"More and more people my age are coming back. It's a trend."

Grant Haugen had a confession to share the other day. “I was a naive teenager,” he admits.

Grant Haugen (right) and a golfing buddy.

Grant Haugen (right) and a golfing buddy.

You see Grant remembers his younger self and how he wanted nothing more than to move away from home. (Insert line from George Bailey: "I'm gonna shake the dust of this crummy little town off my feet, and I'm gonna see the world!")

He smiles now when thinking back because what did he end up doing? Moving back home!

It’s ok, Grant and you weren’t naive. It’s a story line that’s told time and time again. You were just young and like so many others, this writer included, the other side of the fence seems so much better when you’re fresh outta high school.

Grant does have the last laugh now because that “naive teenager” grew up and discovered something awesome. “I learned how great it is to live here. There’s no place that I’d rather be,” he says.

“Here” is Parkers Prairie where Grant landed about a year ago. He’s managing the Big Stone Therapies clinic in town. But his journey back started very far away.

Florida, to be exact.

After his 2009 graduation from Alexandria High School, Grant left for college in Duluth, some 200 miles away. His physical therapy doctorate required internships so he spent learning time in St. Paul, rural Florida and, luckily he says, back home in Alexandria.

But it was in Florida - rural Florida - where he realized how good he had it back home. “I don’t know what it is, and I can’t put my finger on it,” he says. “But when I was in Florida, I made the decision that I wanted to move back to this area. This is where I want to live my best life, raise my kids and stay.”

What is it that makes you long for where you grew up, Grant? “It’s the lakes, the atmosphere, all the outdoor stuff like fishing. I love that you can get out on a lake, or go kayaking down a river. There’s always something to do indoors and out,” he said.

Grant thinks the Live Wide Open initiative is perfect for this area. “I see more and more people my age are coming back; it seems to be a trend lately,” he said. “Live Wide Open is a great way to showcase what people have here that makes this place so great.”

And he’s loving his new job. “Big Stone Therapies is really good at doing things to help the community,” Grant said. “They want to keep things local, to be involved and be as accessible as possible.”

For Grant and the town of Parkers Prairie, that accessibility is about ready to knock it out of the park. Big Stone’s facility upgrades are part of a multi-million dollar expansion of the St. Williams Living Center senior healthcare services. Area residents will find a new entrance to Big Stone Therapies along with a nifty expanded space.

It’s a project that has him giddy with possibilities for more community involvement such as expanding their high school athlete screenings.

Hunting time.

Hunting time.

“Everyone’s on the same page to grow this community,” he says. And you can bet Grant will be part of that effort!