"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Monday, September 25, 2017

President's comments are a familiar echo

We seem to again be hearing the message of "America, love it or leave it." That quote springs from a time of supreme division in America. How unnecessary all that was. I'm referring of course to the Viet Nam war which dominated the 1960s.
The quote comes to mind as a result of the president's comments on several fronts, but mostly in the realm of pro sports. There, that will get everyone's attention. As if the Charlottesville statements weren't enough, the president now complains about how NFL owners ought to "fire" players who don't stand properly for the national anthem.
All of us should have been asking for a long time: why is the national anthem played before sports events? It's a song that promotes a superficial type of patriotism. The subject matter of the song is war - it glorifies war. Musicians will tell you the song is flawed because it requires too wide a vocal range to sing.
The president - I don't want to dignify him by typing his name - seizes on the controversy to ram home what got him elected: division and race-based suspicion. Suspicion of Barack Obama's birth certificate was a ticket allowing him into the arena in the first place. The racism was always veiled, to be sure. Oh, so thinly veiled that we all ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We all knew what was going on.  White people were trying to seize power back, as if they'd ever lost a legitimate political voice. Republicans formed an unholy alliance with our current president because they felt he could facilitate their normal agenda. Republicans could count on all the racists and fundamentalist Christians to be receptive, even though the real "prize" for Republicans would be their usual assortment. It was a matter of forming a coalition which is what politics is always about.
Thom Hartman has said that Republicans court the anti-abortion people even though Republicans in their own mind "don't give a rat's patootie" about the issue. Republicans scream about how we need to prevent "socialism" in health care even though Obamacare isn't about socialism, it's about allowing the insurance industry to continue its primacy. The insurance industry has come out against the current Republican (DOA) proposal because of its fear that the scheme would fail, and if it fails, then presto! The public will agitate for single payer which would really torpedo the insurance industry's aims.
Single payer is coming anyway. Charles Krauthammer of Fox News says as much - he estimates about seven years until it comes.
What are we to make of the NFL players taking a knee? A bigger issue is what this game does to the health of everyone who plays it. We just learned about the effects of CTE on the late Aaron Hernandez. The NFL is a mammoth entertainment product that keeps the game high-profile and promotes high interest among boys. Boys feel the invulnerability of youth. They really need parents steering them away from the game. Some are in fact doing this. It seems that most chafe at the suggestions I'm making. They seem glib and flippant about rationalizing the game. In the short term they find enjoyment and maybe even some community building. It's horrific because they seem to find it acceptable to downplay the health effects on kids.
Football rolls on as this monster we can't seem to stop. It took several years but I'm at the point where all I do with televised football is to check the score occasionally. I swear I never watch for an extended time anymore. I root against the U of M Gophers because I hate how we use that program, infusing tons of money into it, to puff up our egos so we might feel better about being here. Oh, remember that old message that was once so conspicuous at the Metrodome: "We like it here." Bill James said he found that sign "curiously defensive." It was as if we were saying "we don't care what everyone else thinks," James pointed out.
I don't want the Vikings to win. The Pittsburgh game indicated we might not have much to worry about on that score. Things got better Sunday. I read that when Teddy Bridgewater got hurt, it was so severe, his leg "almost came off." That'd be worse than Joe Theismann. Why can't all of us find better things to do with our time?
So the president seems to be saying "America, love it or leave it." I remember that John Wayne had a record album called "America, Why I Love Her." That was the Lawrence Welk generation talking. I hate to re-visit all of that. But re-visiting it we are, thanks to the Ken Burns documentary on Viet Nam. I watched a large portion but not the whole thing. Did it ever get into "fragging?" Eventually I just had to turn away.
My generation never much cared about the details or the history of why we were in Viet Nam. Wasn't there a song with the lyrics "don't tell me I don't give a damn." A young man in America had no reason to want to know who Ho Chi Minh was and what he stood for. That young man would want to live the American dream, to be productive and raise a family, not to risk his life in a dismal foreign jungle. Kids today give no thought, I'm sure, to what it was like to fear being drafted and sent to Viet Nam.
I switched away from the Burns documentary because of a veteran being interviewed, a vet who struck me as insincere and suspicious, acting like he just wanted to put on a big show for Ken Burns. I cared not about his recollections even if genuine. I found it annoying to listen to some background music of songs associated with the whole 1960s zeitgeist, like by Simon and Garfunkel. Was the documentary encouraging nostalgia? If it was, it was unforgivable. First off, those songs were composed by music professionals who were exercising professional music craftsmanship. Songwriters may talk about inspiration but it's really about professional craftsmanship.
Soldiers in the hellhole weren't thinking about Simon and Garfunkel. They were cannon fodder in the bright, shining lie of Viet Nam. I really don't care to recall it at all.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwillyh73@yahoo.com

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Jenna Howden nails 25 kills in road triumph

Tigers 3, Sauk Centre 0
The Tigers handled the Streeters of Sauk Centre in sweep fashion. The scores were 25-16, 25-19 and 25-23 in this September 19 road match.
Karly Fehr and Riley Decker each had two serving aces. Fehr was proficient as always in setting, coming through with 44 set assists. Bailey Marty and Decker each had one assist. Jenna Howden was mighty proficient in hitting, coming at the Streeters with 25 kills. Marty had a kill total of eight. Jenna Larsen pounded seven kills, and the list continues with Lexi Pew (5), Kenzie Hockel (3) and Fehr (2).
Howden executed two ace blocks and Pew had one. Decker topped the digs list with her 37. Fehr dug up the ball ten times. Marty had eight digs, Larsen six and Howden five.
Click on the link below to read about the MACA football game against ACGC. It was a big night for Camden Arndt at Big Cat. ACGC prevailed by one point. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Tennis: Montevideo 6, Tigers 1
Ryanne Long got the win for MACA tennis in a 1-6 setback. Long defeated Julia Hamann of the Monte Thunder Hawks 6-3 and 6-0.
Lea Asmus was the first singles Tiger and she was defeated by Kori Douglas 3-6 and 1-6. Lilly Swanson took the second set vs. Alissa Eickhoff at second singles, 6-2, but couldn't duplicate that success in the other two sets which had outcomes of 0-6 and 3-10. Hannah Watzke was the third singles Tiger and she bowed vs. Lauren Kluver, 1-6 and 3-6. Long was the fourth singles Tiger and showed the winning flourish.
On to doubles: here it was Abbigail Athey and Greta Hentges getting defeated by Erica Loose and Andrea Loose, 3-6 and 3-6. Lahia Manska and Katie Messner were dealt 1-6 set outcomes by Elizabeth Padula and Hannah Cushing of the T-Hawks. Halley Jackson and Lexi Gomer were on the short end vs. Taylor Knutson and Emily Brace at third doubles, 0-6 and 0-6.
Tennis: Monte 7, Tigers 0
The home courts were the site for this tennis dual against Montevideo. Lea Asmus wielded the racket for MACA at first singles. She was outdone by Kori Douglas of the T-Hawks, 2-6 and 3-6. Monte took the match 7-0.
I covered MACA tennis for a long time at the paper, and I recall feeling discouraged at sweep losses that seemed to happen too often.
Lilly Swanson was the second singles Tiger and she fell vs. Susie Wamstad, 2-6 and 5-7. Hannah Watzke wielded the racket at third singles and she was defeated by Alissa Eickhoff, 1-6 and 4-6. Ryanne Long was on the short end against Lauren Kluver at fourth singles, 0-6 and 5-7. At first doubles it was Abbigail Athey and Greta Hentges representing the orange and black, and this pair bowed vs. Erica Loose and Andrea Loose, 5-7 and 4-6. At second doubles it was Lahia Manska and Katie Messner vying against Elizabeth Padula and Hannah Cushing of the T-Hawks, and the outcome was 2-6 and 0-6.
Halley Jackson and Lexi Gomer vied at third doubles and they bowed vs. Taylor Knutson and Emily Brace, 0-6 and 1-6.
A little puzzled
Out of simple curiosity I sometimes check the Morris newspaper website. The management there was really talking big about the things to be accomplished there, at the time I departed. Things were changing at the paper so fast, it was dizzying. That degree of chaos, in and of itself, signaled that bad things were likely to happen.
The print edition of the paper has gone through shrinkage that exceeds even my most bleak expectations. We won't be able to consume details about the football game vs. ACGC until Saturday, by which time the Tigers will have played their next game. As for the website, I have noticed the last couple weeks that the paper has token coverage of football: 2-3 sentences maybe. I noticed a photo from the ACGC game, and you can click on the side to see a second photo, so that's fine. I'm wondering why the paper can't copy and paste the West Central Tribune coverage of the game and put it there. A possible answer is that the paper doesn't want to "give away" too much coverage on its site. Web-based coverage cannot really be monetized, and the Sun Tribune is a private business motivated by profit.
A decade ago I heard talk about ads being placed on the website. I don't think that has been developed to an appreciable degree. In fact that's probably an understatement. Remember that whatever the Morris paper does, it has to be justified by the bottom line. The paper isn't motivated by some benevolent desire to serve the public. Serving the public is incidental.
You can go and read about the most recent Tiger football game on a site where money is not a factor, and that is my "Morris of Course" blog where I have extensively covered the last two games. I may cover some games on this site which is my primary one: "I Love Morris." We love Morris and our extracurricular activities. I don't love our administration (or school board?) which is putting this referendum in front of us.
It is fundamentally unacceptable to use the referendum tool to get money for essential maintenance. Referendums are for things that are new and extra, and we oftentimes look favorably on such things.
I asked a retired teacher about the referendum the other day. He shrugged in effect and said "well, I guess the work has to be done."
Of course it has to be done. It should have been done over the summer. It should have been done quietly to protect the image and the PR interests of the district. That notorious referendum pamphlet that was put out by the school, is a tremendous black eye for our school system: an admission of shortcomings that could even have health consequences for our students. Now the district figuratively speaking has a gun pointed to our head, saying we must pass the referendum to do this essential work.
We may rue the day we allowed our school campus to become so vast and sprawling. We don't think enough about the maintenance costs when we create new assets. The new assets seem wonderful on paper. But they are accompanied by huge responsibility. Is our school space excessive? I think it is. I have written before about a past "trendy" thing in education where new schools were built with huge commons areas, such things as gyms, auditoriums and expansive cafeterias. I have thought that such huge spaces like the gym at Lac qui Parle (where you get to the top and then find another gym space) are built to "wow" the public, to show "what their money bought." But if it's excessive, it can be problematic. We very clearly have excessive gym space in Morris. The concert hall can be jaw-dropping when you see it the first time, but have you noticed how a small audience can seem really, depressingly small there? An extra aisle would seem to be needed.
I wouldn't promote such a fuss about all this, were it not for the current scheming whereby our school administration (and board?) is seeking "extra" funds from the public, squeezing the public as it were, to pay for essential maintenance. It's a terrible precedent. The administration needs to pull strings to get the funds without the referendum. The cost estimate for the work to be done would seem excessive. Give any of these public entities a chance to get a little more from the trough, and they will.
I hope the school referendum does not dampen the enthusiasm for the expected upcoming public library referendum. I would vote "yes" on a library referendum even without researching it because I totally trust the library people. My feelings about the school people are quite the opposite. Be sure to press "Sick Rick" on what the heck is going on.
I theorize that we will see a future trend with schools where they will be built by the opposite criteria of today: they will be built as relatively small, tidy structures that simply get the job done for helping kids master the three R's. They could blend into neighborhoods. They wouldn't loom on the edge of town, looking like prisons. Why did we get into this?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, September 18, 2017

My reaction to school referendum is shared

I understand the uneasiness of people who received that referendum flyer from the school recently. We now see some venting in the commercial media. A prolific letter writer hits the nail on the head with points made. I hate to give him too much credit because of a certain issue in the past. That issue was the cemetery chimes.
Anyway, Mr. Cemetery Chimes was disturbed by the school referendum flyer. I'm reluctant to give him too much credit but he articulates well. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about community issues, though not as much as in the past. I was not aware that any part of our public school campus was in such horrible shape, as described in the flyer.
I'm discouraged that we have to again deal with building decline issues so soon after we were dragged through all this with the old, now-razed school. I thought the demolition of that building would leave us breathing a sigh of relief over having quite satisfactory contemporary structures. All right, so we're done with all that, mold etc.? Wrong-o.
The school starts beating the drum for having to get money for substantial fix-up work. Mr. Cemetery Chimes wonders why the problems could not have been seen and addressed as they developed. Don't ask such stupid questions (sarcasm).
The way I see it, dealing with these problems costs money and this might force the superintendent, "Sick Rick" (nickname courtesy a regional blogger), to cut programs or positions to free up the money. This would cause a fire-breathing reaction by school staff, and we all know what a many-headed hydra the school staff can be. So the administration sits back, allows the situation to get very bad and then turns to a tried and true remedy: the referendum. This community has voted "yes" on school referendums in a knee-jerk way over the recent past. It sure isn't like the 1960s.
So, the administration figures it can routinely pass such a referendum, vacuum in the needed funds from the taxpayers, pay the contractors to come in and do their thing, and then presto! No staff layoffs or program reductions. The staff is mollified. I have seen the tail wagging the dog many times.
That was such a fancy color brochure that was put out, promoting the referendum. I suspect that by law, such a brochure if put out by the school cannot advocate "vote yes" directly. So the powers that be use a lawyer's cleverness to say "vote yes" in every other manner possible, without an explicit statement. I didn't come into town on a turnip truck - I can readily see this.
We read "years of use have rendered many building spaces unsafe and unusable for our students." Should the high school parents initiate a class-action lawsuit alleging that their kids have been exposed to unreasonable risk?
Society is being forced to take a whole new look at school infrastructure. We saw an article in Saturday's Star Tribune about "University of the People" that does not use textbooks, rather it keeps costs down by using existing assets on the Internet. The Internet has developed so far, what isn't on the Internet? So I have to wonder: do we even need a school library anymore? We can ask that about colleges too. The sociologist Charles Murray has asked this pointedly. What, a school without a library? The thought on the face of it might seem absurd, but I think it's totally reasonable. The school expends resources managing its library.
I gather that shower facilities are an issue at our high school. Whenever water is involved, there is potential for wear and tear and decay. So I ask: why do we even expect our students to shower during the day? We don't shower during our day at work, do we? Oh, there's phy ed classes. I have questioned the existence of phy ed classes. The counter argument might be,"we can't expect our kids to just sit in desks all day." Well no, but there are desks made nowadays that allow users to stand. Research shows there is a health benefit to this. I believe the brand name is "Vari-Desk."
And as far as exercise is concerned, why aren't students simply assigned a "walking period" where they'd simply walk laps in the school hallways, quietly of course? Oh, I'm such a conservative fuddy-duddy, aren't I? Or maybe I'm just arousing the wrath of school staff, who fear a friend or two might get laid off. Well, welcome to the real world.
I would like to see a reaction to this school referendum like what we saw with the proposed jail. The superintendent can be nudged to make budgetary adjustments to get the money to do the belated rehab. He should seek a lower price for all this than is now put forth, eh? These issues can be difficult. Austerity with school matters can bring a visceral reaction from school-centered interests/people. It can get nasty. If you want to vote "yes" and keep the same old racket going, fine. I'll just observe from the sidelines. We should all look forward to the Homecoming parade. Remember the way I used to cover MAHS Homecoming for the Morris newspaper?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, September 15, 2017

Volleyball gets fifth win, 3-0 at home gym

Tigers 3, ACGC 0
MACA volleyball rolled forward with a sweep win over Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City on September 12. Fans at the home gym enjoyed these dominating scores of 25-8, 25-16 and 25-13. The success pushed our record to 5-0.
Bailey Marty and Kenzie Hockel each batted three serving aces at the Eagles. Karly Fehr chalked up two serving aces, and Jenna Howden and Riley Decker each had one. Fehr was the cog in setting as always, chalking up 23 set assists. Liz Dietz picked up one set assist.
In the crowd-pleasing hitting department, it was Jenna Howden at the fore as she picked up ten kills. Karly Fehr had six kills and Jen Solvie five. Then it was Marty with four kills, Hockel and Jenna Larsen each with two, and Islande Sperr with one. These five Tigers each executed one ace block: Hockel, Fehr, Howden, Sperr and Larsen. Decker showed her digging flair with 14 digs, followed by these three Tigers each with five: Marty, Fehr and Larsen.
The top ACGC spiker was Rylie Wilner with nine kills. Karina Kinzler was the top Falcon in set assists with eight. Wilner had one ace block. Alex Hovey produced eleven digs.
We deal with grief
Taryn Paul was the daughter of Tanya Paul who is the former Tanya Estenson, who once was setter for the Morris Area volleyball team. I remember covering Tanya and her generation of Tiger athletes. Words can't describe the extent of grief now felt.
I wrote a little song encouraging everyone to make sure Tanya has the warmest Christmas possible under the circumstances. I'm pleased to share the lyrics. God works in ways mysterious. - BW
"Tell Her Merry Christmas"
by Brian Williams
Christmas brings good feelings to everyone
Mostly we just wear it like bling
Let's remember those who cry on and on
They need all the love we can bring
Tanya makes it easy to be a friend
Everyone has good things to say
Now she's feeling grief that will never end
Let's unite and brighten her day
Tell her Merry Christmas
Send her your best wishes
Bring the Yuletide spirit right up to her door
Tell her Merry Christmas
She deserves a big kiss
She is bound for heaven
She'll be there with Taryn
She was once a setter in volleyball
Wearing the orange and black
Making sure the offense would never stall
Tanya was as quick as a cat
She moved on to duties of parenthood
Most important duties of all
With a guiding hand that was always good
Just like when she played volleyball
(repeat chorus)
Now the time has come where we look ahead
We just can't exist in the past
We can carry mem-ries right to our bed
Then the morning comes and we move fast
Christmas is a time for humanity
Salving all the wounds in our soul
Tanya will maintain her vitality
As she inches nearer that goal
(repeat chorus)
Copyright 2017 Brian R. Williams

Cross country: Little Crow Invite
Noah Stewart and Meredith Carrington set the pace for the MACA cross country runners Thursday at Little Crow Country Club. Stewart was fourth in the boys race with his time of 17:53. The boys champion was Keiser Freetly of LQPV-DB who covered the course in 16:28. LQPV-DB was the top boys team while MACA took fifth.
Meredith Carrington arrived at the finish chute No. 5 with her time of 22:10. Jordyn Sterud of LQPV-DB was the champion girls runner with her time of 20:29. Eden Valley-Watkins was the top girls team while MACA was No. 5. There were eleven teams total in the Little Crow Invite.
Stewart was joined in the MACA effort by: Tate Nelson (18:44), Ben Hernandez (18:45), Tyler Reimers (20:30), Thomas Tiernan (20:59), Bradley Rohloff (21:20) and Judah Malek (23:26). Freetly was followed in the top five by Mikey Kvaal of LQPV-DB, Jonathan Tostenson of Benson-KMS, Stewart of our Tigers and Tristan Thompson of New London-Spicer.
Carrington was joined in the MACA girls' effort by Malory Anderson (22:38), Madelyn Siegel (24:14), Crystal Nohl (24:42), Isabel Fynboh (24:45) and Caryn Marty (26:23). Sterud was followed in the top five by Isabel Schirm of LQPV-DB, Katie O'Brien of Sauk Cantre, Zya Lueders of EV-W and Carrington of our Tigers.
An aside: Keiser Freetly is an excellent runner but I think the Willmar paper puffs him a little too much.
Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Invite
The Knights of West Central Area had a quite fine performance on September 11 in the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Invitational. The Knights topped the team standings in both girls and boys. Our Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers took sixth in the girls team standings among the very large field of teams.
Meredith Carrington was the highest-achieving Tiger with her seventh place showing, time of 22:03.7. The lineup continued to be without the other Carrington sister, Maddie, who is dealing with a foot problem. We cross our fingers regarding her.
Madelyn Siegel arrived at the finish chute No. 30 with her clocking of 23:26.9. The rest of the MACA lineup: Malory Anderson (34th, 23:40.5), Kaylie Raths (58th, 24:48.4) and Crystal Nohl (59th, 24:48.6). Noah Stewart led the orange and black in the boys division, placing 28th with his 18:40.5 time. This meet featured a mass of runners. Stewart was joined in the MACA effort by Tate Nelson (19:06.4), Ben Hernandez (19:27.0), Tyler Reimers (19:36.0), Bradley Rohloff (20:24.1), Judah Malek (22:27.5) and Micah Aanerud (23:04.2).
Tennis: defeat at Lac qui Parle
MACA tennis made the trip to Lac qui Parle Valley on September 12 and was defeated. The Eagles were the 7-0 victor.
Hanna Watzke bowed at first singles vs. Molly Hacker, 0-6 and 1-6. Ryanne Long was on the short end at second singles vs. Ashtyn Oie, 0-6 and 1-6. The third singles Tiger was Abbigail Athey and she bowed vs. Anna Hacker, 4-6, 7-5 and 3-6. Katie Messner had a great start at fourth singles, taking the first set against Katelyn Wittnebel 6-1, but dropped the next two sets 3-6 and 2-6.
Lea Asmus and Lilly Swenson played first doubles. They came out on the short end against Courtney Hanson and Jessica Sigdahl, 1-6 and 1-6. At No. 2 doubles it was Greta Hentges and Lahia Manska on the short end against the LQPV tandem of Rachel Halvorson and Addi Oie, 3-6 and 2-6. The No. 3 doubles team of Lexi Gomer and Halley Jackson dropped their set vs. Veda Mahavaj and Gionna Parson, 1-6 and 2-6.
The Eagles are doing quite fine this fall and came out of this match with a 9-2 record.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwillyh73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Runner Maddie Carrington forced into hiatus

The MACA cross country runners visited Holdingford for their third meet of the season. The girls team placed fourth among the nine teams in this September 7 event. An injury cloud hangs over the team as Maddie Carrington has been sidelined. Normally a premier runner, she's idle due to a foot problem. My inquiry about this has revealed that not all the specifics are known. We'll cross our fingers and hope for her return.
Click on the link below to read my review of the MACA home football opener, a win over Montevideo. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Maple Lake had the top girls team at Holdingford. Albany was second and Sauk Centre third, after which the Tigers occupied fourth. Albany's Kristine Kalthoff was the top female performer, time of 21 minutes on the nose. Kate O'Brien of Sauk Centre was second, time of 21:27.52. Continuing with the top five we have Andrea Fromelt of St. Cloud Cathedral, Sophie Pribyl of Maple Lake and Mary Miller of Melrose.
Meredith Carrington carries the Carrington family banner alone, and this budding athlete had a 22:28.43 time to place ninth. Also representing the orange and black were Malory Anderson (23:12.31), Kaylie Raths (23:57.27), Madlyn Siegel (23:58.07) and Crystal Nohl (24:04.63).
Isabel Fynboh took third in the junior high race, time of 15:49.1. Katya Lackey took seventh (16:25.96) and Alexis Motz was No. 10 (16:40.73). Other orange and black jr. high runners were Caryn Marty (17:00), Meghan Goulet (18:12.46), Victoria Vargas (19:07.5) and Bobbi Wohlers (19:55.73).
In the varsity boys race it was Tiger Noah Stewart excelling to finish third with his clocking of 18:05.30. Stewart was joined by these teammates: Tate Nelson (18:50.23), Tyler Reimers (19:44.66), Bradley Rohloff (21:22.98), Judah Malek (22:39.62) and Micah Aanerud (22:57.52).
Ben Hernandez was third in the JV race with his time of 19:08.3. Other JV Tigers were Colton Wohlers (23:47.01) and Dakota Roberts (24:38.56). Thomas Tiernan was second in the junior high race, time of 13:36.94. The MACA jr. high roster also included: Tyce Anderson (15:05.73), Reid Tolifson (15:20.42), Barron Schneider (15:36.83), Gavin Stallman (15:41.91), Sam Jordan (16:07.91) and Pierce Richards (16:10.96).
Jake Andres of Pierz was the boys varsity champion with his time of 17:20.57. Preston Poepping of Melrose was second (17:52.14), then came our Stewart at No. 3. Tristan Thompson of New London-Spicer placed fourth, and Michael Miller of Melrose was No. 5.
The champion boys team was Holdingford while our MACA Tigers placed sixth. There were eleven boys teams.
Morris paper's shrinkage continues
Is 16 pages the new norm for the absolutely minimal Morris newspaper? It wasn't long ago that the paper slid from an average size of 24 pages to 18. But then we started seeing some 16-pagers. Is there a sense of alarm in the community?
A newspaper person from out of the area emailed me to say that by contrast, the Elbow Lake paper has 16 pages. . .in the 'A' section alone!
Why the minimal approach here in Morris? Is the day coming when Forum Communications will decide to just start mailing the Alexandria paper to people on the Morris subscription list? We may end up getting the same treatment that Hancock got, in effect losing our paper. Have we become this much of a satellite community for Alexandria? Maybe the answer is yes.
This morning (Monday) I checked the Morris paper website and only found about two sentences about the Morris/Montevideo football game. Compare that to my "Morris of Course" blog where you can at least read a game review by someone who gives a rip. If that had been me at the Morris paper, writing two sentences about the game and then having the chutzpah to put my "byline" on it, people would insult me all over town. What would Mike Martin say about such a lousy commitment?
All these developments come as the Morris paper still pretends it has "combined" with the Hancock paper. In the weeks following that announcement, the paper stayed the same size as before, which means that literally it could not have "combined" with anything. Now it's worse: the Morris-based paper has gotten still smaller.
How do they answer phone calls about this? They still posture like they're trying to incorporate Hancock. Look at Saturday's paper: there's extensive coverage of the Hancock football opener: article and photos. Wow! Before the announced combination, the Morris paper didn't even cover Hancock sports. Now that it's at least trying, the coverage is going to push aside some coverage of Morris. I'm 100 percent certain that in the days before the announced combination, Morris would have sent its sports photographer to Holdingford for the opener. Now the paper turns its eyes to Hancock.
Eyes still on referendum
I have written recently about the referendum being put forward by the Morris school district. I think it's fundamentally awful for the school to use the referendum tool for what amounts to necessary maintenance. I also think it's terrible PR for the school to be broadcasting all these awful problems as part of "selling" the referendum.
On Sunday I had a chance to talk with a very knowledgeable person with a background of being involved in the Morris school district. I won't type his name here, but what he offered to me was this: The cost of the project exceeds what we're getting in return. If my arguments don't fly, maybe his will. 
A "consultant" came here to analyze what needs to be done. Isn't that how we got the recommendation to build a jail? Those consultants have their own agenda, incentives and bottom line to promote. Bring in a string of consultants and they'll clean you out. We have highly-paid administrators. Don't let them sit back, take it easy and "contract out" all sorts of stuff.
The jail issue brought an explosion of controversy and resulting rubble of ill feeling. Wasn't there a county commissioner who was quoted in the print media saying "I'm glad none of my children live or work in Stevens County." What strange people we are, to elect a commissioner like that.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, September 8, 2017

The winning beat continues for volleyball

Tigers 3, BOLD 1
MACA volleyball kept rolling forward with a Thursday (9/7) win over BOLD. The Tigers' record is now 4-0. They did get dinged with a loss in one of the games. Here are the scores: 25-16, 25-14, 16-25 and 25-22. BOLD was the match host.
Jenna Howden zeroed in for three serving aces. Bailey Marty executed two serving aces. Karly Fehr and Jenna Larsen each had one. Fehr went to work performing 32 set assists. Larsen added one assist.
In kills it was Howden clearly setting the pace with her 20. Other Tigers with kills were: Marty (7), Fehr (6), Jen Solvie (3), Larsen (2) and Kenzi Hockel (1). Howden showed her prowess with six ace blocks. Fehr and Solvie each went up to perform two ace blocks, while Marty, Hockel and Larsen each blocked one. Riley Decker was the digging whiz with 34 digs. Marty had nine digs, Larsen had eight and Fehr came through with seven.
For BOLD, Taylor Sagedahl had the team-best in kills with 14. Ashley Trongard and Makayla Snow co-led the Warriors in ace blocks with three. Brenna Weis pleased the home fans with 25 digs. Snow contributed 17 set assists and Sagedahl had 15. Snow batted two serve aces.
Tigers 3, Benson 0
Fans at the home court enjoyed another of the Tigers' (frequent) sweeps on September 5. Coach Kristi Fehr had to be satisfied as she saw her orange and black show a balanced attack. The balance led to winning scores of 25-7, 25-8 and 25-14 over the Braves of Benson.
Balance was exhibited in hitting where these kill stats can be reported: Jenna Howden 7, Bailey Marty 6, Kenzie Hockel 3, Jen Solvie 3 and Jenna Larsen 2. Howden executed smoothly at the net with her three ace blocks. Karly Fehr and Larsen each blocked one.
Riley Decker showed a flourish with 13 digs, followed by Hockel (12), Marty (10) and Fehr (9). On to serving aces: Hockel (4), Marty (2) and Decker (1). Fehr put up 23 set assists while Decker had one.
For Benson, Courtney McNeill and Abbie Mitteness each had one serving ace. Mariah Arndt and McNeill led Benson in set assists with seven and six, respectively. Anna Gosson had four kills to lead. Lizzie Staton had one ace block. It's always reassuring to see the name "Staton" continue to be in Benson sports reports. I'm sure I covered some of the parents in my Sun Tribune and Hancock Record days. Leah Molden contributed 26 digs.
Cross country: meet at Appleton
I was surprised to see the MACA cross country team have another meet so soon after the Morris Invite on August 28. The runners' assignment on August 31 was to perform at Appleton, perhaps with a diminished gas tank. Oh, but youth can overcome that, right?
Lac qui Parle/Dawson-Boyd won the boys division in their own invitational. Our MACA Tigers placed third behind runner-up Benson-KMS. There were seven teams.
Keiser Freetly of LQPV-DB was first to the finish chute, time of 16:53.78. Jonathan Tostenson of Benson-KMS was second at 18:17.75. Two Morris Area Chokio Alberta runners achieved in the top five: Noah Stewart in third (time of 18:19.01) and Tate Nelson in fifth (18:30.56). Zeke Sather of LQPV-DB placed fourth (18:21.50). Joining Stewart and Nelson in the MACA arsenal were: Tyler Reimers (19:19.20), Bradley Rohloff (21:06.91), Solomon Johnson (20:01.83), Micah Aanerud (23:11.77) and Judah Malek (23:01.01).
On the girls' side, we notice the absence of Maddie Carrington. I'm wondering if she was given a rest for the meet so soon after the Morris race. If it's an injury issue then I'm quite disappointed. I'll have to ask grandpa Tom about this early some morning at DeToy's. The two of us get there shortly after 6 a.m. most mornings.
A different Carrington, Maddie's sister Meredith, finished in the top five. Her time was 17:42.53, good for fifth place. The other Tigers were Malory Anderson (18:02.16), Madelyn Siegel (18:56.32), Kaylie Raths (18:58.47) and Crystal Nohl (19:08.24). As in the season opener, we were reminded of quite the nemesis that LQPV-DB is. Jordyn Sterud of the Eagles was No. 1 with her time of 16:03.19, and the runner-up was teammate Isabel Schirm (16:29.59). No. 3 was Carissa Vanderwal of Ortonville (17:18.19), and No. 4 was Reegan Duininck of CMCS (17:38.87).
We were the runner-up team behind those Eagles. Montevideo was third, BOLD was fourth, Ortonville fifth, Benson-KMS sixth and YME seventh.
More re. the referendum
My previous post was about the upcoming referendum - what's the date for it? - that was puffed in a breathless, urgent way by that slick pamphlet with color photos that got sent around. I was surprised. I wasn't aware of any urgent issue that would require a referendum.
How much will the whole package cost? Is that figure in the "informational" pamphlet? I suspect that by law, the school cannot have any direct advocacy statements in such a flyer. However, they come so close as to be actually appearing to cross the line. An example: "Our students deserve a clean, safe and functional space to learn." Really?
The referendum appears like a gun pointed to our head, because of course the stated problems need to be solved. They should have been addressed all along through a regular part of the school's budget, right? But maybe the Morris Area school district is playing us for suckers. They know that in the recent past, it has been a slam-dunk for school-related referendums to pass. It's a cup of tea, right? Unless we start asking some hard questions.
We have voted yes to a school campus that increasingly appears rather monstrous. So if you're impressed by that sort of thing - large commons areas etc. - fine. But will trends change in education? Will it become fashionable for schools to be built as tidy, comparatively small structures that serve their purpose just fine? They could be tucked into neighborhoods instead of being out on the edge of town, often looking like prisons (like the KMS school, for example). The late Laura Carrington made the "prisons" comparison.
I consider our gym space to be excessive - I'm tempted to type "obscene." Do kids even need physical ed. class? If physical ed. classes are so effective, why do we see so many obese kids? Why do varsity sports teams have to travel so far so often? The late Les Lindor, chairman of our school board, was perplexed by this.
Now we have a referendum coming at us for what appears to be essential infrastructure expenses. The pamphlet is so graphic I might throw up. I'm not sure I'd want to set foot in our high school building. Is this trickery engineered by the superintendent? Maybe he has earned the nickname "Sick Rick" as he has been given by a regional blogger.
Addendum: Maybe you don't even know about the 1991 gym. It's way off on one end and you have to wind through hallways to find it.
-Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

We're asked to "vote yes" again, sigh

Did you see that "vote yes" flyer that was distributed by mail? Oh, I know it wasn't literally a "vote yes" flyer. The message wasn't stated directly, at least not in so many words. But "yes" came through with the force of a sledgehammer. One of my first thoughts was: the issues appear so severe, work ought to begin immediately if not sooner, and why are we even voting on it?
The flyer actually seems like a disincentive for parents to open-enroll their kids to Morris. It makes the high school look like sort of a minefield of hazards. The school always has needs for spending money, right? I remember many years ago, when I was at the paper, I mentioned at the shop about the school having some particular need, and Terry Manney immediately responded: "The school always needs money." I read in the Star Tribune once that residents of outstate communities always feel chagrined about the demands of schools, as their local school seems to them like a "money pit." A money pit.
Sometimes it strikes some as a game of seeing how much the public can be shaken down.
We have such a sprawling school campus, don't we? Remember the campaign for getting a new "elementary school" built. Paul Rentz said "well, do we need a new elementary school?" He was skeptically suggesting that maybe the proposal was going to include much more than an "elementary school." Tony O'Keefe talked in a similar vein. Tony said "they're going to build a new high school," and that of course was an exaggeration, but the elaborate new structure did include a whole lot that would be used beyond elementary school needs.
A new varsity gym? Really? Was there really a pressing need for that? It's nice of course but a lot of things are "nice." That's not necessarily what district residents need to approve. Holy mackerel, remember when the 1991 gym went up? You probably don't. It sits there like a big barren enclosure. It's "nice" but is it used for any major athletic endeavors? Was it built just for gymnastics practice? I remember once when a building proposal was in front of us, Jim Morrison actually wrote an editorial wondering if we were trying to become "the gymnasium capital of western Minnesota."
Such skepticism did not win the day. We plowed forward and just kept on building. We voted "yes" on the RFC. I remember Charlie Berg at the dedication of that facility, saying that when he first heard about it, "I wondered what (the proponents) were smoking."
I could almost faint, when comparing the alleged largesse in such projects with how this community was stubborn on school referendums in the 1960s. Holy cow, it was like pulling teeth. People my age all still well remember. We remember the famous proposal that included the pool - it got voted down. Eventually a bare bones version got to the finish line. Were too many corners cut? Is that why we're having all the problems with the high school building now? There is such a thing as "durability." It does cost a little more. I have a push lawn mower today that is built so much better than my previous mower which was a Lawnboy, supposedly name-brand. But that Lawnboy had parts start to fall off almost from the start. My new mower (actually three years old now) from Eul's Hardware is so solid. Thanks Rob.
This flyer promoting the referendum practically makes me ill. Are we really sending our kids to this place? Is their basic health even safe? We read that "years of use have rendered many building spaces unsafe and unusable for our students." What if we vote "no?" Is it time to consider just cutting off or closing a portion of our sprawling school campus? But we sure have a state of the art football stadium. School parents of the 1950s would faint if they saw Big Cat Stadium. Of course a football stadium is dangerous for the health of the kids who play football, but I digress.
Looking at this flyer, I'm inclined to view the high school almost in the same light as the old, now-razed school in its final years. Have we fallen that far over such a relatively short timespan? The high school was built when I was junior high age. I used the place when it still seemed fresh and new.
Fred Switzer seemed like the kind of superintendent who would want to spend as little as possible most of the time. Was he a good enough steward for our facilities?
I was rather shocked when we abandoned the 1968 gym for nearly all serious varsity purposes. That gym was built as the long-term solution for varsity. It seemed like a dream when it was first opened for basketball. I'm old enough to have attended basketball games at the previous school building.
I once heard that the superintendent chose the cheapest possible bleacher seats for the 1968 gym. That probably doesn't surprise you if your butts ever got sore there. Switzer was old enough to focus on certain financial issues that today would seem petty to us. There was probably a lingering influence of the Great Depression. I was at a school board meeting when Switzer told a story about how he accosted a young man in the gym who was shooting baskets for Community Education open gym. Switzer seemed to be bragging to the board about his concern about the lights being on in the gym for just one person. As I recall the story, the superintendent told that young man to himself find the light switches and turn off some of the lights. In general, I suspect there was a lot of hand-to-hand between school superintendents and Community Ed. people in the early days of the latter. Superintendents felt their authority had to be unchallenged in school facilities, I suspect. Today I think it's all ironed out.
I recently wrote a post about how school teachers unions were once such a horrible, toothache-like pain in communities. Today, that seems to be ironed out too, for the most part. Teachers needed to be made to feel a little more humility. My God, how they used to be in-your-face.
Why are we now being asked to spend for updates and repairs that appear absolutely essential? This after various building projects through the years, much of which seemed less than essential. The concert hall is "nice." Is it essential in such opulent form? Was it essential to have a new varsity gym constructed and to leave the 1968 gym in a state of irrelevance? I probably have to remind you that we even have the 1991 gym. Common sense easily suggests that all the gym space is unnecessary.
As far as an artistic performance venue, the high school auditorium seems inadequate - I get claustrophobia there - while the concert hall seems too much. We could use something in between. Remember when music concerts at the school were free? As the late Terry Manney said, "the school always needs money."
So we get this new flyer in the mail. Who exactly put it out? The school people? It is slick and with color photos, photos that can induce nausea. Why not a simple but thorough text letter instead? Look at those pictures. Or better yet, don't look at them.
If the "yes" vote is to be assumed, why are we even voting? Cracks, leaks, rust, corrosion, mold, mildew, mineral deposits. We read that "areas of the building have become unusable." The flyer says "our students deserve a clean, safe and functional space to learn." As if anyone would say the kids don't deserve it. So it really is a "vote yes" flyer for all practical purposes. Sigh. Where does it end? Where in heck does it end?
This whole thing just keeps rolling along like it's a racket, n'est-ce pas?
Are we having the referendum because the school has over-spent in other areas? Give any school a long leash and they will spend every penny they can get, and later say it was all "essential." I'm 62 years old and have been around these matters for a long time.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com