May 24, 2024

Longtime Elbow Lake city staff members retire after decades of service

Darlene Jante, left, and Linda Olson, right, wrap up their long-standing careers in the Elbow Lake city office and transition into retirement.

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Jake Sias
Grant County Herald

Elbow Lake marked the end of an era on March 30 as it bid farewell to two of its long-standing city office staff members, Linda Olson and Darlene Jante. With their retirement effective April 1, the duo leaves behind a combined legacy of nearly a century of service, during which they witnessed and contributed to numerous changes within the community.

Olson, who dedicated 53 years to the city office, and Jante, with 43 years, initially joined the staff when Harland Martinson held the position of city clerk. Reflecting on the technological and demographic shifts they observed, both noted the introduction of computers as a major change to their daily operations. Over the decades, they also saw the city’s fluctuating population and business landscape.

They both commented on the fluctuations of the city. “It’s grown a little bit, but it has kinda shrunk.
It comes and goes,” said Jante. “People come, people go. Businesses come, businesses go.”  

“The hospital was built, and all those apartments, they all came after we were here,” added Olson, “There were no apartment buildings for a long time. There were a lot of older people when I first started.”

When talking about their retirement aspirations, neither of them stated that they wanted to embark on globetrotting adventures. “I am just going to enjoy time with my grandkids,” stated Jante. She also stated that she enjoys fishing and visiting the various places in the area. She will also keep herself busy making greeting cards, working for her sister, and scrapbooking.  Olson expressed excitement for her garden, where her hyacinths were already beginning to bloom. 

The interpersonal aspects of their jobs are what Jante will miss most. “I really enjoyed meeting the people,” she shared, expressing nostalgia for the daily interactions and the relationships formed with colleagues and community members over the years.

Discussing their hopes for Elbow Lake’s future, Olson expressed a desire to see revitalization downtown, reminiscent of the past when local shops offered a variety of goods and added charm to the area. “We used to have knick-knack stores that would do flowers, bouquets, and all kinds of gift items. That was nice. I liked that,” she reminisced.

The departure of Olson and Jante coincides with a period of transition for the city office as new staff members step into their roles. Both retirees emphasized the importance of patience and support for their successors, who are still acclimating to their new responsibilities. “People should take it easy on them. They are still learning,” Jante advised, reflecting on her own continual learning experiences throughout her career.

Jante shared a notable memory from her early years in the office, which involved a trip to Fergus Falls related to the Supreme Court case, Otter Tail Power Co. v. United States, demonstrating the sometimes unexpected responsibilities their positions entailed. “I had to make sure they wouldn’t steal our files,” she recounted, highlighting the diverse challenges they faced.

As Elbow Lake moves forward, the contributions of these long-time employees will undoubtedly remain a part of its foundation. Both retirees not only witnessed, but also facilitated the city’s growth and adaptation over decades, their careers leaving a lasting imprint on the community. The new staff stepping into these roles inherit not just a set of duties, but a legacy of dedicated service and community engagement that Olson and Jante exemplified throughout their careers.

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