On what would normally be a busy morning in Perham, a community of about 3,500 people in Otter Tail County, a flag flaps lazily in a cool breeze at 7:45 a.m. as school staff comes out of the building to greet cars driving through the loop.
Rather than dropping off students, the drivers arrive to pick up school lunches.
As the cars move through the line, staff use a cart to help them distribute bagged breakfast and lunches for children.
Typically, over 3,800 people are working inside the electronic parts distribution company, which has teamed up with the University of Minnesota to supply components for respirators. Over 1,700 employees now work from home, a feat for the company’s IT department, as many employees live in rural areas outside of Thief River Falls, and connectivity is an issue.
“It’s a cubicle ghost town,” says Shane Zutz, vice president of human resources. “It would be a great place to play Nerf wars or something.”
7:50 a.m. - Receptionist Julie Peterson irons homemade masks workers can take if they want. She is part of a four-person mask-making team. She has a sewing machine at her desk that her husband puts in the car every Sunday night so she can work on the masks at work.
8:10 a.m. - Shane Zutz shows how employees clean totes. The totes allow parts, which need to be boxed and shipped, to be moved on the facility’s conveyors. They pass through an ultraviolet light machine, engineered on-site. Staff had asked about the possibility of cleaning them. “These totes, In the course of a day, can hit 95 pack stations or pick stations.”
8:17 a.m. - Cindy Wiskow and Gloria Barber do stretching exercises at their workstation. They do it twice a day to ward off becoming stiff while they work.
8:19 a.m. - Elaine Sundberg, wearing a mask and gloves, sanitizes tables in a break area. They get cleaned every two hours and she is responsible for three areas.
8:35 a.m. - Jamiee Gaddie takes a break from her 4:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift to drink an energy drink. “The closest employee is two tables away. We have staggered breaks, so there’s less people on breaks now,” Gaddie says.
BYRON — Naturalists Clarissa Schrooten and Jaide Ryks are busy with diet prep — weighing portions, chopping meat, and applying supplements when needed — for their animal wards at Zollman Zoo.Although Gov. Tim Walz’s order closed the Oxbow Park Nature Center and the zoo to visitors until at least May 4, the 30-plus native Minnesota animals housed there must still be fed. Usually, the naturalists arrive at the park just west of Rochester about 8 a.m. to begin.