Stagnation, frustration, regulation are all words depicting this past year of 2011. Unemployment has lingered just under 9% nationwide. The housing market remained weak and construction demand still slow. Interest rates were at all-time lows, but if home owners lost too much value in their homes, selling or refinancing became a less viable option. “Have patience” were the words politicians and leaders repeated to Americans throughout the year. Worldwide protests, crises and pockets of discontent erupted as Egyptians rose up and ousted Mubarak, and Libyan rebels took over Gadhafi’s hometown before killing the long-time dictator. Japan was stunned by an earthquake nine-hundred times more powerful than the tremor that devastated Haiti in 2010. The Euro’s value plummeted as Greece edged to the brink of default. Tornadoes brought havoc to Alabama and north Minneapolis, while an earthquake surprised and shook America’s capital. After years of searching for Osama bin Laden, U.S. Navy Seal Team Six was successful in killing the al-Qaida leader responsible for planning the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. Twin Towers. “Justice has been done.” President Obama announced to the American people after the May 1st mission was completed in Pakistan.
Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” was “the Protester.” Protests around the world pushed for change. Occupy Wall Street protesters gathered in various cities across our nation to demonstrate their discontent. Actor Charlie Sheen ranted about “winning” after being fired, while “flash mob dances” appeared in public plazas around the world, putting smiles on unsuspecting faces. Reality T.V. was all the rage, and tabloids everywhere printed photos of the British royal wedding. The Minnesota Lynx won their first WNBA title, and the Timberwolves acquired Ricky Rubio to shoot for more wins. Technology kept changing with the new I-Phone 4, E-Notebooks, E-Readers, and NASA launched its final space shuttle after thirty years of shuttle missions. We said good bye to Apple’s Steve Jobs, Elizabeth Taylor, Andy Rooney, Peter Falk, Betty Ford, Jane Russell, Phoebe Snow, Clarence Clemons, Amy Winehouse and Minnesota’s own Harmon Killebrew. In December, U.S. troops were brought home from Iraq after nearly nine years of American involvement in the war.
Locally, Gustavus Adolphus College President Dr. Jack Ohle spearheaded a year-long celebration of school’s 150th Anniversary, and the college opened their new state-of-the art Beck Academic Hall on campus. Michelle Zehnder-Fischer was appointed Nicollet County Attorney, and the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center hired new CEO David Proffitt to oversee the hospital’s 750+ employees. The St. Peter Food Co-op celebrated their grand opening in their new location after an extensive remodel of the former Nielsen Chevrolet building. Two new senior living communities were built near River’s Edge Hospital: Benedictine and Ecumen Prairie Hill Living Community, both offering independent senior living as well as assisted living services. Other new businesses include: Kingpins Bowling Center, Cedars Grille, 4 the Team, Jake’s Pizza, Sticks and Stones, Rising Sun Chiropractic, Jari USA Manufacturing, Northwest Title Agency, State Farm Insurance and Verizon Wireless.
Several businesses moved to new locations: KFC is now on the north end of town, Anytime Fitness is located in the old St. Peter Ford building, along with Saints Bus Service. Shiloh’s Hope, Seeds of Change Psychology Clinic and Southern Minnesota Counseling Services opened new buildings, and Sioux Trails Mental Health Center moved to the old St. Peter Clinic building. Though 2011 saw only fourteen new construction building permits for residential and commercial projects, St. Peter’s building permits for remodels, roofing, siding and windows totaled six hundred seventy one!
2011 was another interesting year for agriculture. The weather provided significant challenges. We experienced a cold winter with sizable amounts of snow followed by a wet and cool spring. The saturated field conditions caused a delay in planting. The weather then suddenly changed to hot and dry which stressed crops and livestock. The dry pattern continued throughout the fall, largely depleting the soil of moisture. That did result in a rapid harvest with minimal crop drying needs but raised concerns about field fires and the soil conditions for spring 2012. Yields were variable and generally lower than the previous year but reasonable good considering the weather related stress that the crop endured. Grain prices were volatile but remained relatively high. Livestock (hogs, cattle and dairy) prices were also generally strong which helped to off-set the price of feed. In addition, the demand for land was very strong for both renting and purchasing. The farmland sales have generated significant buyer interest and reached record high levels for our area.
Nicollet County Bank had another good year! The government’s regulatory burden has challenged banks of all sizes. We are proud that our bank has remained profitable during tough economic times. In fact, we have received another 4-Star bank rating from Bauer Financial, Inc. which is the 89th consecutive quarter we’ve received the excellent recommended rating. Our strength as a bank is mirrored by our outstanding employees. Did you know that the average length of time our officers have worked here is twenty-two years? Peter Nelson, with LPL Financial Services has been located here at NCB for over four years now! Looking to the future, we will meet the challenges ahead, and we thank you, our customer, for choosing Nicollet County Bank.
Samuel B. Gault, President
Nicollet County Bank
St. Peter, Minnesota