2 Outstanding Seniors recognized at fair; Century Farm, Ag Hall of Fame recipients awarded

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2023

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Two Albert Leans who have worked tirelessly as volunteers in the community were named Outstanding Senior Citizens of the Year Wednesday during a ceremony at the Freeborn County Fair.

Holly Babcock, who leads the search for both a male and female Outstanding Senior each year, presented the awards to Rhodette Groe and Robert “Art” Hughes.

Babcock said the nomination for the award raved about Groe donating her time for many years with 4-H and also through the Freeborn County Historical Museum — “not just at the front desk with a joyful and kind face but also helping out with special projects.”

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The nomination stated Groe primarily staffs the welcome desk one day a week greeting guests and answering phones but is always ready and able to jump in and assist where she is needed.

“She is a kind, funny, considerate individual, and when she arrives for her shift everyone is happy to see her,” it stated.

Groe said learning she received the award was a shock.

“I can’t tell you how humbled and honored I am … ” she said. “The fair, 4-H and community are a big part of my heart for many many years and they continue on.”

Babcock said Hughes’ list of volunteer organizations and community memberships was long, including REACT, Ruby’s Pantry, the Senior Center, Low Bucks Car Club, the American Legion and the Eagles Club. He even house sat for a friend with a broken leg.

“This is what a committed community member looks like,” Babcock said.

His nomination states Hughes has helped with food distribution efforts with both Ruby’s Pantry and the United Way and helps out as a handy man at the Senior Center. He also offers on-call help to the community as needed.

“I’ve been volunteering most of my life and I’ve enjoyed all of it,” Hughes said. “I’ve met a lot of nice people through it and I will continue to do it.”

Babcock thanked those in attendance for their support of the nominees. Outstanding Seniors must be 70 or older. She asked people to continue to send in nominations.

Outstanding Seniors receive a state fair button.

Also recognized in the ceremony were five Century Farms:

• Orville and Carol Ohm of Alden

• James and Michelle Yost of Albert Lea

James Yost said out of the 100 years of the farm, there have been three generations of farmers in the family — with each generation farming for about the same amount of time. The farm has had crops, cattle on it for 98 of the 100 years and hogs until about 20 years ago.

• Linda, Susan, Patricia and Karen Miller of W. Miller Farm of Oakland

Patricia Miller said their farm began in 1920 and initially had hogs, dairy, crops and horses. Dairy continued until the 1970s, and then their father brought in Angus beef. Today, Jack, John and Dick Miller farm the land for corn and soybeans.

The legacy of the farm continues to be one of faith and perseverance and also a place of compassion for others.

• Jack, John and Dick Miller, who have two farms, Miller Farms in Oakland and The Miller Farm, also in Oakland

The Miller Farm began in 1920, and Miller Farms began in 1862. The family has milked cows for about 70 years until this year and is switching to just crop farming with corn and soybeans with probably just a small beef herd.

Inducted into the Freeborn County Agriculture Hall of Fame were the Clarks Grove Cooperative Creamery and Freeborn-Mower Electric Cooperative.

The creamery was the first co-op creamery in the state and was formed in 1890 by the Danish American Community in Clarks Grove. It was the first building and business in Clarks Grove and in the early 1900s expanded to have an elevator, general store and lumber yard. It even was a temporary school in the 1950s.

It closed in 1996, but the original building still stands today.

Freeborn-Mower Electric Cooperative CEO and President Jim Krueger recognized the employees, board members from the past and present of the cooperative, as well as those who led it to what it is today.

Jack Korman, president of the board at Freeborn-Mower Electric Cooperative, emphasized that the recognition does not belong to the cooperative but instead the entire community as member-owners.

Korman said the cooperative was founded in 1936 when 400 people got together to start and plan a cooperative after Interstate Power came through and wanted to service the city but not the rural residents. Accounts have since grown to over 21,000 with millions in infrastructure.

Permanent recognition will be in the fair museum in the Heritage Barn. The Agriculture Hall of Fame honors people or businesses and industry that have had an impact on agriculture in Freeborn County.