Langford Area seniors selected as homecoming royalty candidates from left to right are Jordan Schmieg, Molly Hanse, Logan Block, Maddie Reints, Trey Jensen, Addy Taylor, Noah Allen, and Sami Wika.
CINDY HOFLAND Community Involvement
GLENN LEHR Community Involvement
SANDE LEHR Community Involvement
KAY FRIEBEL People’s Choice
ELAINE STEEN Customer Service
Five Heart Of Dakota Winners
Five area residents will be recognized Monday as winners of the 20th annual Heart of Dakota Awards.
The awards are sponsored by the Britton Area Foundation and Marshall County Publishing, publishers of The Britton Journal and Langford Bugle. A panel of area judges voted on the nominees to make the selections.
Cindy Hofland of Veblen and Glenn and Sande Lehr of Britton are co-recipients of the Community Involvement award; Kay Friebel of Britton was selected as the People’s Choice winner; and Elaine Steen of Steen Photography in Britton was picked for Customer Service.
The public is invited to a reception for the Heart of Dakota winners on Monday at the Britton Country Club. Honorees will be recognized in conjunction with the Britton Area Chamber of Commerce Fall Social. Hors d’oeuvres will be served beginning at 5 p.m. with the presentation of the Heart of Dakota Awards set for 6:30 p.m.
For long-time educator Cindy Hofland, being involved in her community has always been a way of life.
“I have to say my Mom and Dad really influenced me,” said Hofland, a 1973 Eureka High School graduate. “Eureka is a lot like Britton, and Mom and Dad were very much into community activities. A lot of times when they were busy doing something in the community, we six kids were also helping. It was just something we learned – if things are going to happen in a community people have to be willing to step up and do things. It’s just what you did.”
Hofland originally planned to become a veterinarian but admits that organic chemistry drove her into education. Her mother had gone back to school to become a teacher after her kids were in school, and Hofland followed in her footsteps. She taught for 36 years in Veblen and Sisseton before retiring a year ago, but now finds herself busier than ever.
“It takes a special person to raise a family, teach generations of children, and also volunteer countless hours of her time to improve the community,” wrote her nominator. “Cindy Hofland is that special person. She has spent most of her life using her special skill set to lead and participate in numerous community events in Veblen and the surrounding areas.”
While teaching Hofland coordinated yearbook, cheerleading, music mothers, and concession stands and rarely missed a football and basketball game to watch her and husband, Rick’s, two sons compete. Students described her as “organized, hard-working, and having a passion for kids.”
As a community member, Hofland is involved in Thrivent and is a Glacial lakes Area Development (GLAD) board member. She is on the Veblen Library Board and leads a monthly story hour for preschool to sixth graders along with participating in the monthly Book Club at the library.
Hofland also serves as the Prairie Coteau Conference coordinator and president of the WELCA group at her church. She serves on the church council, is active in monthly Bible studies, and has taught Sunday School and organized the annual Vacation Bible School for many years. Since “retiring” she has also joined the Outlook staff at church, helping to publish the monthly news bulletin of church activities. Hofland also serves as the secretary for the rural Zion Lutheran Cemetery Association and helps with fundraisers. Throw in five grandkids and you get the picture.
Working with youth has always been Hofland’s passion.
“A lot of things I do involve kids. I just think if you can give an opportunity to kids its rewarding. It’s good to see kids excited about things that aren’t video games.”
Hofland is also quick to note that anything she is involved with is a team effort.
“There are a lot of people in Veblen that do a lot for the community. They take the extra time to make things happen.”
“Cindy strives to strengthen the bonds of a small community and is always willing to chip in to recognize community members and celebrate important life events,” concluded her nomination letter. “She encourages and challenges us and students to be their best.”
Glenn & Sande Lehr
It would be difficult to measure the impact that Glenn and Sande Lehr have had on the Britton community and region through a variety of service-oriented businesses, but it’s their behind-the-scenes activities that are truly immeasurable
The Lehrs story began in 1973 when Glenn and his parents, Marvin and Florence, and brother Clyde, moved to Britton from Roscoe, and his father purchased the Sunset Motel and the local sale barn. Glenn was just 15 years old, but his entrepreneurial spirit was already evident.
Two years after Glenn graduated from Britton High School in 1976, Marvin purchased The Rainbow Ballroom, which became famous as being the biggest party spot in a 100-mile radius. Although just 20 years old and not even old enough to buy a drink, Glenn worked every weekend managing that facility while also working at Compenent Supply (Truss Pro’s).
Sande grew up on a farm in Gary before moving to Dawson, MN, where she graduated from high school in 1977. She received a business administration degree from Mount Marty in 1989 and originally came to Britton as manager of The Other Bar and The Spot.
In 1988, Lehr purchased a sanitation business from Boyd Hagenson. That business continues to grow, doubling in the past five years and employing five people. He also has a pair of dump trucks to haul dirt and gravel for customers and offers snow removal service in the winter.
Other business endeavors with Sande have included the Lehr discount Center, the local Laundromat, and Sande managed the VFW for 20 years. The couple still owns a homestyle catering business called Rainbow Catering, and Sande is well-known for her cooking skills.
The Lehrs also have had a large impact on the Britton community through buying houses and fixing them up to rent. They estimate being involved with 15-20 homes, most of which are now owned by families.
“We took a lot of really bad houses and stripped them totally out and re-did them so people could actually live in them again,” said Glenn. “We wanted to offer rental property for those who couldn’t afford to buy homes, and we also helped a lot of people buy a house.”
Through all of their business activities the Lehrs have taken advantage of opportunities to impact employees and area residents.
“If a tenant couldn’t pay rent, Glenn would offer a job to work off the debt,” wrote the couple’s nominator. “If they were in a bind, he would give them a place to live and a job, and he would co-sign loans for employees. I can’t count the men whom he helped get on their feet. Not a lot of people would do what he did to help those troubled souls turn their lives around.”
Despite the fact that the Lehrs have helped myriads of people through their serviceoriented businesses, seeing people make their own way is the most rewarding.
“Helping other people out doesn’t seem like a big deal to me,” said the Lehrs. “Seeing people get out there and do good on their own is more rewarding than anything.”
That same feeling applies to the couples’ blended family of six kids. All of them have been a part of each business.
“We couldn’t have done this without our family helping,” said Sande. “Every one of the kids worked on the back of the garbage truck, helped cater, or worked at the Rainbow. “All of them are a really big part of our success and were always there when we asked them for help.”
“I admire my Dad for many reasons, but his helping others is on the top of the list,” said daughter Melissa. “I’ve never known another man so willing to help a complete stranger who had drifted into town with no money, no place to live, and no job. He gave them all those things and has made a huge impact on so many people’s lives.”
Kay Friebel has a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to being involved in her community.
“I don’t feel I do any more than anybody else does, but when you are in a small town you just help out where you’re needed.”
For the 1977 Britton High School graduate, that belief, along with a love of youth and sports, has carried over into a number of youth activities. She participated in all the high school sports available, including the first girls’ basketball team at the school, and went on to throw the discus, shot put, and javelin and Northern State University for four years. Her kids were also a motivator to get involved as they grew up.
“Youth in our community know Kay as one who is there to keep things going,” wrote her nominator. “She helps with the high school track program’s shot and discus (events in which her high school records still stand), she has coached the swim team, and she supports area athletes by attending many sporting events. The Presbyterian Church youth know her as their Sunday School superintendent.”
“Whatever the kids were in was what I coached and helped with,” noted Friebel, “from soccer, to T-ball, to softball, to swimming. And now my daughter, Courtney, has taken over as the swimming coach.”
She also was the official scorekeeper for many years for boys and girls basketball and recently took over running the volleyball scoreboard.
Veterans know Friebel as a worker and leader in both the VFW Auxiliary and the American Legion Auxiliary, where she has served as president for the past five years. She is a hands-on leader, being in the thick of their projects to honor veterans, promote patriotism, and fund projects to encourage veterans and youth. As a team member for Team USA, Friebel also works to raise money for the area Relay For Life to support cancer research and cancer survivors.
“Ride ‘em cowboy” has also been playing in Friebel’s brain for 46 years, ever since her Dad, Ed, and his cowboy friends decided to form the Buckhorn Rodeo Association and build the rodeo grounds in her yard. She has performed hundreds of tasks over the years for Buckhorn, from nailing board corrals and chutes, to announcing, to directing traffic - human and animal.
“I’m just trying to keep my Dad’s dream going,” said Friebel. “I just provide the place. It would never fly without the whole organization. It takes everybody.”
Her skills as an organizer and motivator have also served her rural community well during her 27 years with the Marshall County Farm Service Agency.
“With her experience, knowledge of programs, and a strong work ethic, there isn’t anything Kay can’t tackle,” said a 27-year co-worker. “She goes out of her way to serve producers by calling and e-mailing them or reminding them on the street or at a ballgame to get their form and signatures in so they don’t miss a program deadline. She goes above and beyond to serve the producers of Marshall County.”
Friebel views her work the same as her volunteer efforts - you just help where you’re needed.
“We’ve been ranchers all our lives, and a deadline to a farmer isn’t on his mind when he’s out planting, working cattle, or getting calves in the middle of the night,” said Friebel. “When you’re doing those things you don’t worry about coming into our office to sign a piece of paper.”
Elaine Steen holds a unique position in the community, and she takes it seriously. She records lifetime memories that can never be replaced through her photography business.
“I truly believe that any kind of portrait is one of a kind and can never be replaced,” said Steen. “That’s why I always try to meet or beat their expectations as to what they would like, to try and get exactly what they want. I feel I need to treat customers the way I want to be treated and serve them.”
Steen graduated from Kidder High School and returned to Britton in 1978. She served as Director of Nurses at Wheatcrest Hills for 10 years and was a manager at Sheldahl for five years. When that business closed down, Steen had a decision to make.
“I really liked photography and had been working with the 4-H program since 1982. When Sheldahl started having financial problems, I said to my husband, Earl, what am I going to do now? He said, ‘Maybe you should decide to get in or out of photography. Your toys are getting expensive.’”
That was the beginning of Steen Photography in 1999, and from the beginning customer service has always been a priority.
Her love of photography began and was fueled by her three daughters who were in 4-H and very active in the photography project area. While on the photography journey with her daughters, her desire to learn more and her passion for photography grew.
“Throughout her career as a professional photographer, Elaine has continued to educate herself in the areas of technology and artistry, thus making it possible for her to serve her customers and community by capturing more moments and milestones than we can count,” wrote her nominators. “Customer satisfaction is a number one priority for Elaine. She has always focused on people and what makes them unique and special. She will drive many miles, hike into pastures and fields, and wait patiently for animals to cooperate to get just the right shot for the person or family she is photographing.”
Steen especially enjoys interacting with youth at school or through athletics. She began the Senior Wall of Fame at Britton-Hecla and donated numerous photos of seniors in their final athletic season.
“She knows the students and their families and is dedicated to accommodating their needs,” said the nomination letter. “We admire Elaine for wanting to “get it right” for her customers and working hard to do so.”
Steen continues to be active in the Marshall County 4-H program through photography. She has held photography classes and served as an Achievement Days judge, working to inspire the younger 4-H’ers and challenge the older ones
The Customer Service winner also believes in the importance of participating in the community and working with other business owners to maintain a strong Main Street in Britton. For a number of years she has provided Santa photos in return for donation of items for the Marshall County Food Pantry.
“It’s important to see your community grow, and you work to keep it active and growing,” said Steen. “One of the most rewarding things for me is working together with other business owners with the same concerns. People here are so friendly, helpful, and caring. Everybody is always willing to help and really good at working to come up with new ideas to keep things fresh and give customers a reason to come here.”