Posts Tagged ‘rock county’

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,



Read Full Post »

While looking at pictures for my previous post I came across this one of my family standing next to the Tri-State Marker where Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota’s borders meet. The picture, taken in 1961, is of my siblings and my mother. Of course, Dad was the photographer.


The marker was originally put in place in 1859 and over the years has suffered from vandalism and vehicle damage. I guess putting a concrete monument in the middle of the road wasn’t such a good idea. In 1980 the monument was relocated off the road and actually sits in South Dakota. A flat marker now marks the spot in the road.

Peace & solidarity,





Read Full Post »

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,


Read Full Post »

New faces, new voices.

That was the scene in Rock County tonight as eager participants turned out to voice their preference in the Democratic presidential poll. Attendance was up from previous years and young and old alike were there to express their desire for change.

Vote totals:

Obama    83

Clinton    55

Edwards   1

Richardson  1

The CHC family was well represented as my spouse and I, my son, and my daughter were there in three different precincts. I can’t say we all voted the same but it does make for some interesting family debates. Oh yes, my grandson ( a first grader who is pretty savvy about politics) attended his first caucus.

Peace & solidarity


Read Full Post »

Well, not only is the bridge bad but the water under it leaves a lot to be desired. A few weeks ago I received the Rock River Watershed TMDL Newsletter from the Rock County Land Management office. In the newsletter it says, “Pollution is threatening the Rock River“. It goes on to offer an overview of the problem, lists a project summary, and announces an open house for the public to learn more and discuss possible solutions. Read it here: rock-river-tmdl.pdf

Back in 1994 the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) gave notice that the Rock river was polluted with fecal coliform bacteria at the Minnesota/Iowa border. In 2002 the MPCA said it was also impaired for turbidity. During two open house meetings in Luverne and Edgerton the public was informed of the water cleanup project and given an opportunity to ask questions and provide input. According to the January 26 edition of the Worthington Daily Globe, Work begins to improve Rock River watershed, approximately 70 people were in attendance at the Luverne meeting to listen to the presentation by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Water Resouces Center of Mankato. Another 60 people attended the meeting in Edgerton. The goal of the water quality project is to seek public input and finalize a written plan to clean up the river. Hopefully once this plan is completed there will be financial assistance to assist with the cleanup.

My local newspaper, the Rock County Star-Herald, also covered the meeting in Luverne. In ‘River cleanup process started’ the issue is covered in depth and editor Lori Ehde had these observations:

The Rock River is polluted, and some local livestock producers are afraid fingers are pointing at them.That was the tone of a public meeting Thursday, Jan. 24, that drew nearly 70 people to the Rock County Human Services building to discuss the state’s “impaired” label on the Rock River. The point of Thursday’s meeting was to provide information to the public and to seek public participation in order to garner state and federal dollars for river cleanup.But many at the meeting seemed worried the end result will mean more government restrictions on their livestock operations, and some discussion questioned the validity of the river’s “impaired” status.

The rest of the article is available in their online edition but you will have to give up most of a fifty dollar bill to view it.

In the same issue on the opinion page the Star Herald editorial headline was, The point isn’t who is to blame; the point should be how to clean up the river. Here are a few excerpts from the editorial:

Rock County farmers have long been leaders in soil and water conservation and in lobbying for development of agriculture as a renewable fuel.

and this

What was disappointing to the casual observer was that many of these vocal farmers Thursday night were the same ones who lobbied so aggressively for ethanol and wind subsidies in the name of improving the environment. It begs the question: does the environment matter only when a government check (or an ethanol plant dividend) is attached to the cause?

I have to agree with the Star-Herald that the emphasis should be on cleaning up the river. Certainly we have waited long enough. Rock County farmer Gene “Pucky” Sandager was one of those not sold on the idea and was quoted in the Daily Globe saying: “Take it a little slow, make sure we’re doing the right thing before we go off on a rampage,”  Well, it has been known as early as 1994 of the fecal coliform problem and in 2002 the turbidity issue was identified. Local officials have been working with state and federal personnel since 2006. It is now 2008 and the final report is still a work in progress. Hardly going off on a rampage.

Peace & solidarity,


Read Full Post »

The Rock County Star-Herald ran a story Thursday, December 27 about one of the bridges that I often cross. It appears that the bridge built by the WPA in 1931 that crosses the Rock River is ranked fourth in the state. Normally for Luverne and Rock County to be recognized would be a good thing but this ranking is for fourth worst bridge in the state!

The Worthington Daily Globe also ran a story about its neighbor to the west and the trouble with the bridge. It seems we have a total of 47 bridges that are rated structurally deficient in Rock County. County Engineer Mark Sehr doesn’t seem to be excited about it and seems pleased about the progress they have made on bridge replacement. The suspect bridge (no. 5050) is scheduled to be replaced in 2008.

Nobles County engineer Stephen Schnieder has no immediate concerns for his county bridges but is worried about the future and has a couple of bridges that will need to be replaced soon.

Here is a quote from Schnieder from the Daily Globe article

“Right now, there is no bridge money,” he said. “The last bonding bill was in 2006, and the next one is in 2008 for bridges. If they don’t provide us with any money or not enough, we may end up waiting until 2010 or later to replace these two bridges.”

The New Year is fast approaching and soon after the Minnesota State Legislature will convene. Hopefully they will address our transportation and other important infrastructure needs.

Peace & Solidarity,


Read Full Post »