"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)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Road work, construction make Morris hectic

The middle of June is normally when the tranquility of summer is setting in here. Because we aren't a resort or lake community, we don't get the influx for those reasons. Back in my youth, the sound of the summer marching band rehearsing, might be the biggest source of excitement. Outside of that, everything was pretty laid-back.
In 2015 it's like we're all on a caffeine high all day as we absorb what's going on with all the construction. It's mind-boggling. You would think, based on all this, that Morris is becoming a true boom town. Roads and streets are torn up all over the place. New construction is burgeoning. I'm wondering if the whole Morris business district is shifting to north of the highway. Is that possible?
Rumors of all kinds are floating around. Is Applebee's coming here? Let's call it the summer of rumors in Morris, because now I'm hearing that MAHS has a new principal, even though it hasn't been announced in the media. A source tells me we've hired Bill Kehoe. I think of Mr. Kehoe as a young boy. I followed his athletic career at Chokio-Alberta. I watched him play football way up in Stephen MN. Oh, and at the Metrodome too! "That Kehoe boy" played under Neal Hofland.
If Bill is in fact the new principal, he's filling the shoes of someone who leaves with some baggage. I said to one of my library staff friends the other day: "The high school principal should have at least as clean a lifestyle as me." Is that a sound statement?
The previous principal engendered lots of loyalty among school staff. I hope that's not an impediment now: "politics." School personnel are the most political animals I've ever been around.
Getting back to the construction work around our community, its extent is such, we're made to feel a little nervous as we make our daily rounds. A couple days ago I was attempting to cross the highway along Iowa Avenue. There was a sign person there who vigorously motioned for me to cross, but it was a rather rough crossing. IMHO there should have been a "road closed" sign there. Obviously it would be inconvenient, but you have to do what you have to do.
Yesterday I used the western fringe including Pacific Avenue. But then as I arrived on main street, I found myself behind a big cement truck that, as it turned out, stopped by Eul's where a crew was waiting. The truck driver behaved like he owned the place. I had to endure a couple tense moments getting around him.
Here's an advisory I'll share for all: Keep in mind that everyone involved in this work, like the souls holding the signs and flags, have as their highest priority the advancement of the construction work. Their priority is not to help us humble townspeople make our daily rounds.
I suppose we should be thankful that Morris is experiencing such phenomenal growth. We'll be like Willmar within a couple years, I guess. The newspaper can go back to publishing twice a week. For now, the paper can sell endless "congrats" ads having to do with all the new development. Back-patting all over the place.
We hear that UMM has a record number of applicants for fall. What happened to the "higher education bubble" and the impediment of student loan debt? I guess it's all a myth.
Maybe UMM will get as big as St. Cloud State. Maybe we'll be St. Cloud State without the partying. The SCSU president would gnash his teeth reading that - one of his top missions has been to crush that reputation, thus there's no Homecoming at SCSU anymore. When that "poet laureate" spoke at the UMM graduation, she referred to St. Cloud State and then in the next breath alluded to the partying, in a vein of levity of course. SCSU's President Potter would want to cuss.
How are you all faring?
Do any of you have any horror stories to share about trying to get around, in and around Morris, during this plethora of construction work? Send me an email. I find it ironic we're seeing all this new construction for new businesses, because of the meme out there that "bricks and mortar" for business is less necessary due to commerce moving to the world wide web. Can anyone reconcile that for me? Send me an email.
I have a theory that Grandstay will have a very short honeymoon with the public, once we all find out that the needs of Superior are going to come first there, with rooms available to the public only on a secondary basis. I have already heard one discouraging story about this, about a person who wanted to reserve a block of rooms and was told "no."
Heartland Motors? What really is the future of "car dealerships," that quintessential fixture of the U.S. business landscape? Tesla has come along and established a business model wherein the company deals directly with the public and has pushed aside the whole dealer model. Thinking about the dealer model doesn't really bring warm thoughts for you, does it? Also, aren't cars built so well nowadays, you might purchase just one car for the rest of your life? It's not like the old days of our Detroit monopoly and its planned obsolescence (of about four years).
If people can drive such long-lasting cars, do we really need to see that extensive list in agate-sized type of cars available at Heartland every week? What's the matter? Don't people know how to take care of their cars so they'll last longer?
Thrifty White Drug? If Thrifty White moves out to that new frontier north of the highway, how much oxygen will this take out of our old "main street?" Remember the days when main street was so essential, the city could get money from parking meters? Remember the pool hall? BTW I thought Nancy Olson was going to work at Thrifty White.
County Road 5 is now getting lots of wear and tear because of being used as a detour. That had been such a placid and peaceful place to travel or to ride bike.
Our whole world in and around Morris MN is being turned upside down in this summer of 2015. Are we really becoming a new Willmar? Will more stoplights be needed? Is UMM bursting its buttons with growth?
How much of all this "progress" is real, and how much might be illusory? Is all the construction simply due to interest rates being so low for so long? "Free money." Many economists say it's an abnormal and unhealthy situation. I remember the days of going to First Federal Savings and Loan and getting a CD with 13 per cent interest. That was unhealthy and unsustainable too.
Where are we headed? Heaven only knows, but I'll suggest here, today, we're headed for a Wall Street bubble collapse very soon.
I see where "Jurassic World" is already playing at our Morris Theater, that dinosaur of a theater facility. No way would I want to watch that movie there. I'd prefer waiting until the DVD is available at our library. That's what I did with "Jersey Boys." The movie-watching experience is far superior at home. Maybe a new movie theater and new bowling alley could be built out along that new strip of development, eh?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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