Kim Ukura has served as the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune since August 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2008 with degrees in English and journalism. She earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2010. Prior to returning to Morris to work at the Sun Tribune, she worked in trade publishing.
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MORRIS - Although John DeRung of Morris said he's "too darn cheap" to gamble, when the opportunity came to go to Las Vegas and participate in a national Texas Hold'em tournament he just couldn't say no. Earlier this month, DeRung and his wife Wendy took a trip to Sin City after DeRung qualified for a national tournament through a local poker league affiliated with the Free Poker Network (FPN). FPN was founded in North Dakota and currently has more than 265 participation locations across the country.
MORRIS - In a 4 to 1 vote, the Morris Area School Board passed an approximately $3.2 million levy, the maximum allowed by the State of Minnesota, for the 2012-2013 school year at their meeting on Monday night. Board Chair Kurt Gartland cast the lone dissenting vote. Board member Laura Carrington, who previously said she would not vote to increase taxes, was not at Monday's meeting. The levy is an increase of about $138,000 over the 2011-2012 levy, an increase of about 4.52 percent.
MORRIS - There's one more barber's chair in town. Bright's Barber Shop, which opened Monday, is a single-chair barber shop owned by 33-year-old Adam Bright, a former golf pro turned barber with an appreciation for the outdoors and a collection of family in the area. The shop is a new addition to the second floor of City Center Mall, 618 Atlantic Ave., and is open Tuesday through Saturday, by walk-in or appointment. Bright went to barber school in Minneapolis where he worked for two years before receiving his Master License.
MORRIS - On the twentieth day of every month Mary Walker impacts everyone in the Morris Area School District. As the district payroll and human resource manager, Walker helps make sure everyone in the district - from regular staff all the way to ticket takers at athletic events - gets paid on the twentieth, whether payment happens via direct deposit or with a paper check. Walker was named Morris' 2011 Support Staff Person of the Year at the district's staff appreciation breakfast last week.
MORRIS - This week I got the chance to cover my first two Truth in Taxation (TnT) meetings, one for Stevens County and one for the City of Morris.
MORRIS - About 20 county residents used the Stevens County Truth in Taxation hearing on Monday night to grill the Board of Commissioners and county employees about budget items both big and small. At a meeting before the TNT hearing, the board of commissioners passed their 2012 budget. The $12.3 million dollar budget has an increase in expenditures of about 3.5 percent (around $153,000, not including the increased debt service payments for the courthouse remodel project), and an overall levy increase of 7.22 percent.
MORRIS - The Stevens County Board of Commissioners passed a $12.3 million budget with a 7.22 percent levy increase at a meeting on Monday night. The county budget for 2012 includes an increase in expenditures of about 3.5 percent over the 2011 budget, an increase from about $11.8 million in 2011 to $12.3 million in 2012. The budget also includes $6.1 million in revenues, including anticipated County Program Aid. Of the 7.22 percent total levy increase, about 6.12 percent comes from increased debt service payments and an anticipated loss in County Program Aid from the state.
MORRIS - The Morris City Council approved a tax levy of approximately $1.25 million for 2012, a zero percent increase from 2011, at their meeting on Tuesday. The council will wait to pass the final budget until their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 27, when City Manager Blaine Hill will be able to present a revised budget that reflects the results of union negotiations. Mayor Sheldon Giese and council members Jeff Miller, Bill Storck and Twig Webster voted in favor of the tax levy. Council member Matt Carrington was not at Tuesday's meeting.
MORRIS - Analyzing data and coming up with a clear-cut message for what it means about students can be a tricky business. All three administrators in the Morris Area School District - Superintendent Scott Monson, High School Principal Mike Coquyt and Elementary School Principal Brad Korn - cautioned that different tests from different years comparing different groups of students can be hard to summarize into a simple, single-paragraph assessment about how Morris Area students are performing.
MORRIS - When Morris Area choir director John Kleinwolterink first heard a choral arrangement of "Lamentations of Jeremiah," a musical interpretation of the Book of Lamentations, he didn't like it and didn't think it would work for his students. After borrowing the music to try with a group, Kleinwolterink said he's found that students are really drawn to the piece, which challenges them to express emotion through the notes rather than through the lyrics - the piece is written in Latin. "It's exciting to hear that even I can learn something," said Kleinwolterink.