Tuesday, September 25, 2012

(L-R) Rosie Schluter; Aaron Reeves, City Administrator; Commissioner Ehlinger; Tom Bergeson, Public Works Director; Susan Brace-Adkins Healthy Communities Supervisor of the Goodhue County Health and Human Services and Dave Maroney, Community Development Director. 

What’s your “pitch”?

  It was just an impulsive idea... to e-mail the Minnesota Department of Health to see if the Commissioner would be interested in my idea of having upper body exercise equipment along the Cannon Falls city trail to promote community health.  
I had read that he had been in Rochester for a media event - pitching horse shoes and letting citizens “pitch” their ideas on public health issues.
It didn’t matter that I didn’t have the commissioner’s correct address.  I just sent it.

Nothing happened.
That I knew about anyway.

Almost three weeks later I got a surprise call from the Department of Health telling me that Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the commissioner, was coming to Cannon Falls in a couple of weeks for an all-day media event including the county’s Health and Human Services department, the county commissioners, local officials and politicians, etc.
Caught off-guard I chuckled, “President Obama only gave us three days... we can do this!”

And then I explained to city officials that I really didn’t usurp their authority - I was just trying to contact the commissioner - but this was cool wasn’t it?  

Many conferences and collaborations later, they all pulled off a wonderful media event (even the weather cooperated), with the hopeful attitude that health issues of importance to all of us would be addressed by the Commissioner in the future.

As Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger stated, it’s his job “to protect and enhance the health of all Minnesota citizens.”  The state’s national health rating has dropped from number one down to number six.  What has gone up?  Obesity and smoking. And exercise has gone down.  But Ehlinger wants to make Minnesota “the healthiest state in the nation.”

That day in the park many issues were presented to the commissioner.  They included fracking sand, wind generators, dental health,  tobacco, and adding upper body exercise equipment to the city walking trail.

Another issue came from Julie Phelps, an elementary school nurse in Cannon Falls.  She expressed the importance of school nurses as they deal with health issues of students like Loden Bell, a fourth grader with diabetes who is very active and also tossed a couple of horse shoes with the commissioner.

Now back to what I had been doing to promote the event.  Well, newspapers and cable TV promos hit the area.  And I was happily surprised when it was kidded around on WCCO-radio Dave Lee’s show on several mornings with our own Jack Lucking.  And then Joan Risty announced it on KDHL radio.   

But my friend, John Weiss, reporting on the event in the Rochester Post Bulletin, “got” me with this write-up:  "... and Rosie Schluter brought a passion for better health — but poor horseshoe pitching form — to Tuesday's "Pitch the Commissioner event in Cannon Falls." 
Oh, the power of the press!

(Behind the scenes video on www.paulrosie.com)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Volunteer Harvesters Rewards!

Tom Sawyer - Sogn Valley Style 

It’s a fairy tale setting... the rolling hills of the Sogn Valley just a few miles south of Cannon Falls. 

But the scenario taking place each weekend reminds you more of Mark Twain’s story of Tom Sawyer... the mischievous boy who persuades his friends to whitewash the fence so he wouldn’t have to do the job.  

Today, hundreds of people have volunteered to harvest the grapes at the Cannon River Vineyard owned by John and Maureen Maloney.
But unlike Twain’s story, these folks look like they’re having a great time and are rewarded at the end of their approximately two hour shifts with a lunch catered by the Old Market Deli, the opportunity to taste a variety of wines and then just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful views of the surrounding hills and vineyards.
According to Bergit Nerheim of the Cannon River Winery, many come back every year.

John explained that they had originally hired a crew to do the harvesting.  But after three years of hearing folks asking to do it, they opened the vineyard for one day for this project.
The next year they had more days.

And this year Bergit said they will likely have 10 days available for morning and afternoon harvesting. They have 30-60 people on a shift and they come from all around Minnesota.  I met Joan and Dennis Benson, he’s from Cannon Falls originally and Linda Perry from Randolph.  
Pretty much all of the grapes are harvested in this manner.
All ages came out on a recent Saturday afternoon.  The grapes are cut from the vine by slicing their stem with a bladed Harvest Fork and then gently laid in the containers which are collected into larger vats.  
The sweet fruity fragrance of these Edelweiss grapes spread across the rows.  It was so delicious you didn’t want to exhale!
And the harvester can eat as many of the grapes as they want to!

         (About an hour into doing my story I couldn’t resist any more and I asked to join the crew!)

John also explained that the south facing hillsides are ideal for growing the cold hardy grapes of Minnesota hybrid varieties that survive the sometimes harsh winters and add a unique and delicious flavor to the wines. 
The Edelweiss grapes being picked that day are white seeded table, wine and juice grape.  They are hardy to -30 F.  It takes about four to five years after planting before you collect the fruit.  The vines harvested at this session were nine years old.  

 Some interesting data found on the internet may explain why we’re seeing more and more vineyards locally.
One acre of Minnesota grown grapes may produce about 2,800 bottles of wine.
The Minnesota Wine Industry is growing at a rate of 28% annually.
The Minnesota Wineries are projected to produce more than $11,250,000 of wine a year by 2014.

 So here’s a “toast” to the volunteer harvesters at the Cannon River Vineyard!

(For video program go to www.paulrosie.com)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"Death ride" to Red Wing?

It should be a nice night to take a drive, I thought.

We election judges had just finished packing up the results from the primary. There wasn't much competition among the candidates, so the turn-out in our township was pretty light. We only had about 38 ballots to deliver to the county seat about 25 miles away. But we value the ballots.

The rules state we had to have two judges bring the ballots to the courthouse. So the head judge and I started out.

I was driving our little Prius, in which I love to cruise along. It went well for a few miles until we hit the east side of Cannon Falls on Highway 19. It was newly paved and tarred and would be beautiful in the daytime.

But now it was night... and they hadn't yet put the markings on the road indicating where the center and sides were. I ended up just trying to see the grass marking the edge of the road.

That was partly because of the fog. It rose from the road and blocked my vision. And sometimes it rained, which brought blinding reflection from the headlights.

I had really slowed down because at times I couldn't see where the road was turning. This area is filled with hills and valleys. And what about deer crossing?

I thought...can't find a place to pull off the road...what if there's another car coming up behind us... they can't see us... and on and on.

You could tell both my passenger and I were pretty scared because neither one of us was talking!

And that might have led to another problem.

When you talk you have to breathe. And I don't know if I took more than two breaths on that whole stretch of road!

When I got to the courthouse I got out of the car and sat on a bench and closed my eyes and breathed. When I felt stronger I walked back to my car and called my husband. I said, this is really strange.

He knows that I have driven with him through many hours of rain and darkness and didn't feel like this! So he kept me talking on the phone so I would breathe!

I explained that I would be taking Highways 61 to 20 home. It's longer but it's on higher ground and shouldn't be so foggy and the road has markings on it.

Sure enough...we did just fine.

After I dropped off my passenger I felt even better! I was more concerned about her safety.

A couple of weeks later at a town board meeting, the township treasurer came over to me with a questioning look on her face and asked if I had filled out the form for compensation for my mileage? I hadn't. But someone had. And I chuckled when I read what someone had written on the form: "Death Ride to Red Wing!"

Someone else knew how it felt!