Sunspots - Milissa Bjorge
By day she’s the smiling face who greets you at the KMRS/KKOK radio station reception desk. By night, she’s one of many smiling faces you’ll find at your friendly local grocer’s. Meet Milissa Bjorge.
Milissa and sister Mashell share the same birthday, December 13. “I was born in Sauk Centre, but lived on a farm near Brooten until I moved to Morris to go to college,” said Milissa, who graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts for the human services.
Both of Milissa’s parents – Helen and the late Kermit Bjorge – were born and raised in the Brooten area. “My father worked as a machinist/programmer at Machine Handling Components in Glenwood.
My mother recently retired as a nurse’s aide from the Glenwood Retirement Village. One or two days a week she bakes at the Brooten Bakery.”
In addition to her mother and sister, Milissa has two nephews, a niece and a great nephew.
Growing up, Milissa remembers family camping trips through several states and Canada.
“We also raised white tail deer, which was always a great topic of interest. Cars would stop on the road by the farm just to watch them,” she said. “The deer were raised just for fun, although we did have a game farm license. Our family owned a small hobby farm with a few different animals – cows, horses, chickens, dogs, cats. We once even had a raccoon named Pokey and a goat named Cookie. The goat was so naughty but hilarious!
“I attended kindergarten in Glenwood, but the rest of my elementary and high school education was in Brooten,” said Milissa. “I graduated from Brooten High School [before it combined with Belgrade/Elrosa] in 1986. Following that I attended UMM.”
Milissa’s first job following high school was at Hardee’s in Morris, where she worked as an assistant manager for about eight years. “I also bartended at that time.” More recently, she has worked for 17 years at KMRS/KKOK radio as the office manager/traffic manager and for 12 years part time as a supervisor at Willie’s Super Valu.
“The radio station keeps me very busy, and of course Willie’s is the social hub of Morris. I enjoy chatting with the customers and getting to know them. There’s always someone new to meet in addition to those regulars that I’ve come to know pretty well over the years.”
Holding two jobs doesn’t allow much spare time, as one can imagine, although Milissa does enjoy reading and working through crossword puzzles. “My favorite author is Janet Evanovic. Her Stephanie Plum series is entertaining and always makes me laugh out loud while I read. I also crochet and love to do crafts.”
While classic 70s rock is a favorite genre, “some people might be surprised to learn that I like to listen to metal or heavy metal music. I put in a Metallica or Volbeat CD in my car and crank the sound until I can barely think straight.”
Milissa finds Morris a great community in which to live; “it’s a small town feel without being tiny. You can make a lot of close friends, the community is pretty tight and they pull together when needed. You get a sense of belonging in this quiet town.”
She’s visited a number of states on both coasts and in the south.
“I traveled with my sister to Puerto Rico a few years back. It was wonderful to snorkel over the coral reefs; the colors are so brilliant. It was the first time I had stepped foot in the ocean and it was awe-inspiring.
“If I could find a place that had fall type weather all year ‘round that would be my ideal place to live,” said Milissa. “I love the mountains when I’ve visited them, but also loved the ocean. So it would have to be a climate-controlled mountain range in the middle of the ocean sort of place. Does that exist?”
Perhaps it does historically, in times that Milissa thinks would have been fun to experience “for a day or a week. Living in the Renaissance period, for example. Or attending Woodstock and hearing those amazing bands and vocals, from Hendrix to Joplin. These are past events that I would like to have been a part of.
“My dad always told me to just be the best that I can be, do the best job I can, then you will never be disappointed with the outcome. Sometimes it’s hard to live by that advice,” said Milissa. “I tell others ‘never let the negative opinion of one person influence how you feel about yourself. You are special and beautiful and an amazing person. Always remember that.’ I think that can apply to everyone.”
When you see Milissa about town, she’ll gladly share a smile with you. “I do believe that going through life with a sense of humor is a must. I like to laugh and hope that I make other people laugh too. Don’t take things too seriously, it is a crazy mixed up world we live in!”