A Brainerd floral shop was chosen to be among a handful of shops decorating the governor's mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul.
North Country Floral, Brainerd, was selected to decorate the mansion as one of seven shops and 10 designers involved. The mansion is a 20-room English Tudor house with nine bedrooms, eight bathrooms, nine fireplaces and a number of stairway banisters. The house was donated to the state in 1965 by the Horace Hills Irvine family.
The house was designed by Minneapolis architect William Channing Whitney for St. Paul lumberman Horace Hills Irvine and his family.
North Country Floral received a visit this summer from two designers who took a road trip in outstate Minnesota. They stopped in to see North Country Floral's shop, across from the vintage McDonald's just off Washington Street, and two weeks later the Brainerd business received an e-mail asking if it would be willing to come down and decorate the mansion.
North Country Floral owner Michelle Potter and designer Karen Schuette went down to St. Paul on Nov. 1. There were security checks to go through and then they were ready to start with boxes and boxes of decorating supplies from previous years to use. The state's first lady Mary Pawlenty told designers she wanted to keep the work simple to match her taste, avoid an elaborate look for the homey atmosphere and in keeping with the current economy.
This is the third year the mansion has used a variety of shops to decorate. This year they decided to venture out beyond the metro area for designers. Critiques were ongoing as decorators worked. Silk decorations dominate so the decorations can last throughout the holidays.
North Country Floral worked on open stairways with banisters along with a breakfast area, recreation room with fireplace and other areas. An artificial garland for the banister included lights and ribbons and snowflakes designed by area school children. Hundreds of feet of garland were used in the foyer staircase with nearly 1,000 snowflakes attached to the garland.
Michelle Potter, owner of North Country Floral in Brainerd, worked on decorations earlier this month at the governor's mansion in St. Paul. North Country Floral was one of seven floral shops chosen to decorate the residence for the holidays.
The snowflake theme was throughout the main level. Potter and Schuette worked steadily from about 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Neither one saw the first family but they said they enjoyed seeing the elegant table settings for a dinner party that night.
Potter and Schuette were selected for the design team by floral design instructor Ardith Beveridge, who is head director and instructor at the Institute of Floristry at Koehler and Dramm in Minneapolis. Other selected florists were from Ely and St. Cloud, as well as Twin Cities metro area floral shops.
According to tradition, each first lady is asked to select decorations to be purchased for the mansion's holiday decor. First lady Mary Pawlenty requested decorations be reused from previous years instead.
Information on employment growth was released Friday by the state Department of Employment and Economic Development. DEED reported the state's employment has contracted by 2.7 percent since the start of the recession. New statistics looked at local details. The top five cities adding jobs in the northwest section of Minnesota included Baxter along with Alexandria, Park Rapids, Mahnomen and Bemidji. Baxter had a net job growth of 520 from the first quarters in 2001 to 2003.
The top five cities losing jobs in the state's northwest section included Brainerd, Wadena, Oak Lawn Township, Dalton and Long Prairie. Brainerd lost 351 jobs. Wadena lost 234 jobs. And Oak Lawn Township lost 230 jobs. Long Prairie lost 97 jobs.
In central Minnesota the top six cities adding jobs were Elk River, Cambridge, Sandstone, Princeton, St. Michael and Albertville. The top five cities losing jobs in central Minnesota included St. Cloud, Mora, Lake Lillian, Sartell and Litchfield Township.
More information is available online at www.MnWorkForceCenter.org/lmi/es/.
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