Russ Mitchell

The Mitchell Report

Russ Mitchell is editor of The Dickinson County News. He has been in Spirit Lake since January 2010 and began in journalism in 1997. The Mitchell Report can be about anything and everything. Comments are invited.


New Feature: Business Notebook 2-13-15

Friday, February 13, 2015

This time of year might be considered the "offseason," but one drive through the Iowa Great Lakes or peek at our inbox tells us there's a lot going on. I'll try to catch you up on some of the recent happenings. If you have a item of interest for Business Notebook, please send it to rmitchell@dickinsoncountynews.com.

Welcome to La Barca, which opened its restaurant at the former Mrs. Lady's location near Okoboji Middle School in Arnolds Park. The parking lot has been pretty full on most evenings. I know a lot of us will miss the Mrs. Lady's menu put together by owner Carole Hinders, but it's nice to see the building didn't stay vacant for long. Best of luck to the new owners and continued happy retirement, Carole!

Bomgaars Supply Inc. has a location in Spirit Lake and the company is expanding its footprint in the west. The company recently announced plans to purchase 12 former ALCO stores in four states. Four are in Wyoming (Rawlins, Lander, Pinedale, and Diamondville) and two are in Idaho (Preston and Soda Springs). They'll also be entering the Imperial, Nebraska and Chamberlain, South Dakota markets for the first time. The company also says it will move from smaller Bomgaars locations to larger ALCO buildings in the Nebraska towns of West Point, Ainsworth, Ogallala and Gordon. If you're heading out west, look for building signage changes in late winter and early spring. ALCO was founded in 1901 and the company declared bankruptcy in October. The company is in the process of liquidating its inventory. Bomgaars employes 1,800 employees at 69 stores in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming.

An overdue welcome to Melissa Matthews, who became part of the Erichsen, Eckard & Associates, PC's professional team on Dec. 29 as an administrative and marketing assistant. She is a graduate from the Hamilton Business College of Cedar Rapids with an associate in arts degree in office clerical. Melissa currently resides in Terril and is familiar with the Lakes Area, which is where she grew up. She enjoys family time, especially her new grandson, sewing, crafts and gardening.

Congratulations also goes to Sara Cornell. She has nine years of experience as a customer service representative at Northwest Bank and was recently named a personal banker at the Spirit Lake location. Dan Kitzinger, Market President of Northwest Bank in Spirit Lake made the announcement. "Sara's banking and customer service experience will allow for a seamless transition into her new role," he said. "Sara is from Spirit Lake and knows our customers well. She will continue to provide the high quality of service our customers come know and to expect." The new role comes at a busy time of year for the Cornell family. Sara is a member of the Spirit Lake Youth Wrestling Club. (She and her husband, Elijah, have a son, Cael.) She also helps raise funds for the Dickinson County Relay for Life.

Lake Park native Brent Burns has been named the new manager of the Auto$mart Finance store in Spirit Lake. If the last name sounds familiar, it's because Brent began his business career in the automobile industry with his father at Burns Motor Company in Lake Park and later in Spirit Lake in the early 80s. He then enjoyed a successful 17 year career in banking, mortgages and real estate in the suburban Chicago market. Brent returned to northwest Iowa with his family in 2011, to operate a tutoring center franchise in Spencer with his wife Missy. He's since closed that business to once again put his finance and automotive background to use. "We love the Iowa Great Lakes and Spencer area and are so happy that we can raise our kids in this positive, fun filled area," he told us. In his spare time, Brent likes to cook, golf, hunt, and "treasure" hunt at flea markets with his family. You can reach him at an easy number to remember: 336-3333.

Carstens Financial Group owner Kirt Carstens is making my friends in the office jealous. On Jan. 28, he had a chance to break away from the Iowa winter for some golf at the Annexus Pro-Am golf tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event included Major League Baseball pitcher Randy Johnson, retired Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, NBA legend Julius "Dr. J" Erving and country music star Dierks Bentley. Kirt was teamed (and pictured) with 25-year-old PGA up-and-comer Morgan Hoffman, an Oklahoma State University graduate who turned pro in 2011, along with amateurs Raymond Barton, Chairman of Great Clips, and Jonathon Lee and Troy Sharpe, fellow Annexus qualifiers. "Playing in the Annexus Pro-Am was an incredible amount of fun. Morgan Hoffman was great, and to witness this tournament in person for the second time was amazing. Hitting a couple of shots with 15,000 people around one hole is something like I've never experienced before," he told us. Kirt earned the trip because his retirement planning services for customers qualified him for Annexus Inner Circle distinction.

Sen. David Johnson (R-Ocheyedan) and Reps. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) and Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) met with several physicians at the Capitol, including Drs. Steve Fiala from Spirit Lake and Keith Klemme of Milford. They visited the Capitol to attend Physicians Day on the Hill. Realtors get a day, too: Wills and Jones met with several realtors at the Capitol including Richard Ortman from Milford, Lynn Thompson from Okoboji and Tracey Radcliffe from Spirit Lake. Last, but certainly not least, Dave Rowley also of Spirit Lake visited Des Moines. Dave visited the Statehouse on behalf of the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa to attend Insurance Day on the Hill.

A new photography studio is now open for business in Spirit Lake. "The Studio," which celebrated with an open house during Winter Games weekend, is located at 1715 Hill Avenue, on the east side of the road, north of the courthouse in Olde Town Spirit Lake. Local photographer Roxie Moriston is the owner. She lives in Spirit Lake with her husband, and was previously employed for 25 years at Stylecraft in Milford. When the plant shut down, Roxie took the opportunity to go back to school. She graduated in the spring of 2014 with her two-year degree in Photography from Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon. Roxie can be reached at 712-291-1094.

Speaking of photographers, we can't say enough about the award-winning work by Dave Petrick. He's been a photographer in the Iowa Great Lakes since 1975 and he's generous with his time for all of us at The Dickinson County News. Judges from the Minnesota Press Association recognized his great work with awards for Best Slideshow (an online photo gallery), two Best News photos, and Best Feature Photo or Photo Story. The awards, if you're wondering, came from his coverage of last summer's Color Dash, RAGBRAI and the Dickinson County Relay for Life. He also volunteers his time to help the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce photograph the new line of Winter Games apparel. Dave Petrick Photography has a website and you can also reach Dave at 330-1512.

If you'd bear with me for one more newspaper contest note, please: There are people who work very hard behind-the-scenes, but they don't have awards for the day-to-day process of keeping the ship on course here in Spirit Lake. Jason Lindsay is our General Manager and the Regional Advertising Director under Publisher Paula Buenger and Kristen Larsen is the Office Manager. None of what you see on these pages would be possible without them.