Kim Ukura is the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune.
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MORRIS - By Kim Ukura Sun Tribune The Morris City Council formally voted to declare a vacancy on the city council at their meeting Tuesday, and is seeking applications from those interested in filling council member Twig Webster's seat through the election in November. Eligible citizens interested in serving on the council can submit a letter of intent to Mayor Sheldon Giese. The council hopes to fill the vacancy as soon as possible, and will likely make the appointment at their next meeting on July 24.
The University of Minnesota, Morris is gearing up research on sustainable energy by partnering on a scaled-down version of the campus' biomass facility that could be used to provide electricity in disaster areas. Last Thursday, campus researchers and their national partners demonstrated the PowerTainer, a transportable diesel engine generator (genset) powered by biomass developed with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Once they finish organizing Prairie Pioneer Days, Rhoda Smith and Carolyn Peterson, the two new directors of the Morris Area Chamber of Commerce plan to focus on tourism, membership, and economic growth across all of Stevens County. Smith officially took the reins as administrative director of the Chamber at the beginning of June, and was joined by Peterson as tourism and membership director at the end of the month. This is the first time the chamber will be operating with two directors, but it's a relationship both Smith and Peterson think will be beneficial.
MORRIS - The Stevens County Board of Commissioners voted 4 to 1 to approve an easement for wildlife habitat protection on about eight acres of property in section 17 of Synnes Township. Current landowners Lawrence Pavek and Darlene Kossan of Brooklyn Park, Minn., requested the easement, which would protect the existing wetlands and uplands while also allowing haying on the property after July 15 each year. The other 13 acres of the property are already a protected wetland, said Lynn Sebek, realty specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
MORRIS - The Morris area is full of healthy, well-maintained trees, but the looming threat of emerald ash borer presents a danger to nearly half of the trees on city property and almost a quarter of the trees on private land. Gary Johnson, professor of urban and community forestry with the University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources, presented these results from an volunteer-driven study of Morris' trees to Morris City Council at their meeting Tuesday.
MORRIS - The Morris Area School District is facing a preliminary budget deficit for 2012 - 2013 of more than $654,000, but most of that number is a result of three planned capitol improvement projects scheduled for next year. The total deficit for 2012 - 2013 is $645,657, but around $628,000 of that number is related to building improvements and an investment in technology, which already had money set aside to fund them. In total, that leaves an approximately $17,657 operating deficit for the upcoming school year.
MORRIS - A proposal to develop a commercial site on Perkins Lake has been halted until the Stevens County Board of Commissioners votes to decide whether an environmental assessment for the property is necessary. A scheduled Planning Commission meeting on July 12 to consider a conditional use permit request from B&H Holdings, the current owners of 45572 140th Street in Donnelly (the former Luther Crest Bible Camp property), has been cancelled until the board considers the Environmental Assessment Worksheet request from the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board.
MORRIS - The Morris Area School Board formally accepted Morris Area High School Principal Mike Coquyt's resignation at a special meeting on Tuesday, immediately beginning the search for a new full-time replacement. Coquyt submitted his resignation to Superintendent Scott Monson on Wednesday, June 20. His final official date of employment is June 30, 2012, although the board voted to contract with Coquyt for up to 15 days of work after that date to assist with the transition to a new administrator.
MORRIS - Morris Area High School Principal Mike Coquyt has resigned his position at MAHS in order to take a position at Minnesota State University, Moorhead. The Morris Area School Board will vote to accept Coquyt's resignation at a special school board meeting on Tuesday, June 26. In his resignation letter, Coquyt said he has accepted an offer to serve as an assistant professor at MSU. "After careful consideration, I realize that this opportunity is too exciting for me to decline," Coquyt said. Coquyt has been with the district since 2007.
MORRIS - When French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville toured the United States in the early 1800s, he noted citizens' tendency to form associations to do almost everything. De Tocqueville called this "the mother science of democracy," and it has come to be "part and parcel of how we do leadership," said Kenneth Pigg, an associate professor emeritus of rural sociology at the University of Missouri, Columbia, during his morning keynote at the ninth annual Symposium of Small Towns at the University of Minnesota, Morris last Thursday, June 14.