“Telling America’s stories my way from the highway.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Meet Lyle, proprietor of Heath Auto, and the man who woke before dawn to get us and our truck off the freeway and into his shop where we could all thaw out.

The drive from our truck to his shop took 35-minutes and we passed many pig farms, most of which are having a hard time due to two factors: the raise in propane used to heat the buildings and the Porcine Epidemic Diarreah Vieus PDEV affecting and killing almost 100% of the baby pigs. The price in propane just doesn’t hurt the swine farmers, the turkey farmers need to keep their barns warm for our Thanksgiving dinner feathered friends, and the price jumping from $1.55/gallon last fall to almost $5.00/gallon now is a drastic hit.

But taking it even further, Farley’s & Sather’s Candy Company moved it’s headquarters from Round Lake to Chicago, putting over 500 of the local people (more than the town’s total population) out of jobs. The factory built for the candy company in 1936 has had many different owners over the last year, and the final layoff came a couple months ago when AGCO in Jackson, MN started using the sweet packaging facility to store parts like engines and transmissions. The factory currently employs around 10 employees.

In just a short year, Round Lake’s thriving little community has been devastated by costs in resources, an animal virus, and corporate restructure.

In spite of it all, Lyle, his retired friend Leo who brings in free coffee every morning, and one employee, welcome strangers into their town and share what they have: big smiles, hearts of gold, and helping hands.

This morning the perspective on life became clearer, more simple. This is America. And I am so proud of my people.

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