What Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are to Bemidji, or the World’s Largest Ball of Twine is to Darwin, the Corn Monument is to Olivia, and possibly much more.
The West Central Tribune reports Olivia Economic Development Director Susie Lothert thinks it’s also a symbol of the agricultural heritage in the area.
She was answering a reporter’s question as to why people and businesses throughout the community are stockpiling cardboard with the same passion that drove Francis Johnson to build a 17,000-pound ball of twine over the course of 29 years in Darwin.
Never mind the subzero temperatures of late, every week Lothert and helpers Sandy Benson, Brian Stenholm, and Bernard Johnson make the rounds in Olivia to pick up all of the cardboard anyone will offer.
All of the cardboard they collect is carried away by the semi-load to McLeod County, and 80 percent of the revenues from its sale for recycling are returned to Olivia. The funds are all being placed in a nonprofit account kept by the Olivia Lions and will go toward repairs on the Corn Monument.
At least $18,000 is needed to repair the monument. Work is needed mainly on the concrete base and the roof of the building on which the ear is mounted.
Since Lothert and Benson launched the “Go Green’’ cardboard collection for the monument in September, they have raised about one-half of the funds needed for its restoration. The amount also includes cash donations from some of the 13 seed companies located in the community. They, of course, are the big reason Olivia was officially proclaimed “The Seed Corn Capital of the World” by the Minnesota Senate in 2005.