The Blue Light Podcast (Elly Johansen from Underground Vinyl)

For this episode of The Blue Light Podcast, we had the honor of sitting down with Elly Johansen. Elly recently started a business in Garretson called “Underground Vinyl.” Enjoy the show!

The Blue Light Podcast – Elly Johansen from Underground Vinyl!

The Blue Light Podcast – Elly Johansen from Underground Vinyl!

Posted by The Blue Light Blog & Podcast on Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Garretson Historians (The Blue Light)

I wanted to briefly introduce myself because I know not all of you will know me. My name is Jakob Etrheim. While I currently don’t live in Garretson, I spent the first 23 years of my life as a Garretson resident. I graduated from GHS in 2011, the third generation to do so. My parents are Mary and Todd Tilberg, and Keith Etrheim, my grandparents Dean and Joan Engebretson. I started getting involved with the Garretson Area Historical Society (GAHS) as a senior in high school in 2010 and I have remained involved with the GAHS ever since. I thought I would give a little history of the community’s historical society and what we do.

Firstly, I can’t tell the history of the GAHS without talking about the Johnson Drug Store and the First National Bank of Garretson, who were the original inhabitants of what is now the Garretson Heritage Museum building. If you have ever been to the museum, there are two sides to the building. The north side with the main entrance is the Drug Store side. The south side of the building is the Bank.

The First National Bank was originally built in August 1894 on the property that the city library sits at today under the name Garretson State Bank. In May 1895, they moved into south side of the present museum building with total assets of $10,000. This served as the bank’s home till August 1979 when it was moved into the Bank’s present location and renamed First Bank and Trust.

The drug store bought and moved into the original bank building I just mentioned on the corner where the library is today. It was founded by L.B. Farley around 1889 under the name of the Corner Drug. Ole Johnson, who was an apprentice to Mr. Farley, purchased the Corner Drug in 1904. The drug store was housed on the corner until the addition to the bank (north side of museum building) was built and Ole moved the business and renamed it Johnson Drug. Ole and his son-in-law Emmett owned the business until 1967 when Emmett’s son Bob Nelson purchased the drug store. In 1980, Bob and his wife Mary moved the building next door where Rainbow Delight is today. The building was essentially given to the newly formed Garretson Area Historical Society in 1988 after a sale of $1 and has remained our home ever since.

I would encourage you to like the Society and Museum’s Facebook page. We post society events and cool historic photos there. I would also invite you to become a member of the society. We think membership is a bargain at $15 for individual, or $25 for a family/business. A membership makes a great gift for anyone; young and old! Being a member entitles you to free newsletters (we strive to print three newsletters yearly), invitation to Museum events, and the satisfaction of helping a valuable cultural institution. Finally, I would encourage you to visit your community’s museum. Starting May 5, the museum will be open every Saturday from 1-4 until Fall. Can’t make it then? Make an appointment by calling 594-3522 or 594-3863.


We are always looking for people who would like to volunteer for The Blue Light by writing short articles about the community. If you are interested in contributing, send an e-mail to Tyler Ramsbey ( 

Challenge #1: Be Present

Credit: Charles Wilson ( for more pictures.

One of the best ways individual community members can add value to Garretson is deceptively simple – being fully present. Community has slowly shifted from being a shared life to shared space. In order to return to the original concept of community, we must refocus on having a shared life together. One of the greatest obstacles to this shared life is our obsession with technology – especially with our phones.

I am currently reading a remarkable book called “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” Many of us have a behavior addiction to technology – especially the use of smartphones. Based on a large study of smartphone users, the average person looks at their phone for three hours a day and checks their phone 40 times a day!

Eventually winter is going to be over (I know it doesn’t feel like it!) and my challenge to all of us is to learn how to be present. As summer arrives and you spend time at one of the parks in Garretson or simply go on a walk around your neighborhood, resist the urge to stare at your phone. When you are at a local event waiting for it to start, refuse to scroll through Facebook. Instead, seek to be fully present to the people around you.

What if we fought through the awkwardness of not pulling out our phones and instead engaged a real human being in conversation? The tragedy of our technology is that the more connected we become online, the more isolation we experience in the real world. To make Garretson an attractive community, let’s seek to be fully present to family, friends, and strangers – recognizing that real conversations are more impactful than online dialogue.

Growth or Health? (The Blue Light)

At the mayoral forum two weeks ago, one of the questions posed to the candidates was, “How big do you want Garretson to grow?” This is a question that many people in our community ponder. We know that Garretson is at a critical point for a small town – we have new businesses and people coming to our community and we need to decide whether we will encourage or discourage growth. We have all seen small towns slowly lose businesses… young families move away… and the local school can no longer operate. If we simply allow ourselves to drift without any type of plan, we will always drift into complacency rather than action.

But there’s the thing – what if we have the wrong focus? What if instead of asking, “How can we cause Garretson to grow?” we should ask, “How can we cause Garretson to be a healthy community?” If we focus on sheer numerical growth and marketing for our small town, we MIGHT grow but I do not think the growth will be sustainable. On the other hand, if the members of our community truly seek to care for their neighbors, get involved with local government, and join community organizations to promote the wellbeing of all – we will see healthy numerical growth.

Over the next few weeks I am planning on doing a series of posts that will encourage all of us with ways we can help Garretson be a HEALTHY community. The definition of community has slowly changed to a shared area or space where people live. What if we returned to the original meaning of community which is that of a “shared life” or “public spirit?” What if Garretson was known for both radical hospitality and beautiful parks? What if the members of Garretson displayed authentic care for one another? What if we realized that we exist for more than just our own personal happiness and comfort?

These are all questions I am hoping to wrestle with over the next few weeks. If you have any thoughts on them I’d love to hear from you – please send an e-mail to!

By the way, there is a planning meeting for GROW Garretson this Saturday at 3pm at Screwballz Bar & Grill. I will be at the meeting and would love to connect with you. This will be an opportunity to learn how you can help Garretson become a truly healthy community!

The Beauty of Community (The Blue Light)

One of the reasons I love Garretson is the strong concept of community that people hold. Community comes from the root word “common” and it is a sense of living life in common with each other. People in Garretson are deeply passionate about our small town and I was reminded of this fact last Sunday during the Mayoral Candidate Forum. I could be wrong but I am pretty certain there is no other small town that has three candidates running for mayor, hosted a candidate mayoral forum, and streamed the forum on Facebook Live – accepting questions from both the physical audience and online audience. That’s pretty impressive! As of today (Thursday, March 29th) the Mayoral Forum has already received 1700+ views and I have had multiple people approach me to talk about the three different candidates and to discuss the strengths of each one – I am seriously amazed that people are actually interested in a mayoral election for once!

All three candidates (Greg Beaner, Bruce Brown, and Tom Godbey) displayed a deep commitment to the people of Garretson. They tackled questions such as the possible hog facility outside of town, the need for more housing options, and the problems we will face in the future as we continue to grow. My hope is that The Blue Light Blog & Podcast can help facilitate future conversations around these topics. One of the visions I have as the new mayor is elected is to do an online Mayoral Forum at least once every few months. It would be an opportunity for the Mayor to share vision for the community and to answer questions from the Facebook Live audience. I believe this would foster community input and encourage engagement with local leadership.

So what’s my point in writing all of this? To encourage you to actually go and vote on Tuesday, April 10th! I would love to see an INCREDIBLE voter turnouts for our small town so that people outside of our community can realize what a great place Garretson is to live, work, and play!

P.S. – I had the opportunity to interview Dave Greenlee from Tucker’s Walk for the Podcast this week. Check out the interview below:

The Blue Light Podcast – Dave Greenlee from Tucker's Walk!

The Blue Light Podcast – Dave Greenlee from Tucker's Walk!

Posted by The Blue Light Blog & Podcast on Wednesday, March 28, 2018

– Tyler Ramsbey




The Blue Light Podcast – Greg Beaner (Mayoral Candidate)

For this episode of The Blue Light Podcast, I had the honor of sitting down with Greg Beaner. Greg is one of three candidates seeking to become the Mayor of Garretson. Each episode of the podcast is streamed live on Facebook so that community members can interact with us during the interview. If you would like to watch the episodes live, please head to our Facebook Page – The Blue Light Blog & Podcast

Greg Beaner (Garretson Mayoral Candidate) Interview!

Greg Beaner (Garretson Mayoral Candidate) Interview!

Posted by The Blue Light Blog & Podcast on Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How YOU Can Help “The Blue Light” Succeed!

Hi everyone!
Welcome to the very first blog post of The Blue Light. As you may have already seen or heard, The Blue Light is becoming the OFFICIAL blog and podcast for the community of Garretson. Our goal is simple – we want to connect people in the community to each other and to display the value of living, working, and doing business in Garretson!

Before I share the specifics of how this will happen, I thought it would be good to share a little bit about me! I live here in Garretson with my wife Ashley and my daughter Ava. Ava is almost 1 ½ years old so we are still in the early stages of parenting and have already realized we have no idea what we are doing… but we are making it work! Both Ashley & I grew up in Pipestone and we graduated high school there. I am currently in the final stages of attaining my Master of Divinity degree from Sioux Falls Seminary. I have a little bit of a hectic schedule for in addition to school I also have two jobs! I work part-time at Southeast Technical Institute in the Student Success department and I work full-time at Renovation Church right here in Garretson as the Lead Pastor!

Here’s what you can expect on a weekly basis from The Blue Light:

  • A weekly blog post (300 – 500 words) highlighting an aspect of the community or sharing a cool story about Garretson. The goal of these posts will be to connect people to the community in an engaging and relevant manner. In the near future I hope to do a series of posts sharing thirteen ways for community members to add value to Garretson in practical ways.
  • A weekly video podcast episode (approximately 30 – 40 minutes long). These will be streamed live on Facebook and then posted here for people to watch and listen to. For each of these episodes I sit down with a local community member and interview them to hear their story.  I have learned that everyone has a story to share – it’s my job to help people realize they DO have a story and to help them share it!

But here’s the thing – I need YOUR help! This will not succeed without the support of the community as a whole. Because of this, I am challenging you to do at least one of the following:

  1. Share this post on social media! One of the best ways to support what we are doing through the blog and podcast is to share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc!
  2. Have coffee with me! I love to meet people who are passionate about the community. If you reach out to me by leaving a comment or sending me a message on Facebook, I would love to buy you coffee at O So Good and connect with you.
  3. Offer your talent! I am looking to create a team of people who would like to contribute to the blog or podcast. If you enjoy writing, speaking, or photography – I’d love for you to help us make this a success.

One of the exciting events happening this week is a Mayoral Candidate Forum hosted by the Garretson Gazette and Grow Garretson. This is on Sunday, March 25th at 1pm at the Old Gym in the school. I will be running sound for the event so feel free to stop by and introduce yourself. Other than that, have a great week and enjoy the warm weather that will hopefully be coming soon!

– Tyler Ramsbey