Historical Gems


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Sheriff's Boy's Ranch

The Sheriffs' Youth Programs of Minnesota, originally known as Minnesota Sheriffs Boys Ranch was the "brainchild" of Sheriffs and their friends. They began to formulate the idea of a home for delinquent and homeless boys in 1962. In their official capacity, they were seeing too many children go astray, and they felt that there was a need for such a home in Minnesota.

In September of 1963, they appointed a Boys Ranch Committee. During that same month, the By-Laws were drawn up and the Minnesota Sheriffs Boys Ranch was incorporated. The first annual meeting of the Board of Trustees was held September 27, 1963, and the first officers of the organization were elected.

At that meeting, a Site Committee was appointed to find a location for the proposed Boys Ranch. At an October 1963 Site Committee meeting, the possible site choices were narrowed to Don Mar Farms in Scott County or Mower County Home in Mower County. On October 29, 1963, a committee meeting was held in which the Austin delegation explained that Austin was a humanitarian oriented town and they felt that the people of the city would welcome such a Boys Ranch. At that meeting, the Site Committee voted to select the Austin property and to obtain a 99-year lease with Mower County.

On March 18, 1964, the property was leased from the county of Mower. In the summer of 1965 (after fundraising and work on the buildings and programming), the Minnesota Sheriffs Boys Ranch in Austin was opened with two boys enrolled. On November 22, 1971, the Minnesota Sheriffs Boys Ranch purchased the property from the county of Mower.

In 1974, the organization became Minnesota Sheriffs Boys Ranches with the addition of a Boys Ranch in Isanti, Minnesota. This Ranch was built on the site of a former Nike Missile Base. Through the efforts of Senator Hubert Humphrey, Governor Wendell Anderson, and others, the site was acquired from the Federal Government.

In 1976 a Girls Villa was opened in the former St. Augustine convent in Austin. The Villa enjoyed several years of plentiful referrals, but was subsequently closed in July 1982 when female referrals drastically dropped due to a cutback in government funds available for children.

In 1981, the organization became Sheriffs Youth Programs of Minnesota.

Over the next two decades, expansion flourished. Group Homes were established in Hayward, Winona, St. Cloud, and Waverly. A Shelter was opened in Rochester. Day Treatment, Family Foster Care, Short-Term Consequence, Summer Camp, and Aftercare services were added.

In November 1996, the central office of the Sheriffs Youth Programs moved from Austin to 2925 Buckley Way, Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota to centralize our services.

In late 2002 and again in 2003, Sheriffs Youth Programs was forced to respond to a state-wide financial crisis within the industry by implementing extensive staff reductions. This included the closure of two SYP Group Homes, at Waverly and Winona.

The first Director of the Sheriffs Youth Programs was Ira Rogers, who was succeeded by Charles Carver in 1967. James Fischer was named President/CEO in 1969 and served in that capacity until his retirement in December 2000. Steve Hubbard succeeded Fischer and continues to serve the agency.

Note: The Boy's Ranch closed October 31, 2006


The following article was submitted to MnGenWeb in February 2017. It was published in the June-July 1972 issue of a newsletter by the Minnesota State Sheriff's Association.

About the Ranch

LOCATION -- Southern city limits of Austin and borders the Red Cedar River, one hundred miles south of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

MAILING ADDRESS -- Box 604, Austin, Minnesota 55912. AC 507-437-3216

FOUNDED -- In 1963 by the Minnesota State Sheriff's Association.

BEGAN OPERATION -- In October of 1965 when the first boys were admitted.

FINANCING -- Basically, the Ranch will be supported by public contributions (all contributions are deductible for tax purposes).

SIZE -- 50 acres of rolling farmlands.

ENROLLMENT -- Twenty boys. Eventual goal of 100.

PURPOSE -- To provide a good home and secure a future for Minnesota's needy and worthy boys. To give them love, security, discipline and all the essential advantages that are every American boy's birthright. The Ranch is not a reform school or correctional institution. The boys enrolled at the Ranch are there simply because they need a good home, because they are innocent victims of neglect or lack of opportunity.

AGE LIMITS -- To be admitted, a boy must be between the ages of 8 and 17. Once he is admitted, the Ranch becomes his home and he remains there through high school and college unless his home situation improves or another good home develops.

ELIGIBILITY -- Each boy who meets the mental and physical requirements must also be approved by the Sheriff, the Juvenile Judge and the County Welfare Director in the county in which he resides.

SOURCE OF BOYS -- Applicants are referred to the Sheriffs by interested citizens, juvenile courts, schools and county welfare agencies.


Stanley E. Hubbard, Chairman of the Board of KSTP Radio-TV, was honored by the Minnesota Sheriff's Boy's Ranch when its Executive Board voted unanimously to name a new cottage recently constructed at the Boy's Ranch in Austin, Minnesota, The Hubbard House.

Mr. Hubbard first urged the Minnesota Sheriff's to start a Boy's Ranch in a speech delivered to members of the Metropolitan Sheriff's Association on June 30, 1963. He pledged a contribution of $10,000 to help the ranch get started and he has been active in fund raising and publicizing the Ranch since that date.

The dedication of Hubbard House took place on May 11, 1972, with sheriff's, judges, probation officers, religious leaders and veteran''s organizations members taking part. A plaque carrying the inscription "The Hubbard House" was attached to the exterior.

Opening of The Hubbard House will permit the Boy's Ranch to take in twelve additional boys from throughout the state of Minnesota, who are in need of a home.

Hubbard was born in Red Wing, Minnesota, where his father was superintendent of schools. After his father was killed in an accident his mother moved the family to the Twin Cities where Hubbard was educated in the St. Paul public schools and at the University of Minnesota. A few years later, in 1910, he unknowingly launched his career when he built one of the first amateur radio transmitters in the state. Interest in radio prompted him to join the Signal Corps of the New York National Guard when World War I erupted. Another invention that found roots in the war and captured Hubbard's imagination was aviation. He started flying in 1916 and still has a pilot's license.

Following his discharge from the Army in 1919 Hubbard moved to Louisville, where he went into the automobile and aircraft business and established Hubbard Field. He left Louisville in 1920 with one plane and went into the business of barnstorming. During 1921 he flew passengers commercially from Miami to Bimini, Nassau and Havana. The air routes between New York and Chicago which he laid out in 1923 are the same routes used by commercial airlines today.

It was also his idea to create the Balboa mass flight from Italy to the Chicago World's Fair. He submitted the plan at the request of the Italian Consulate General in Washington, D.C., and was later awarded the Order of the Crown by the Italian government for the flight's success. In 1921, with Mr. Russell of the Marconi Company, he made the first successful radio communication between planes.

In 1923 Hubbard returned to his home in Minneapolis. At that time, there were four stations on the air. As Hubbard listened to them, he became more enthusiastic than ever about the possibilities for radio. They were amateur operated.

In 1924 Hubbard started WAMD, which was the first commercial station in the United States. It's slogan was "The Call of the North." During these embryonic years of radio, Hubbard realized the unique capability of the medium in broadcasting news items almost as fast as they happened and in 1925 he organized the first news bureau in the area for gathering local news and scheduling regular newscasts. In 1930 he began the Radio News Association, a national news gathering organization that competed with the Associated Press and United Press. Hubbard also developed a radio network in 1925 between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

EAGLES SUPPORT SHERIFFS' BOYS RANCH -- The Eagles dedicated their new lodge building in St. Paul by presenting Ramsey County Sherrif Kermit Hedman with a $100 check for the Minnesota Sheriffs' Boys Ranch at Austin. The new facilities are the largest of any lodge in the state. More than 400 members and their wives witnessed the dedication.

Pictured above, left to right, are: Kermit Hedman, Ramsey County Sheriff, Gene Runnin, chairman, Percy Greenbush, president of the Eagles Lodge Aerie, and Tom O'Keefe, membership chairman.

In 1927 he associated himself with the National Battery Company and, with the help of local businessmen, purchased KFOY located in the Pioneer Press Building in St. Paul. The licenses for WAMD and KFOY were turned in to the commission in exchange for a new license for KSTP, which was the most powerful radio station in the United States. Among other unusual features KSTP had an arrangement with the Orpheum Theater in St. Paul whereby once a week the Orpheum brought over all its vaudeville acts for an appearance on KSTP Radio. It was the first radio appearances for these acts. Among them were: Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, Kay Kaiser, Irene Rich, Olson and Johnson, Eddie Albert, Phil Baker, the Marx Brothers, Henry Sauntry and Betty Blythe.

In 1938 Hubbard launched a new facet of his exciting career -- television. At the Minnesota State Fair he demonstrated television with seven sets letting people view themselves while their friends watched. It was estimated that 200,000 Midwesterners saw a television set for the first time.

Seven years later construction began for a new building to house the growing KSTP stations. KSTP-TV then went on the air April 27, 1948, the first television station in this part of the country and the first NBC-TV affiliate in the nation. In 1961, it became the first color station in the area; and a short time later, it became the first full-color TV station in the United States.

It was KSTP, through Hubbard, that created the first communication system for police cars. Hubbard installed the first transmitter in the Midwest for the St. Paul Police Department.

He is currently chairman of the board for Hubbard Broadcasting, license of KSTP-AM-FM-TV, Minneapolis-St. Paul, KOB-AM-FM-TV, Albuquerque, WTOG-TV, Tampa-St. Petersburg and WGTO-AM, Cypress Gardens.


June-July 1972

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