History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Friday, March 11, 2016

Assessing where we are with businesses and sports

Here's the famous five-way intersection of west Morris.
Welcome to another of my "compendium" posts with material that originally appeared as addendums to sports coverage posts (so you might have missed it). Thanks to all who stop by my two journalistic sites. - B.W.
Whither Morris' economy? (originally posted Feb. 18)
Maybe it's time we started having a frank discussion about the Morris economy. We all sense something is amiss, I think, but we keep such thoughts under a shroud. A community is all about people. We need businesses that attract a decent amount of people traffic. Coborn's was one such business, open 24 hours. If I realized I was out of dog food at 5 a.m., I could hop over there.
Coborn's closed. This void has never been filled. Thrifty White Drug made the drastic downsizing move that we are now grappling with. It's a tiny fraction of its former self in the Morris community, and it has left a gaping void on main street. We lost a major auto dealership in Morris Auto Plaza, now comfortably in Alexandria which is a haven for so many of us.
Morris could use another restaurant. We could use a basic "main street diner" of a restaurant with a hot beef sandwich special every afternoon with an ice cream scoop of mashed potatoes with gravy. I'm not interested in all these new ethnic restaurants. I want basic American food. (Sorry if I sound like Donald Trump.)
Last time I checked, Paynesville had two basic main street diners: "Tuck's" and "The Wishing Well." "The Wishing Well" had a super Sunday buffet.
I heard someone say: "Why would anyone want to stay in Morris?" We are quite challenged in comparison to Alex with its lakes and big box stores. Yet we have a highly aggressive police department that harasses people, in my view, with trivial citations for such things as seat belt, plus we have a City of Morris that appears to harass people with vehicle-towing after modest snowfalls, and assessments mailed to grandmas for failure to shovel sidewalks adequately - rather remindful of "traffic cams" in their onerous nature. And the City did a terrible job of snow removal downtown on Monday (2/15), rendering the situation very problematic for people who simply wanted to park their cars (like by the senior center).
This community has some very real issues. Too many people just seem to shrug. Del Sarlette has long said that Morris should have an "apathy festival." Problem is, as Del points out, "nobody shows up for the organizing meeting." Rimshot!
Oh, and Cullen's left Morris too!
OK, let's all of us support the ShopKo pharmacy. ShopKo was quite the step up for Morris, as it remedied the horrible pothole situation at the old Pamida. Bravo! 
We're perplexed by Gophers (published March 11)

So, the Gophers got their clock cleaned in the Big 10 Tournament. So, we just write off the current season as if it's a bump in the road. OK it's a gaping pothole. Meanwhile we read about these huge sums of money sloshing around in U of M athletics. The numbers get dizzyingly high. Just think of an obscenely high number and you'll probably be in the ballpark.
I can't keep up with the embarrassing revelations about Gophers sports: the combination of under-achieving and bloated subsidy, like dumping wheelbarrow-fulls of money for coaches on the way out. Rich Pitino can take advantage of this at some time. I recently wrote a blog post about how Jerry Kill was able to fill his saddlebags full of money after an overrated tenure here. He took a one-time hefty payment and now he's probably gone, back to Illinois where he has a new lake home (in Carbondale).
Days later we got the banner headline in the Star Tribune about "sex videos." Do I have to write about that too? Do I have to write about these generous contract provisions for Rich Pitino whose main attribute appears to be his last name? The Gophers were embarrassingly bad this past winter. Are we supposed to just accept a throwaway season like this?
The U football team was marketed and promoted in a glass-half-full way, shrewdly, by the powers-that-be at the U. Really the football Gophers had just two legitimate wins, over Illinois and Purdue, and now Illinois has Lovie Smith as head coach, so look out for them.
Is it true Tracy Claeys never played college football? Well, one advantage is that his brain didn't get scrambled by playing a high level of football, so he might outdo his rivals just based on this. I expect a big-time movement of boycotting football to begin developing. I think the Southeastern U.S. will be the sport's last bastion, and as time goes by, the sport will be increasingly associated with socioeconomically deprived people.
Basketball? Between the Gophers and Timberwolves we've had ample opportunity to yawn over the recent past. I'm not sure the Timberwolves ever recovered from their earliest years when they stressed "winning today" too much, over taking lumps and getting higher draft picks.
Sports and media (posted March 7)
I had the pleasure of taking a Sunday walk on a day that felt almost like June. I walked past Chizek Field and realized a baseball game could easily have been played there that afternoon. Wow! I walked through the UMM campus and, as I always do, checked out UMM publications. I noticed something fascinating about the University Register. I did not see any "sports section." Well, it's about time.
Not that sports isn't important - all aspects of campus life are important - but sports can be presented so thoroughly and in such an enriching way online, on UMM's website. It seems rather duplicative to have these efforts made in the UMM student newspaper. Those articles slavishly written to review games played a week ago (or more) seem rather pointless for the general audience of the paper. The paper can explore campus life in so many other stimulating ways.
The "sports department" must seem like a rather obligatory thing to do, with a "sports editor." It seems rather quaint. It ought to be vestigial. I grant that sports isn't retreating in our culture. But the paper should strive to present material that people genuinely want to read. Think marketing.
I am assuming that the "Northstar" publication no longer exists on a physical basis on the UMM campus. I haven't seen any copies although I do see at least one empty newsstand with the "Northstar" sign at the top. Curious.
The existence of "Northstar" for at least two years on the UMM campus is probably the most embarrassing chapter in the school's history. It was not a serious journalistic endeavor. Do I have to spell that out for you, children?
I had it explained to me that UMM is a "liberal" institution which means, paradoxically, that UMM allowed this pseudo-conservative abomination of a publication to exist because UMM believes in "letting the students do whatever they want." Like, taking down the goalposts at the end of a football game.
Go Tigers! (a little further) - published March 3
Neither of our MACA basketball teams distinguished themselves in the post-season. This has been a rather long-running scenario. Our boys team in particular has been disappointing. March is the time of year when fans are really supposed to get their adrenalin pumping for high school sports. Instead it has seemed rather anticlimactic for us.
How much does the public care? I really don't know, I really don't. And look at the hockey program. If I understand what's being reported by the local media, we have a rather small boys roster, with half the kids theoretically from Benson, and there were just two wins, and nine kids are graduating? Should we anticipate the dissolution of the program? Should the Lee Center just become part of the Stevens County fairgrounds? I'm not sure I would have contributed a thousand bucks to that, if I had known hockey would unravel as a sport here.
We once had our own MAHS Tiger hockey teams. Well, that didn't last. We paired with Benson, a move leaving me feeling rather flabbergasted. A "Morris/Benson" team?
I bumped into a long-time hockey promoter at McDonald's last week, and he indicated that the current downtown might not be temporary. He observed that the cost of hockey is a factor. OK that may be true. But if it is, why can't we come up with resources on a community basis, helping make hockey a more feasible sport for parents by defraying some of the costs? Can't the community as a whole help make these youth programs thrive?
Are we all Republicans? Do we all feel we have to "pay our own way" for everything? Are we that anti-collectivist?
Is there one grade in MAHACA wrestling that will have just one kid out for the sport next year? Sports seems somewhat less than a shining star in Stevens County now. Disagree? Contact me.
When UMM hosted the preps (published Feb. 23)
Remember when Wheaton came here to play in their extended heyday for girls basketball (with the likes of Sondra Weick, later to be a UMM Cougar)? Their fans could be described as a "sea of red." Remember that little novelty song their fans performed? Remember Tom Grosland as their band director? He was Eleanor Killoran's nephew. I would take photos of Tom, publish them, and then his colleagues at Wheaton would needle him about it: "You must know someone at that Morris paper."
Oh, and remember those very grand and glorious days when the Hancock girls played in front of packed houses at UMM? Remember the relentless running and pressing style of those Owls under Dennis Courneya and later Jodi Holleman? Courneya reached some bumps in the road in his career and life, didn't he. We are so human an animal. Holleman had a good start coaching at Ridgewater College this past winter, but then fell into a swoon with several consecutive losses by a wide margin, and then I stopped paying attention.
The Courneya chapter in Stevens County sports history was amazing. A book should be written, other than the book written by Courneya himself. I'm not sure I would have wanted a daughter playing in that program. It was too intense, IMHO. When those girls finally graduated, they went into a world where those skills would mean nothing. Meanwhile the coach gets to build up his resume.
Hancock was divided after the criminal trial of Courneya, as I recall. A well-placed Morris source told me the reason he wasn't caught and convicted sooner was that "he won (games)." America and winning: they're synonymous, aren't they? Maybe we all need to take a deep breath.
Goodbye to "The Snake" (published Feb. 4)
Ken Stabler has gone to a better place. The old lefty quarterback doesn't have to worry about getting splitting headaches now. His brain was examined after his recent death. Add his name to the sad list of former football players with advanced signs of CTE. It's the result of brain trauma resulting from playing the game of football.
Are we getting the message? Let's all boycott this coming Sunday's Super Bowl game. How can we continue supporting this barbaric sport? It's unconscionable. I was in denial for a while about this. It is hard letting go of a sport we have enjoyed for so long.
Let's fight the addiction. Plan something special to do on Sunday, so you aren't even tempted to watch it. How easy it would be for all of us to live without football. Once we have accomplished this recovery, and found better ways to spend our Sunday time, we will wonder how we ever fell under that spell in the first place.
Ken "The Snake" Stabler, RIP. You picked apart our Vikings in the Super Bowl. I could not care less about that now. It's sad you became a casualty.
Willmar paper continues struggling (published Jan. 27)
The recent 59-56 win by the MACA boys over Benson got puzzling coverage in the Willmar newspaper, in that the Benson scoring list included two players with the same name: "Adam Lindahl." Adam Lindahl scored eight points and Adam Lindahl scored 20 points, according to that paper. Further down in the boxscore, we see the Lindahl name with first name abbreviations. We see "Ad." Lindahl and "An." Lindahl. I found the roster with Maxpreps and discovered we have Adam Lindahl and Andrew Lindahl with the Braves, a rare team still represented by a Native American nickname. And don't think "Braves" is intended generically, because the logo has feathers from a headdress. I'm surprised they've gotten away with this so long.
Seems to me the Willmar paper could refer to the Lindahl boys with full names always printed: "Adam" and "Andrew." We saw the same problem when the Holland sisters both played for MACA. First initials didn't work because the names were Beth and Becca. The type size is so small in the first place, the paper isn't saving an appreciable amount of space by abbreviating names.
The tiny type size is an issue by itself. Look at page B3: it's a sea of gray with type size so small, you'll at least need reading glasses. It has limited value in a scrapbook for this reason.
The Willmar newspaper would respond in its know-it-all way by saying a simple mixup with brothers' names is no big deal. Well, I can assure you it would be a big deal if I did it.
We learn that Rand Middleton of the West Central Tribune has been voted into some sort of football hall of fame. Well, what this means is that Mr. Middleton has spent the last 40 years or so promoting a sport that we're now learning has unacceptable health and physical consequences for its participants. I'd be ashamed getting an "honor" like that.
Morris newspaper under duress? (published Feb. 17)
This past Saturday's Morris newspaper was 22 pages, two less than the usual. The surprising thing is that this edition included the two tax pages, so you'd think they could actually bump up the size of the paper. But no, it's shrinking evermore, steadily, and should we really be surprised? Coborn's left us several years ago. Morris Auto Plaza deserted us for Alexandria. Cullen's closed up shop here. And then another significant advertiser, Thrifty White Drug, basically deserted us, downsizing to a degree that it's a tiny shadow of its former self.
It seems Thrifty White Drug pulled the rug out from under this community. It left a void in our main street, to be sure. The old drugstores were places that attracted a good amount of people traffic - you'd bump into your neighbors there and say "hello." No, it's a wasteland now. We can all go to Alexandria to be around people, including former Morris residents.
Let's all support the ShopKo pharmacy. The Morris newspaper still has "ad salespeople?" What are they selling?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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