Sen. Gene Dornink: Busy community summer

Published 6:30 am Saturday, August 7, 2021

Friends and Neighbors,

It has been a busy summer in our communities and I’m pleased to be participating in many of our events, including the Freeborn County Fair that was held this week. I hope all of you got a chance to check out the carnival, listen to live music and participate in the many engaging activities available. Arik Matson was honored at the fair, recognizing him for his and his family’s sacrifice for our community, which is deeply appreciated and will never be forgotten. Next week, the Mower County fair will begin and I hope to see you there!

On Monday, I attended an open house for the new Freeborn-Mower Electric Cooperative’s new site. It is a beautiful building and over 500 community members were able to stop in and see it. They are expanding quickly, currently serving over 22,000 accounts and employing 65 people. It is great to see the progress and positive impacts on the community. Local growth like this will help our communities thrive.

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Last weekend, Albert Lea was host to the Nation of Patriots Flag handoff ceremony. Dozens of veterans from Mason City rode by motorcycle to hand off the flag. This amazing group travels thousands of miles all over the country with the American flag, raising money for disabled veterans. I was honored to attend and speak at this event with Representative Peggy Bennett. Larry Larson, assistant director for American Legion Riders Chapter 56, and Duane Thomas, Director, did a great job on this event. Thank you, veterans, for your service and devotion to our Country!

On Tuesday, at Bandshell Community Park, I was able to meet and listen to a lot of people supporting those who serve our community. It was the Austin Police Department’s Night Out event and I look forward to attending the next one as well. This event was hosted across the state and I was able to stop in Austin, Grand Meadow, Racine, and Dexter. t is always good to see and say thank you to those whose serve us in law enforcement, as firefighters and as First responders/EMS.

I ran into Bonnie Rietz, who does amazing work through the Austin Positive Action Coalition. I have been able to attend several Drug Task Force meetings put on by her and the group over the last few months. The work they do is incredible and increasingly important. It is going to be a long haul to end the opioid crisis and these individuals are on the front line helping our community.

Each year we recognize the Farm Families of the Year from each county. In Faribault, the Ron and Chris Schultz family won the award! The Schultz family grows corn, soybeans, and oats. They also raise cattle from calves to finish and recently retired from running a farrow-to-finish hog operation. In Dodge County, Rod and Vicki Jorgenson were recognized for their farm, which specializes in corn and soybeans. The Steele county winner was the Wayne Brothers Family Farm. With over 6,000 acres of corn and soybeans, they are known for their conservation tillage. Jon and Ruth Jovaag won the award in Mower. They have worked hard to keep the farm traditions alive by focusing on soil health and land stewardship. Freeborn County recognized Jon and Ann Larson for their family farm operation, growing oats, corn, and alfalfa on top of their milking operation with over 200 registered Holsteins. Congratulations to all of these incredible families!

As always, I am here for you if you have any comments, questions, or concerns. Please feel free to reach out to me by email at or call me at 651-296-5240.