U.S Senator Amy Klobuchar, center front, and U.S. Representative Collin Peterson, center left, tour Ernie’s Food Market in Staples on Nov. 2, a long with store owners Al and Barb Erbe and USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer, left. The visit was to see the results of a $19,693 Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program grant, which the Erbe’s used to purchase energy efficient coolers, like the new coolers (above) in the convenience store and produce coolers (below) in the grocery store. Erbe also installed LED lighting throughout the store, also with the grant money. Erbe told his visitors that the new lighting requires half the wattage as the old lights, eliminating the need for a transformer. He said the grant will help him remain competitive with big box stores out of town.

Klobuchar said the visit was part of a rural needs tour which included attending an Alzheimer’s conference in Wadena and learning about the market tax credit in Park Rapids.