Thursday, February 20, 2020
Dressed in jail garb, sheriff and jail officials flee out of the Steele County Detention Center in Owatonna into the hands of Michelle Redman decked out in a milk carton and awaiting sheriff’s deputies Friday morning. Involved with the jail break include, from left: Jeremy Hanzek, deputy; Anthony Buttera, jail administrator; Paul Prissel, assistant jail administrator; Sheriff Lon Thiele; Michelle Redman, executive director of Big Brothers; Scott Hanson, chief deputy; Chad Schlueter, jail programs coordinat

A little jailhouse rock

Officials stage jailbreak for Big Brothers

It didn’t look good Friday morning when five people dressed in orange and black and white jail garb went fleeing out the front door of the Steele County Detention Center in Owatonna.

Sheriff’s deputies quickly converged on the area only to find it wasn’t a real jailbreak, but rather a little jailhouse rock being swept into the hands of Michelle Redman, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Minnesota, dressed in an oversize milk carton. After a little dance in the parking lot, the escapees headed back inside the jail.

The escapees were none other than Sheriff Lon Thiele, chief deputy Scott Hanson, jail administrator Anthony Buttera, assistant jail administrator Paul Prissel and jail programs coordinator Chad Schlueter. Thiele and Prissel were dressed in orange while the others wore black and white shirts and orange pants.

The jailbreak was part of a rouse for BBBS to win $25,000. Redman and Tressa Smallbrock, BBBS program director, have been going around Owatonna over the past week shooting small videos for a national campaign, #HorizonConfiDANCE. Redman said they videotaped 45 different scenes around town by people sharing a dance with them.

Horizon Organic has teamed up with BBBS of America to launch the campaign in which the company will donate money to the national organization and offer prizes to local branches that enter the contest. The company asked BBBS groups to take videos and post them to Instagram or Facebook to show their #HorizonConfiDANCE. For every dance shared by this past Monday, Horizon said it would donate $5 to the national BBBS, up to $200,000. Several prizes of $5,000 and $25,000 are available for the local agencies.

“We want to win $25,000,” said an excited Redman after finishing their jailhouse dance. “Everybody is excited about this,” she said, adding there are 250 BBBS organizations across the country involved with this campaign.

Redman said her group came up with a “kind of grassroots” effort to video various dances with the Horizon milk carton as the vocal point of it all. “The milk carton came out of the recycling. We didn’t spend a dime on it,” she said. She added they had other scraps around to decorate the carton.

Horizon Organic, a pioneer in the organic dairy category, revealed the partnership with BBBS for the back-to-school season earlier this year. Together, they are powering up passions with a campaign that they hope will lead to something stronger than bones—self-confidence.

“We at Horizon Organic really admire the work of BBBS and their commitment to nourishing positive childhood growth through mentorship,” said Domenic Borrelli, president of Horizon Organic. “BBBS recognizes the potential in every child, and we help fuel it with delicious organic milk. Bringing our two brands together to celebrate kid confidence is a natural pairing.”

Redman said of the Horizon campaign, “It helps us get our name out there and it’s fun to see the communities come together.”

If the local organization would win $25,000, Redman said it would help the group take 25 children off its waiting list of 200. The money would be used for recruiting volunteers, screening processes and social work to ensure child safety.

Redman said the Southern Minnesota group of BBBS is bucking a national decline of involvement. Nationally, BBBS has declined about 4%, but the Southern Minnesota group has jumped 19% since 2017, according to Redman.

“We work hard to grow,” Redman says. “We won’t stop at anything to bring in money into the agency.”

BBBS of Southern Minnesota serves four counties, including Steele, Dodge, Rice and Waseca. Redman expects to serve 750 children this year. The local agency’s budget is $1 million. Steele is the largest of the four counties at 55%. BBBS has offices in Owatonna and Faribault.

The local agency has been recognized as the agency of the year for two straight years. “We are very proud of that, and we like to keep the winning streak going,” Redman said. 

Sheriff Thiele was more than willing to help BBBS when Redman contacted him. “She asked for some sort of community involvement, and I didn’t want to do the same old thing,” Thiele said. “We decided to have a jailbreak to show our support.”

When Thiele notified the rest of his jail staff about the adventure, he made on thing clear to them. “I told them this is the only time you’re going to want to see orange garb running out the jail,” he said.

For Thiele, it was just another way of how he enjoys helping out the community his office serves. In the past, he has done dunk tanks, bull riding, dancing with the stars, among other fun activities.

“I just like to help out the community in any way I can,” Thiele said. “It’s not just about law enforcement to be a part of the community. We need to help out in any way we can,” he added.



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Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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