec became interested in being a mortician when she was in 7th grade, and is now one of the first young women to take on the responsibility of owning and operating a funeral home. She offers services to grief stricken people who have lost loved ones. Why? Because she felt only the best care and concern should be a part of this sad occasion. She went on to buy the business and provides appropriate services for departed loved ones.

The Misgens, once known as cattle buyers, branched from the business of trucks and semis and into "junk" that isn't junk, but valuable replacement parts needed in the automotive business, as well as disposal of metals for recycling.

Hope started as a milk pick-up on the railroad. I know because my grandma was there. Hope didn't grow a lot during those early years but it provided necessities and services - groceries, hardware, fuel and feed and a renown depot for cattle to be sold. The name Ed Oliphant "comes to mind” but later Krause’s was a big part of transferring cattle to market. 

Some things change; though no longer a cattle exchange, Krause’s grew into a 24 hour gas station, a place to buy feed for livestock and pets, plus furniture like feeders and fences. It fills the void of the grocery store and hardware that are no longer there, and is a hub of this small community. 

Did I say, small community? It is, but it is a valued asset. 

When the creamery was about to close, Victor Mrotz was looking for "that something special” and found it in the creamery where he could continue the tradition of Hope Butter, known from coast to coast for its special flavor reminiscent of the butter churned in a special way, slow and carefully so the flavor is unique.

Sun Opta is a grain facility that is instrumental in providing food for human consumption that is organic, safe and nutritious. It goes through a strenuous inspection and process beyond what is necessary for animal uses.

And right next door is competition so large it fits the nation. Still in construction, the facility will allow customers to quickly unload their grains to be sent by train or truck to shipping lanes around the country.

There is more to explore and realize. We are an area rich in quality and steeped in tradition. When they say “there is no place like home,” they must be talking about here.

Some of our Star Eagle readers have commented they like to read about events such as family and school reunions, birthdays and anniversaries, and birth and wedding announcements. In order to read about these important things we need our faithful readers to pass along the information to us. Also if you have an idea for a story that you think would be of interest to our readers, please contact me. 

If you have birthdays and anniversaries you would like include, or news to share please contact me via e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; by postal mail, P. O. Box 192, Geneva, MN 56035 or telephone, 507-256-4405.

This weeks birthdays and anniversaries include:

• Thursday, July 24: Marilyn Goslee Jurrens, Robert Carter Edwards, Katie May, Joy Peterson, Pat Schultz, Jeff Thompson, Phillip Briggs, Denise & Richard Olson, Trisha & Casey Johnson, Greg & Shari Lassahn

• Friday, July 25: Sue Hill, Kari Janka Hareid, Stan Mork, Ivy Oland, Ann Falksen, Rick Hagen, Cole Pospesel, Kristine & Jesse Routh

• Saturday, July 26: Jordyn Marie Wobschall, Kristine Broskoff Routh, Mark Bartness, Jane Osmundson, Amy Radke, Jean Smith, Scott & Cheryl Christensen and Clara White, her 104th birthday. Wouldn't it be nice if we all could shower her with special greetings on her big day! Cards, letters and special greetings can be mailed to Clara at the Onalaska Care Center, at 1600 Main Street, Onalaska, Wisconsin, 54650.

• Saturday, July 27: Ben Groth, Lori Dirksen, Nita Dooley, Mark Helmers, Nicki Spurr, Rick Spurr, Rhiannon Farr, Alison Underland, Dave Schulz, Kory Klecker, Lillian Rose Olson, Steve & Jinny Nielsen, Travis & Ashley Broskoff, Marguerite & Milton Nelson

• Sunday July 28: Mike Luhring, Kari Wayne, DeWayne Jensen, Dennis Jensen, Penny Jensen, Eric Lee, Christian Burnes, Donnie Turvold, Jim & Maryalice Hanson, George & Sue Stieglbauer, Gary & Emily Ayers, Melissa & Scott Michie, Ellie & Chad Schutrop

• Monday, July 29: Randy Dokken, Doug Flugum, Candie Underland, Jennifer Huber, Dory Hunt, Jim Misgen, Brent Jepson, Lorrell Beaber, Todd Wangen

• Tuesday, July 30: Tregg Hagen, Levi Horvei, Trevin Andrew Stollard, Scott Briggs, Amy Hohansee VanderSyde, Gary Sloan, Cindy Vaith, Larry Jensen, Kay Cassen, Shane Christensen, Cindy Esplan, Dani Layland, Kurt & Kelly Krumwiede, Nathan & Lindsey Schlaak, Jerry & Tanya Blouin

• Wednesday, July 31st: Zane Andrew Miller, Michelle Eaker Stevens, Coni Misgen Evenson, Lorie Paulson, Joan Mast, Brian & Pam Muri

Hope you have a day filled with things that make you smile!

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