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Morris in 2010: What Happened Around Here? - Part 2

A violent wind storm blew through Morris during one of the early days of the Stevens County Fair, felling trees and blowing debris throughout many parts of the city. The storm opened a debate about when the City of Morris should use its emergency siren.

July 2010

•A half-summer of detour driving ended for Morris-area motorists when traffic resumed on Highway 9 between the Pope/Stevens county line and Benson. The project included milling and paving and replacements of culverts.

•The 26th annual Prairie Pioneer Days celebration in Morris began July 9, with the book sale at the Morris Public Library. The festivities concluded July 11 with the Grand Parade.

•Sonia Meyer was named the recipient of the 2010 Emerson Volunteer Award from the Miss Minnesota organization, which each year recognizes an outstanding volunteer within the program. Meyer was recognized for her many years of volunteer service to the Miss Morris/Miss Midwest pageants, which are part of the Miss Minnesota and Miss America programs.

•The Morris Area School District approved putting a $500 per pupil operating levy on the November election ballot

•Renee Kloos, 47, a who has been cancer-free for 10 years, was the honorary chair of Stevens County's 2010 Relay for Life on July 16 at Pomme de Terre Park.

•University of Minnesota forestry experts and students teamed with Morris residents to survey city trees and gather information intended to aid the city's forestation efforts in the future. The surveys, which are being conducted in six regions in Minnesota, are the first of their kind in the U.S. For the first time, forestry experts will be teamed with community volunteers to gather the information on trees on both public and private property in the city.

•Adair Horgen, of Morris, received the Northwest District Advocate for Choral Excellence Award from the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota. The ACE award is an honor for people across Minnesota who do outstanding work for their communities, serving the choral art.

•The 40th Horticulture Night and the West Central Research and Outreach Center's dedication were July 29. The WCROC recently completed a year-long renovation of the center.

•The Steven and Lori Kill family is the Stevens County's 2010 Farm Family of the Year. Seventy-three families from around the state, one from each participating county, have earned the honor. The family lives on the farm where Steve grew up. His parents started farming in the 1940s. The Kills have three children, Lauren, Shauna, and Kurtis.

•Over 800 people and nearly 500 motorcycles were registered for the 5th annual LTD Motorcycle Tour honoring fallen area vets. By the time the tour arrived in Morris, over 825 people were involved. The annual ride is in memory of Staff Sgt. David Day, Sgt. Jesse Lhotka and 1st Lt. Jason Timmerman, who died in Iraq on Feb. 21, 2005.

•Work began on East 2nd Street at Atlantic Avenue. The project includes repairs and replacements of water mains, sewers, roadway and curbs and gutters. The project began in the spring at the City of Morris water treatment plant. Workers continued past the Regional Fitness Center and the University of Minnesota, Morris campus.

•Shanda Arbach was crowned Miss Morris Area at the 35th annual scholarship program. Tabitha Klages will represent the community as the Morris Area Ambassador. Rachael Sands was named Miss Midwest Minnesota. Kacy Nehowig is the Miss Midwest Minnesota 1st Runner Up.

August 2010

•George Fosgate, professor emeritus of theatre arts at UMM, appeared in the Aug. 1, episode of the TNT television series "Leverage." Fosgate reported that his scene with actress Gina Bellman was "early and brief" in episode eight, The Boost Job.

•Federated Telephone, a rural Morris telecommunications cooperative, was awarded almost $3 million through the Recovery Act broadband program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Federated received $2,987,274 to establish a Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) voice, video and data network.

•A brief but strong wind and rain storm rattled Morris residents and, undoubtedly, had others making calls to insurance agents. The wind storm also caused the brief evacuation of West Wind Village. Several large trees were blown down around Morris.

•Three new teachers will be working in the Morris Area School District this year.

Heidi Hoffmann is a new kindergarten teacher at Morris Area Elementary School this year, Holly Bjorklund is the new Family and Consumer Science (FACS) teacher at Morris Area High School, and Austen Miller will be a new 2nd grade teacher at MAES.

•Morris-area folks attending the Minnesota State Fair had a chance to see performances by two winners of the Morris Kiwanis Talent Show. Rachel Coler and William Pelowski took first place in the Talent Show this year, and Lyric Trio -- which is comprised of Sydney Beyer, Beth Holland and Laura Kuhn -- placed second. Both acts performed at the State Fair's amateur talent competition in St. Paul.

•Paige Strand was crowned the Donnelly Threshing Bee Queen and Sara Stallman as princess. Little Miss Donnelly is Bailey Armstrong, while Logan Mau was crowned the Little Miss Princess.

September 2010

•History is always full of surprises. That was true when the 1956 Stevens County Courthouse time capsule was opened at the county History Museum in Morris. To be historically accurate, the 1956 time capsule is actually the 1957 time capsule. The envelope contained newspapers - the Morris Sun and Morris Tribune, two issues of the Hancock record and a copy of the Chokio Review - three photographs, a District Court calendar and a copy of the county's 1956 financial statement. The mild surprise came when it was discovered that the newspapers in the capsule were dated either March or April 1957.

•The Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians selected a University of Minnesota, Morris alum, Dr. Richard A. Wehseler, as its 2010 Family Physician of the Year. Wehseler, a biology and English major, is a 1991 UMM graduate. A family physician in the area for 12 years, Wehseler practices at the Affiliated Community Medical Centers New London clinic.

•The third-annual Feed My Starving Children food packing event surpassed its goal of 200,000 meals. The meal total reached 215,000 when volunteers had to stop because they ran out of packing boxes. More than 1,100 people volunteered to pack meals, which are distributed to starving people in Haiti.

•Adair Horgen, Della Conroy and their musical "Friends" entertained an appreciative audience during the 6th annual Adair, Della & Friends concert at the Morris Area Concert Hall.

•The sale of the DENCO ethanol plant was completed, and its new owners had the plant operating by Oct. 1. The new company, DENCO II, hired 30 employees, and financing for the new plant is coming from, in large part, area farmers and producers. The plant suspended operations in Jan. 2009.

•Enrollment at the University of Minnesota, Morris increased by more than 5 percent for 2010, with total enrollment of new and continuing students at 1,812, a six-year high. Applications to Morris for fall 2010 enrollment set an all-time high. New students on campus this fall include 419 first-year students, up more than 3 percent over last year, and 134 transfer students, up 30 percent over last year.

•Promise of the Prairie: Education in Three Acts, a new documentary created by University of Minnesota, Morris Media Services, explores three very different educational institutions that have all made their home on the same plot of land--the Morris campus. The yearlong project culminated with its inaugural screening during Founders Weekend when the campus celebrated UMM's 50th birthday and the West Central School of Agriculture's 100th anniversary of its founding.

•This summer's David F. Day Memorial Scholarship Fishing Tournament helped provide scholarships to two Morris-area youth, Kelsey Greenwaldt and Missy Ascheman, and a third scholarship to another student pursuing a degree in criminal justice.

•The time capsule for Stevens County's new courthouse was set. County Commissioners and the staff and volunteers from the county History Museum watched the 70-pound stainless steel capsule set in an interior wall in the entry of the courthouse building.

The capsule contains many items and records reflecting present-day life in the county, as well as the contents of a time capsule from the 1956 courthouse building that was opened this summer. The new capsule is expected to be opened in 50 years.

•King Travis Rinkenberger and Queen Shadow Olson reigned over the homecoming festivities at Morris Area High School.

October 2010

•A special event honoring the late Raymond J. Lammers, professor emeritus of theatre at the University of Minnesota, Morris, was Oct. 9. The recently renamed Raymond J. Lammers Proscenium Theatre was dedicated in conjunction with Homecoming.

•Representatives from Aveda got a look at the first harvest of cipher, an oilseed crop the company hopes can one day be used in its line of personal care products and reduce its uses of imported oils. The Twin Cities-based personal care products company, began a partnership with the ARS Soils Lab in Morris in 2009.

•Bill and Adair Grommesh and their two children, who suffer from significant medical problems, moved into their new Moorhead home that was built as part of the TV show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Morris Area graduate Eric Smith designed the home and also worked as a project manager on the home building project.

•Thomas McRoberts passed away Oct. 11. The well-respected educator at the University of Minnesota, Morris was a fixture on campus for 34 years.

•A farming accident caused up to 600 gallons of anhydrous ammonia to be spilled in a field on the north edge of Morris, prompting authorities to evacuate a portion of the community. The spill resulted in a plume of gas which was slowly traveling east. Authorities closed roads and evacuated approximately 250 people form homes and businesses in the northeast section of town. No injuries were reported.

•A Stearns County judge on Oct. 21 sentenced a man to six years in prison for a DWI that happened five years after he killed a Morris-area woman while driving and coming down off a methamphetamine high. John Wayne Jensen, 24, was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide for the May 1, 2004, death of 71-year-old Ellen Anderson. Jensen was arrested again in August 2009 after an officer reported seeing his vehicle weaving on Minnesota Highway 23 near Paynesville.

•A dedication ceremony was held Saturday at the Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity home on West 7th Street. Taking the keys to the home were Christina, Fiona, and Patrick Reimers.

November 2010

•Mark Dayton won the Minnesota gubernatorial election but it wouldn't be confirmed until a recount later in the year. Locally, Jeanne Ennen and Phil Gausman were elected to the Stevens County Board of Commissioners, and Twig Webster and Jeff Miller were reelected to the Morris City Council and Sheldon Giese was reelected as Morris Mayor. Two locals, Jim Thoreen and Bennett Smith, were defeated by Bill Ingebrigtsen and Torrey Westrom in the the District 11 Senate and District 11A House races, respectively. Incumbents Kurt Gartland and Lory Lemke and former Morris Area School Board member Laura Carrington were elected, and the district's levy question was approved.

•Hunters in rural Stevens County on Saturday discovered the body of a man tentatively identified as Jack Leroy Eisel, who was last seen in November 2004 before he walked away from a Hancock group home. Stevens County Sheriff Randy Willis said the body was tentatively confirmed as Eisel's based on identification found on the body and from clothing he was wearing when reported missing in Nov. 26, 2004.

•Dan Tiernan and Roy Reese represented Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta Saturday at the Class A State Cross Country Meet at St. Olaf College. Tiernan finished in 59th place with a time of 17:25.9. Reese was 98th in 18:05.0.

•The University of Minnesota, Morris' Linda Keller repeated as the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference's women's individual cross country champion, headlining a group of 12 student-athletes to earn all-conference accolades.

•University of Minnesota, Morris students in Beginning Modern Chinese placed in the 2010 Cheng & Tsui SuperStar Karaoke Contest for Chinese Language Students and Teachers. The students, taught by Nan Gao, teaching specialist in the Division of the Humanities, created videos for their entries. They were top-10 finalists in both the solo and group categories of about 150 entries.

•Morris Police Officer Jared Dittbenner received a Safe & Sober Challenge Coin Award commending his work in making sure Morris citizens are safe on the road. A limited number of challenge coins were awarded in Minnesota in 2010. The coin is given to those who go above and beyond as they promote traffic safety in the community.

•Muriel Eggebraaten was selected as the Morris Area 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year by the Morris Teachers' Association. Eggebraaten teaches 5th grade at Morris Area Elementary and is in her 28th year of teaching. Becky Hennen was voted the Morris Area School District Support Staff Member of the Year for 2010-2011. She is a media manager in the elementary school and is in her 36th year with the district.

•Brian Giese will remain Stevens County Coordinator on a fulltime basis. The county Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to keep the County Highway Engineer in the coordinator's position. The board earlier in the year offered the job to one candidate who turned it down. The board opted to not offer the position to two other candidates who were interviewed twice.

December 2010

•Garrison Keillor announced that "A Prairie Home Companion" would be performed at the University of Minnesota, Morris on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011. "A Prairie Home Companion" first visited Morris in 2006. With a filled-to-capacity Physical Education Center, the show included Keillor's signature monologue--The News from Lake Wobegon, performances by the UMM Concert Choir, comedy sketches, and music.

•The Stevens Soil & Water Conservation District named Mark and Deb Erickson as this year's Outstanding Conservationists in Stevens County. After many years of conventional farming, Mark and Deb now focus solely on raising grass-fed cattle. They raise the cattle on two sites: their farm in Rendsville Township and the home farm of Deb's family in Morris Township.

•Eric Riley, a senior at Morris Area High School, was selected to be on the 2010 Minnesota Vikings All-State Football Team, presented by the Minnesota Army National Guard.

Riley received on-field recognition during halftime of the Vikings vs. Buffalo Bills game Sunday, Dec. 5. He was a three-year starter for the Tigers playing both linebacker and running back.

•The University of Minnesota, Morris Welcome Center received the 2011 Minnesota Construction Association's Special Recognition Award. The MCA annually recognizes a project that was completed as a result of "resourceful blending of construction techniques and professionals." Completed in February 2010, the Welcome Center formerly served as the Community Services building and is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

•Morris Area High School in Morris was one of only six agriculture programs nationwide that received the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program Award Dec. 1 at the NAAE annual convention in Las Vegas.

•Morris-based Superior Industries announced it would acquire Hancock Concrete on Jan. 1. Hancock Concrete was founded in 1917 by Henry Schmidgall. The Hancock-based company serves Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and the Dakotas with pre-cast concrete products including box culverts, arch and round pipe, manholes, and landscaping block.

•Argie Manolis, of Morris, earned the Morris Human Rights Award for 2010. Each year, the Morris Human Rights Commission selects a nominee who is making an impact in the community concerning human rights. Manolis was nominated and chosen for the award based on her work and advocacy on behalf of many issues in the community.

•Stevens County's newly renovated courthouse and new Law Enforcement Center was dedicated during a ribbon cutting at the the new facility. The public took tours of the facility following the dedication. Retiring Board of Commissioners chairman Don Munsterman thanked those involved in the project that was 10 years in the making, in particular past and present commissioners who were involved in the county's largest building project. Work began on the $11 million project in Oct. 2009. Finishing touches are being completed, and county staff will be moved back to the new facility beginning Dec. 20.

•The University of Minnesota, Morris' planned second wind turbine will allow campus officials to predict fairly accurately what energy costs will be for the next 15 years. Lowell Rasmussen, UMM's Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Facilities, said the second turbine could be constructed by the end of January 2011.

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