Editor’s Note: 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 Karen Whitney at 996-1140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Hey, can we stop?" Brian Lester asked his wife Alahna Gross as they were traveling down I-90 on their way to visit Alahna's grandma.
Brian, being an avid motorcyclist, had noticed several signs advertising Klock Werks. Alahna replied, "It's probably just an advertisement like Wall Drug. "No," Brian stated after checking on his phone, "Klock Werks is right here in Mitchell."
They stopped, and a relationship began that would last. First with Dave Sietsema and then Brian and Vanessa Klock.
Klock offered Brian a job at Klock Werks and invited them to move to Mitchell. Klock also hooked Alahna up with Diane Kenkel at Prairie Family Health Care, who offered her a position as a nurse practitioner. The billboard brought them to Mitchell, but it was the people they met that convinced them to live here.
Packing up their three cats, Chaos, Raven, and Priv, Brian and Alahna enthusiastically moved to Mitchell from Washington State in the middle of a pandemic.
Alahna is originally from South Dakota, having grown up on a farm outside of Hitchcock. She earned her bachelor's degree from South Dakota State University in Brookings.
Brian was living in Washington when they met in 2013 at the Bike Rally in Sturgis.
She said, "We camped right next to each other and ended up riding together the entire week with his family." At the end of the week, they parted. He went back to Washington, and she went on to Minnesota.
Two years later, Brian found Alahna on Facebook and friended her. She had just completed her masters degree and purchased a home in Mapleton, Minnesota.
Brian asked her if she was coming back to Sturgis, but Alahna told him she had sold her bike and her life had changed a bit. But that didn't stop her from finding a way to meet.
Since Brian was living in Washington at the time, she found a professional conference at the University of Washington that she could attend. She texted Brian to see if any of the dates she would be there would work for them to have dinner. Alahna kidded, "He responded with a very excited, "Yes!"
They ended up spending the rest of the week together and, after that, would fly back and forth between Washington and Minnesota until Alahna, being more mobile in her occupation as a nurse practitioner, was able to find a job in Washington.
Alahna first worked as a contractor for the V.A. in one of their smaller clinics, then moved to the V.A. proper in Tacoma. At the V.A., she mainly worked with men, but she wanted to look for a job treating women and children. She found what she was looking for when she landed a position working for the Department of Defense, seeing the families of active-duty servicemen and women. With that job, she commuted 45 minutes one-way to work each day.
Alahna declares her commute now to Prairie Family Health Care is "fantastic." It takes her only two minutes to get to work. Not only that, she and her husband have both found their "dream job."
Alahna asserts that working for Diane is where she wants to be as a medical professional. She says, "If you choose Diane as your provider, you will get the best care." Prairie Family Health Care practices the kind of medicine Alahna aspires to practice. She added, "They practice a humanistic, personal type of medicine." "Diane knows people, she knows their story – that's what I want to do, too."
For 29 years, Brian worked for SuperValu Wholesale Distribution, leaving that position before moving to Mitchell. Thanks to Klock, he now has the job of his dreams.
At Klock Werks he is learning. He did go to motorcycle mechanics school for about a year before moving to Mitchell, and he does love the biking world. Both Brian and Alahna have Harleys. They enjoy riding together and spending time with family.
And, if it's not riding a bike or playing with her cats, she would like to get back into roller skating.
Before moving to Mitchell, Alahna had joined a roller derby team after a friend convinced her to try it. "Sticky skating" is all she claims she was able to do at first. "That's when you can hardly lift a skate," says Alahna. With practice, she was competing with the team as the girl who skates backward loudly yelling the direction to the other skaters. She said the friendships she made while skating was why she loved it so much.
The closest roller derby team is the Roller Dolls in Sioux Falls. Mitchell doesn't have a team, but Alahna wonders if some ladies in Mitchell might want to get together. If this might be of interest, you can catch up with Alahna at Prairie Family Health Care. She would love to get to know you and your story and perhaps dream about roller derby skating in Mitchell.