So long, Chuck!

Retiring Economic Development Director had huge impact in shaping Perham

Chuck Johnson poses for a portrait at his home north of Perham. "I'm known for my woodpile," Johnson said. (Carter Jones/ FOCUS)

Chuck Johnson poses for a portrait at his home north of Perham. "I'm known for my woodpile," Johnson said. (Carter Jones/ FOCUS)

Chuck Johnson poses for a portrait with his dog at his home north of Perham. Johnson is retiring as Economic Development Director after 17 years. (Carter Jones/ FOCUS)

Chuck Johnson poses for a portrait with his dog at his home north of Perham. Johnson is retiring as Economic Development Director after 17 years. (Carter Jones/ FOCUS)

In 1978, a 25-year-old Chuck Johnson interviewed to be the editor for the Perham Enterprise-Bulletin. Expecting to not take the job, Johnson forced the paper's publisher, Mike Parta, to pay for his expenses from Minneapolis. Johnson had to look on a map to see where Perham was before he arrived, Parta said.

"In walks this young, skinny kid with hair down to his shoulders. You know what the attitude of long hair was at that time," Parta remembered. "He became our day to day face in Perham for 20 years."

"I totally didn't think I would ever want to live here," Johnson said of his first impression of Perham.

But 41 years later, Johnson, 67, is retiring as Perham's Economic Developer after 17 years on April 19.

"I've told Mike several times, the best thing that ever happened in Chuck Johnson's life was when he hired me to come to Perham," Johnson said.

Some could argue Johnson himself is one of the best things that has happened to Perham. In his tenure as EDA director, Perham's population has grown nearly 25%.

Johnson said the Perham he came to know in 1978 was way different than it is today.

"Things were happening, but they hadn't gathered momentum," he said.

In the last decade, Johnson estimates industrial projects at Shearers, Kit Masters, Bongards, Perham Health and KLN have added up to $340 million. 

For full article, go to: Perham Focus

Source, image(s), credits & more: Perham Focus | Carter Jones