By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN - Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (Sixth District, R-Woodbury) came to Cokato Wednesday with stops at the middle schools, The Grounds, Olsen Chain and Cable, Dahlin’s Home and Farm, and Saunatec.
“I was impressed with her grasp of small business challenges,” said Saunatec’s national sales manager, Mark Raisanen.
The visit was a way for Bachmann to return to Cokato and get an update of what’s happening on the western edge of her district.
Her first stop was at the Dassel-Cokato Middle School, where she commended the five teachers (Catherine Young, Sue Sparboe, Susan Pospichal, Melissa Rudebusch, and Jacob Stang) who recently received a $38,000 Hewlett-Packard Technology for Teachers grant.
Then, Bachmann stopped at one of Jessica Luebker’s social studies classes to test the students’ knowledge on the three branches of government.
She also presented the class with “Glenn Brown’s History of the US Capitol,” which she signed for them. The book will remain in the middle school’s media center.
Bachmann expressed how impressed she was with the students’ level of knowledge and overall respectfulness. She commended Principal Gary Johnson, Superintendent Jeff Powers, and the teachers for their efforts.
The next stop on her visit in Cokato was The Grounds, for lunch with Cokato City Administrator Don Levens (Mayor Bruce Johnson was unavailable) during which she expressed her positive experience in the community thus far.
Levens and Bachmann also conversed about the city’s developments, businesses, and future plans.
Then, Bachmann was able to get a peek at one of Cokato’s small businesses, Dahlin’s Home and Farm.
Following the meeting, owner Kurt Dahlin said, “It seems she’s doing what she can for small businesses, which is what I’m looking for.”
Dahlin is an active member of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small business association where he stays connected with the legislature.
In his years as a businessman, Dahlin has had the opportunity to speak with many different politicians, which, many times, was a one-way conversation.
Dahlin was impressed and appreciative that Bachmann took the time to listen to his concerns and converse back-and-forth.
Bachmann then moved on to the industry part of Cokato, with stops at Olsen Chain and Cable and Saunatec, where she took tours and asked questions regarding each individual business and department.
Raisanen gave Bachmann the tour of Saunatec.
“Everyone here was actually pleased and honored we got to have her stop in,” he said.
Throughout the tour, Bachmann asked many questions about the sauna business including sourcing, taxes, and the strength of the dollar, according to Raisanen.
While in the production area, Bachmann recognized and hugged one of the employees, Rick Olsen. Olsen’s wife, Rachel, happened to be the flower girl in Bachmann’s wedding nearly 30 years ago.
Following the tour, Bachmann said she received “very good feedback” from the community and its businesses. She reiterated how impressed she was with how well-behaved and bright the middle school students were.
She explained that the economy is the number one issue right now.
Though people need to learn to live within their means, including the government, Bachmann said “people need to keep living.”
“The dollar is strengthening,” she said.