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SWHHS COVID-19 Appeal for Community Action

Southwest Health & Human Services (SWHHS) counties of Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood and Rock have dangerously high community transmission rates of COVID-19.  We remain deeply committed to the health and well-being of our residents, employees, and communities. SWHHS Board urges all community members to take personal responsibility for the health of our communities.  

The number of individual’s infected, severe cases leading to hospitalization, and individuals dying from COVID-19 related deaths continues to rise throughout Minnesota.  Currently, there have been fifty eight (58) COVID-19 related deaths in our SWHHS counties. Higher rates of virus transmission in the community increase the risk for all members of your community, including residents and staff in healthcare and long-term care facilities. The rise in the number of cases has a significant impact on hospitals and the healthcare system. It overloads valuable resources like availability of beds, supplies, medications and staff. The residents and staff in these facilities are at serious risk even as they take great action to limit infections. When community spread is this significant, all workforces are inevitably affected due to exposure or illness.  We need all citizens and employers to take aggressive action to stop the spread of COVID-19.  

The SWHHS County Commissioners unanimously voice their support of the efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and urge communities, schools, businesses and patrons to follow these guidelines: 

1. Monitor Your Health Daily. If you feel unwell please stay home.  

2. Get tested if you have symptoms or if you are a close contact.  Follow isolation and quarantine guidelines.  Identification of COVID spread can help stop the spread.

3. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others. Everyone must wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

4.Maintain social distance. When out in public, maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others who do not live in your home. Avoid any large gatherings.  Stay home as much as possible.  If someone in your home is ill, keep at least six feet of distance from them if possible. 

5. Limit gathering sizes to 10 or less. Do not attend events if you are high risk for complications associated with COVID-19. We must remember that seemingly uninfected family members and friends may be infected but asymptomatic. Exposure to asymptomatic cases can easily lead to spread.

6. Wash your Hands Frequently.

Until a safe and effective vaccine is approved and available in our area, we only have limited tools to stop the spread of COVID-19.  Reducing community spread is critical, we all simply must do better.  We each need to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. We can do this by following the guidelines set forth by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.  The time to act is now, and we need everyone’s help.

Lincoln County Commissioners – Corey Sik and Mic VanDeVere

Lyon County Commissioners – Rick Anderson and Charlie Sanow

Murray County Commissioners – James Jens and Dennis Welgraven

Pipestone County Commissioners – Les Nath and Dan Wildermuth

Redwood County Commissioners – Jim Salfer and Dave Forkrud

Rock County Commissioners – Sherri Thompson and Greg Burger

Youth Encouraged To Capture Those Around Them In 4-H Friends And Family Photo Challenge

November 20, 2020 —Celebrate those around you while capturing the new ways friends and families will get together.

The 4-H Friends and Family Photo Challenge is a statewide effort to promote creativity and connectivity. It also serves as an opportunity for youth to document their daily activities and family traditions.

“The practice a 4-H’er gets taking pictures of the people around them just for fun and to exhibit at the fair may guide future career choices,” said Lonna Smith, Minnesota 4-H photography project development committee member. “Now is the perfect time to focus your camera on the people around you. Capture everyday activities or your favorite traditions like reading a bedtime story or baking cookies, decorating a gingerbread house or watering the horses on a frosty morning.”

Youth as young as kindergarten are welcome to join the challenge and this is a great first experience for those new to 4-H. Register for the fall photo challenge at

“To me, photography is a way to capture the world. It’s a way to capture those happy memories and cherish them forever. One photograph is powerful enough to bring you back to that exact moment, it brings you back to  all of the emotions of what that day has brought to you,” said Jenna Stockinger, an Anoka County 4-H member. “In the photography project area, I have learned basic camera skills like rules of thirds, how to find the best lighting, and composition. But not only have I learned these skills, I have learned how to tell a story with a photo, how to make someone feel comfortable in front of the camera, and how to bring the emotions that they are feeling out. I am most definitely not done learning and I can’t wait to see what else I can learn in the future!”

Once registered for the challenge, youth can prepare to capture their friends and family in a candid or posed setting. Youth can utilize lessons found on the Minnesota 4-H photography project page to learn how to use angles, light and composition to enhance your photography. Participants can submit up to three of their favorite photos for the friends and family photography challenge.

Participants will be entered into a random prize drawing. Volunteer photography judges will provide feedback and recognize their top three images with an award. Images will also be featured in a slideshow that will be posted on the Minnesota 4-H photography project page and social media.

 The 4-H photography project is a youth development offering of the University of Minnesota Extension: Learn more at:


For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

Murray County 4-H Awards

By Kim Hause, Local Extension Educator - 4-H Youth Development

SLAYTON, Minn. 11/22/2020 –  Five college scholarships were awarded at the virtual Murray County 4-H Awards Celebration on November 22.  Receiving $500 4-H scholarships were Vanessa Dahlgren and Abby Hamman, Prairie Hustlers 4-H Club; Amber Post, Chandler Hilltoppers 4-H Club; and Macy Posthuma and Michelle Zenk, Cameron 4-H Club.  Michelle and Abby also received Andrea Ruesch Memorial Scholarships.

Macy Posthuma, Cameron 4-H Club and Hannah Wichmann, Laker 4-H Club, were honored with the prestigious “I Dare You” leadership award.  Hannah also received the Outstanding 4-H Ambassador award.

Club secretaries and historians recognized for their contribution and hard work were: Megan Surprenant, Currie Poco-a-Poco 4-H Club and Cody Post and Kylee Brands, Chandler Hilltoppers 4-H Club. 

Mary McNab, Slayton Shooting Stars 4-H Club, received the Agnes Herrig Memorial Food & Nutrition Award for her champion food exhibit at 4-H Achievement Days. 

Ron and Connie Schwartau were recognized for 40 years of 4-H volunteer service. Other volunteers reaching five years or more were: Sharon Staples -30 years, Paul & Mary Jans – 20 years, Ron Holinka – 15 years, Chris Opdahl and Mike Samuelson – 10 years; Andrew Busman, Anita Gaul, Jodi Klein, Kelly Nelson, Jessamy Schaap, Sue Schreier, Curtis Schuur, James and Janese Siedschlag – 5 years.

Culligan of Slayton was the recipient of the Friend of 4-H Award.  Culligan provides assistance with the 4-H annual fruit sale and county fair food stand.

Horse project volunteer Ron Holinka of Avoca was honored with the 4-H Alumni Award.  

Samantha Larson, Prairie Hustlers 4-H Club, was a Minnesota 4-H Purple Ribbon Scholarship recipient.

2020-21 Federation Officers are: Megan Surprenant, President; Makayla Rhodes, Vice President; Sophie Larson, Secretary; Ashley Hellewell, Historian; Jaysa Davis & Ryanna Schreier, Officers at Large.

A recording of the presentation is available on the Murray County 4-H Facebook page:


Media Contact & Source: Kim Hause, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, University of Minnesota Extension-Murray County, PH: 507-836-1144,

Community Christmas Dinner CANCELED

Community Christmas Dinner at St. Ann’s Hall will NOT be possible in 2020 because of the COVID guidelines and MN Governor Executive Order 20-96 for gatherings. 

The idea of a possible drive through dinner was discussed but unfortunately is NOT practical due to the number of people we serve. 

We apologize for the inconvenience and changes  this year for those who look forward to this social event each holiday season. We will be back in 2021! Thank you and Merry Christmas!

Slayton DriftBreakers Snowmobile Club Youth Snowmobile Safety Certification

Step 1A.  Pre-Register your student ASAP. NO LATER THAN Dec. 16th. (name, address, ph. Number, and EMAIL ADDRESS).

With : Brad Schweigert :   Or

Randy Martin:

Step 1B. Complete The online course at :  ($24.95 fee)

IMPORTANT : Digitally save the online course completion voucher. (no paper) to show at Driving Test day.

Step 2. Complete the Review / Driving Test ($5.00 fee) On : Saturday, Dec. 19th .  Classes due to Covid will be broken into 3 blocks, with up to 8 students / Block to effectively social distance. Masks are required and extra’s provided.

Morning Block A = 9 -10:30 AM   

Morning Block B = 11 – 12:30 PM

Afternoon Block C  = 1 – 2:30 PM (if needed)

At : Slayton DriftBreaker’s Groomer Shed , 1942  Engerbretson  Ave., Slayton  MN  56172                                                                                                                  *Appropriate clothing MUST be brought to ride snowmobile, as extras will not be provided. 

Step 3.  Register students completed driving test with DNR. Instructions will be sent with students upon completion of driving test.

* Certificate becomes valid at age 12

* Adult Certification (16 & up) need only do Steps 1 & 3

* Questions Call : Brad Schweigert 1-507-360-8144  or Randy Martin 1-507-227-9693

Meeting Notice

Due to the new Covid mandates The American Legion Auxiliary December meeting & Christmas gathering have been cancelled.

See you all on March 9th, 2021.  More information to follow.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


The Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC)’s Board of Directors will meet remotely on Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. To protect the health and well-being of our community, Commission members, and staff during this time, SRDC will offer a virtual option for public attendance and participation at the SRDC Board of Directors meeting. A link in which the public may stream and participate is found below. The agenda for the meeting can be found here:

To join the meeting:

1.     View streaming video with audio (requires internet connected computer or cell phone): from internet connected computer, follow this link:

2.     From internet connected mobile phone, download Zoom Cloud Meetings app and enter Meeting ID: 836 8459 2066.

3.     Join audio only meeting from your phone by dialing 1-312-626-6799 and enter Meeting ID: 836 8459 2066.

Murray County residents are invited to participate in an upcoming community input session about solar energy

Murray County is working with the University of Minnesota to map “sweet spots” for potential future solar energy installations. The project will consider financial feasibility, appropriate scale, local water quality, pollinators, and other possible benefits.

This project is focused on mid-sized solar development (1 megawatt to 10 megawatt, 10 to 100 acres) paired with facilities where a similar amount of electricity is consumed. GIS (geographic information systems) will be used to create:

● Maps to help visualize where multiple benefits can be maximized: local energy use, economics, habitat, and water quality

● Tools that Murray County and others can use for future decision-making


Southwest Minnesota is already home to wind power. Increasingly we are seeing interest in solar, too.

Potential benefits to solar might include:

● Local power generation

● Greater community resilience

● Diversified farm income through land leases

● Expanded pollinator habitat

● Perennial cover to improve water quality

Hearing from you

The project team wants to hear from you about options, drivers, and benefits related to solar development.

Your input will provide:

● Understanding of community perspectives

● Insights on how the community prioritizes

benefits and trade-offs

● Ideas for new opportunities for economic


NOTE: This project is focused on mapping potential sites and identifying considerations for long-term decisionmaking.

You are invited to choose ONE of three options for virtual meetings:

- Tuesday, December 1st from 4:00–5:30PM

- Monday, December 7th from 10:30–12:00PM

- Thursday, December 10th from 6:00–7:30PM

For more information and to register, go to

This project is NOT associated with any specific or planned solar development.


This project is a partnership of Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC), Murray County, Great Plains Institute (GPI), University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment (IonE), Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), and UMN Extension’s Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership.

The University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) connect Greater Minnesota people and communities to the University of Minnesota to create solutions together. RSDP’s five regional boards pursue diverse community based partnerships to facilitate meaningful opportunities for leadership and support:

Apply Now for USDA’s Corona-virus Food Assistance Program 2  Application Deadline is December 11

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farmers and ranchers that the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) is Dec. 11, 2020. This program provides direct relief to producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19.

CFAP 2 will provide up to $14 billion to eligible producers of certain row crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, aquaculture and more. All eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found on CFAP 2 is a separate program from the first iteration of the program (CFAP 1) and interested producers must complete a new application to be eligible for payment for CFAP 2.

Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer general assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office.

Application Options

Producers have several options for applying to the CFAP 2 program by the Dec. 11 deadline:

• Using an online portal at This allows producers with secure USDA login credentials, known as eAuthentication, to certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications and submit directly to the local USDA Service Center.  

• Completing the application form using our CFAP 2 Application Generator and Payment Calculator found at This Excel workbook allows customers to input information specific to their operation to determine estimated payments and populate the application form, which can be printed, then signed and submitted to their local USDA Service Center.  

• Downloading the AD-3117 application form from and manually completing the form to submit to the local USDA Service Center by mail, electronically, or by hand delivery to an office drop box. In some limited cases, the office may be open for in-person business by appointment. Visit to check the status of your local office.

Producers of commodities with payments based on acreage will use acreage and yield information provided by FSA through the annual acreage reporting process. Producers have the option to complete their application by working directly with their local FSA office or online through the CFAP 2 Application Portal. 

All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from For existing FSA customers, including those who participated in CFAP 1, these documents are likely already on file. 

Both CFAP 1 and CFAP 2 are self-certification programs, which means the applicant certifies the information submitted is correct. FSA will soon begin an important step in the internal controls portion of CFAP 1 by conducting spot checks. Producers have been randomly selected using a statistically sound methodology. These CFAP 1 applicants will be contacted by FSA staff and asked to provide supporting documentation to verify the information certified by the producer on their CFAP 1 application. 

As of Nov. 9, FSA has paid more than $9.5 billion with more than 576,000 applications for CFAP 2. This builds upon more than $10.3 billion paid through CFAP 1.

Murray County Christmas Project

The Murray County Christmas Project is again planning to provide toys and gifts to over 300 eligible children in Murray County.  We are accepting donations of toys and gifts for children 0 through 11 years of age.  We also need stocking caps and mittens.  Monetary gifts are also accepted to help with the purchase of gift items.   

Please have all checks made payable to:  Murray County Christmas Project/SRDC.  Donations can be dropped off at the Slayton Shoe Repair in Slayton, local banks in Murray County or sent to Murray County Christmas Project, Box 111, Slayton, MN  56172.  Please have all donations in by December 1, 2020 or contact 507-530-1292 and we will schedule a pick up time for your donation.  Due to the pandemic we will be handing out gifts and toys earlier this year.  

Thank you for your support to the Murray County Christmas Project, your donations will be greatly appreciated by all who receive them.

Murray County Historical Society Closed Nov. 21 to Dec. 21

In compliance with Minnesota Executive Order 20-99, the Murray County Historical Museum will be closed to the public from November 21 to December 21, 2020. The main museum building, Wornson Log Cabin, Dinehart Holt House, and Sierk Agricultural Building will all be closed during this time. We will not be accepting any artifact donations during the duration of the closure. We hope to reopen by November 22. Despite the closure, staff will still be at the museum completing non-public interfacing projects (of which there are plenty!).

If you have any further questions that we did not address here, contact us! You can reach us during our regular hours (Tuesday-Friday, 9am-5pm) by calling 507-836-6533 or emailing You can also reach us outside of our regular hours by messaging us on our Facebook page. For matters related to End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum, email

While visitors will not be allowed to come to the museum in-person, there are still ways for you to connect to Murray County History!

Facebook: During work days (Tuesday-Friday) we will post on our Facebook page at least once a day. Posts include behind-the-scenes work at the museum, interesting artifacts, and fun history tidbits! Click here to visit our Facebook page. If you have not done so already, please “like” our page. Like, follow, comment, and most importantly... share our page and posts!

Research from Home: Are you working on your family history? Do you have a question about a business or organization that used to operate in Murray County? Do you find yourself wondering what were the names of your classmates from “X” year? We can help answer your Murray County history research questions virtually! If you have a question, give us a call at 507-836-6533, email, or message us on Facebook. We will get back to you with information as soon as possible.

Participate in the Dinehart Lunchbox Lecture Series: The Murray County Historical Society will not be hosting in-person Dinehart Lunchbox Lectures this season. Instead, what we have planned is a combination of six recorded presentations and slideshows that will be posted on our website between November and April for you to enjoy at home! The schedule is as follows:

November 12: 2020 Cemetery Tour PowerPoint [Live Now!]

December 10: Draining the Great Oasis; by Janet Timmerman

January 14: Murray County in the 1920s PowerPoint

February 11: Railroads of Murray County; by Jakob Etrheim

March 11: Past Baseball Interview with Bill Bolin; from the MCHS Archives

April 8: Frank Thayer—An Architect’s Story; by Rose Schmit

One positive about this type of lecture? You do not have to worry about missing a one-day event. These videos will be available on our website all season so you can watch them whenever you have time! The presentations will be released on our website ( on the second Thursday of each month.

Good News 

By: John Stenen   

Many years ago my wife and I were on vacation in northern Minnesota and were invited to a Bible Camp put on by a Church located on the east coast. The special speaker did a lot of missionary work in the Philippines and told us the story of two Philippine Christian men who were about to be killed by communist gorillas for no other reason than that they were Christians. They were taken into the jungle and forced to dig their own graves; then they would be shot and buried. The men were frightened at first, but as they continued to dig, one said to the other, “You know, if we dig faster we could be with Jesus before midnight.” As they both dug faster, a great brightness shone all around them and the evil men ran away terrorized. They both shared that they had such anticipation of being with Jesus that they felt as though they had been cheated by not being killed.

What those men experienced that night in the jungle was God’s Grace. His grace is so wonderful! In fact, in Ephesians 2:8 we are told that we are saved by grace through faith. Both grace and faith are given to us by God Himself. If you are of the opinion that you have been such a terrible person and that God would never save you – you are wrong! God loves you dearly and gave His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for you. He invites you to come to Him even now, today, and receive His free gift of eternal life. Open your heart and invite Him in. You should then be baptized in water and be a follower of His all the days of your life. God bless.

Grief Support Group

Hospice of Murray County will hold a bereavement group for adults at the Hospice of Murray County office in Slayton. It is for 6 sessions, on Tuesdays, and will begin on Tuesday November 10th and will continue through Tuesday, December 15th, 2020, from 4:00-5:30 pm.

There is no cost for the bereavement support group as it is sponsored by Totzke Funeral Home of Fulda and Slayton, and Hospice of Murray County. Pre-registrations are appreciated so materials can be put together. You can pre-register by calling the Hospice office at 507-836-8114 by Monday November 9th.

This bereavement group is not just for those family members served by hospice, but all adults who have lost a loved one.

Nobles-Murray Rural Electric Trust Operation RoundUp Supports Imagination Library

United Way of Southwest Minnesota is a recipient of a $1,500 grant from Nobles-Murray Rural Electric Trust’s Operation RoundUp program.  The Operation RoundUp program is supported by the member-owners of Nobles Electric Cooperative as a way to strengthen local communities and programs in the cooperative’s service territory. The Operation RoundUp grant will support children ages birth to five in the Nobles Electric Cooperative’s service territory that are registered for Imagination Library.

In 1996, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program was launched to benefit the children of her home county (Sevier) in East Tennessee. Dolly’s vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their home, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. This program would also ensure that every child would have access to books in their home, regardless of their family’s income.

The program became so popular that in the year 2000 Parton announced that she would make the program available to any community that was willing to partner with her and to financially support their own program locally. In 2005, the United Way of Southwest Minnesota became the local affiliate for the region. The program is free to families with children under the age of five in qualifying counties, but is dependent on donations to fund the cost of the books and delivery.

The United Way of Southwest Minnesota supports children in the following school districts: Balaton, Canby, Clarkfield, Dawson/Boyd, Echo, Fulda, Hendricks, Ivanhoe, Lake Benton, Lakeview, Lynd, Marshall, Milroy, Minneota, Murray County Central, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Tracy, Walnut Grove-Westbrook, and Yellow Medicine East. Generally, the cost is $30 per child per year. The United Way of Southwest Minnesota is the local affiliate for more than 2,300 children each month. To learn more or to register for the program, please visit<>.