Who says Florida has an edge over Minnesota?
For Brainerd Postmaster David Fuchs returning to his home state after 20 years in Florida was a good move and moving to Brainerd in 2007 was part of it.
"I love it," he said of the posting here. "The employees are great here. They are really a good group of people."
Brainerd Dispatch/Renee Richardson
Fuchs said he knows concerns about post office parking space reductions were an issue last year, but he has not heard complaints about it since. A more recent change was removing the automated machine in the post office lobby that allowed customers to mail packages and buy stamps using a credit or debit card, either when there was a long line for the counter or afterhours. The machine was sent back to the Twin Cities because Brainerd customers were not using it in volume. Fuchs said it appears most people wanted the personal connection of talking to a postal worker at the counter.
Fuchs joined the postal service in 1982. He was a letter carrier in Minneapolis. But a couple of winters were enough to convince him to head south. Fuchs transferred to Tampa, Fla., in 1984 - until 2004 when he returned to Minneapolis. The move allowed him to be closer to family.
Fuchs was a manager of the Plymouth branch and later went to the metro's Lake Street post office. When the opportunity came to apply for the Brainerd job, he took it.
"Because it's God's country," Fuchs said. "I always loved coming up here as a kid. It's a beautiful area. I like to hunt and fish."
One of the areas Fuchs would like to work on here is improving the middle-of-the-pack scores for customer service satisfaction. The hiring of three letter carriers is expected to help, particularly for some late mail deliveries in Baxter. In addition to customer service, Fuchs wants to make sure employees are satisified as well. Placing employee satisfaction as a priority is something the postal district covering Minnesota and Wisconsin is better at than Florida, Fuchs said.
Employees who enjoy their work do a better job and are more productive, Fuchs said. "You get a lot more done that way."
The Brainerd Post Office has 88 employees, including rural carriers.
When he was living in Florida, Fuchs said people who went to see the movie "Fargo" told him how stupid Minnesotans were. When his Florida friends learned he was returning to Minnesota, they didn't expect it to last.
"They all said we'd be back and that was four years ago," Fuchs said.
The former Reed's store in Baxter was purchased by Denny Hecker, who has the Toyota dealership on Highway 371 North.
Hecker said a lot of people have shown interest in the site with Lifetime Fitness as one potential tenant along with another fitness center.
"It's a great building," Hecker said, adding it just needs to have the right purpose.
Hecker has purchased several properties in the area recently, including the former Northland Auto site that is now home to his Hyundai dealership. Other land Hecker acquired is by the Toyota dealership, near Sears and Famous Dave's. Hecker said he thinks the sites will be great retail space and he wanted some control regarding who his neighbors may be there. Hecker also is a partner with Mike Givens in the former Motor City site at the corner of Highway 210 and 371 in Baxter.
"We love the Brainerd area," Hecker said. "We are always looking for opportunities."
Hecker said the Toyota property is one of the most successful launches he's had in 30 years in the car business. And he said the business added about 45 full-time positions to Baxter.
The Scorpion Homecoming event in Crosby a week ago attracted more than 100 Scorpion snowmobiles organizers reported, including 22 semi-racing 1970 Stingers - the featured sled for the event.
Randy Harrison, event organizer, said the continued interest is making a repeat event in February 2009 likely. The feature sled next year is expected to be the 1975 Whip. And a theme of "5 & 50" is expected. Next year would be the Scorpion Homecoming event's fifth year and it marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Trail-A-Sled company, which went on to produce the Scorpion snowmobiles in Crosby.
As for the 2008 Scorpion Homecoming, the Scorpion Spirit First Place Award went to the Antique Snowmobile Society in Cohasset. The Scorpion Horde award for the combined total of sleds and people of 52 went to the Iron Hub Bob Busters of Aitkin. Jerry Eve of Forsyth, Mont. won the award traveling the farthest distance, 665 miles, to attend the event. The Chamber's Choice award went to the Dave Gruba, McGrath, for his 1967 4-cyclinder drone and the People Choice award went to Chelsea Holmvig for a 1971 Mark II Scorpion. Peer's Choice award went to the Iron Hub Bog Busters' 1965 Trail-A-Sled Scorpion.
Speaking of snowmobiles, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber reports hundreds of snowmobilers belonging to clubs of MNUSA are in the lakes area this weekend for a conference at Cragun's resort.
"Area businesses and merchants will recognize them and have an understanding of what their presence will bring to the area economy by the $2 bills the clubs will be cashing and spending," the chamber reported.
RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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