If the Newcomer’s Gathering held this Thursday at the Clarkfield Area Charter School (CACS)?is any indication, the future of Clarkfield is bright.
Hosted by the Clarkfield Civic and Commerce and residents Roselyn Biermaier and Barb Bruflat, the purpose of the event was to acclimate new residents of Clarkfield to local businesses, organizations and fellow recent arrivals of the area.
According to Biermaier, a retired Minnesota Extension home economist/educator, invitations were hand delivered to 50 households who had moved to Clarkfield within the past year and a half. Of those, a total of 19 households, constituting over 30 individuals, turned out for the occasion in which attendees were fed a light meal and received door prizes donated by the Lions and local businesses, respectively.
“I thought things went very well,” said Biermaier. “It was very hard to know how many would actually be able to make it. But we were really pleased with the group of people who attended.”
The evening began with a meet and greet where the new additions to the city had the opportunity to orientate themselves with the 15 businesses, five organizations and three churches who set up booths for the occasion. Following the meal, individuals stood up and introduced themselves and their family, when applicable, to all who were present.
Made evident during the introductions was that no silver bullet explained just why the individuals and families had chosen to make Clarkfield their home, however, it seemed new residents were often 30-somethings with general ties to the area that had just begun, or were getting ready to begin a family.
As such, those who spoke said they had high praise for the safe, affordable, family oriented community that the town has to offer.
A few case studies of those present for the gathering included Jeremy and Melissa Martin. Fourteen months ago the Martin’s moved to the area from St. Cloud so that they had could be closer to Melissa’s parents, who still call Clarkfield home.
At present, Jeremy works as an efficiency expert at SL Montevideo Technology, Inc. and Melissa as an administrative assistant at Project Turnabout in?Marshall.
One of the things the ?Martins, who have two children and are in their mid-thirties, said they liked in particular were the small class sizes offered by CACS.
Jason Thooft and Aleea Thein moved to “The Heart of the Prairie” in February with their two girls. Thooft, who works at Granite Fluid Power in Granite Falls, said that his parents lived in Marshall and that the pair, who are both in their mid-20s, frequently drove through Clarkfield on their way to Montevideo where Thein is employed at Plus Wood Distributors.
“It’s just a nice small community that we figured would be a good place to raise the girls,” said Thein.
Page 2 of 2 - “Actually, when we started looking for a house here in town we had our eye on a couple of them and the next thing we knew is they were all bought up by young couples. We thought, ‘well that’s probably a good sign,’ and then we found the house that we ended up purchasing and really like it a lot––so it was kind of a no brainer for us.”
Of the value of the meet and greet itself, Thein noted that “There’s not a whole lot of information about what’s going on in town, so it was nice to figure out what all the businesses were that we have never even heard of.
Said Thooft, “There’s a lot more in this town than I?thought there was.”
The future is bright
Asked for his take on the evening, relatively new Clarkfield resident of 3-and-a-half years, Adam Isaacs said that he believed the gathering to have been successful and something that the city needs to hold every few years.
In addition, he said he was particularly heartened by how many new residents who had moved to the area within the past five years had taken it upon themselves to become a business owner, just like Adam and his wife Krista had with their 24-hour gym “I-Fit.”
“That was one of the things that excited me tonight was seeing the number of businesses that are here that were started [and/or] run by those considered newcomers. There’s the Handeland’s with Family Chiropractic and the Mensink’s at Hardware Hank, I-Fit and Amy Schlenner there with Pawlicious [dog grooming]––so it’s just great to see these young people that have these businesses, especially in a town this size. It tells me that the town’s on the upswing.”
When questioned as to who was not present for meet and greet, based on her experience delivering invitations to the gathering, Biermaier said that it was yet more young families or couples, comparable to those who did turn out.
In the future, she that she’d like to consider holding a Newcomer’s Gathering open to the entire community, and that the only thing that inhibited it in this circumstance was the inability to feed dinner to the entire town.