Kenyon Sons of Norway

Along with the Norwegians in Norway, the Kenyon Lodge of the Sons of Norway will celebrate the summer solstice on Tuesday, June 21, at 5 p.m. at Holden Park.

The center of the midsummer celebration is food, followed by the group gathering around the fire pit for a traditional fire. The bonfire is a natural gathering spot on this night. It unites and strengthens people as they enter a time with less sun and light.

Pastor Dustin Haider

In early May, Pastor Dustin Haider was called to fill the interim minister position for the Holden/Dale Lutheran Congregation. The congregation has not had a full-time pastor since Pastor Heather Culuris took a call to serve in the Southwest Minnesota Synod office in November.

At this time, Haider lives in Hastings, Minnesota, with his wife Rachel, a media specialist at Hastings High School. They have three children: Aislynn is 7, Everett is 5 and will be entering kindergarten in the fall, and Malcolm is 1.

Pastor Haider is a graduate of Concordia University Nebraska, located in Seward, Nebraska. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Rhetorical Communication with a minor in English, an MBA in management, and a Master of Divinity.

Working with youth is one thing Haider enjoys doing. He has previously coached speech and debate teams and managed at-risk and impoverished youth programs.

He enjoys cooking, running, playing games, and reading.

Emily Pliscott

For the past year, 2017 K-W graduate Emily Pliscott has worked for the House Agricultural Committee in Washington D. C. In June of 2021, she started as a Dairy Policy Assistant; since January, Pliscott has worked as a Policy Analyst.

After high school, she attended the University of Minnesota, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Economics and Agricultural Communications and Marketing in 2020. In August 2020, she began her post-graduate work at the University of Missouri, Columbia, in the Master of Science program concentrating on Agricultural and Applied Economics, completing her degree in December 2021.

When asked to describe her work, Pliscott said, “I’m a policy analyst and economist, but what I do in a day varies quite a bit. Right now, I’m preparing for a congressional hearing where we are talking to dairy farmers about how current farm bill programs are working for them. Livestock is a big focus for my team, and I wrote my Master’s thesis on livestock policy, so I feel up to the big conversations there!”

She also spends time on international agriculture and trade. Some days her focus is on horticulture, biotechnology, and research. Emily indicated it was a steep learning curve while working in biotech and pesticides.

Pliscott shared, “I love my job, and while I miss my family a lot, living here holds a lot of opportunities. I could also visit a different museum every Saturday for a year and not run out. I have a car here, but the drivers are much angrier than in Kenyon. I walk a lot, especially to work. It’s about 1.5 miles from my house to my office. A nice walk when it isn’t too humid.”

State Farm Insurance in Kenyon

George Mecherle, a retired farmer in Illinois, saw a need for a company specializing in automobile insurance for farmers that could provide better rates than rival companies, which had to cover expensive premiums of urban drivers. With that vision, he founded State Farm Insurance one hundred years ago, in June of 1922, and served as CEO of the company until 1937.

Locally, State Farm came on the business scene in Kenyon when Elmer Jacobson started the local agency in 1934. One resource listed that he started the business in 1935. Still, in the Christmas 1934 edition of the Kenyon Leader, there was an ad extending Yuletide Greetings from Elmer Jacobson, resident agent for State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co.

Before his connection with State Farm, Jacobson was one of the pioneers of the Rural Electric Association and was the first president of the Goodhue County Electric Association.

A reliable resource once said that Elmer would use the opportunity to offer less expensive car insurance to farmers while signing them up to electrify their homesteads.

In the June 13, 1947, Kenyon Leader was a snippet telling how Jacobson had traveled to Chicago to participate in the twenty-fifth anniversary of the State Farm Mutual Insurance Company.

After 31 years in the insurance business, Jacobson retired. When he passed away in 1964, Frank Callister wrote, “A full and productive life was the lot of Elmer Jacobson, farmer, businessman, civic leader, and public servant. Elmer was enthusiastic and successful in all of his ventures.”

As part of his civic duty, Jacobson often portrayed Santa Claus at Christmas events for young people.

Earl Hugget came to Kenyon from Windom in August 1957 to take over as the State Farm agent.

While in Windom, Hugget, a World War II veteran, was the shop foreman for Toro Manufacturing there.

Hugget was here less than a year when he left the community. Lynn Tollefson, a man with three years of experience in the insurance business, moved here with his family in June of 1958 from Rushford, Minnesota. Tollefson set up the insurance office in his home at 615 Forest St.

Tollefson brought his love of singing with him to Kenyon. While in Rushford, he was a member of the La Crosse Chapter of the SPEBSQSA and in a quartet called the Lost Chords.

Once he was settled in Kenyon, Tollefson became a member of the Lions Club and the Faribault Lakelander Chorus. He sang in the popular local quartet known as the Ken-Tones with Vernon Reko, Glen Aronson, and Joel Quam.

After seven years as the State Farm agent, Tolleson took a position with the Security Insurance Agency at the Security State Bank of Kenyon.

For about a year, there was no local representative for State Farm until, in 1966, when Jorstad Hardware closed, Charlie Sandberg, the State Farm District Manager who lived in Zumbrota, contacted Oscar Jorstad. The two men had known each other since high school days.

In a 1995 interview done by Bob Noah, Jorstad said, “Charlie came to my house with armloads of information and informed me I was the next State Farm agent in Kenyon. I’ve enjoyed the challenge and the work because the association has lasted nearly thirty years.”

Lyle Wendroth, State Farm Agent from Zumbrota, opened an additional office in Kenyon in 1995, with Judy Pavek serving as the local office manager in the former C&L building. Today the business is still a fixture on Main Street, and Debb Paquin is the office manager.

An open house is being planned for June 22 at the local State Farm office to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding. As part of the open house, there will be a light lunch served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and visitors will have the opportunity to receive State Farm giveaways.

Kevin Anderson is a guest columnist for The Kenyon Leader.

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