Fergus Falls’ big move


When nearly 100 elderly people in an assisted-living home need to move to a new facility, you don’t just put them on a bus and drop them off at unfamiliar surroundings. Things are more complicated than that.

In Fergus Falls today, the PioneerCare Center moved 93 of its residents to a new building that’s been under construction for about 18 months.

“We’ve been planning the whole transfer to this new building since the start of construction,” Steve Guttormson, the spokesman for PioneerCare told me this afternoon. “We’ve had staff and volunteers and families on different committees.”

It helped to have the people of Fergus Falls around.

The new building is about four blocks from the old one, so today, Fergus Falls had a parade for the residents of the facility, with classic cars, a color guard from the VFW, and the kids in the band at Fergus Falls High School escorting the seniors to their new home.


Two residents — Mildred Roswold and Pete Beldo — were chosen as grand marshalls.



“It is a wonderful addition to our community and the school felt we need to do our part to help in this grand opening,” Dean Monke, the high school principal, said.

By all accounts, the residents , such as Dorothy Loftis, liked it:


(h/t: Shane Garrahan. Photos via Steve Guttormson. Band photo via Eric Strom)

  • Meg

    It was a brisk morning and the sky was bright. The volunteers and staff at PioneerCareCenter and the support of the community made a “short ride” a memorable event!

    Not everyone gets to be in a parade! The FFHS Marching Band was right there to start the morning off on the right foot and the right tempo! The classic cars accentuated the event. Our bus followed a gorgeous black & pink Dodge driven by a member of the “Uninviteds”. One Pioneer resident’s brother lives in a home along the parade route and waved to the buses from his living room window. Several people braved the chilly temps and gathered in spots along the parade route, waving and taking pictures.

    It could have been a very stressful time for the residents of PioneerCare, but careful planning and an army of volunteers made sure that the transition was like a trip around the block!

    I was a lucky “bus-buddy” for my mother-in-law, Hope. She, like many others, put on a brave front in the face of uncertainty. But, mostly, folks wanted to put on another coat to stay warm. Now that I think about it, the weather provided a distraction to the impending “Great Move of Fergus Falls.” Well, you know how we love to talk about the weather here!

    Our Bus Drivers were awesome! Everyone was carefully locked in place, (wheelschairs locked), with seat-belts buckled!

    John Richards, CEO of PioneerCare, was in the midst of the fray, supporting his staff, the residents and their families.

    Upon arrival at the “New Pioneer”, residents were greeted by the VFW Color Guard, family, friends, staff, and volunteers. The parade started precisly at 10:00am and the buses arrived at 10:18am. We were off the buses shortly thereafter, and lunch was served to residents and their guests at 12:00pm without any delays.

    What a great experience! I am so thrilled to have been able to be a part of the day. And thank you to MPR for caring enough to highlight this event.

  • John O.

    BREAKING NEWS: There are still good people out there living in communities that actually care about all of their residents. Nicely done, Fergus Falls!

  • Candice Hopwood

    This story was the next best thing to being an actual witness of the “Great Move of Fergus Falls!”

    My Grandma, Elfreda Botts, is such a special lady and was part of this colorful parade. She is my inspiration and such a beautiful woman from the inside out! I live in Shell Lake Wisconsin so our visits are spread out farther than I would like….but this story brought me right into her special day!

    Thank you so much for the wonderful article!

    Candice Hopwood