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10/21/2009 – News

Volume 126, Number 38           Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Leeds business heading to top in bison and specialty foods
Five miles north and one mile east of Leeds a steel building on the Sexhus home place houses the heart and soul of North Prairie Signature, LLP.
Named after the rural neighborhood it’s located in, North Prairie Signature markets bison products and its "signature" relishes and seasoning to retail, wholesale, e-store, gift, tourism, holiday and home gourmet markets.
Sue Sexhus is owner and president of this growing company. She is joined by Marge Johnson, who is the office manager and handles shipping, and Jan Engstrom, who is the accountant and bookkeeper. All three women are also involved in promoting sales and doing so much more.
During the course of a year, North Prairie Signature displays its products at 20 to 25 trade shows throughout the United States. They have had booths at shows in Montana, Colorado, Minnesota and North Dakota and are preparing for a national sportsmen’s show in Las Vegas, Nev. They are also members of Pride of Dakota.
The next two months are the busiest as the company is scheduled to display at 12 shows. Sue commented that show season is a family affair with spouses, children and grandchildren all lending a hand.
Sue is a former sales manager for NPMI, Inc. She, along with the Sexhus/Kakela Bison Ranch, purchased the shelf stable product line of NPMI in January of 2008 and added her own "signature" products to create the current North Prairie Signature product line.
The bison products are made from bison grown on the Sexhus/Kakela Bison Ranch. Keith Kakela and Dennis and Sam Sexhus, Sue’s husband and son, own the ranch. Casey Featherstone, also Sue’s son, helps manage the day-to-day operation of the ranch. The animals are sold to a processing company, then the meat is bought back and sent to another company where it is made into a variety of summer sausages, jerky and snack sticks.
The relishes and seasoning are from family recipes which, besides their flavor, is part of what makes them "signature." A new tomato relish has been added and the company is working on more flavors of summer sausage and jerky.
With a large percentage of our population dealing with obesity and the health risks associated with that, it should be noted a nutrition comparison done by Dr. M. Marchello of NDSU shows bison meat is significantly lower in fat and calories than beef and higher in protein, iron and vitamin B-12. Additionally, the bison from the Sexhus/Kakela ranch have no growth hormones or antibiotics and all the products are MSG free, gluten free, contain no fillers and have no pork added.
Packaging is another key element that has been tastefully done. After a year of research, Sue had the logo she felt best represented the new company. Sue, Marge and Jan also put together gift baskets and packages that are designed to be easily wrapped and shipped for the holidays. They’ll handle shipping for the customer.
Being shelf stable means the product is safely edible for six to nine months without refrigeration. (Of course if the product is opened, refrigeration is a must!) Not that anyone expects these food items to sit around that long. One taste and the product is more likely to be gone in six minutes!
North Prairie Signature has an advantage over its competitors. It’s a company run by three unique women who know what the customer wants and what consumers are looking for.
They are currently fulfilling orders for 500 to 600 retail and wholesale customers. Product is found in local stores, high-end holiday gift catalogs and on the company Web site at
The steel building that serves as the company warehouse is also a retail outlet. Customers are welcome to come in Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to pick up anything they want from the product line. Frozen bison product is also available — burger, steaks, roasts and prime rib.
With all the shows these three women go to, they are most excited about the open house they will be hosting from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30. A bison meal and product sampling will give everyone a chance to taste what is being shipped from the steel building on the Sexhus home place that is the heart and soul of North Prairie Signature, LLP.

Pictured left to right are Marge Johnson, Sue Sexhus and Jan Engstrom. These ladies are not only co-workers, but neighbors in the rural area the company is named for.

Minnewaukan native makes quilt for cancer cure
Editor’s note: The following article concerns Minnewaukan native Bernadine Howard and her husband, Gene, also a Minnewaukan native.
She is a 1965 graduate of Minnewaukan High School and is the daughter of Mike and Agnes Haman, who now live in Devils Lake. He is a 1964 Minnewaukan graduate and is the son of Rose Howard of Minnewaukan and the late Wilson Howard.
The Pierce County Tribune
Rugby, ND
It’s been 10 years since Bernie Howard heard the dreaded words, "You have breast cancer."
But her illness and recovery are never far from her mind. In fact, it was her victory over cancer that inspired her to create an ornate quilt depicting the pink ribbon that represents breast cancer awareness.
When she spotted the pattern at a quilt show last fall, she said to herself, "I have to have that."
After what Bernie can only estimate as "hundreds of hours" and over 3,000 pieces of material in 1 to 2-1/4 inch squares in 21 different colors, her special quilt is now on display through the month of October at the entrance to the radiology department at the Heart of America Medical Center in Rugby.
On display alongside Bernie’s quilt is some information for the public on breast cancer detection and treatment, all in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Bernie was just 52 years old when she noticed a lump in one of her breasts in September of 1999. She had been in for a mammogram earlier that year in July, but nothing was detected at that time. Dr. Skipper, the local surgeon at the time, suspected malignancy so he sent her on to Trinity Medical Cancer Center in Minot.
There Bernie went through four rounds of chemotherapy as well as an elective mastectomy of one breast. She has been cancer free ever since, but not without worry. She had what she describes as a "scare" in the other breast several weeks ago, but so far, thankfully, it looks like a false alarm.
Bernie is all too familiar with cancer. Both her mother and father are cancer survivors as well as her husband, Gene. Gene also lost a sister to pancreatic cancer.
Because of this Bernie makes sure that she and all of her family members stay vigilant about being routinely checked for various forms of cancer. This means regular mammograms and other tests such as undergoing recommended colonoscopy screenings.
She has seven sisters and a daughter, who are well aware of how a person’s chances of being diagnosed with cancer go along with family history.
"Because of what I’ve been through, they are all very diligent about getting checked," Bernie said. "I’ve also encouraged them all to get cancer insurance which has been a savior for Gene and me."
Bernie has been very active in the local Relay for Life event to raise money for cancer research since it began in 2004. She also took part in the Relay for Life event in Devils Lake for a few years prior to that. She is motivated to help in any event that raises awareness for the cause.
In fact, her first thoughts were to auction the quilt to raise money for Relay for Life, but her daughter, Jan convinced her mom that it was much too valuable on a personal level. So Bernie recently surprised her daughter with the quilt as a gift for her 40th birthday.
All of Bernie’s trials and tribulations with cancer both in herself and her family members gave her the motivation to complete such a time-consuming project.
"I bought the fabrics and pondered it a while," Bernie explained.
"But I didn’t know what I was getting into."
She would routinely spend four hours a night in her sewing room. Much of that time was spent ripping and replacing fabric when she made mistakes in the complicated pattern. Much of the time was spent with Gene at her side.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime project. I think my husband was just as happy as I was when it was finally done. The pattern is for giveaway," she joked.

Bernie Howard spent hundreds of hours on her special quilt on display at the radiology department at the Heart of America Medical Center in Rugby in honor of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Pierce County Tribune photo)

Active Women donate
Kaaren Duren, center, is shown presenting donations on behalf of the Active Women of Maddock to Doug Arnston, right, for the Maddock Golf Club and Anna Slater, left, for the Maddock Historical Society.
Additionally, more than $500 was given to the Maddock Swimming Pool repair fund representing proceeds from bingo held in August. The AWM also gave $200 to the Northern Valley Honor Flight for WWII veterans to be taken to Washington, DC. Monthly donations are also given to the After School Program at the Maddock School.

Karen Smith of the AWM, center, presents donations to Perky Backstrom, right, for the Maddock Library and Joann Bergrud, left, for the Maddock Community Food Pantry and the Maddock Community Center for the window replacement project. "A Big Bucks and Lots of Dough/Doe Bingo" will be held on Thursday, Nov. 12 for those who do not participate in the outdoor deer hunt.

Smart board
Leeds first grader Samara Blegen enjoys manipulating the Smart Board, which is an interactive white board used to enhance learning.

Girls take fourth
On October 10 the Maddock Girls’ Grades Four, Five and Six Basketball Team participated in a sixth grade tournament at Four Winds School. There were 10 teams in this tournament and Maddock took fourth place. Left to right, front row, are Allyson Lauinger, Kristi Medalen, Nora Duren and Emily Sears. Back row: Courtney Lauinger, Taylor Foss and Keringten Lee. Not pictured are coach Codi Olson, assistant coach Ashley Foss and Becca Johnson.

Maddock native honored as doctor and lawyer
Maddock native Dr. David Hunter, left, of Scotts Valley, Calif. was recently honored in Huntington Beach, Calif. for his work with CEPAmerica, the largest physician-owned emergency medical group in the US.
He is the first recipient of the Wachholder Legacy Award, named for the founder of the 1,000 partner group. Hunter became a partner of California Emergency Physicians, recently renamed CEPAmerica, shortly after it was established. Over three decades, he has been medical director, regional director and board member for that group.
Dr. Joel Stettner, right, CEPAmerica board chairman said, while introducing Hunter at the awards ceremony, that as a physician and graduate of Harvard Law School, Hunter’s knowledge of law and medicine has provided valuable insight to the partnership in dealing with complex issues involving both professions.
CEPAmerica treats more than three million emergency patients a year nationwide and locally staffs six of the hospital emergency departments in Santa Clara County, including two trauma centers that serve Santa Cruz area residents. Dr. Hunter is the son of Robert Hunter of Maddock and the late Marie Hunter. Dr. Hunter has three children, Scott a sophomore at Scotts Valley High School; John, a junior premedical student at the University of Minnesota; and Allison, a University of California Los Angeles graduate in her last year at Harvard Law School.

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