Touch the Sky Prairie
In 2001, the Brandenburg Prairie Foundation (the 501C3 non-profit of nature photographer Jim Brandenburg and his wife Judy) joined U.S. Fish and Wildlife to purchase the first tract of 355 acres of this unplowed prairie. Touch the Sky Prairie became the first Northern Tallgrass Prairie Refuge in western Minnesota and western Iowa totally owned by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The approximately 1,000 acres of native prairie represent a remnant of this continent’s largest ecosystem that covered some 25 million acres. Today, less than 1% (approximately 70,000 acres) of the original Northern Tallgrass Prairie remains intact. The raw beauty of our past is available to the public at Touch the Sky Prairie.
Contact: Todd Luke, US Fish & Wildlife Service, 507-831-2220,
Information about the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Windom Wetland Management District: www.fws.gov/refuge/Windom_WMD/wildlife_and_habitat/index.html
Blue Mounds State Park
Founded in 1937, Blue Mounds State Park is home to a spectacular 1.5 mile rock cliff outcrop used extensively for rock climbing with points 90 feet high. This cliff line represents the most spectacular site of the 11 significant outcroppings along the Sioux Quartzite glacier ridge that begins in New Ulm and ends in Mitchell, SD. The Park also features Minnesota’s first state-owned herd of bison, known throughout the nation for their genetic purity. In 2018, the Park began to offer bison and prairie tours with a DNR naturalist on a specially-designed vehicle funded through the State of Minnesota’s Legacy Funds.
Contact: Chris Ingebretsen, Blue Mounds State Park manager, 507-283-6053,
Information about Blue Mounds State Park at: mndnr.gov/bluemounds
In 2017, The trū Shrimp Company of Balaton, MN announced that Luverne will be the site of the construction of their first large-scale indoor shrimp production facility, called a harbor. Luverne Bay Harbor Complex will contain a shrimp hatchery, a production harbor and a water treatment facility for trū Shrimp’s inland shrimp business. Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2018. The harbor itself will have 9 acres under one roof and produce more than 7 million pounds of shrimp annually. Rock County, one of the only counties in the State of Minnesota without a natural lake, will be growing the nation’s first shrimp produced in this way.
Contact: Jamie Brink-Thordson, trū Shrimp Brand Manager, 507-337-6983 [email protected]
Information about trū Shrimp at: trushrimpcompany.com
Luverne is the home of the Rock County Historical Society’s new museum called the History Center. History Center is home to the Midwest’s largest collection of nutcrackers of all types and sizes. That collection is also the third-largest in the world. Visitors can view 4,000 nutcrackers under one roof – now permanently on display.
Contact: Betty Mann, 507-220-1070
Information about Rock County History Center at: www.rockcountyhistorical.com/new-history-center.html
Herreid Military Museum
Herreid Military Museum in the Rock County Veterans Memorial Building offers two floors of exhibits and artifacts telling the stories of service and sacrifice of Rock County veterans from the Civil War to the present. The museum’s highlights include the stories of WWII veterans like Luverne’s Quentin Aanenson and Charles Mann along with the stories written by Rock County Star Herald publisher Al McIntosh (read by Tom Hanks in the film) were featured in Ken Burns’ 2007 epic documentary “The War.” The RCVMB served the citizens of Rock County as the jail and sheriff’s office from 1900 through 2006. In 2007, through a partnership between Rock County and a multi-million dollar investment by the K.A.H.R. Foundation, the building was completely renovated. It opened in 2009 to house the Herreid Military Museum, Brandenburg Gallery and the Luverne Chamber & CVB who staff the building in return for the use of office space.
Contact: Terrie Gulden, 507-920-9580, [email protected]
or Dave Haugom, 507-283-4061
Information about the Herreid Military Museum at: luvernechamber.com/m/listing/view/user304
Brandenburg Gallery, owned and operated by the non-profit Brandenburg Prairie Foundation, features over 100 prize-winning photographs of Jim Brandenburg, one of the world’s most renowned nature photographers. Brandenburg, born and raised in Luverne, opened this non-profit gallery to support the preservation of Touch the Sky Prairie.
Contact: Luverne Chamber, 507-283-1884
More information at jimbrandenburg.com
Midwest Fire Equipment & Repair Co.
Midwest Fire Equipment & Repair Company in Luverne has been designing and manufacturing high-quality fire tankers and pumpers since 1987. They’re the vehicles used by municipal and volunteer fire-fighting departments all over the U.S., Canada and even worldwide. In 2015 a young entrepreneurial couple – Sarah and Dean Atchison, purchased the company. Sarah had experience working side-by-side with her husband Dean Atchison in manufacturing. The purchase of Midwest Fire Equipment & Repair Company was a perfect complement to another company owned by him—Spectrum Aeromed, which manufactures air ambulance equipment for aircraft and designs air ambulance medical interiors. Sarah took the helm as CEO and led the company in growth, new product development, customer service initiatives and innovation. She has been recognized in the Midwest as one of the top ten female entrepreneurs. Her leadership and team-building skills set Midwest Fire Equipment & Repair apart!
Contact: Sarah Atchison, 507-283-9141, [email protected]
Darcie Johnson, 507-283-9141
More information at: midwestfire.com
Community leaders develop successful plan to grow the city
In 2010, more than 200 citizens, government officials and business leaders came together to identify a vision to grow and strengthen Luverne for residents, businesses and visitors. Within two years, a project plan was developed and adopted. Work started in earnest in collaboration with government, businesses and private individuals. Over the past ten years, city leaders have partnered with private and non-profit partners to revitalize the community. Millions of dollars, both public and private, have improved the quality of life for citizens, business and visitors. Private development includes: 2 fine dining restaurants, a production brewery, a 51 room hotel, meat market, event center, town home developments and retail building improvements. Non-profit development includes: historical museum, movie/performance theater and music school. Public improvements include: outreach campus of Minnesota West, 6 mile biking/hiking trail, water trail development, public water recreation and infrastructure investment. Upcoming projects include construction of new market rate apartments & retail space and a $30 million public school construction/renovation project.
Contact: Holly Sammons, Luverne Economic Development Director, 507-920-9772, [email protected]
More information at: cityofluverne.org
Group partners to create brewery Take 16
One of the most unique stories of community revitalization is the story of Take 16 Brewing Company. In 2012, a small group of men visiting over coffee one morning at McDonald’s began to ponder what business would draw travelers and visitors to town. They had read and heard stories in the news about the craft brewery craze. The concept was embraced and Take 16 Brewing Company was founded. Led by a volunteer board of directors and financed by over 80 local investors, the company’s reputation and quality continue to grow.
Contact: Kirk Bloemendaal, President of Take 16 Brewing, 605-271-8250, [email protected]
More information at: take16beer.com
FBT Sawmill of Steen represents the passion of a man and his family to design and build one-of-a-kind furniture, décor and structures where no two pieces are alike. They pride themselves on using only salvaged logs so that no forest removal occurs in the production of their pieces. They cut and dry all of their own wood and offers this service to area customers. Erwin and Jan Boonestroo and their family have their unique story to share.
Contact: Erwin and Jan Boonestroo, 507-855-2385
More information at: fbtsawmill.com
New options for canine care – performed locally
Every hunter loves their hunting dog. Sadly, a serious hip injury can result in euthanizing the dog. Five years ago, Tim Plimpton’s dog injured its hip. On the emergency visit to Rock County Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Paul Sylliassen offered two options: The dog could be put down, or they could try an experimental surgery, which put simply, removes the hip bone. Five years later, Tim still hunts with his “special needs” dog and wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only does new medical technology happen for humans – new options exist today for animals and their owners!
Contact: Dr. Paul Sylliassen, Rock County Veterinary Clinic, 507-283-9524
More information at: rockvetclinic.org