I'm not sure if everything Douglas Harvey Peterson said in his letter is factual (Sun Tribune Jan. 5, 2013) but I do know the story was out that about 50 years ago when 3M was looking for a place to build, Morris was a likely spot, but the rumor goes that a greedy landowner wanted too much money for the land, and 3M built in Alexandria. That opened the floodgates for other industry to build in Alexandria.
I also know a member of the Morris City Council campaigned just over eight years ago that he'd vote against Wal Mart building in Morris.
The story is also out that Coborns wanted to build a large store in Morris, but because of problems over buying the land they wanted, plus the city and a liquor license, the store closed. I don't know the entire truth, but it is troublesome.
I also wonder when the city manager, members of the city council, county commissioners or their representatives were in Bentonville talking to Wal Mart about building a store here. Now Wal Mart has neighborhood stores that might just be a good fit for Morris, as it is kind of late now for a Super Wal Mart.
Or has anyone been to Eau Claire to talk to Menards, or Brainerd to talk to Fleet Farm, or talking to scores of other businesses that might build in Morris.
Morris was once a thriving town, but due to less folks living in the area, the businesses have slowly dwindled. That was the reason given for the Morris Sun Tribune now only printing once a week.
I like to recall Red Bluff, Calif., where I owned the radio station. In 1988 the owner of the Radio Shack said he wondered if Red Bluff would ever be a viable town again. He said folks just don't even stop here anymore; they just hop on the freeway and shop at Redding just 30 miles away or Chico 40 miles away. (Sounds like Morris, doesn't it: shopping in Alexandria, Willmar or Fergus Falls?)
Then the city convinced Wal Mart to build; soon a large chain grocery store moved to Red Bluff, followed by Office Max and scores of other major stores. Soon industry followed, and few people leave Red Bluff to shop. A few years ago I asked friends of mine who owned small stores if they were hurt by the major chain stores. Their reply: "No, we are doing better than ever; people stay in town now, so also shop our stores and eat in our restaurants." Taxable sales skyrocketed, and very few small businesses closed.
Morris may be too far gone to save; it may dwindle as I have seen other towns, even college towns in rural areas slowly die, but we can hope.
What would Morris be without UMM, Superior, USDA Soils Lab, and UM Research farm, to name just a few? And there is no guarantee any of them will remain open or in Stevens County. That's why we must bring in new businesses and industry.
Thank God for the insightful men and women in the 1950s who fought so hard to open UMM here.
It behooves all of us to work to save Morris. But, I also shop in Alexandria; not so much for price, but because I can find what I want in the triangle of Fleet Farm, Menards and Wal Mart. Sad, but true.