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Business Notes- May 29


Holmes joins Executive Express

Warren Holmes recently joined Executive Express as a shuttle driver from the Brainerd hub. 

Holmes, who lives in Nisswa, has 4.5 years experience driving shuttle to and from the Twin Cities area. Executive Express is a Central Minnesota-run airport shuttle and transportation service serving more than 40,000 passengers each year. The company has served the Brainerd lakes area since 1985, but expanded its schedule to the area in April and now offers 10 runs each day. 

Backus and Pine River get Member Achievement Award

The cities of Backus and Pine River received the first annual Member Achievement Award from the Cass County Economic Development Corp. at its May 5 membership meeting.  

Backus and Pine River are collaborating on sharing of law enforcement services. An agreement between the two communities went into effect on May 1 and continues through Dec. 31, 2011.  

“We present this award to both the city of Backus and the city of Pine River today. Their decision to collaborate demonstrates partnership and cooperation,” said Dave Holk, Cass County EDC vice president, in a news release.  Plaques to each city were presented at the meeting at the Lucky Moose in Walker. The cities were nominated by EDC Board member, Jay Cline. Pine River Mayor Jim Sabas and Backus Councilor Jim Thomas accepted the awards on behalf of their cities.  

Wigert retires from Tri-County Health Care 

WADENA — Dr. Jon Wigert, long-time Tri-County Health Care Provider at the Henning Medical Clinic and the Golden Living Center Resident Care, retired April 11. 

Wigert worked with the Henning Medical Clinic for 27 years. A retirement party was hosted in Wigert’s honor May 20 at the Landmark Center in Henning, formerly the Henning Clinic and the home of the Wigert family.

 “Jon has dedicated his life to medicine,” said Joel Beiswenger, Tri-County Health Care President and CEO, in a news release. “Often, he would spend several hours with his patients in the clinic, hospital or nursing home.”

Bill Goepferd, senior vice president, First National Bank of Henning, said Wigert was a dedicated physician to the Henning community for more than a quarter century.

“When he cared for my mother during her last days, he was very patient, understanding and went above the level of care we expected,” said Goepferd said. “Dr. Wigert has also been a strong supporter of the community calling on many people at the nursing home, following up with patients after administering care or visiting them at home.”

Aberle appointed to post with Veterans Administration

The St. Cloud VA Health Care System recently appointed Mark A. Aberle of St. Cloud as the Extended Care & Rehabilitation Administrative Service Line director/nurse administrator. 

Aberle begins his new position on June 5.

The Extended Care & Rehabilitation Service Line provides extended care and rehabilitation services for Veterans and delivers skilled care through home-based primary care, nursing home care, adult day health care, ventilator-dependent care, memory care, hospice care and a variety of rehabilitation programs.

Aberle’s VA service began in 1992, and he has served at the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center and the Montevideo and Alexandria Community Based Outpatient Clinics. Most recently, Aberle served as a Nurse Practitioner and Patient Aligned Care Team leader for the Travel Team and Team 6 in the Primary Care Service Line at the St. Cloud VA Medical Center. A Veteran and current member of the U.S. Army Reserve, Aberle commands an installation medical support unit in Fargo, N.D.

The St. Cloud VA Health Care System delivers health care to more than 38,000 Veterans per year at the medical center in St. Cloud and community based outpatient clinics in Brainerd, Montevideo and Alexandria.

For more information, contact the St. Cloud VA HCS Eligibility Office at (320) 255-6340.

Central Minnesota Continuum of Care awarded $900,209

The Central Minnesota Continuum of Care, a network of government officials, local public housing authorities, county officials and service providers who create programs to alleviate homelessness in 14 counties as well as the city of St. Cloud, reported it was awarded $900,209 in April. 

The counties served include: Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and Wright.

Annually, the CoC network submits an application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for McKinney-Vento Funding to fund homeless services such as emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing and other support services throughout Central Minnesota. 

The 2010 application was submitted to HUD in November of 2010 and the full amount of funding was announced on Wednesday, April 27. This funding will be distributed to 11 projects in the 14 counties that the CoC serves, the organization reported.  

Since the inception of the Continuum of Care in 1997, Central Minnesota has been awarded $12,552,539 from the HUD McKinney-Vento Funding competition.

For more information about the Continuum of Care,contact Hanna Klimmek, Central Minnesota Continuum of Care coordinator, at (320) 259-0393 or More information is available online at 

Positive Realty opens third office

NISSWA — Positive Realty Investments Inc.  announced the opening of a third real estate office in Nisswa. 

The newest office is on County Highway 77, just west of Sportland Corners and next to the new Wendy’s. 

Working out of the Nisswa office will be Barb Anderson, Curt Lovitz, Marlys Meyer, Patrick Buckley, Gina Meixner and Mark Meixner.

Positive Realty also has offices in Brianerd and Baxter. 


Wilderness First Aid training scheduled

A wilderness First Aid training course will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 13 and 14 at the Central Lakes College Business and Industry Center in Brainerd.

Offered in partnership with American Red Cross, it is considered ideal for scouts, outdoor enthusiasts or employees in remote environments that may be an hour or more from EMS response. The course is designed to provide skills needed to respond to an emergency when help may be delayed.

Topics include head (brain), neck and spinal injuries, wound and wound infection, hypothermia, heat-related emergencies, allergies and anaphylaxis, altitude-related illnesses, bone and joint injuries, and burns.

The fee is $75, and the deadline to register is June 6. For more information, call (800) 933-0346 ext. 8142 or 855-8142 or email

Certified food manager training set at CLC

A Certified Food Manager course will meet June 15 and 16 in the Business and Industry Center at Central Lakes College, Brainerd.

Certification is required in most Minnesota food establishments.

The class meets 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with instructor Colette Pohlkamp.

Participants are trained and tested through the ServSafe Serving Safe Food Certification course. They will learn about potentially hazardous foods and safe food handling practices, the HACCP system of food safety, setting up standards and completion upon passing the required exam.

The course fee is $160. Registration deadline is June 8.

For more information, call toll-free (800) 933-0346 extension 8142 or 855-8142 or email  

Lakewood Health System offers babysitting class

STAPLES — The Education department at Lakewood Health System is offering a babysitting class for children ages 11 to 14. The class covers valuable skills, such as first aid, cardio pulmonary resusitation, care of children, early childhood development and kids at play. 

The class is planned from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 6 in the LHS Senior Campus classrooms, 401 Prairie Ave. N.E., Staples. The cost is $30 and space is limited. Registration is requested by June 2.

For more information, call Gayle Christensen at (218) 894-8623. 


SBDC reports donations

The Small Business development Center based at Central Lakes College in Brainerd reports that it has received $11,500 in donations in recent weeks.

The Initiative Foundation, Little Falls, made a cash grant of $10,000, reports Greg Bergman, SBDC director. “The Initiative Foundation has been a long-term supporter of the Small Business Development Center,” said Bergman. “They recognize the value of small businesses in Central Minnesota to our economy.”

Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union has made a $1,000 donation. “We appreciate the support of financial institutions like Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union,” Bergman said. “They are great partners in supporting small businesses in our region.”

Farmers and Merchants Bank of Pierz made a $500 donation. Bergman said, “We appreciate the support Farmers and Merchants Bank of Pierz has committed to the SBDC to help small businesses in our region.”

The mission of the Central Lakes College Small Business Development Center is to improve economic growth in Minnesota by providing assistance to small businesses in order to increase the number of new business start-ups, expand existing small businesses, and reduce the number of small business failures.

CenterPoint Energy recognized for March of Dimes support

CenterPoint Energy is a recipient of the March of Dimes President’s Award for donating nearly $27,000 this year.  

In 2011, CenterPoint Energy increased its giving by 15 percent to qualify for the President’s Award.   

Lakewood invites public to join Race for Cure team

STAPLES — Lakewood Health System invites community members and their families to walk or run on Lakewood’s 2011 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team. 

Participants are asked to sign up by June 17. Participants will receive a Lakewood T-shirt to wear the day of the race, a T-shirt from the Race, free gifts at the event, and the chance to win door prizes, all in exchange for a nominal donation to the Race. The race is June 25 at Forestview Middle School, 12149 Knollwood Drive, Baxter. 

Participants with Lakewood are asked to arrive at the Lakewood tent/booth at 8 a.m. to watch the survivor ceremony together, pick up a T-shirt and take a group photo. The run/walk starts at 8:45 a.m. 

To sign up, go to, click on Race for the Cure, Online Registration, Register Here, Join a Team, Select Lakewood Health System, and follow instructions to register. 

Mille Lacs Band donates $44,553 in April

ONAMIA — The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe donated in monetary and in-kind contributions to a variety of nonprofit organizations and other charitable causes in April.  

Every month, the band contributes to community programs in Minnesota and nationwide.

In April, for area programs, the Mille Lacs Band donated $1,000 to the Pierz Area First Response Team to purchase new equipment. Donations included food shelves in McGregor and Hackensack, among others. 

Batteries Plus teams up to assist veterans

Recent studies from the Bureau of Labor Statistics find that the jobless rate of veterans is 15.6 percent — far exceeding the national average of nine percent. Batteries Plus decided to create a campaign called, “Time to Care,”  to help bridge the gap.

Batteries Plus, with more than 450 stores nationwide, has teamed up with USA Cares, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that helps post-9/11 military service members, veterans and their families with basic financial needs. USA Cares, founded in 2003, helps bear the burdens of service by providing military families and veterans with financial and advocacy support in their time of need. They have helped families in all 50 states and have received more than 27,000 requests for assistance. No fees are ever charged and no repayment is ever requested.

For one week in May (May 24-May 30 Memorial Day) and one week in November (Nov. 5 – Nov.11 Veterans Day) participating Batteries Plus locations across the nation will be teaming up with USA Cares to: Donate $5 from each regular or lifetime watch battery replacement to USA Cares during these two designated weeks and accept in-kind donations from customers which will go to USA Cares.

Batteries Plus, LLC will also be contributing $1 for every person who “likes” the Batteries Plus Facebook page and “supports” the USA Cares Jobs for Vets Cause page — up to $25,000. For more information, visit   

Bremer Bank donates to raise food

For the sixth consecutive year, Bremer Bank is 'Taking Action to End Hunger' during the month of June by raising funds for Feeding America and local food shelves. 

This year, every donation will be matched by Bremer Bank dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000. A $1 donation matched by Bremer, can help provide 14 meals.

During the month of June, donations will be accepted online at or at any Bremer Bank location. Summer is especially difficult for children, who are out of school and do not have access to free or reduced-cost lunch programs. Overall, one in four children in America face hunger. Children make up 38 percent of the members of households served by Feeding America. 


Booked early, then airfare fell. A refund? Maybe

NEW YORK (AP) — You booked your summer travel early, only to see the airfare drop. 

You have company. The threat of fare increases combined with pent-up demand drove more travelers to book months ahead, according to industry experts. 

Advanced bookings were higher in the first three months of the year than they have been in more than two decades, says aviation consultant Robert Herbst. The value of advanced tickets sold at Delta in the first quarter, for example, jumped 37 percent to $4.54 billion. 

But while ticket prices on average are higher than a year ago, some select summer fares have dropped from where they were back in March, particularly on those routes with the most competition or fewest bookings. 

Before kicking yourself, you should find out if you can recoup the difference. (Warning: In some cases, you’ll still end up kicking yourself. Because you can’t kick the airline.)

Lawmaker wants to put Amtrak service up for bid

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress would take away Amtrak’s popular Northeast corridor train service and invite private investors to bid for the right to develop high-speed rail under a plan outlined by a key House Republican Thursday.

The densely populated corridor — which extends from Washington to Boston, including service to New York and Philadelphia — is the most viable region in the country for truly high-speed trains averaging speeds better than 110 mph, said House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica, R-Fla. 

But Amtrak has failed to provide fast service despite tens of billions of dollars in federal aid, he said while outlining his plan at a hearing.

Amtrak’s Acela trains reach speeds over 150 mph in some portions of the corridor. But Mica said trip times average only 83 mph between Washington and New York and 72 mph between New York and Boston. His calculations include wait times at station stops along the route, which lowers the average speed. Some trains in Europe and Asia achieve speeds over 200 mph.

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.