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Continued: Retiree returns home to give old town a new future

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 16, 2014 - 9:50 PM

She got a neighbor to fiddle with the fuse box. She sent another to fetch more potato chips. She had her intern check in with the vendors.

“She puts it in a way — you really can’t say no,” said resident Scott Dalum, 60. “But you know, she does so much for other people that you want to help out.”

Krusemark pulled on plastic gloves and joined the other volunteers, scooping fruit and plating it alongside chicken salad sandwiches. Residents manned a dozen booths, selling quilts, Tupperware, eggs and jam. Heidi Nygard sat with a sign advertising her new business: Western Minnesota Auctions.

When Krusemark first talked about bringing a clinic to downtown, Nygard thought she was crazy. “This is Hoffman,” she remembers thinking. “So many of us get complacent.”

Nygard nodded to the dozens of old couples and families gathered at picnic tables, crediting the crowd to Krusemark. “This was such a sleepy community,” she said, “and look at us now.”

But setbacks have accompanied successes. In 2013, the nursing home in town, where Krusemark had once worked as a cook, closed. A few “for rent” and “for sale” signs have popped up in storefront windows. Want a one-room motel? It’s on the market.

“My real fear is being able to sustain what we’ve done,” Krusemark said. “In a small town, if businesses start to close, it can be a real domino effect.

“We’ve gotta work on keeping what we’ve got.”

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

  • related content

  • Muriel Krusemark, 73, has been the economic devleopment coordinator of Hoffman, a city 25 miles southwest of Alexandria, since 2007.

  • A boy bikes the main drag of Hoffman, which is filled with more businesses since the arrival of Muriel Krusemark.

  • Hoffman residents gathered at the weekly farmers market, which Muriel Krusemark helped set up, in the main town park. Krusemark works with vendors to help make the event successful.

  • Muriel Krusemark, far right, helped serve dinner with other volunteers at the weekly Hoffman farmers market in July. Krusemark returned to Hoffman in 2007 after leaving her hometown in 1989 after her divorce and becoming “broke.”

  • Many Hoffman businesses, like Bob’s Appliance, are open only one day a week to maximize their productivity.

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