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Redwood Falls Gazette
  • Progress, 1980s-style: 1989 Gazette shows how far the city has come in 25 years

  • The Gazette has been doing annual special sections about the town's progress for decades; we thought it might be fun and educational to get out the edition of Progress 1989 and see what trends and features were considered newsworthy from 25 years ago....
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  • This week's print issue of the Gazette includes part two of Progress 2014, our annual look at what’s new in the Redwood area. The Gazette has been doing these annual special sections for decades. We thought it might be fun and educational to get out the edition of Progress 1989 and see what trends and features were considered newsworthy from 25 years ago. Value-added manufacturing “Value added” means farmers increasing the usefulness of their products by creating products with them themselves rather than just selling the raw materials to other manufacturers. Examples included: • Soybean oil replacing animal fats in local restaurants. • The Minnesota Corn Processors coop built a refinery to turn its members products into gluten mean, ethanol, and syrup. Computers In 1989, computers were becoming cheaper and more user-friendly. According to one article, the basic hardware and software (the terms were explained) to manage a moderate-sized family farm would cost between $2,500-4,000. New software was available to help farmers keep track of the amount of feed given to each animal, create farrowing schedules, and determine culling rates. B.J. Justice-Kamp taught ag-related computer classes at the Computer Store in Redwood Falls, while the extension service offered computer classes for farmers in Wabasso. The extension service also promoted the use of interactive TV for farmers to keep tracks of markets, take classes, etc. Local investment firms were starting to use computers every day also, using them to keep track of market changes in real time. More radical, however, were new programs that did automated trading of stocks and bonds once the market reached a certain point. Ray Zimmerman of Edward D. Jones Co. in Redwood Falls was particularly wary about automated trading. He pointed out the computer only sees the raw numbers, without taking into account the human element in every business transaction. Women in business The March 23, 1989 Progress section includes two stories about women having to take on additional roles beyond the stereotypical “farm wife.” Rachel Anderson, who took over managing the farm when her husband took on a job in town, commented that when she attended farm-oriented meetings, the organizers still often assumed she was the spouse of the actual farmer. New medical technology The Redwood Falls hospital now had new clot-dissolving drugs available to treat heart-attack victims. The previous month, the hospital treated a heart-attack victim for the first time with streptokinase, and were gratified to see it make a dramatic increase in his chances of survival. Local optometrists also had new technology, such as cameras that let them take photos of the back of a patient’s eye. New tests allowed eye doctors to test childrens’ sight as young as two years old, and catch eye disorders early enough to be treated before they got worse. The biggest changes in 1989, however, was the use of medications in optometry, and new materials in eyeglasses and contact lenses that made them lighter and easier to wear than ever. The Redwood Falls High School sports department was coordinating with the local hospital and clinic to cut down on sports-related injuries. It was now common practice to have a doctor in the bleachers during every basketball, football, and wrestling meet. Area chiropractors were beginning to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look much more closely at patients’ joints and nerves than ever before. The growth in new diagnostic techniques was growing so fast the Redwood Falls Hospital changed the name of its X-ray department to its “imaging department.” In 1989 area dentists were beginning to use plastics to fill cavities instead of the standard silver and gold. Older dentist drills that rotated at approximately 5,000 revolutions per minute were being replaced with new ones capable of up to 100,000 revolutions per minute. Can-do spirit A number of people interviewed for the 1989 Progress section said the biggest change they’d noticed was just a sense the community was willing to jump in and make things happen. In the previous year, the city government had started a port authority department to encourage local development. A new county recycling center had just opened up at the Developmental Achievement Center, while new trails were being completed in Ramsey Park. Sometimes the most important part of progress is just believing its possible in the first place.

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