Save The Kasota Prairie
Save The Kasota Prairie

 

HISTORY


In March of 1979 news came that a company from Connecticut had bought one square mile of property to the southwest of Kasota, Minnesota. The company had asked the Planning and Zoning board of Le Sueur County to rezone the area for strip mining. In response to the company's plan, Save the Kasota Prairie was formed on the lawn of Allen Windhorn. The goal of SKP was to get the State of Minnesota to require Unimin to do an Environmental Impact Statement. A petition of 1,200 signatures was presented to Minnesota Environmental Equality Board. The petition would require an Environmental Impact Statement. On July 8, 1979, officers were elected for SKP. Both Unimin and SKP hired lawyers to represent them in court. After many hearings, the courts ruled in favor of Unimin. Back in Kasota many fund raisers were being held such as concerts, suppers, belt buckle sales, and many more activities that raised money. The city council of Kasota said that SKP was ruining the business of Kasota, by trying to chase away Unimin. During the next election, Jeri Jansen beat Walt Vetter, the mayor of Kasota for the previous 22 years.
Along with Jansen, Tim Willson and Carl Brazier both won seats on the Kasota City Council. Now SKP was in charge of the Kasota city government. However, the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board rejected the legal proposal for the Environmental Impact Statement. Save the Kasota Prairie came to the conclusion that they had no choice but to go to court. The lawyer for SKP resigned, so SKP hired enthusiastic Kevin O'Connor Green to be their attorney. Green was amazing in court, and SKP's chances looked very good. Unfortunately, Green failed to file a brief with the court so SKP lost the appeal. Bob Winzenburg was then hired by SKP as their new lawyer. Winzenburg and his partner Mark Halverson appealed the ruling on Christmas Eve of 1981. On March 8, 1982, a new brief was submitted to the court. Save the Kasota Prairie finally got Unimin's attention. Unimin sent Vice President Tom Kilroy in from New York to negotiate a deal. Dennis Johnson of Unimn, Jeri Jansen, SKP attorneys, and Bob Idso were the participants in the negotiations. The result was the current Stipulation and Agreement between SKP and Unimin. "It was ironic that, in the end, it was the two young fellows just out of law school who made the legal agreements that saved the day."
So for the past fifteen years everything with SKP went very smoothly. In the spring of 1993 SKP voted on having legal charitable gambling, and it turned out that " it is a lot more fun to have money than to not have it ." Over the last few years SKP has built a parking lot, added and preserved more land, and made numerous monetary donations to worthy causes in the Kasota area every year. On Kasota Prairie Day hundreds of high school students visit the Kasota Prairie. Current publicity has attracted many new members and volunteers to the prairie. So over the past 18 years "Save the Kasota Prairie" and Unimin have gone from confrontation to compromise to cooperation.

*Note: The above information was obtained from the
"Save the Kasota Prairie Newsletter," Vol. 17, No. 12,
the special 15th anniversary edition, December, 1994.