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Paul Buyan Scenic Byway Association: Celebrating the history of Jenkins

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Celebrating the history of Jenkins

Young guys riding around in hot cars. Every generation knows it was cool. But when you’re riding around Germany in a new BMW with Elvis Presley, well, that’s beyond cool; that’s history making!

At the history-gathering meeting on Nov. 14 at Jenkins City Hall, long-time Jenkins resident Andy Stiller stole the show with a photo presentation, compiled by Steve Stricker, of himself and Elvis during their military service in Germany. The BMW ride was part of his delightful story.

Organized by Steve and Donna Stricker, the Jenkins history-gathering meetings began about three years ago to collect content for the Jenkins History Panel, a joint project between the city and the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association through the Byway’s Panel Partner program. That panel was completed and installed at the Byway’s Gateway Gazebo in the spring of 2011, but the enthusiasm for sharing the long-time residents’ stories with area visitors and new generations of area residents continued to be so strong that the Strickers have held periodic history-gathering meetings ever since.

Attendance at the meetings runs between 10 and 20 people, all ready to share the hometown history they know so well. There was the story of ringing the church bell to notify folks help was needed to fight a fire. One told of a real estate agent in town during the mid-1900’s who used to give each trick-or-treater a nickel; big money for a kid in those days. Some stories reflected the wider political and racial sentiments of the time, with one story-teller describing a 1911 cross-burning in a Jenkins resident’s yard.

The gathered information so far seems to be falling into four categories: Veterans’ stories-highlighting camaraderie and light-hearted non-combat experiences, in-town and rural business history, long-standing community connectedness and curious/comical/inspirational snippets of Jenkins history.

One display idea being considered is a series of 30-inch by 30-inch post-mounted interpretive panels along a walking path. A location that has been discussed is the Veterans Park on the north side of town along highway 371.

The next meeting is scheduled for April 16, 2013, from 6-8 p.m. at the Jenkins City Hall. Funding is still being sought for this history project and depending upon donations or other funding received by then, an implementation timeline may be discussed. To donate or for more information about the Jenkins History-gathering project, contact Steve and Donna Stricker at

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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