The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 12, 2013

Names and Notables

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation awarded $15,418 worth of free paint to 16 projects across the region. Picture-it-painted is a partnership between SMIF and Valspar Corporation in support of community beautification and restoration projects throughout southern Minnesota.

Since 1998, SMIF and Valspar Corporation have awarded $150,000 gallons of paint to nearly 200 projects.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Since June 2007, the habitat for Humanity ReStore has diverted 600 tons of building materials from area landfills. The diversion has been done in conjunction with area contractors, businesses and the general public’s support.

CLOVE Hands in Action Award

The Council of Local Organizations for Volunteer Enhancement has announced the winners of the 2013 Hands in Action Award.

CLOVE is a nonprofit organization that serves as a support network for local volunteer coordinators. The following volunteers were honored for their contributions to the Mankato area: Myra Colacovik, MSU, Mankato Office of Community Engagement; Eric Sletten, Leisure Education for Exceptional People; Davie Ulrich, Mankato Community Education and Recreation; LaVonne Smasal, Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota; Amanda Diehm, Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys; Mary Lou Kudela, Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys; Casey Wussow, YWCA Girls on the Run; Joellen Preston, Lifeworks; Stephanie Bassett, Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota; Marilyn Dundas, Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging; Emilie Hauser, Primrose Retirement Community; Shannon Dunn, YWCA Ready to Learn; Donna Nielsen, Mankato Area Public Schools; Angee Backman, SMILES Center for Independent Living; Marilyn Thomas, SMILES Center for Independent Living; Joe Wallschlaeger, Twin Valley Council Boy Scouts; Julie Thorleifson, ARC Southwest; Ruth Prins, Ecumen Pathstone Living.

St. Mary’s University

Ashley Buhr of Mankato and Jake Traxler of Le Sueur were recognized as outstanding senior students at the University of St. Mary’s annual Honors Convocation, Friday April 12, 2013. Buhr earned the Brother Laurence Walther Founder’s Award for her music, and Traxler earned the American Institute of Chemists Award.

Minnesota State University

The following students earned scholarships and awards during the Media Day Reception at Minnesota State University: Eric Perrine of Welcome and Cristina Hracovschi of Mankato earned the Who’s Who Among American Universities and Colleges Award; Stacy Cray of North Mankato earned the Outstanding Senior Award; and Alyssa Flipp of St. James earned the $750 Sky and Mark Kunerth Scholarship.

Hickory Tech

The Hickory Tech Foundation recently presented a $1,000 grant to Creative Play Place in St. Peter. The funding is being used to support the Literacy Lending Bag project that lets families, child care providers and preschool teachers check out bags that include books, songs, poems and hands-on activities that enrich the storytime experience for young children.

AgStar Financial ServicesAgStar team members and the AgStar Fund for Rural America teamed up during march for the Minnesota Food Share Campaign to raise money for the food shelves throughout AgStar’s service area in Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. All cash donations made by team members were matched dollar-for-dollar by the AgStar Fund for Rural America, resulting in a total of $17,972 donated to 70 food shelves throughout AgStar’s local service areas, on top of the 103 pounds of food collected.

FarmamericaDave Fredrickson, Minnesota commissioner of agriculture, and Farmamerica staff recognized local volunteers with a volunteer appreciation dinner at its visitor center Monday, April 15. The following individuals were recognized: Dr. Joe Eckert of Mankato, and Steve and Liz Melcher of Janesville were presented the Director’s Award; Don Siems of Waseca for Outstanding Volunteer of the Year; Jordan Paulson of Waseca for Outstanding Youth Volunteer; Janesville Jacks and Jills 4-H Club for Organization of the Year; and Kieffer Communications of Waseca for Business Partner of the Year.

Waseca Arts Council

The Waseca Arts Council recently exhibited artwork from high school students from area schools through a grant from the Hickory Tech Foundation. Four of the pieces have been awarded Best in Show, and 19 have been given Honorable Mentions. The following students have been recognized:

Best in Show -- Carter Johnson of Mankato East, “Angel,” colored pencil; Logan Haga of Mankato West, “Mac and Cheese,” pencil; Eric Ouren of Mankato Loyola, “Northern Pike,” ceramic and mixed media; and Brandi Johnson of Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, “Mommy Why,” acrylic collage.

Honorable Mention -- Geoffrey Tollefson of Mankato East, “Bat,” ink; Nicole Denzer of Tri-City United, “Barbie,” pencil; Kendall Vance of Waseca, “Life’s Best Medicine,” charcoal; Brian Baker of Loyola, “Escaping Captivity,” ceramic; Stephanie Brunson of Cleveland, “Cereal?!” pencil portrait; Jasmine Hancock of West, “Heart of Imagination,” colored pencil and marker; Rodrigo Madrigal of West, “Untitled,” Sharpie Drawing; Andrew Murray of Loyola, “Our Soma Holiday,” pen and ink; Victoria Cook of JWP, “Bombus,” mixed media; Jordan Kuster of East, “Audro,” photo; Danielle Vetter of Loyola, “Torn Apart,” photo; Emily Eibs of Le Sueur-Henderson, “Eye,” watercolor and acrylic; Brendin Stagg of West, “Aquabhobia,” photo; Samantha Bruns, “King of Country,” watercolor; Rachel Smisek of TCU, “Yellow,” acrylic; Jolie Richter of Le Sueur-Henderson, ceramic head; Andrew Sweere of Loyola, wheel-thrown pot; and Bailey Wolf of Waseca, “It’s Monday,” charcoal, watercolor.

Mankato Ford

As a result of a fundraising event last weekend, Mankato Ford is donating $4,000 to St. Peter High School's choir, band and theater programs.

More than 180 people attended a Saturday event at the high school during which $20 was donated by Ford for everyone who took a test drive. Since the program’s inception in 2007, the Drive 4 UR School program has generated more than $16 million in donations for high school nationwide.

Red Lobster

Feeding Our Communities Partners will receive a $1,000 grant as part of the Restaurant Community Grants program from the Darden Foundation, the charitable arm of Darden Restaurants Inc.

The grants program, now in its second year, allowed the Mankato Red Lobster restaurant to help support the local community program BackPack Food Program.BackPack Food discreetly provides low-income students with packs of nutritious, child-friendly meals to take home for weekends and school breaks. As community support increases, Feeding Our Community Partners can implement the BackPack Food Program at additional Mankato area elementary schools.

This grant to the BackPack Food Program will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the Otto Bremer Foundation.