People and Places – May 2013

St. Peter Treatment Center time capsule opened after more than 50 years Employees, clients and retirees gathered at the St. […]

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St. Peter Treatment Center time capsule opened after more than 50 years

Employees, clients and retirees gathered at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center’s Tomlinson Gym recently to open, with some effort and a cloud of dust, a time capsule. The time capsule was uncovered during a remodeling project. Items inside dated from the 1950s and early 1960s. The time capsule was inside the wall of Schantz Hall, which was completed in 1961 and opened in 1962. The building is named for Dr. Sam Schantz, a former medical superintendent.

“There was a plaque on the wall so we knew it was in there somewhere,” said Jamie Fromm, a supervisor with the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, which operates in the building where the time capsule was found. “But they wouldn’t let me take down a wall just to find it. Ever since the remodeling started, I’ve been excited to get it out and see what’s inside.”

Maintenance Supervisor Pat Kennedy and retiree Martin Larson pried open the time capsule lid on April 4. Larson, who retired from the St. Peter facility in 1981, pulled out a stack of papers and a set of keys. Included were several pictures, a copy of the patient newspaper from 1961, a civil service salary plan (1959-1961), a hospital Christmas card and a budget presentation to the 1961 Minnesota Legislature, along with numerous other mementoes.

Larson began working at the facility on Easter Monday 1950, according to the St. Peter Herald newspaper. He worked as a security guard and carpenter at St. Peter and in St. Paul as the public welfare’s representative at the state architect’s office and a consultant in planning the new security hospital. He retired in 1981

Larson has written two books about the state hospital. He told those at the time capsule opening that Schantz Hall was the first of three treatment buildings built in the 1960s.

Attendees at the opening crowded around the time capsule to get a closer look and share memories. Many recognized the names of those mentioned in the uncovered materials. Some also talked about what might go into the next time capsule.

“It’s fun to think that in 50 years another group of people could be right here opening up a time capsule we’ve buried,” Fromm said. “I hope we can do as well as the people who put this one together.”

The St. Peter Herald has a gallery of pictures online of the time capsule opening, at

State programs for persons with disabilities have operated at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center since 1866. At that time state lawmakers approved the building of a state hospital for the insane, hoping to reduce the growing amount of mentally ill people in jails throughout the state. They first had to find an area willing to deed 20 acres of land for the hospital.

While many communities were reluctant to consider being the home to the hospital, St. Peter leaders bought a 210-acre farm for $7,000 and lent it to the state. The first patient checked in December 6, 1866.

In 1911, the St. Peter Hospital for the Insane officially opened. It became the Minnesota Security Hospital and later parts of the larger St. Peter Regional Treatment Center.



Sixth grader wins national award

Louie McGee is no ordinary sixth-grader. McGee, a student at Highland Catholic School in St. Paul, was honored April 10 with an engraved silver medallion to recognize his selection as one of Minnesota’s top two 2013 youth volunteers for The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.

The award was presented at an all-school Mass and assembly. Highland Catholic is the parish school for Lumen Christi Catholic Community in St. Paul.

McGee, who is blind, was honored for leading a team that has raised more than $40,000 over the past six years. McGee and his team participate in an annual fundraising walk to fight diseases that cause blindness.

Not only did McGee receive a medal, he also received $1,000 and an all-expense paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C. There he joined 101 other top honorees from across the country for several days of national recognition events. During the trip, ten young people were to be named America’s top youth volunteers for 2013.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. All middle and high schools in the U.S., along with all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of HandsOn Network, are eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award last November. Each state has two honorees, one in middle school and one in high school. Also feted are a select number of Distinguished Finalists from each state and the District of Columbia. In selecting the winners, criteria are looked at including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.


Goodwill prepares to open new store

Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota, which provides skills training nonprofit for people with disabilities, will open its first Minneapolis store in November. Retail sales, which help fund Goodwill’s many programs, grew 23 percent to $57.6 million last year.

The new store is at 60th Street and NicolletAvenue S. and is designed by DJR Architecture and developed with Wellington Management. The store will be Goodwill’s 34th location in the region and will be its first two-story store.

This is Wellington Management’s second partnership with Goodwill/Easter Seals. The St. Paul-based commercial and residential developer was involved with a Goodwill store in Coon Rapids several years ago. Wellington will own the Minneapolis site, which was most recently occupied by a restaurant. The property acquisition and development costs are $2.5 million.

Goodwill had hoped to open a new store recently on Lyndale Avenue in South Minneapolis, but dropped those plans in the face of community opposition. A Burnsville store has also been placed on hold due to concerns in that city.



Mankato area business expands

MRCI Workforce, which provides job opportunities for people with disabilities, has announced is moving a $3 million expansion of its Mankato facility. Construction should begin this summer. When the expansion is finished in early 2014 it will initially house 90 clients supported by 40 MRCI staff members. In the future, numbers are expected to more than triple.

The new 25,000-square-foot facility will house programs previously on Front Street and in the former Highland Plaza strip mall. MRCI workers do product packaging, light assembly work and other jobs for a wide range of regional companies. The old facilities didn’t have loading docks or easy truckMRCI Workforce, which provides job opportunities for people with disabilities, has announced is moving a $3 million expansion of its Mankato facility. Construction  access, which limited opportunities to take on more work.

MRCI will continue to operate it 85,000-squarefoot facility The Mankato City Council, operating as the city Economic Development Authority, recently approved the sale of the five-acre parcel for nearly $200,000, according to the Mankato Free Press.

Founded in Mankato 60 years ago, MRCI has since expanded to Fairmont, New Ulm and three Twin Cities suburbs. Clients earned more than $3.1 million in wages in 2011, about half through center-based production jobs and half at community-based jobs ranging from restaurants to supermarkets to manufacturing firms to warehouses. The nonprofit organization also provides skills training and leisure activities for clients. MRCI has nearly 1,000 employees in all of its programs.



Autism Society of Minnesota names new executive director

Photo courtesy of Autism Society of MNJonah Weinberg is the new executive director of the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM). Weinberg’s appointment took effect April 15.

Weinberg brings decades of non-profit and public sector leadership experience with organizations across the United States and internationally. His focus is on education, advocacy, and organizational excellence. He comes to Minneapolis from Cleveland where he worked with a broad range of organizations focused on serving people with physical, cognitive and behavioral challenges He also has served as executive director for two non-profit organizations serving that region’s Latino community.

Weinberg looks forward to expanding the visibility and impression of AuSM. “In order to get the attention and research-funding necessary to bring about an impact for the nearly 100,000 people living with autism in Minnesota, it’s vital that we share their stories with friends, neighbors, community leaders and elected officials,” he said. “It’s important for people across the entire state to be aware of the incredible resources this organization has developed over the past 42 years.

AuSM Board of Directors President Todd Schwartzberg said, “Weinberg’s expertise will help not only to continue the great work done by AuSM, but will also expand collaborations and initiatives with those with whom AuSM works and serves in the community.”

Established in 1971, the Autism Society of Minnesota is committed to education, advocacy and support designed to enhance the lives of those affected by autism from birth through retirement. Visit for more information.


Support professionals elect board

The Direct Support Professional Association of Minnesota recently held board elections. New board Chairperson Bridget Siljander is a career direct support professional.

She has been involved with DSPAM since 2007, and led the board from 2007 to 2009. She will be working to engage more direct support professionals and nurture leadership, and promote public policy activities. She is the parent of a teenager with cerebral palsy. Siljander has been very active statewide, and nationally, on workforce development.

Jennifer Walton, vice-chair, has worked in human services for a wide variety of positions, from nursing home dietary aide to group home supervisor. Since 2010, she has worked in management at Midway Training Services.

Donald Krutsinger, past president, grew up with a brother with developmental disabilities. He has a longtime career as a residential program coordinator and direct support provider for a number of Twin Cities organizations.

Mike Harrison, treasurer, went into full-time direct care work after being displaced from his job as a factory worker. He is starting his second year as treasurer.

Idelle Longman, director, has served on the Hennepin County Local Advisory Council and the state’s Special Education Advisory Council. She was recently appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to the Statewide Independent Living Council and has served on City of Edina committees.

Catherine (Kat) Gordon, director, works as the PAS Services Coordinator at the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living. She has worked there for more than five years as a direct support professional and office worker.

Jim Loved, director, has spina bifida. Loved has depended on direct support professionals for almost 30 years. Loved served 13 years on the board of the Spina Bifida Association of Minnesota.

Board members and directors Ruka Oba, Theo Nah and Lisa Evenson are all direct support professionals. Oba and Nah work for Hammer Residences. Evenson works for Lutheran Social Service of Adams.




Fraser School wins accreditation

Fraser School has been awarded the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA). Fraser School is known for its inclusive environment, where children with typical needs (without disabilities) and children with special needs contribute to each other’s development in unique and life-changing ways.

NECPA Accreditation is reserved for exceptional early childhood programs that substantially exceed minimum state licensing requirements. NECPA is a nationally recognized accreditation that follows a rigorous process of self-study, surveys of parents and staff, verification by early childhood education/child care professionals, and a final review by the NECPA Board of Commissioners. As an NECPA accredited program, Fraser School has maintained its place among a select group of early childhood education centers nationwide distinguished by their quality, their commitment to young children, and their dedication to excellence.

Fraser School is a division of Fraser, Minnesota’s largest and most experienced provider of autism services. Fraser also serves children and adults with more than 60 types of mental and physical disabilities.


  • Work with your care provider to stay healthy. Protect yourself. Vaccines are your best protection against being sick.
  • Wash your hands! Hands that look can still have icky germs!

You are not alone. Minnesota Autism Resource Portal.