Rushford family still feels void after Vietnam

Jerry Johnson, Rushford, Minnesota, Vietnam War

Jerry Johnson of Rushford, Minnesota, was one of the first soldiers from southeast Minnesota to be killed in the Vietnam War. The family left behind still feels the scars over a half century later. (Contributed photo)

It’s been over half a century since the end of the Vietnam War, but the scars for some are still as fresh as the day it ended. For those families whose relatives didn’t make it home from the war, they feel the void that is left as big as it was all those years ago.

Rushford native Jerry A. Johnson was one of the many men who didn’t make it home from his deployment to Vietnam.

He grew up in a military family, and some of his earliest pictures as a child showed him wearing miniature Navy sailor suits. Johnson’s story is a true picture of sacrifice. Medical reasons should have kept him out of the military but he went anyway.

Family history of service

“He came from a family of soldiers,” said Rosemarie Morken, Jerry’s sister. “His father, Harvey, served in World War II in France, Germany and Austria. He had two uncles – Clarence, who served in the Army, and Wallace, who served in the United States Air Force.”

On his mother’s (Bernice) side of the family, she had three brothers who served. Two of them served with one dying in service to his country. Her brother, Kenneth, was in the Army, and her brother, George, was a pilot in the Army, serving in Africa during World War II, where he was killed. In addition, Johnson’s brother, Harold, served in the Navy from 1956-1962.

“When his father was in the Army,” Morken said, “even then, Jerry was a little soldier. He and his brother, Harold, often wore little sailor suits or Army uniforms while growing up in Rushford.’

Johnson’s love of country and family

“He loved to play baseball, go fishing and hunting, and would often spend time with his sister and brother-in-law to help take care of their eight kids,” Morken reminisced about her brother.

Johnson was born on Oct. 15, 1941, to Harvey and Bernice Johnson. His siblings included sisters Yvonne, Marilyn and Rosemarie, along with his brother Harold.

Johnson died when he was only 23. Morken described him as a quiet man. When he first went to enlist in the service, they wouldn’t take him.

“He had a heart murmur,” Morken said. “But, then they turned around and drafted him when ‘Nam broke out. He was a quiet man, so he did what he was told. Jerry entered the Army in 1964 and was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he was in the First Infantry Division.”

Johnson had only been in Vietnam around two months when that knock came at their front door. It was the knock no family wants to hear.

“He was one of the first soldiers from southeast Minnesota to die (in Vietnam),” she said. “Then came a letter from one of the soldiers with Jerry in Vietnam. He said Jerry had been sick and that they took him to a hospital for an X-ray of his lungs, which came back clear.”

The letter said Johnson had recently been sent out on detail to someplace near Saigon shortly before his death.

“Another soldier called Jerry’s mother and said he was with Jerry when he died,” Morken explained. “He said that he (Jerry) died from shrapnel on Aug. 9, 1965.” A year later, the family received a document from the military saying Johnson had been killed in action.

Johnson posthumously earned the Medal of Honor, second class, from the Republic of Vietnam.

In 1986, the family received Johnson’s Purple Heart and certificate. He also earned the Gold Star lapel pin, Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze and two silver stars, an expert badge with ribbon bar, the National Defense ribbon, and the Republic of Vietnam campaign ribbon.

In 1965, Johnson’s mother inquired about becoming a Gold Star Mother through the Veterans Administration. Women are eligible to become Gold Star Mothers if their sons are killed in the line of battle. She became a Gold Star Mother in the Winona Chapter, where the names of her son and brother are in a book that Rosemarie has.

Johnson’s service to country is honored in several locations.

The First Division was also called the Big Red One. The museum in Wheaton, Ill., has his name up on its memorial wall. He’s also listed on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.

There’s also a Big Red One Memorial at the Executive Building across the street from the White House where his name is listed. He’s mentioned in other locations like the Fort Snelling Book of Remembrance.

“He could have fought the draft,” Morken said. “He didn’t. Jerry did what his country wanted him to do.”

Free (State) Park Friday in Minnesota

Entry fees at each Minnesota state park and various recreation areas to be waived the day after Thanksgiving 

Smith and DNR encourage all Minnesotans to get outdoors and explore Minnesota’s parks and trails  

Following the success of last year’s Free Park Friday, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith is encouraging all Minnesotans to include outdoor activity as part of their family festivities over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As added incentive, Smith announced that entry fees at all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas will be waived on Friday, Nov. 25.

Smith, who has set a goal of visiting all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, said she intends to work another state park visit into her schedule on Free Park Friday.

“In my travels around Minnesota, I visit Minnesota state parks and recreation areas as often as I can,” she said. “We have one of the finest park and trail systems in the country, and spending time in nature is the best way I know to get some exercise, relax and refresh with family and friends. I want as many Minnesotans as possible to enjoy a free day in the parks after Thanksgiving.”  

state park

Grand Portage State Forest in Minnesota is but one of the 75 state parks that will charge no admission on the day after Thanksgiving this year. (Photo from stateparks.com)


This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Minnesota state parks and trails system. The celebration has brought record crowds out to explore Minnesota’s most beautiful locations. Through the end of September, one-day parks and trails permit sales were up 6 percent, year-round permit sales were up 8 percent and overnight stays were up 6 percent over last year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“As a way to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of Minnesota state parks and trails, we’re encouraging visitors to see if they can go a total of 125 miles by bike, boot or boat by the end of 2016,” said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Free Park Friday will provide an opportunity to add to your mileage, whether you’re near the end of the challenge or just getting started.”

Those who log 125 miles will receive a limited-edition sticker and can post their photo in an online Finishers Gallery at www.dnr.state.mn.us/125/125mile_finishers.html.

Minnesota state parks are open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and feature more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails through the state’s hardwoods, prairies and pinelands.

In addition to hiking a favorite park, visitors and families can participate in naturalist-led programs, search for wildlife and even participate in the DNR’s “Call of the Wildflowers” geocaching adventure.

To learn more about Minnesota’s 75 state parks and trails and to plan your “Free Park Friday” trip, visit: www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html.

For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/freeparkfriday.

Vikings Injuries: Fusco practicing, Diggs out

Vikings guard Brandon Fusco returned to practice Monday, his first since suffering a concussion Oct. 9 against Houston. Fusco was lost for the game on the first series against the Texans. Minnesota was back at practice on Monday following a bye week.

Vikings

Vikings center Joe Berger, left, and guard Brandon Fusco defending their quarterback, in the fourth quarter, as the Minnesota Vikings beat the Chicago Bears 23-20 at Soldier Field in Chicago on November 1, 2015. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

Sitting out Monday were wide receivers Stefon Diggs (hamstring) and Jarius Wright (undisclosed), and tight end MyCole Pruitt, who suffered a knee injury against the Texans. Diggs sat out against Houston and hasn’t practiced since playing in an Oct. 3 game against the New York Giants.

The Vikings’ most recent practice was Tuesday. Also returning after missing that workout:  linebacker Anthony Barr (undisclosed) and tight end Rhett Ellison, who missed the game against Houston with a knee injury.

Practice squad guard Isame Faciane did not practice. He was arrested last Wednesday in St. Louis Park on suspicion of drunken driving.

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke was eligible to practice Monday after being placed on the reserve non-football injury list Sept. 3. Heinicke did not participate, but a source said Heinicke is “100 percent” and expected to practice on Wednesday.

Heinicke suffered a torn tendon in his left foot in July, the result, he said, of his foot going through a window when he was locked out of his home in Atlanta. When Heinicke returns, the Vikings will have 21 days to decide whether to place him on the 53-man roster or leave him on the non-football injury list.

Wednesday will be a heavier practice day, and if Heinicke goes then, it would give the Vikings perhaps a heavier additional day of practice at the end to make a decision. The source expects Minnesota, which has quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill on the active roster, and Joel Stave on the practice squad, to take the full 21 days to make a decision unless there is an injury.

Story found in the St. Paul Pioneer Press

CWD sampling in southeast MN deer harvest

Deer hunters in southeastern Minnesota who harvest a deer during the 3A and 3B firearms deer seasons are encouraged to have their deer sampled for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at one of 30 locations that will be staffed.

Due to the expansion of CWD in Iowa and Wisconsin, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be conducting CWD surveillance in deer areas 339 to 349 throughout the firearm season, an area that includes nearly all the 300 series permit areas. The goal is to collect 3,600 samples. 


“Working with hunters to sample deer for evidence of CWD is our best opportunity for early detection of the disease in Minnesota,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager. “Early detection is important from the perspective of limiting disease spread, and we will make the process as quick as possible to get hunters on their way.”

CWD

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be testing harvested deer this fall for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). (photo from gameamdfishmag.com)

CWD is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion that affects the animal’s brain. The disease is always fatal and can spread from one animal to another. Months to years pass from the time an animal is infected to when it shows signs of the disease. There is no known treatment for the disease, and the prions can persist and remain infectious in the environment. 

Recent research has demonstrated that long-term CWD infections in wild deer have led to measurable reductions in deer populations.

“We take these actions because our only real opportunity to reduce or eliminate disease is to find it right away,” Cornicelli said. “If a disease like CWD becomes established, it will be a problem for future generations.”

The DNR’s CWD management plan calls for surveillance when risk increases. That risk includes positive domestic animals or when the disease is found in adjacent states. 

“Much of the southeast has not been extensively sampled since 2009 and because of the Iowa and Wisconsin infections, it is important to aggressively conduct surveillance,” Cornicelli said. 

To further reduce the risk of CWD entering Minnesota, whole deer carcasses are no longer allowed to be imported into Minnesota from anywhere in North America. This is a new restriction this year in Minnesota. There are no restrictions on carcass movement for deer harvested in Minnesota and moved within the state.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health agencies have concluded there is no known link between CWD and any neurological disease in humans. However, both the CDC and the World Health Organization recommend that no part of a known positive animal should be consumed by humans. Additionally, there is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to species other ungulates.

Reminders for hunters, and chances to win
Hunters in the permit areas where sampling is taking place are reminded that they will not be able to register deer by phone or the internet during the surveillance period. Deer must be registered in person at a walk-in registration station and hunters are strongly encouraged to allow sampling of their deer. 

Deer must be present at the time of registration. When surveillance quotas are met, the electronic system will be turned back on. Hunters will not be notified of individual results unless their deer is positive. The DNR will release details after deer season that explain overall surveillance results.

CWD sampling only takes a few minutes and is done while the hunter registers their deer. To help encourage samples, Bluffland Whitetails Association has donated a compound bow and a muzzleloader and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association has donated a muzzleloader. Hunters who submit a sample for testing will be entered into a random drawing for one of those items. Also, every hunter who donates a sample will be given a DNR cooperator patch as a small token of appreciation. 

DNR staff will be working at 30 sampling sites from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, and Sunday, Nov. 6, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Nov. 7. A smaller number of stations will be open the second weekend, Saturday, Nov. 12, to Sunday, Nov. 13

Sampling goals will likely not be met during the opening 3A season that runs from Nov. 5 to Nov. 13, so stations will be staffed during the 3B season, which runs from Saturday, Nov. 19 to Sunday, Nov. 27.

Deer check stations where CWD surveillance is occurring are listed on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/cwd, and hunters are encouraged to check the site for new information.

New hunters to chronic wasting disease might want to take a look at this:

Biodiesel mandate lawsuit against Minnesota dismissed

Ruling in favor of biodiesel mandate paves way for boosting renewable fuels and strong soybean demand

The State of Minnesota, Minnesota soybean farmers, and biodiesel producers won a complete dismissal Thursday in the lawsuit challenging the state’s biodiesel mandate. The decision by Chief Judge John Tunheim of the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis clears the road for summer blends of B20 (20 percent biodiesel blend) in May 2018 and continues to provide numerous benefits for all Minnesotans while adding value to Minnesota soybeans.

biodiesel lawsuit

Minnesota Soybean growers and biodiesel producers won a complete dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the Minnesota Biodiesel Mandate, clearing the way for B20 blends in the future. (photo from oklahomafarmreport.com)

“We are very pleased to see the state and Minnesota Soybean’s motions were successful in dismissing the case against the state’s biodiesel mandate,” said Theresia Gillie, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association president. “Once again, Minnesota is at the forefront of energy independence and supporting renewable fuels.”

The current B10 blend equates to annually removing 128,000 passenger vehicles from Minnesota roads and is America’s only advanced biofuel. B20 will bring more value to soybeans as it has stimulated Minnesota’s agricultural economy. By increasing demand for Minnesota soybeans by 13 percent, soybean biodiesel generates an estimated $200 million in economic activity.

“The benefits serve all Minnesotans,” said Mike Youngerberg, Minnesota Soybean’s senior director of field services. “Biodiesel reduces our dependence on imported petroleum while increasing farmer profitability, creating green jobs and boosting economic growth in Minnesota.”

soybean biodiesel lawsuit

Boosting the soybean biodiesel blend is expected to increase demand for Minnesota soybeans by 13 percent.

The added bonus is biodiesel, since 2005, has significantly improved air quality in Minnesota, among other environmental benefits. This is a win for all Minnesotans.

In his ruling, Judge Tunheim ruled Minnesota’s mandate is not preempted by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Minnesota’s mandate actually creates demand  and works in conjunction with the current RFS.

“Nearly all engine manufacturers approve B20 for their engines and now Minnesotans are ready for the move to B20,” Gillie said. “We thank the State of Minnesota for their vehement defense of the biodiesel mandate.”

MSGA is a non-profit, farmer-controlled membership organization established in 1962. Its goal is to assure profitable soybean farming by influencing favorable ag legislation, monitoring government policies and supporting research and market development.

Third-party response to the presidential debate

Did you even notice there’s a third-party candidate for President? I thought you might find this interesting, especially if you’re one of what appears to be a growing number of people who aren’t happy with the two major-party candidates for president. Here’ s the response of another presidential candidate in case you were looking at other options. Let me know if he’s on the right track or if they guy is one can short of a six-pack? I honestly do wish there was one perfect candidate we can all agree on, but….

MY STATEMENT ON THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE:

I heard Donald Trump describing a country I don’t recognize, and I heard Hillary Clinton writing checks we can’t possibly cash.

third party

Gary Johnson is a former Governor of New Mexico and a Libertarian third-party candidate for president. (photo from gofundme.com)

I suspect a great many of the millions who watched the debate did so in the hope that they would be inspired. With the possible exception of partisans on the extremes, I also suspect they were disappointed.

Americans don’t want their children and grandchildren to inherit a $20 trillion debt, and they didn’t hear anything [last night] that will keep that from happening. Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump are afraid to tell the truth about spending. It’s easier to just promise more of it and send the next generation the tab.

Americans believe in the Constitution and the protections it’s supposed to provide. Mr. Trump appears willing to ‘frisk’ those protections away if they get in the way of his version of fixing things. There was a time when Republicans believed in free trade and creating jobs through growth, not protectionism. What happened to that?

Our military men and women and their families deserve leadership they can trust to not send them into harm’s way to intervene in conflicts they can’t possibly resolve and which may or may not have a clear U.S. interest. They didn’t get any reassurance [last night]. Americans want our military to protect us, not put their lives on the line to chase someone’s agenda.

We deserve better, but what we saw [last night] was a promise that the bickering, the pandering and the polarization will continue. America is already great. It’s great leaders we are lacking, and I don’t think we found them on the stage [last night].

Maybe that’s why Google searches for Gary Johnson are off the charts right now.

-Gov. Gary Johnson

CHIP IN to help put a third podium on the stage in October: https://www.johnsonweld.com/debate_day

There’s also a third-party (fourth party?) candidate named Jill Stein. When did we as a country decide that we should only have two political parties in Washington? Why can’t we have more than two? How has choosing the “lesser of two evils?”

RCTC football becomes impromptu family reunion

As long as there’ve been athletic competitions like football, fathers have been taking their sons to games to enjoy a little bonding time.  Most sports fans I know have at least one favorite story of going to games with their dad and hanging out.  Good times with their dads will often lead kids to continue the tradition when they become parents themselves.

RCTC football equals a family reunion

The Rochester Community and Technical College football team beat Minnesota West in its home opener on Saturday, September 3, by a 26-8 score to even the overall season record at 1-1. (photo by Chad Smith

I got to take my two oldest boys with me to the Rochester Community and Technical College football game today.  If you know anything about what my family went through over the last four years, you’d know what a monumental thing that is.  It seems like such a small thing to go to a football game, doesn’t it?   When you haven’t been able to do that thing for a long time due to circumstances beyond your control, that little thing becomes big.

The day was a knockout for a college football game with temps in the 70’s.  There was just enough cloud cover to keep the heat from becoming oppressive, as it’s been known to do in late August/early September.  But no, this was a perfect day to watch football.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve seen in some time.  There weren’t a lot of big plays for either offense but the Yellowjackets came away with a 26-8 win to even their record at 2-0.  I didn’t recognize a lot of their players from last year’s squad. That team finished runner-up in the national championship game last year.  Last year’s coaching staff is gone too, so it’s going to be a rebuilding year for the Jackets.

I’d love to see those college athletic teams get more support from the Rochester community.  Those kids play hard and the cost to see them play is actually pretty affordable.  The facilities are some of the nicest I’ve seen in all my years of covering sports, so it’s worth the time and a little investment to take in the college atmosphere.

I’ve got a son and wife who are students out to RCTC, so I’m looking forward to getting to know the place a lot better in the months ahead.  Sure, it would be nice to see more Rochester folks out there.  If you’re a sports fan, you’re definitely missing out on some fun.

The offensive struggles made highlights a little harder to come by, but the Yellowjackets offense did find some rhythm in the second half.

Dairy Night at Mayo Field with the Honkers

Milking cows in the middle of a baseball game?  As a farm boy and lifelong baseball fan, there was no way in the world I was going to pass that up.

Dairy night at the Ballpark in Rochester, Minnesota

Mayo Field in Rochester, Minnesota, was home to Dairy Night at the Ballpark, featuring the 22nd annual cow milking contest to help promote agriculture. (photo by Chad Smith)

The Rochester Honkers baseball team was home to the St. Cloud Rox in Northwoods League baseball on Friday night, July 8.  The night’s sponsor included the Olmsted County American Dairy Association, with help from the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation.  It was Dairy Night at the ballpark with an unusual way to promote agriculture.

The highlight of the night was a cow milking contest that took place at the end of the first inning.  And this wasn’t a new idea, either.  For over 20 years, the Honkers have been hosting an annual milking contest.  This year’s edition featured coaches from both teams in a one-minute, old-fashioned milking contest.  There wasn’t a milking machine to be found for miles.  This one was done by hand.

Dairy Night at the Ballpark In Rochester, Minnesota, sponsored by the Olmsted County ADA

St Cloud Rox Assistant Baseball Coach Phil Imholte is ready for the Dairy Night at the Ballpark main event, a cow milking contest intended to help promote agriculture at Mayo Field in Rochester, Minnesota. (Photo by Chad Smith)

Honkers Manager Trevor Hairgrove was the Rochester entrant and Rox Assistant Coach Phil Imholte was a good sport by jumping into the contest for St. Cloud.  Hairgrove was the eventual contest winner in spite of the fact that his cow was much more agitated and jumpy than Imholte’s.

“It was the 22nd annual Cow Milking Contest,” said Minnesota Farm Bureau Southeast Area Program Director Katie Brenny.  “It was put on by the Olmsted County American Dairy Association and we were glad to join them and help promote agriculture.”

The cows were on loan from the Shea Dairy farm near Viola, Minnesota.  June was officially Dairy Month across the country, but they wanted to continue to promote agriculture with the Rochester Honkers here in early July.

A dairy cow is jumpy while getting ready for the Dairy Night at the Ballpark event in Rochester, Minnesota.

A dairy cow on loan from the Shea Dairy farm near Viola, Minnesota, isn’t excited about being in the Dairy Night at the Ballpark milking contest on Friday night, July 8, at Mayo Field in Rochester, Minnesota. (photo by Chad Smith)

“It’s important to do this because consumers have questions,” Brenny said.  “They want to know where their food comes from and how it’s grown, and we hope they also want to know the people who are producing their food, getting up early in the morning to do the chores and drive the tractor.”

If agriculture doesn’t promote itself, she said consumers with questions typically get their information from non-factual sources .  Farmers want to tell their stories, similar to the way a teacher wants to tell others what they teach or doctors want to talk about what they do.

“There’s always work to do to tell our story,” she said.  “Agriculture changes almost every day, and if we’re not sharing the change, no one will know what we’re doing.  For instance, 97 percent of our farms are family owned and we love to share that message with others.  Farmers are more than willing to answer any questions about what they do.”

Heading home after Dairy Night at the Ballpark in Rochester, Minnesota.

Heading home to the dairy farm after the Cow Milking Contest at Mayo Field in Rochester, Minnesota, on Friday night for Dairy Night at the Ballpark, sponsored by the Olmsted County American Dairy Association (Photo by Chad Smith

Katie is the Southeast Area Program Director for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation.  She spends a lot of time keeping things organized for Farm Bureau members in this part of the state.

“I work with all 11 counties down here in the southeast,” Brenny said, “doing anything from working with our elected officials on Ag policy to consumer events such as tonight, partnering with Ag commodity groups, county fairs, Ag in the Classroom, and more.  We were just at the Rochester Farmer’s Market last weekend and doing all kinds of events to promote the voice of agriculture.”

Brenny and some volunteers spent some time Thursday at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester.  Some of the pictures can be found here.

In addition to the dairy contest, there was some pretty good baseball too as you’ll see in a few highlights I’ve put together here.

It’s time to “Fetch” the groceries

When shoppers walk in the door of the Rushford Foods grocery store, things will look the same on the surface, but there’s a small change in the environment that means a big change for grocery shopping.

Groceries and Fetch are now together in the technology age

Rushford Foods is one of the newest stores trying to bring grocery shopping into the technology age with an application called “Fetch,” that seeks to make grocery shopping more efficient for shoppers of all ages. (photo from rushfordfoods.com)

The pop culture saying “there’s an app for that” now applies to grocery shopping.  Rushford Foods is now gone online with an application called Fetch, which is designed to make patrons into more efficient shoppers.  The options on the app are many, but they’re surprisingly easy to learn.

“Fetch is two years old and based in Madison, Wisconsin,” said Tristan Bednarek of Fetch Rewards.   “Chief Executive Officer Wes Schroll is the company’s founder.  As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he grew frustrated with some aspects of grocery shopping, especially with the length of time it took and the difficulty in finding coupons.  He found a way to fix those problems.”

It’s time to “Fetch” the groceries

The Fetch Rewards company’s “Fetch” grocery shopping application is online at IGA food stores in Rushford, Preston, and Harmony, Minnesota food stores to help make grocery shopping easier for shoppers of all ages. (Photo from superbcrew.org)

Fetch is a free mobile application that shoppers can download onto their smartphones or tablets.  However, if customers don’t own their own device, Rushford Foods will provide tablets for them to use.  All they have to do is check out one at the service counter.

Using an application to help their customers shop isn’t something that Rushford Foods jumped into.  It’s been a process that first began 18 months ago thanks to an article in a college newsletter.

“The founder of Fetch is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate,” said Rushford Foods co-owner Brad Hoiness, “but I went to school at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and the story appeared the La Crosse newsletter. It peaked my interest, so I drove to Madison and met with his team over there and watched how it’s been developing since then.”The first step in using the app is a simple one:  open up the app on your smart device.

“The Deals page is the first one you see when the application opens up,” said Emma Malone of Rushford Foods. “You grab the coupon you want by hitting the Fetch button.  Coupons can even be divided into categories like Dairy or Frozen foods.”

“The Deals page is the first one you see when the app is running,” said Emma Malone of Rushford Foods. “You grab the coupon you want by hitting the Fetch button.  Coupons can even be divided into categories like Dairy or Frozen foods.”

As shoppers go through the aisles and scan items, they are awarded a certain number of points for each item, and those points are redeemable for free items.

Get the groceries with the new “Fetch” application

Photographs from the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Mayville WI. where they are using a software app that allows to people to scan products in the store with their phones or the store has 6 loaner tablet devices, receive coupons instantly and have expedited check-out. You also get points and then can get free products. Fetch Rewards is the name of the Madison-based company that sets this up. Here Mike Hansen of Horicon scans in a bar code from the mushrooms he was buying with one of the store’s loaner tablets. (Photo from MICHAEL SEARS/MSEARS@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM)

“As shoppers walk up and down the aisles, they’re scanning everything they’re buying,” Bednarek said.  “The camera on your device will scan the barcodes for you and total up the prices of what you’re buying.  The app uses your camera and you don’t even have to press any buttons to scan something.  It takes the picture all by itself.  The item then gets thrown in your digital cart while you put it in your actual shopping cart.”

The app keeps a running total of what you’ve bought as you scan each item.  It doesn’t add sales tax so the checkout line final total will be a little different.  The application will show you different coupon options available for the items you want to purchase.

“Those coupons you select in the app come off automatically as you shop,” he said.  “When a coupon is available for something you scan and you haven’t selected it previously, you’ll see a pop-up that asks if you want to save money on the item.  All you do is hit the Fetch button.”

Buying produce will be a little different than most of the other items.  You begin by scanning the barcodes on each produce table which will contain several different options.

“Once you scan the barcode,” said Malone, “a list of everything on the table pops up and shoppers will select the one they want.  A blue button on the screen will remind shoppers to take the produce to scales to weigh the product.  Once it’s on the scale, a barcode pops up in the top right corner with the weight and price.  You scan that barcode with your smart device and it goes right into your virtual shopping cart.”

The Fetch Rewards company loads coupons into the application, and their manufacturer partners do too. Each store that signs up with Fetch will offer their own coupons too.

“You’ll get the same store savings using the app,” Bednarik said, “as we’re not replacing anything.  We’re just an addition on top of what the stores are doing.  Customers still have the opportunity to use manufacturer coupons that they clip out of newspapers.”

When the time comes to redeem the bonus points, shoppers should first hit the checkout button.  A list of everything you have will pop up and show how much you saved on each item.  The total number of points available determines how many of the shopping items will be free.  Each item will cost a certain number of redeemable points and the more of those shoppers have, the more they save.

Fetch Rewards just partnered with a company called Shop Well and the application can now flag nutritional information as well.  This is especially important for shoppers who suffer from food allergies or simply want to live healthier.

“They provide us with nutritional information,” Bednarek said.  “If you scan an item, you have the option to look at its ingredients list and it gives information like sodium content or cholesterol amounts.  Shoppers can even update their profiles to include food allergies and gluten intolerance.  All those things can be flagged so that when you scan an item, it will let you know.”

Southeast Minnesota grocery stores where Fetch is now available include Rushford Foods, as well as Harmony Foods and Preston Foods.  All three IGA food stores just went live with the application for the first time last Wednesday.

“We’ve trained the employees first, getting them comfortable and familiar with the app,” Bednarek said.  “They can answer any questions customers ask.

“We’ve also had several people use it to check out their groceries and they’ve said it’s very easy to learn,” Bednarek added.  “I’ve even had people tell me it turned grocery shopping a little more fun, which is not something you hear on a regular basis.”

Here’s a demonstration video I put together when I was doing the story for Bluff Country News.  I didn’t actually intend to put it up for public viewing, but I thought it would give a decent enough idea of how Fetch works.  If you put your playback on the HD setting, I think the picture is good enough to understand.  Of course, you can also go to Rushford Foods or any of the other stores that have it for more  information.

Chad

 

 

 

 

 

 

2nd Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm a success

Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm a big hit!

The second annual Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm was a big success at the Jary and Celene Holst dairy farm near Kellogg. (Photo by Chad Smith)

The second annual Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm took place on the Jary and Celene Holst dairy farm near Kellogg last Friday night.  A warm summer evening saw a great turnout and a wide variety of activities for people of all ages to take part in.

The goal was a simple one:  to introduce the non-farm public to the people behind the food they eat and to show them what goes into producing that food.  Displays of old and new farm equipment lined the farmyard, as well as history displays, a petting zoo, a lunch stand, kids activities, and much more that made for a busy family night on the farm.

Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm a big hit with children

People of all ages had a chance to get up close and personal at Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm at the Jary and Celene Holst farm near Kellogg on a beautiful Friday evening. (photo by Chad Smith)

“This is the second year of doing this event,” said Katie Brown, a member of the group putting on the event.  “Last year, many of us put together the first event last year at Klein’s Cow Palace near Lake City.  This year, the Holst family graciously offered to host the event out here, so it’s a new event for our county but we’re hoping to make it a tradition.”

Brown described the turnout on Friday night as “amazing.”  Events like this just don’t happen without a large number of people who are passionate about agriculture and want to tell its story to people who don’t have much of a connection to the farm.

“We want to make sure we tell the next generation about what farmers do every day and how hard they work,” said Brown, who lives in Millville, “and not just in the dairy industry but every segment of farming, including corn and soybean farmers, and hog producers.  We just want to make sure we share that story with everyone.”

Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm included agricultural history

Ag history was on display with antique farm equipment at the second annual Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm near Kellogg. The non-farm public had a chance to learn more about ag history and see some of the newest available equipment on display too. (Photo by Chad Smith)

The list of activities was a long one on Friday night.  The displays included the history of agriculture, with actual working equipment from back in the day as well as some of the newest equipment, a chance to watch the dairy farm at work, and plenty for the kids to do as well.

“We have a little bit of history,” Brown said as she took a break from helping at the lunch counter, “not just about the farm but how agriculture has changed.  We have a cream separator, which a lot of people may not know how it works, so it’ll be interesting to watch that.  We have a large sand pile for kids with hidden baseballs to find for a chance to win Twins tickets.  We have old and new tractors, a pedal tractor, calf feeding, and much more.”

She said it’s incredibly important to do more activities like this because of that growing disconnect between urban folks and people on the farm.  She sees that disconnect every day in her job as a Calf and Heifer Specialist with Land O’ Lakes.

Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm offered a chance to get up close and personal with a dairy farm.

Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm included a chance for the non-farm public to watch cow being milked in a working dairy on the Jary and Celene Holst farm near Kellogg. (photo by Chad Smith)

“I’ve been involved in the American Dairy Association and the dairy industry all my life,” Brown said.  “I’ve become very good friends with a couple from New York, and when I explain what I do when working with dairy farmers on the nutrition side making diets for cows and calves, they said ‘you do what?’  It’s interesting to talk to people that have no experience on a farm and tell them about what farmers do on a daily basis.

“When they ask ‘how do you milk a cow,’ they see you sitting on a stool between cows,” she said.  “We send them pictures showing that there’s a new way of milking cows in parlors which is more safe for humans and more efficient to operate.  It’s interesting to hear their take on it.”

As Brown was watching people walk by, she did see a lot of people from the surrounding community but did notice a large number of people who came from far away to enjoy a night on the farm with their family.  The other noticeable thing about the crowds was an incredible number of oranges shirts that signified volunteers who were helping the event run smoothly.

Lots of volunteer help at Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm

Family Night on the Farm organizer Katie Brown said there’s no way she could put an event like that together without lots of volunteer help, who were seen wearing bright orange shirts like this one all over the farm. (Photo by Chad Smith)

“I definitely couldn’t do it myself,” she said with a smile, “the Holst family has been great about bringing in family members and neighbors to help out.  The tractor club helps out, and so does the Farm Bureau, the Farmers Union, and people sometimes just come in to help without being asked.  They show up and say ‘give me a shirt and tell me what to do.’  That’s when you know you’re truly in an agricultural community when people step forward to help.  They step forward to help even when sign-up sheets at local banks are filled up.”

Brown and many of the other people running the event have roots that run deep in agriculture.  Katie grew up on a dairy farm and is very proud of what her family does.  Although she and her husband don’t dairy farm, their kids still get the experience of being on a farm regularly when they want to.  Not everyone is so fortunate to have farming in their immediate, or even extended, family.

Kids activities at Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm

A big goal of Family Night on the Farm is to educate the next generation of future adults about how agriculture works and introduce them to the people behind the food they eat. (photo by Chad Smith)

“I do worry about the next generation getting further and further away from understanding what is going on in farming,” Brown said.  “It’s not generally even the grandparents that farmed any more, it’s getting further away in the family.  It’s vital that we share our story with the next generation about where their food comes from, otherwise, they won’t appreciate it as much as they should.”

Last year, she was hoping for approximately 200 people to show up and they had an actual turnout closer to 600 people.  This year, the goal was 900 people.

“It feels good to see the turnout and it’s a beautiful evening,” Brown said.  “It’s exciting to see so many people show up.”

 

Here’s the complete interview with Katie Brown shortly after I pulled her out from behind the lunch counter for a quick chat.  I think you can hear just how busy the place was in the background.