Sheriff, family seek to fill a sweet niche

Written by Bill Rautenstrauch, for The Observer March 27, 2013 01:35 pm

by BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH / for The Observer

Here’s a fact a lot of people probably don’t know about Union County Sheriff Boyd Rasmussen: He’s got a degree in business.

He puts it work every day managing the county sheriff’s office, a huge operation employing patrol deputies, corrections officers, administrative staff and more. And soon, he’ll be putting it to work in a business of his own. 

Rasmussen, his wife Betty and their children are set to open Tropical Swirls Frozen Yogurt in a completely remodeled building at the corner of Adams Avenue and Second Street. It’s a venture the family has thought about for a long time, not least because they’re fans of the treat many people say is every bit as good as ice cream, but not half so sinful.

“When we go on vacation, we always stop at the frozen yogurt places. We love it, and we’ve always thought it would be good to open a place like that in La Grande,” Boyd said.

Boyd said the idea for the business has been in the works for months, and that he and his wife – who is the owner of the Horace Mann Insurance Company -- looked long and hard for a location they thought would be suitable. The old building at Second and Adams, recognizable to many La Grande residents for its yellowish stucco exterior, looked to fit the bill, but needed a lot of work.

Earlier this month, the Rasmussens signed a lease on the place, with an option to buy. Now, the family and various local contractors are working hard to have the store open by late April or early May.

It’s a big job, the sheriff said.

“It’s being fully renovated, new floors, new walls, new ceiling, and a new bathroom. We’re painting it a totally different color, putting up awnings, and building a patio in back. Essentially, it’s a new building,” he said.

Once open, Tropical Swirls will dispense frozen yogurt in many flavors, including fat-free, sugar free varieties. It will be a self-serve operation, with customers helping themselves to their own flavors and toppings.

“It’s kind of unique, because people will be able to create their own yogurt dish,” Boyd said.

The Rasmussens have six children, and an abiding interest in local youth issues. They said a main reason they’re opening their business is to provide employment for their own kids, and also for other kids attending school who want part time work.

“We’ve think it’s important for kids to work, to have a place where the employer can work around their school schedules,” said Betty.

Added Boyd, “We want to have a business that puts us in a position to give back to the community.”

Boyd Rasmussen is his own contractor for the remodel, and he’s getting help from local builder Rick Muilenburg. Other local sub-contractors will share in the work, including plumbing and electrical improvements.

The Rasmussens said they’re excited about the pending opening. And they also believe they’ve picked exactly the right name for the place.

“We think ‘Tropical Swirls’ kind of brings a vacation to mind. This will be a place to get away, relax and enjoy,” Betty said.