June & July 2016 Newsletter
Photo by Nikindra Hungerholt
Peterson celebrates Gammel Dag
and Rushford Days begins this week!
Peterson recognized Gammel Dag--the Good Old Days--during the June 18 community celebration. In particular, the town's Norwegian roots were highlighted with Nordic Dancers, Fjord horse, Hardanger Fiddler, Norwegian language lessons, and much more. The Friends of Peterson wish to thank the Peterson American Legion for supporting Gammel Dag Fest in many ways, the many volunteers that worked to make it a success, and everyone who came out to enjoy the weekend's activities! Photos from Gammel Dag below:

Rushford Days--began last night, July 11, with the Queen Pageant at the R-P High School Gym.  Congratulations to Queen Taylor Warnken, 1st Attendant Katie Mensing, and 2nd Attendant Ellen Nelson! The Little Miss Rushford Peterson Valley is Larissa Ryan, with 1st Attendant Evelyn Hertling. 
Events continue throughout the week but culminate with live music by Trouble Shooter on Friday night, the Dweebs Saturday night, and a relatively new band from the area, Mama's Boys, on Sunday night, as well as the Grand Parade on Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. View or print the complete Rushford Days schedule of events here.
Chamber Activities
Senator Jeremy Miller visited with Chamber members on June 30 at the Andor Wenneson Inn in Peterson. He provided a re-cap of the 2016 legislative session, detailing what was accomplished and the work that remains for a potential special
Purple Caucus. Senator Miller is a co-founder of the Purple Caucus, a group that strives to break down party lines and build relationships on a more personal level among state legislators. Of 67 state senators, 20 have joined the Purple Caucus and are representative of both major parties. In 2015, the group's priorities included increased funding for E-12 education, increased funding for child protection services, and a long-term transportation plan. The first two of these were accomplished during the first year of the biennial session. In 2016, the Purple Caucus's priorities were a long-term transportation plan, a tax bill, and a bipartisan bonding bill. The outcome of these priorities is further detailed below. An item that the Purple Caucus intends to pursue during the next legislative session is transparency, and in particular, a bill that would require Conference Committee Reports to be out of committee one week prior to the end of the legislative session, thus giving legislators and the public more time to understand the particulars of a bill before action is expected.
Supplemental Budget Bill. Senator Miller reviewed some of the items that were included in a successful supplemental budget bill that became law during the past session. The action included additional funding for E-12 education and higher education, investments toward border-to-border broad band, and a tax exemption on military pension income for veterans.
Tax Bill. A bipartisan supported tax bill passed both the Minnesota House and Senate and included tax relief for veterans, farmers, low to middle income households, and small businesses;  and an increase in Local Government Aid and County Program Aid. The tax relief for businesses would come in the form of an exemption on the first $100,000 of value on the commercial/industrial statewide property tax. The tax relief for farmers would come in the form of a credit for property taxes paid towards school referendums. Farmers would pay their property tax bills but receive a tax credit of up to 40 percent of the amount they paid in property taxes towards school referendums--both new and existing referendums. Unfortunately, Governor Dayton pocket vetoed the bill by refusing to sign due to a drafting error. Senator Miller said that in the past drafting errors have been corrected through "letters of intent," but the governor would not accept such a letter in this case. Therefore, one reason to call for a special session would be to correct the drafting error and have the tax bill become law.
Bonding/Transportation Bill.  A bonding bill requires a three-fifths majority in both the House and Senate. The bonding bill that passed the House at 11:45 p.m. on May 22--just 15 minutes until the deadline when no additional bills could be passed--included $800 million in road and bridge funds and $150 million in water and sewer infrastructure funds. In our area, the bonding bill would have funded the Lanesboro Dam reconstruction and the Winona State University Education Village. Upon passing the House, the bill went to the Senate where a metro senator added a light rail amendment to the bill, meaning the bill as amended would now have to go back to the House. However, the House had already adjourned, and therefore, the bill failed to meet the deadline. Again, a special session would provide the opportunity to pass the bonding/transportation bill.
Contact Governor Mark Dayton. Senator Miller encouraged everyone to contact Governor Mark Dayton's office regarding the need for a special session to pass the tax bill and bonding/transportation bill. You may contact the Office of Governor Mark Dayton through his website or via mail:
Office of the Governor and Lt Governor
116 Veterans Service Building
20 W 12th Street
St. Paul, MN 55155

Plan to attend the next Chamber-sponsored workshop   on Thursday, September 29 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Rushford Village Community Center: Roadside Advertising in the Digital Age. Can people find businesses, attractions, and other places in our area with a computer, a smartphone or GPS device? It's not enough to be in the phone book any more. You must have a web presence so
customers and visitors can search for you via Google Maps, Mapquest and similar services. You also want to be found by owners of GPS devices and by the 150 million people using smartphones, such as iPhones and Androids, to get directions and advice on where to go. Location-based mobile applications have revolutionized the way people find and choose places to shop, to eat, to fix their car - you name it. Advertise your community and everything good it offers along the digital highway. University of Minnesota Extension instructors will give us the tools and know-how to make a mark in the digital age. Benefits of attending this workshop include:
  • Understand how today's consumers use location-based services in everyday activities.
  • Learn how to place your business or organization on a variety of digital maps.
  • Make sure the available information about your business or organization is correct.
  • Learn how to maximize your organization's digital map presence.
Lunch will be served during this workshop. Mark your calendars now, and stay tuned for registration details in the August newsletter. 

Root River Trail Towns' second annual 60-mile Garage Sale was June 24-25 and over 50 garage sales were listed between Harmony and Houston on the Google Map, which had nearly 11,000 views. The group plans to continue improving and growing this event in the years ahead and will plan the event for the fourth Friday/Saturday in June each year. The Root River  Trail Towns'  first annual Bluff Country Bluff & Valley Bike Tour  took place July 8-10. About 50 bicyclists from all over the Midwest took part in this ride. The ride started in Whalan on July 8, with overnight stays in Harmony and Houston. A Sunday morning thunderstorm forced many of the riders to skip the planned stop for lunch in Rushford and finish the ride instead. Next year, however, this ride is anticipated to have about 100 bicyclists and will likely include an overnight stay in the Rushford Peterson Valley.
Upcoming Events

Every Wednesday,
4-6:30 p.m.
RP Valley Farmers Market @ Depot
July 12, 2-4 p.m.
Semcac's 50th Anniversary Open House

July 12-14, 16
RASA performs
Old Time Radio Show @ R-P Theater
July 10-31, Sunday evenings 5-7 p.m. 
Live Music @ Peterson Bandstand
July 11-17
Rushford Days
July 16, 8-10:30 a.m.
Mason's Pancake Breakfast @ Masonic Lodge

July 16, register 7 a.m., start 8 a.m.
@ Rushford Depot
July 16, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
 Lions Club Pork Chop Dinner
@ Rushford Legion
September 10,
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
 Taste of the Trail in
Peterson (with Lanesboro & Whalan)

September 24,
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
 Taste of the Trail in Rushford (with Houston)
September 25,
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  SpectaculAir @ Rushford Airport
October 8
Tri-City Challenge: Run, Bike, Hike 
Member Business of the Month 
Metz's Hart-Land Dairy, Creamery & Honey
The Chamber is honoring Metz's Hart-Land Dairy, Creamery & Honey as the Business of the Month, both in recognition of last month's designation as National Dairy Month and this month's designation as National Ice Cream Month.
The Jeff and Mariann Metz family began their  dairy operation in 1983 with 24 cows. After moving to Hart Township in 1985, they gradually grew their dairy herd to the present day size of 210 cows. 

Metz's Hart-Land Creamery was constructed during the fall of 2013. The first batch of cheese was made on July 27, 2014 (Happy Anniversary this month to Metz's amazing cheese!) About 80 percent of their cows' milk goes to Land O'Lakes, and 20 percent is used for making cheese. The Metzes currently produce 8 different flavors of cheese curds and 14 different kinds of farmstead block cheddars. They continue to look at new varieties of cheese to make. Today, 51 markets in Southeast Minnesota carry Metz's cheeses and 21 markets sell their honey. B etween the dairy, creamery and honey, Metz's Hart-Land employs 13 people, full and part time and including both family and non-family members.

Stop by 25909 County Road 102 to purchase the cheeses or honey between 10 
a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Tours are available by appointment. See daily news and information on Facebook and check out metzhartland.com f or available products and online ordering.  The Chamber recognizes Metz's Hart-Land Dairy, Creamery & Hon ey as the Member Business of the Month, commending the Metzes on their continued growth and service in the Rushford Peterson Valley!
News from around the area and beyond...
Nordic Lanes is still looking for a few teams for the Saturday and Sunday Double Elimination Volleyball Tournament. Pool play Saturday then bracket play on Sunday. Cash prizes. Entry is $100 per team. Please call Jim at 507-864-7799.

Minimum Wage increases August 1 for all employers
Visit the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry's webpage regarding minimum wage for how the August 1 increase may affect your business.

SE MN Together releases final report and details projects receiving seed funds
Read the final report. SE MN Together is extremely pleased that four of the projects that were created by participants in the regional conversations have received seed grant funds from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and other projects and services have been initiated without requiring start-up funds. SMIF seed grants totaling $20,000 were awarded to:
  • Transit project which aims to convene public and private transit providers with the goal of coordinating transit services. Contact Brian Carlson: Brian.carlson@wsn.us.com
  • Diversity/Welcoming Communities project which aims to work with regional employers to prepare for recruitment and retention of foreign born workers. Contact Fatima Said: Fatimas@projectfine.org
  • Housing Summit, which will focus on developing affordable workforce housing strategies. Contact Chad Adams: Cadams@ci.albertlea.mn.us
  • Regional Community Video project which will engage high school students in creating short videos about their communities which will then be incorporated into the Journey to Growth regional marketing strategies. Contact Tracy Lauritzen: Tlauritzen@cws.net
Minnesota Secretary of State addresses business growth (from WXOW, 6/29/2016)
Attracting new businesses and the talent for growth was the focus of a meeting in La Crescent on June 29. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is making his way on a tour throughout the state and paid a visit to the Chamber of Commerce in La Crescent. He said they partnered with St. Cloud State University's School of Public Affairs to put together quarterly economic reports by six regions. 
"It's kind of a look in the rear view mirror, talk about where we are now and then some prediction of the future on a quarterly basis. These are new reports, it's fresh information that hopefully will give guidance to individual businesses, to chambers of commerce, to cities and towns as they're recruiting other businesses and what we really want to do is provide a useful service," said Simon. Read the report for Southeast Minnesota here.

CEDA to offer free marketing session for businesses
CEDA is organizing a Marketing in the Morning Business Breakfast on July 28 in Lake City. The topic is Effectively using social media platforms, specifically Twitter, Instagram, etc. Read more...

Editorial: Special Session: DFL, GOP must get plan on taxes, bonding  (from The Mankato Free Press, 7/11/16)
While Minnesotans may have taken their well-deserved vacations and Fourth of July holiday, their leaders are still giving them reason to be annoyed as they wait for the governor and Legislature to come to agreement on a special session. Gridlock on solving very key and basic issues of tax relief and bonding have given Minnesotans reason to be unhappy during their happy season. Read more...

Editorial: Paying attention to our water supply (from the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, 6/30/2016)
Minnesotans have 10,000 good reasons to care about their water resources. And they do, demonstrating it by voting themselves a tax increase in 2008 largely on the strength of an appeal for the value of our lakes, rivers and streams. Beyond that, "there's an alignment of planets right now" when it comes to attention to water issues, the Freshwater Society's Steve Woods told us. He cites among recent headline-makers the Flint, Michigan contamination crisis; a Des Moines water system lawsuit over upstream pollution; and droughts in our Western states and around the globe in India.  As potential lessons from other places get notice, so should a report on the state's groundwater picture issued this spring by Woods' organization, which is dedicated to promoting the conservation, protection and restoration of freshwater resources.  "A growing number of communities continue to over-pump drinking water from declining aquifers while dreaming of further population increases and economic expansion," Woods writes in the first in a series of three reports this year and next. "The realities and the dreams don't match; available supplies won't support future demands unless the community actively manages the situation."  Read more...

Lobbying in Minnesota: Spending has nearly doubled since 2002 (from the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, 7/6/2016) On a warm spring evening inside a Minnesota Senate Building hearing room, the lobbyists were anxiously waiting to see how their clients did in the Legislature's tax plan. So many Capitol-watchers stuffed into the 150-person capacity room that Friday that some sat on floors and others stood in what little space there was to spare. When printouts of the tax plan were finally ready to be distributed that May day, the lobbyists pounced on the documents in a frenzy. That tableau, repeated again and again in Capitol hearing rooms, shows how much Minnesota lobbying has grown. ... The big kahunas in spending have also remained consistent. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which has spent nearly $25 million on lobbying since 2002 on behalf of its thousands of business-member organizations, is a perpetual top spender. While its interests lay heavily on tax and regulatory policy, it also lobbies on transportation, education, environment and other issues. Read more...
R ushford Peterson Valley Chamber of Commerce
Jen Hengel, Coordinator | 507-864-3338 or 507-458-6253
chamber@rushfordpetersonvalley.com | www.RushfordPetersonValley.com