Meet Tony, Browns Valley's Blacksmith and City Councilman
When Tony Miller moved back to Browns Valley from South Dakota, chances are he wasn’t planning to be on the city council. And while he had thought about opening a business, it happened quicker than he imagined.
Such is life when you move back home!
I first heard about Tony from city administrator Tom Schmitz who said there was a young blacksmith in Browns Valley who grew up there and recently moved back home. A blacksmith? I was curious; I hadn’t heard that job title in a long, long time. So I tracked down Tony Miller to get the scoop.
Turns out welding was in his blood. “I’ve been welding since I was five,” Tony said. He started out building a 3-seat bike as a kid and really, the welding bug never left.
Tony graduated from high school in 2000 and that very next Monday morning he was in Watertown, S.D., enrolling in Lake Area Technical Institute for -- what else? -- welding. He earned his diploma and went straight to work for a Watertown manufacturer for the next 11 years. In the meantime he married Lacey, a Browns Valley girl, and eventually they had children.
“Lacey wanted to raise our kids in a smaller community,” Tony said, “to ‘live like we did’ when we were young.” There was no better place than right back home, he figured.
Today, Tony might be more of a handyman than a blacksmith. He keeps busy day-to-day fixing car mufflers and exhaust systems, welding farm equipment, rotating car tires and doing oil changes. In a sign of the times, Tony noted that there “used to be three or four welding shops in town. Now there’s only two.”
But other things don’t change. For instance, he still has the cell phone number he had when he was 17, nearly 20 years ago.
Lacey, who has medical lab experience, now commutes for work to nearby Sisseton and their children, Daxtin and Dasani, now 7 and 11 respectively, attend school.
As a small business owner, Tony serves on the city council. “I ran on a whim six years ago,” he said. “And I’m still there.”
“Browns Valley is a great little town but we need to keep things growing,” Tony notes. He thinks the town needs a restaurant and a child care center. He said that there are several downtown properties available.
“They may not have a ‘for sale’ sign necessarily,” he said, but there is real potential for someone to drive by and fall in love with one of the classic buildings along the main drag.