Kim Ukura is the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune.
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In the midst of budget discussions in Morris and Stevens County, Morris Public Library director Melissa Yauk has been working hard to get the word out about everything that happens at the library each day. In addition to showing just how the library works, Yauk also shared the new technology and electronic resources the library has added within the last year, thanks to work with the Viking Library System, the Stevens County Economic Improvement Commission and the Friends of the Library.
Enrollment at the University of Minnesota, Morris is at the highest total in more than 10 years, with 1,822 degree-seeking students on campus, continuing a four-year growth trend. When combined with nondegree-seeking students - PSEO students, people taking only one class for enrichment and online students - the total enrollment sits at 1,934. This number is still preliminary until the Board of Regents meets in October. "We're very excited about the growth," said Bryan Hermann, UMM director of admissions.
The neighborhood I lived in when I was a kid was in a new, suburban development, one without any amenities like parks or walking paths because much of the neighborhood was still under construction. A couple of years after we moved in, when I was around eight, the neighborhood joined together and decide to build a community park. I don't know all the details about how it was paid for or what the agreement with the city was, but I do remember that the entire neighborhood pitched in to help assemble the playground one rainy Saturday in the fall.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the Morris City Council approved a preliminary tax levy for 2012 of about $1.3 million, a 7.6 percent increase from 2011. However, in his notes to the city council, City Manager Blaine Hill said he anticipates the final levy will be somewhere between 3 and 5 percent. The preliminary city budget is set at $9.6 million, about a 13 percent increase from last year. That increase includes additional revenue and expenses from the federally-funded Pacific Avenue Project, activity in bond funds and some one-time transfers.
MORRIS - A tip from a local pharmacy led the Morris Police Department to three arrests related to a methamphetamine ring operating in the Morris area. According to police reports, a tip from Pamida in Morris at the end of July about a suspicious individual purchasing the maximum amount of Sudafedrin allowed by law led the Morris Police Department to identifying individuals with connections to methamphetamine manufacturing and a local burglary at West Central Implement.
The plans for Courage Cottage started out on a napkin. On the drive back from Southern Minnesota more than 10 years ago, Vicki Maanum, the first RN site coordinator for Courage Cottage, sketched out an idea for the layout of an adult foster care facility on the back of a napkin. "We gave it to the architect, and from that napkin he came up with the floor plan," Maanum recalled.
While most people tend to think of Labor Day as a day of vacation, more than 70 UMM students and community members spent last Monday afternoon volunteering at sites across Morris, Cyrus, and Fergus Falls as part of UMM's Fall Day of Service. The afternoon kicked off at 1 p.m. on campus where students gathered for an opening speech and small group discussions with their service teams.
The Stevens County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a preliminary budget of just over $12.3 million for 2012, which includes an 8.91 percent levy increase. County Coordinator Brian Giese emphasized that most of the proposed increase - about 8.22 percent - comes from larger debt service payments as part of the courthouse remodeling project and projected cuts to County Program Aid from the State of Minnesota. "I think there's relative assurance that the County Program Aid in 2012 will be higher than we've projected in this budget, however, there's strong speculation that it will not
The Stevens County Housing and Redevelopment Authority has received more than $350,000 through the Small Cities Development Program for projects in Morris and Donnelly. Over the last four years, the HRA has received more than $1.67 million dollars through this program, which has helped the HRA fulfill its mission of providing access to "decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing" for citizens.
MORRIS - The Morris School Board had a chance to assess enrollment numbers, meet new staff and approve a new contract at their first meeting of the 2011-2012 school year on Tuesday night. Although numbers for the first day of school haven't been finalized yet, Superintendent Scott Monson told the board he expects the district to be at around 990 students this year, which is more than last year and more students than anticipated. "Enrollment continues to fluctuate," Monson said. "We've definitely seen a shift. The elementary is comparably sized to where they were last year.