PALACE CITY PROFILES: Mitchell's the 'sweet spot' for Johnson family
Palace City Profiles is an ongoing series of community members' stories, introducing us to our neighbors and the personalities that call Mitchell home. If you have suggestions for individuals or families with a great story, please contact Lori Essig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justin and Amanda Johnson have found Mitchell to be their "sweet spot."
Though the Johnsons could have crossed paths many times — they both grew up in Watertown and earned undergraduate and advanced degrees at the University of South Dakota — they did not meet until their college years when their parents built homes next to one another. Justin and Amanda were married at 3 p.m. on June 9, 2012 — 3/6/9/12, for those who are into numeric patterns.
When Justin finished law school and passed the South Dakota Bar Exam in 2014, he was hired by Tinan, Smith and Bucher Law Office in Mitchell.
At the same time, Amanda was able to complete her on-site physical therapy clinical at Dakota Physical Therapy in Mitchell, and was thrilled to be hired when she graduated.
"Mitchell has been great for us," she said. "It has similarities to Watertown — it's sports-oriented, has a lake, and lots of good people to know and meet."
"But the weather is nicer," said Justin. "It's the banana belt, compared to Watertown."
In 2016, Justin was hired as the Mitchell's city attorney. Amanda marvels at the variety of work he manages daily. One day he could be reviewing contracts for city projects and the next he could be addressing a public nuisance or prosecuting minor offenses.
"There is always something new to work on so it's always interesting," Justin said. "When I was in law school, I tried to give myself a broad background, and it has served me well because now I end up doing a little bit of everything."
Amanda also enjoys variety in her work as a physical therapist. She has treated patients ranging in age from 17 days to 103 years old. She specializes in women's health and is lymphedema-certified, so she often works with those suffering from swelling and fluid retention in arms and legs associated with cancer, surgery or other underlying conditions.
As far as her career is concerned, Amanda says she landed her dream job when she was hired at Dakota Physical Therapy (DPT).
"It seemed like a miracle," she said. "DPT has great resources, including a pool for therapy, and my colleagues are similar in age and family situations. It's flexible for a young family, and we just really enjoy one another's personalities."
Amanda and Justin like being involved in their community, so they joined the Optimist Club which has given them the opportunity to volunteer and meet others with whom they have things in common.
The Johnson family also includes a daughter, 15-month-old Rey. Their experiences with Mitchell's health care options while expecting Rey and since her birth have been very positive, and they appreciate having the medical professionals they need right here at home.
"It means a lot to us that our doctors are local people with families of their own in our community," said Amanda.
As their family has grown, they have taken advantage of the family-oriented outdoor opportunities in Mitchell — they love the parks, Frisbee golf, and their big back yard — and they enjoy the "herd of kids" in their neighborhood.
Justin was also surprised to find out that several of his Watertown middle school teachers, as well as his football coach, had joined the Mitchell education system.
"It's a small world. My coach was even able to find a 15-year-old position chart from our middle school team," Justin said. "There must be something in the water up there that steers people to Mitchell."
The Johnsons find that they are close enough to family for easy visits, but far enough away to make Mitchell their own. Similarities to their hometown and friendly people have helped make Mitchell a comfortable fit for this young family.