Minnesota Monthly made it official as Owatonna is now one of the five finalists for the title of Best Minnesota Town.

The final stage in the process will take place on November 30 when the winning town will be announced at a finalists party in Minneapolis. Prizes include a Governor's proclamation along with a media campaign and more. The other cities in the running are Bemidji, Austin, Waconia and Walker.

It all began when the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism submitted an application along with more than 30 other towns. A late push in online voting lifted Owatonna to the top at the end of voting. The vote represents 25% of the final decision.

I've worked in town here for 23 plus years, yet I realize many of you have lived your entire lives in Owatonna and know the city well. Wave a magic wand and make believe that you would have to go in front of the judges and make a short pitch on why Owatonna is the best town. What would you say? I can think of a number of things but I also know what I would state is number one in my opinion. In fact when many of you have been in the studio with me you have voiced the same thought.

I'll throw a few out for you:

We have a unique attraction in the State School Orphanage. At least as of this writing there are many opportunities for employment. There's the proximity and fairly easy access to other larger cities. We have a large successful farmer's market. The United Way campaign is usually on target as far as attaining their goal each year. Unique architecture in the older houses along with places like the Louis Sullivan designed bank downtown. Improving bike trails and parks. The largest county fair in the state. Yet this isn't number one on my list. Here it is:

When there is a plea for help, Owatonna is on the ready. Look at all the benefits for those who have encountered an affliction or misfortune. It's not like there are five or six a year, it's more like two or three very week and so many are successful. Many of you have brought this up to me. Owatonnans take care of each other. While there aren't any statistics to back up these fund raisers, this would be my number one reason to state my case in naming Owatonna the Best Town in Minnesota. It's a good feeling knowing that if you stumble, someone will likely help you back to your feet.

Here's video of one of the bigger fund raisers Owatonna stages for a larger cause.