U.S. kicks Sod King out of country

COBURG, Ore. - For 10 years, Herman Hemke has owned and operated All About Quality Sod.

He brought his experience growing sod in Germany with him to the grass seed capital of the world, building a successful business with loyal customers - and earning the nickname Sod King.

Now the U.S. has denied renewal of Hemke's investor's visa, effectively kicking him out of the country.

Hemke said he didn't meet one of the qualifications for the visa by employing enough American workers.

Hemke declined to be interviewed on camera for this story, saying he wanted to quietly make his exit from the business and country.

His customers, however, say Hemke will be missed.

Tom Campbell at Lane Forest Products said Hemke supplied them with up to 2 acres of sod per year. He said Hemke might have come up short on the employment front because he couldn't find enough people to hire.

"It is tough to find qualified people who want to do that type of work here locally," he said. "People just don't."

Master gardener Thomas Finney said Hemke's sod creates lawns - and satisfied customers.

"A lot of folks I know with great lawns appreciated how much care and tenderness he takes with grass," Finney said.

"A lot of things don't make sense, and this is something I wish I could do something about."