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Southwest Minnesota Men’s Chorus

The Southwest Minnesota Men’s Chorus is busy rehearsing and polishing up songs for their 2018 SPRING DINNER CONCERTS. The chorus rehearses in Walnut Grove and the members come from twelve surrounding communities. The director is Wendy Johnson, the vocal music director at Tracy High School in Tracy. The chorus has been providing musical entertainment to audiences in southwest Minnesota for over 50 years. This year’s concert is a delightful mix of show tunes, patriotic songs, spirituals and old favorites. Also performing will be several small groups that are made up of chorus members. Advance Tickets Sales Only!!

The concert includes a catered meal served by members of the chorus. This year’s schedule of concerts is:

Sat., April 7th, 7:00 pm at the American Legion Club in Lamberton

Sunday, April 8th,7:00 pm at the Caboose in Tracy

Monday, April 9th 7:00 pm at the Community Center in Springfield

Tickets for all of the concerts are available at the 1st Independent Bank (507-747-2214 and Ray Thull (507-747-2270) in Lucan and chorus members. Hope to see you at one of the concerts. Where else can you go and enjoy an evening of good food, entertainment and be served by waiters wearing a tux!!

A Tale of Twenty Typewriters: The Process of Deaccession

Spring is the traditional time for house cleaning and it is time for the museum to think Spring!

“I look at items that I have kept over the years and scratch my head wondering why I still hold onto things” is a common statement that has been heard throughout the generations.  The reasons are many; it holds a memory, it might be useful in the future, it was pretty when it was bought, or the kids might want it someday. The reasons are endless.

Just like house cleaning at home, museums go through the same agonizing process. How to decide what to keep, and what no longer serves the mission of the organization?   

The museum first opened in the old Slayton firehall around 1958. The “new” building was built in 1971 and soon began to fill with the items that make Murray County’s history unique. When a museum has been in business as long as this one, they need to find a balance between what continues to tell the story for the future and to make room for new items.   

Over the years an abundance of items built up! The current collections committee have found some items that have no sign of having been officially collected, no processing papers, and no collection numbers. In museum terminology, no provenance. There are also several of the same item in varying conditions. 

When they accept items into the collection it is called an accession. The museum and current collections committee follows strict criteria to guide them throughout the accession process by asking the following questions:

1. Will it help meet the museum mission?  

2. Will the items’ story help tell the history of Murray County and its people?  

3. Did the item originate here in the area or was it used extensively here? 

4. Can the museum properly care for it throughout the years? 

5. Does the museum already have a good example in the collection that tells the same story? 

The process of removing items from the collection is called deaccession. For an item to be deaccessioned, it must meet two or more of the following criteria.

1. It has no provenance.

2. It does not help tell the history of the county.

3.It is in very poor condition and cannot be preserved.

4.It is a duplication to other items. 

5. It is a danger to the rest of the collection or the staff and visitors? (poisons, arsenic, infestation?)

The museum never asks, “How much is this worth?” That is not taken into consideration as all museum artifacts are considered priceless due to their history in the community.

If an item has been identified for deaccession, a form is filled out giving the reasons. The item is then brought before the Murray County Historical Society Collections Committee. The Collections Committee is a group of members of the Historical Society and general at-large residents of the county. Their job is to make recommendations to the Board about what should be included in the collection, both accessions and deaccessions. If the committee recommends the removal of an item it still has a long way to go before it is removed from the collection.

1. All due diligence must be taken to find whoever donated the item. Sometimes that is not possible due to lack of past paperwork. If the donor is found, they are contacted or an available family member may be contacted. They get first chance to take the item back into a family collection. 

2. If the museum cannot find a family member, the museum can offer the item to another like organization. Perhaps a different local museum needs a Royal typewriter! 

3. If that fails, the historical society may sell the item but the resulting funds MUST be used to help preserve the remaining items in the museum or to purchase an item that the society deems important to the collection.

4. The very last option is to discard the item properly through a recycling program, landfill, or waste management system.

Over the last year the museum staff has been going through an assessment of the collection to identify items that may no longer belong in the collection.    They have been steadfast in following the collections policies to accomplish this. 

Once items reach the stage of items-to-be-sold the Historical Society will put them up for public auction on an e-Bay site. Per a conflict of interest policy, items cannot be purchased by any member of the Historical Society board or staff.

The Historical Society and the Museum staff intend this process to be as transparent as possible. 

If you have questions or concerns about the process, please do not hesitate to contact, Janet Timmerman, at 507-836-6533 or e-mail 

Red Cross to Install Smoke Alarms, Teach People Fire Safety in Slayton

As part of the American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness campaign, the American Red Cross serving Southwest Minnesota will be installing free smoke alarms and teach families fire safety in Slayton on Saturday, April 7. The Red Cross is partnering with the Slayton Fire Department on this important program. Members of the fire department, volunteers and staff will be in Slayton from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. to install alarms or set up appointments for installations.

“Installing a smoke alarm significantly reduces the risk of someone dying from a home fire and also makes you and your family feel safer,” said Leah Pockrandt, executive director American Red Cross serving Southwest Minnesota. “We encourage people to take advantage of this free initiative, to check their smoke alarms regularly, and to regularly conduct two-minute fire drills at home.”

In partnership with the Slayton Fire Department, local Red Cross volunteers will be canvassing neighborhoods in Slayton on Monday, April 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. to schedule installation appointments. On April 7 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., volunteers will install 10-year smoke alarms where needed, share vital home fire safety information, and teach residents what to do if a fire breaks out in their home. 

To request a smoke alarm installation for your home, community members can call 612-460-3674, visit or text “alarm” to 844-811-0100. Appointments typically take 20-30 minutes. Area residents who live outside of Slayton may request smoke alarms and the Red Cross will make an appointment to schedule installation at a later date. Residents who will not be home on April 7 can also request installation of smoke alarms at a later date. 

Fairy House Workshop

Jen Anfinson, Minnesota artist and teacher, will be at the Slayton Public Library on Friday, April 27 to teach two free community craft workshops. 

The first will be a multi-generational “Fairy House Workshop” for a grandparent or parent to partner with a child.  Each grandparent/parent and child will design and create a petite home for their outdoor garden or as an inside decoration, where fairies will want to be! We will use an array of found objects to construct a fairy house of miniature scale. This is a class where your imagination takes hold and it’s hard to stop! The workshop is from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. in the community room at the Slayton Public Library. All supplies will be provided.

The second free workshop, “Jewelry Techniques for Nature Finds” is for teens and adults. Calling all rock hounds! Learn jewelry techniques using your nature finds . . . agates, sea glass, rocks, driftwood, etc. Bring your questions and nature finds along . . . a favorite rock, shell or piece of sea glass to wire wrap. This workshop will be from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. in the community room at the Slayton Public Library. Craft supplies will be provided.

Class size is limited so call today for more information or to register for a free craft workshop. Slayton Public Library – 836-8778.

Free Branson Trip for a Prairie Music Member

Slayton welcomes “A Musical Journey of Ireland” with Cahal Dunne, coming to Murray County Auditorium on Saturday, April 14th at 7:30pm. This highly entertaining show is sponsored by the Prairie Music Concert Association as part of its current series of concerts.

The Prairie Music Association is pleased to announce the receipt of an anonymous gift of a trip to Branson, Missouri for the dates of November 7-11, 2018. The trip is being arranged through a travel agency in Yankton, SD. To be eligible to win the trip, you must purchase an adult membership for the 2018-2019 concert season. Your name will be entered into the drawing when a membership is purchased or renewed at the April 14th concert.

Cahal Dunne, “Ireland’s Happy Man,” is a composer, classically trained concert pianist, singer, story teller, comedian and television personality. His style is rich and deep, reflecting the many sides of this distinguished career. He has performed with Bob Hope, Al Martino, Tony Orlando and has performed for several American Presidents. So with his Irish to Broadway to Country repertoire, a great show is guaranteed!

Cahal received his Musical Degree from the University College of Cork. He started a band in Ireland in 1977 and against all odds they made it. They won the equivalent of American Idol in 1979 with his own song “Happy Man.” It was his first number one hit. Fighting a recession in Ireland, he emigrated to the United States and now enjoys playing and singing all over the U.S. 

Cahal possesses that certain magical quality known in show business as “it.” “It” transcends talent. “It” comes from deep within an entertainer and washes over an audience, captivating them. He has a following of loyal admirers and friends and continues to make new friends with each appearance.

Name to be drawn at the April  14th Concert. If you do not have a current Prairie Music membership you can attend the April 14th concert free of charge if you purchase a 2018-2019 membership. For further information about Cahal and his performance or information about purchasing a membership. Please call Sandy at 836-8395, Kelly at 836-8970, or Jan at 479-3048.

Murray County Central Receives Rising Star Award

Murray County Central staff and students were the recipients of the United Way of Southwest Minnesota (UWSWMN) Rising Star award.  This award is presented to one workplace that demonstrates emerging support and enthusiasm for the UWSWMN.

Murray County Central ran its 4th United Way campaign this year; which raised 6 times more than in their inaugural campaign. They have continued to grow both their campaign and partnership with UWSWMN. Staff and students worked together to conduct engaging and creative fundraisers including special events such as bubblegum Friday, penny challenge and hat days.  Go Rebels!

Their school homepage describes them best...”We want our students to move on from MCC with a commitment of service to others and a desire to assume leadership roles in an ever-changing world. It is our hope that our students use their time, talents and treasures for the greater good of the environment, economy and global society.”

UWSWMN held its annual progress report to the community on Tuesday, March 20th from 4:00-5:00pm at the Marshall Golf Club.  The event recognized SW MN volunteers, investors and community partners and highlighted United Way’s 2017 accomplishments.  In addition, the 2017-18 awards of distinction were presented and announcements about 2018 United Way initiatives were made.

Dinehart Lunchbox Lecture

The Murray County Historical Society’s April Dinehart Lunchbox Lecture will host Willmar author, Scott Thoma, on Thursday, April 12, 2018. His presentation will begin at noon at the 4-H building on the Murray County Fairgrounds. Thoma will present “Tracy Tornado 50th Anniversary” There is a $3.00 charge for the event and members of the Murray County Historical Society get in free. Bring your questions and your lunch along. Coffee, tea, and hot drinks provided. For more information contact the Murray County Historical Museum at: 507-836-6533 or email:

On June 13, 1968, the first F5 tornado ever recorded in Minnesota struck the town of Tracy around 7 p.m. Nine people were killed and over 100 injured. Newlyweds, Linda (Haugen) Vaske and her husband Clifford Vaske had been finalizing adoption paperwork on two-year-old Nancy Vlahos when Clifford left for military training in Washington. On the night of the tornado, Linda, her 8-year-old sister Pam and Nancy were at the Vaskes’ home south of town. Linda, holding tightly onto Nancy, and Pam were unable to reach the basement in time. All three were blown out of the house. Linda was unable to maintain her grasp on Nancy. Although the sisters suffered serious injuries, both survived. However, Nancy’s lifeless body was found on a street a block away. The sisters will never forget that night and rarely a day goes by that they don’t think about the little girl who was taken from them. This is the true story written by Scott Thoma in his book: “Out of the Blue.” Scott Thoma is uniquely qualified to write these stories, having lived in Tracy when the tornado hit. He also boasts a resume’ that includes parallel award-winning careers as both a sports reporter and a sports editor at a Minnesota daily newspaper for nearly 30 years. He currently lives in Willmar, Minnesota.  Learn more at