Posts Tagged ‘Luverne’

March 1st marked the end of one journey and the beginning of another for a remarkable little girl by the name of Amber. She is now part of our family as my youngest daughter and her husband were named permanent legal guardians by the court effective March 1st. This has been a long process but has been worth the wait.

Amber was born a little over 5 years ago to parents who unfortunately were substance abusers. At the age of 3 months she fell ill with meningitis and as a result is severely disabled with numerous chronic health conditions. Her grandmother JoAnne, a friend of ours, realized that her son and his wife could not properly care for Amber so she quit her  job in Minnesota to move to Louisiana. It wasn’t long and she had Amber in her custody and was loving and caring for her and working hard to get her the necessary medical care .

In September of 2005 Hurricane Rita hit the Gulf Coast and as a result, JoAnne and Amber had to evacuate. They were unable to return to their home and after being shuffled around ended up in a shelter for hurricane victims where JoAnne connected with some medical personnel from the Mayo Clinic. They were able to look after the medical needs of Amber and strongly suggested that she leave Louisiana and go back home to Minnesota. Arrangements were made to have a friend fly down and the two of them packed up JoAnne’s car and headed north.

Amber and JoAnne got settled into Luverne with the help of friends and JoAnne began the task of seeking proper medical care for her granddaughter. The Mayo Clinic was accessible, with the help of her contacts made in Louisiana, and Amber was able to get a proper evaluation of her medical needs. They were able to establish a routine and JoAnne went back to work. Amber was enrolled in Children’s Care Hospital and School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where she could receive therapy during the day.

My daughter, Alicia, was working at Children’s Care while working on her nursing degree so it seemed only natural that JoAnne would ask her to care for Amber when she was working and Amber was not in school. Alicia and her fiance David, learned  how to care for Amber but also bonded and grew to love her during this time.

In October of 2006 tragedy struck again. Amber’s father had decided to get on a bus and come to Minnesota to visit his child and mother. He never made it. He was found dead on the bus in Kansas City. JoAnne was devastated. Her son had his faults but she still loved him. She buried her son in Louisiana and returned to continue with her life.

That life would be tragically cut short. On April 4, 2007, less than 6 months after laying her son to rest, JoAnne, at the age of 55, had unexpected massive fatal stroke. We were all shocked and saddened. Amber had lost a caring grandmother who probably saved her life and we all lost a dear friend. After the funeral attention immediately turned to Amber. Who would care for her? Who had the legal right to care for her? Those questions would take almost two years to be answered.

Amber was placed at Children’s Care until a temporary foster home could be found. My daughter and her husband, without hesitation, decided that they wanted her in their home. JoAnne had spoken highly of them to her family so they were in agreement that Amber would do well with Alicia and David. Once all the legalities were taken care of Amber was placed in their home. I had my concerns that they were taking on more than they could handle but when I thought about it, I knew the bond and love between them was strong. I knew my daughter had the medical knowledge and experience. I also knew that her background prepared her to be an advocate for what was in Amber’s best interest.

Permanent placement was still an issue. Amber’s mother had already lost  custody of her and another sibling so that was not an option. It looked like David and Alicia would get permanent custody of Amber. But things are never as easy as they look. Amber’s maternal grandmother decided that she might want to have custody of the child. Thus, the long legal process began. There were many hearings, delays, more hearings, home studies, depositions, etc. The local Rock County Family Services agency was totally involved in the process. As advocates for Amber, they were in agreement that she should stay with my daughter and her husband. A guardian ad litem was appointed by the court and I must say that he worked tirelessly to keep Amber here. Rock County’s interest was of course represented by the county attorney and Amber’s mother had an attorney appointed for her. The testimony of the medical team that had knowledge of Amber’s condition was very important. They were all in agreement that because of Amber’s fragile health a move would not be in her best interest.

A two day trial was finally scheduled for January of this year and we all anxiously awaited the day. The parental rights of Amber’s mother were to be terminated which would allow the court to then decide custody. We were confident that all the evidence, testimony, and depositions would make the decision easy but always aware that the biological family has an edge. On day one of the trial there was another delay. Alicia and David waited anxiously. After several hours it was apparent what was going on. Amber’s mother had decided unexpectedly to voluntarily agree to allow the court to appoint David and Alicia as permanent legal guardians. This action by her was a surprise but I believe it was  an act of love for her child. She knew that she could not provide the necessary care.

We are all elated of course that Amber will stay as part of our family. She has touched all of our lives. Her dog, Rose, watches her like a hawk. Logan, the newest member of David and Alicia’s family converses with her in their own special way. We have all  learned a lot about the court system, family services, disabilities and being advocates for those who cannot speak for themselves. Amber’s medical condition is very precarious at times but Alicia and David are able to recognize when she is in distress and take appropriate action. We do not know how long she will be with us so we treasure every day that she teaches us about life.






Peace & solidarity,



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Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District Congressman Tim Walz drove to the end of the world district today (a few minutes more and he would have been in South Dakota)  for a listening session about the economic stimulus package recently passed the the U.S. House of Representatives. One of several throughout the 1st district over the last couple of days, the event in Luverne was well attended. walz-luverne-jan-30-09-aLocal elected officials, school administrators, business people from the private sector, ag interests, social workers, organized labor and concerned citizens were there to hear what the congressman had to say and to ask questions and share their concerns.

Congressman Walz was straightforward about the seriousness of the

Congressman Walz making a point.

Congressman Walz making a point.

economic crisis we face as a nation as well as the pros and cons of the stimulus package. He would have preferred more infrastructure spending (as do I) but also touted the fact that the transparency measures are unprecedented. The congressman and his staff received valuable input on projects from the assembled crowd and will use that information to pass on to state government officials who will eventually receive the stimulus money and be tasked with its distribution. They will also use the information gathered today in Luverne and from previous listening sessions to help shape the final look of the stimulus package. The Senate will deal with the legislation next and eventually the two legislative bodies will have to reach an agreement on the final package. Representative Walz  says this will all be done by February 15 but there is still time for citizen input.  A Bluestem Prairie has a summary of the plan posted here.

I continue to be impressed with the Congressman’s willingness and eagerness to constantly get out and meet with the people he represents. There may be more voters  in Rochester and Mankato but he also came to Luverne because he sincerely wants to represent all the people of the 1st District.



Oh, just one more thing. My youngest of five grandchildren, at 11 months, had his first face to face meeting with a congressman. It was a proud moment.



Peace & solidarity,


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DFL Senate candidate Al Franken stopped in Luverne last Thursday as part of his “Standing up for Minnesota Tour. He spoke at the Coffey Haus and toured the local ethanol plant. Lori Ehde from the Rock County Star Herald has the story here.

Thanks to the Star Herald for the video.

UPDATE: Here is link to the video page:


Sorry for the inconvenience


Peace & solidarity,


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Minnesota’s 1st CD Congressman Tim Walz(D) has been working hard in Washington D.C. on energy issues and recently issued a press release about the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008, H.R. 5351. Ollie Ox over at Bluestem Prairie covers it in detail here.

Minnesota Central looks at the tax and job creation implications in his post: Vote 51: Minnesota Jobs at stake while Congress chooses whose Tax Break to Extend.

Meanwhile, here in SW Minnesota local folks are working hard to prove that renewable and alternative energy is real and viable. Wind turbines are popping up and generating electricity and income due to a cooperative effort among local farmers and community members. Minwind LLC of Luverne, with over 300 members, has 11 turbines and plans to build more. Many of these people were instrumental in building the ethanol plant in Luverne owned by AgriEnergy LLC. The November/December 2007 issue of Rural Cooperatives published by the USDA highlights the Minwind project. New transmission lines are currently being constructed along I-90, creating good paying jobs.

 Here is a short (37 sec.) slide show


and since the title of this post is a Dylan tune here is a video of him performing in 1963. Enjoy!


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More water woes!

GW released his 2009 budget today and one of the casualties was the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. News reports from KELOTV and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader state that the LCRWS will receive nothing, nada, zilch in the Bush 2009 budget. When completed, Lewis & Clark will provide safe, reliable drinking water to over 300,000 people in the tri-state area. Members in southwest Minnesota include Luverne, Worthington, Rock County Rural Water, and Linclon-Pipestone Rural Water. The project has been backed by 1st CD Rep. Tim Walz, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Norm Coleman and Governor Tim Pawlenty.

I am waiting to see what the reaction from our elected officials in Minnesota will be.

For more budget info go to A Bluestem Prairie for some informative links on other casualties of the Bush budget.

Peace & solidarity


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