Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A New Bed and Breakfast's Coming; Work on the Interstate; and a Visiting Bear

Wednesday, April 28, 2010. That median project on Interstate 94, between Sauk Centre and Albany (roughly) got started this week. (More in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog, April 18, 2010) It's like the old joke says. Minnesota has four seasons: fall, winter, spring and road work.

One of the first steps is setting out those barrels. This was a mile or three west of Melrose on I94, eastbound. April 26, 2010.

Aside from observing that we've been having (mostly) clear weather, most of what I know about what's happened in Sauk Centre during the last several days is 'what I read in the papers.'

Like the bear that police escorted out of town. That was April 20, 2010: a week ago yesterday. This week's Sauk Centre Herald said that the bear was spotted around Fairlane Drive: which isn't all that far from where I live.

The bruin crossed Main Street, and kept heading westward, more or less. The next location mentioned in the article was the corner of Center Street and the Beltline Road, where police picked up the bear's trail. The critter kept heading west, toward the Interstate.

Then there's Marc'ette Floral, on South 6th and Main. They got a "conditional use permit" that'll let Marc'ette Floral add a bed and breakfast to their operation. The floral and gift shop is in a big add-on to an old brick house: and my understanding is that the 'house' part hasn't been rebuilt all that much. I'm looking forward to seeing what M.F. does with their expansion.

Then there's the group that's going to hang flowers downtown, in baskets about 10 feet off the pavement. It's 'our tax dollars at work' for at least some of the materials - but it sounds like the labor is volunteers.

The price tag is about $1,650: or maybe a fraction of that. I figure that if the expense is spread evenly among Sauk Centre residents, my household's share of the costs will be about $1.65. I think we can handle that.

And like the Herald article said, it'll "spruce up" downtown Sauk Centre. Melrose has had flower pots set out along some of their streets for years. It's not exactly practical: but they look nice.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rain, a Fundraiser, and the Food Shelf

Sunday, April 25, 2010. Quite a few people were at Coborn's around this weekend: as usual. They had two opportunities to help others in this area.

The Sauk Centre Lions Club had a 'filling the pantry' stand up. It's a way for people to help with the 'food shelf' here.

About $6, and you get to help someone. April 23, 2010.

Then there's what the Knights of Columbus council has been calling our annual "Tootsie Roll" fundraiser. We're encouraged to call it a "Campaign for People with Intellectual disabilities," which is a good idea. On the other hand, that's a mouthful: and it'd take a long time to get folks used to the new name. There's no official connection between the Tootsie Roll company and Knights of Columbus, except that they print up special wrappers for the half-ounce Tootsie Rolls we give away.

I was at Coborn's yesterday afternoon, and quite a few people were nice enough to hand back some money for developmental disabilities programs.

Knights of Columbus 'Tootsie Roll' drive. April 23, 2010.

Folks here in Minnesota are known for talking about the weather. A lot. I'm not surprised. Agriculture is a big deal around here: and getting the right weather at the right time is vital.

Never mind "right." We'll settle for "it'll do" weather. It's been raining, not heavily but steadily, this weekend. For which I'm duly grateful.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day, 1970-2010

Today is Earth Day.

I remember the first one, forty years ago.

Those were heady times. In several senses of the word. Being worked up about saving the environment was kinda now and kinda wow. You know: groovy.

I'm still concerned about maintaining clean air, water and soil. I live on Earth, after all: and it's nice to walk outside without my eyes watering.

I indulged in a trip down memory lane yesterday: wandering with nostalgic Pilot shades over my mind's eyes.

Ah, yes: I was there at the beginning, and remember the grand swell of emotion I experienced, seeing that big green theta flying over the campus. A Wikipedia article says the 'ecology flag' came after 1970, and the person who wrote that could be right. Like so many other memories of that groovy period, mine aren't entirely precise. I wasn't part of the drug scene: but that's another topic.

Well, that was then, and this is now. Like I said, I still care about clean air and not drinking industrial waste. But I think I've got a trifle better grip on reality now.

I've been celebrating Earth Day's 40th anniversary by writing about a misunderstood and often-neglected sustainable resource: lint.

No, really. The stuff's more useful than you might think. Here's a list of links to what I've written, and a sort introduction, on another blog:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Interpretive Center, Seven Million Cars, and Tootsie Rolls

Wednesday, April 21, 2010. It was still 'shirtsleeve' weather today: provided you're comfortable with about 60° Fahrenheit. Tomorrow is Earth Day #40, by the way. I've been commemorating the event by discussing lint in one of my blogs. Don't laugh: the stuff can be useful; or dangerous. Depends on what you do with it.

Recycling? Yeah: we do that. A practical patch of color on Lake Wobegon Trail. April 20, 2010.

The Sauk River and a few back yards, from Lake Wobegon Trail. We've got it pretty good here. April 20, 2010.

Apart from a happily-non-fatal head-on collision (early Friday morning), nothing particularly Earth-shaking has happened in Sauk Centre since Sunday. Which is fine by me.

Not yet, anyway. The proposed sale of land that the Interpretive Center is on, down by I-94, was in the Sauk Centre Herald again. I wrote about that back on March 31, 2010. This week's Herald article had some numbers to back up the idea that putting something commercial there would be a good idea for Sauk Centre.

Don't get me wrong: I'll miss that little park and the Interpretive Center. They're part of the Sauk Centre that I've known for years.

Sauk Centre Interpretive Center
Park at the Interpretive Center. Probably summer, 2002.

But there's more to Sauk Centre than memories.

I knew that quite a few vehicles on I-94 drive past Sauk Centre each year. This week's Herald gave some numbers:

Over 7,000,000 vehicles drive by each year. Some of them turn off to see the Interpretive Center, or use the park. It's not too crazy to assume that more would come off the Interstate if there were a commercial facility on those four acres.

That article pointed out that if an additional 0.5% of that 7,000,000-plus traffic came up the ramps, that'd mean almost 40,000 more cars (vans, trucks, whatever) on the south side of Sauk Centre. Once they were off the Interstate, I suspect that the 100,000 or so folks might drive a little farther along "The Original Main Street" - and we've got a pretty nice downtown, these days.

Just a thought.

That still leaves the Interpretive Center (and Little Red Schoolhouse) looking for a new home: and nothing in the budget for a move. The Chamber of Commerce offices are in the same building. I suggested something like passing the hat to raise money, back on March 31, 2010. Here's the address of the Interpretive Center outfit again:

Sinclair Lewis Foundation
PO Box 25
Sauk Centre, MN 56378
As I write then, no pressure.

Oh, boy. Everybody wants money. I'm a member of the Knights of Columbus, and the rest of this Sauk Centre Journal will be about our upcoming fundraiser. Feel free to stop reading.

Still with me? Thanks! The Knights of Columbus is having their yearly "Tootsie Roll" fundraiser. I plan to be helping out at Coborn's this Saturday, after noon. The national Knights of Columbus organization recommends that we call it a "Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities" instead of "Tootsie Roll Drive."

Makes sense, in a way: There's no official connection between Tootsie Roll and the K. of C. - The Sauk Centre Knights have offered Tootsie Roll bars in appreciation for donations of whatever amount. So do quite a few other councils. But some have other ways of expressing their gratitude.

Now, about that "People with Intellectual Disabilities" title. The Knights of Columbus, national, discusses what we do and where that term comes from on their website: "Addressing People with Intellectual Disabilities."

That's it. I'll get off the soapbox now. I plan to be back with another Sauk Centre Journal entry, Sunday night.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Duck, a Drake, a Yard, a Lake

Sunday, April 18, 2010. We've been having wonderful weather lately: clear blue skies, warm(ish) winds, lots of sunshine. That's probably why so much of Minnesota, north of here, had a 'Fire Weather Warning' a few days ago.

The 'other' specialty coffee shop in Sauk Centre. April 14, 2010.

I mention Jitters Java, the specialty coffee shop near downtown, from time to time. There's another place where you can get specialty coffees, too: The Main Street Coffee Company, on Main near the corner of 6th, across the street from Marc'ette Floral. Main Street Coffee Company is quite a combination: They've got specialty coffees (and that "famous bread pudding" you see on the sign) and a few tables. There's an antique store integrated with the coffee shop: and it looks like they rent bikes. That last actually makes sense: They're close to Lake Wobegon Trail.

Sauk Lake. Waves. Another month or so, and most of this view will be obscured by leaves. April 15, 2010.

I haven't run into many daft ducks this year. The fact is, I've never actually run into - or over- a duck. But a few addled avians have had close calls in front of my vehicles.

A duck following a drake. Both apparently oblivious to everything but each other. Lovely, romantic, and a traffic hazard. April 15, 2010.

One of Sauk Centre's more decorative front yards, during spring cleaning. April 15, 2010.

One of my favorite front yards in Sauk Centre is on the north side. I've made a point of driving by, at least a few times a year, to enjoy the view. Last week I found out a little more about the place. Apparently the same person has been living there for about 40 years, adding to and adjusting that remarkable collage bit by bit.

The yard was in the middle of what I'll call 'spring cleaning' when I took a look last week. I was assured that it'll look better when the job's done.

A pair of peacock statues moved in last fall. I plan to be back later, when the place is more presentable.

Main Street, Sauk Centre, looking north from Lake Wobegon Trail. April 18, 2010.

Here's something I read in the St. Cloud Times online edition:

"Safety project to cause I-94 lane closures"
St. Cloud Times (April 17, 2010)

"Motorists will encounter lane closures beginning Monday on Interstate Highway 94 while a 17-mile median guard rail is installed between Sauk Centre and Albany...."
There's a little more: like how much it's expected to cost ($1,800,000) and just where it is (I 94 from Stearns County Road 186 to just west of County Road 157). The important part, for most of us, is that the project should be finished by the end of July<

That's "weather permitting," as the St. Cloud Times put it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Building for Sale, A Business/Community Meeting, and Stuff About the School

Wednesday, April 14, 2010. Vocational Biographies' main office has been down the block from Marc'ette Floral on 6th Street South for longer than I've lived in Sauk Centre. I worked there for about 20 years, and was impressed by the mansion that's hidden under commercial remodeling - which pre-dates Vocational Biographies' ownership of the place. I think the original house could be called 'Victorian' - but I'm no expert.

Anyway, the building's for sale.

More than two decades on 6th Street South. April 13, 2010.

I hope someone - or some organization - buys the place. The original curved glass windows are still in the ground floor 'tower' windows: You get the idea.

Vocational Biographies? They're not going anywhere. Well, actually, they are: the company's moving its operations to a smaller place. Where, I don't know.

I see in the paper that the Sauk Centre School District is looking at about a quarter-million budget cut. Not good news, no matter how you slice it.

Scanning for - something. April 13, 2010.

Meanwhile, it looks like the sidewalk on 9th Street South betweent he school and Ash Street may get widened. That's going to be a job: There's at least one masonry (I think that's the word) wall in the way: and if they establish a sidewalk on the south side of the street, there's a little matter of a power pole. We'll see what happens.

This week's Sauk Centre Herald gave a sort of 'heads-up' on the third business and community meeting tomorrow night. It'll be at 7:00 p.m., in Jitters Java.

Here's a sample of notes from an earlier meeting, on the pillar in Jitters Java. April 7, 2010.

I don't know that I'd want to suggest commissioning a bronze head of Sinclair Lewis right now, with a quarter-million dollar hole in the school budget and what looks like another not-exactly-minor public works project coming up. But it doesn't hurt to think about something like that.

Nice. A like touches like this in a yard. April 8, 2010.

Meanwhile, like the sign on that umbrella says, "April showers bring May flowers." And we've been getting some of those showers this week.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring: Finally!

Sunday, April 11, 2010. It's Divine Mercy Sunday, which is a fairly big deal for my household. It's also been a beautiful day: which made grilling burgers for lunch a great deal easier and more comfortable than it is in winter.

"Springtime, Minnesota style" is starting to look more like the conventional idea of spring: some of the grass has been turning green, and the lilac in our front yard is starting to bud.

Sure, this happens every year: but it's nice to see again. April 8, 2010.

On the other hand, snow is no longer covering that lot on south Birch where a house burned down: and the wreckage is still there, for the most part. Sooner or later it's going to get cleared away: I hope the interested parties figure out who's going to pay the bill for that job soon. I try to see beauty in everything: but this one's a real challenge.

Maybe it'd help, if I looked at this as a sort of modern art sculpture? Unhappily, even as 'found art,' it's an eyesore. April 8, 2010.

I took a walk on Thursday.

I don't do 'New Year resolutions,' but I plan to get out more this year, than I have in a while. Wouldn't take much.

Anyway, on my way back home, I stopped in at the Marian garden by Our Lady of the Angels church.

Yeah: This is more like it. Marian garden by Our Lady of the Angels church. April 8, 2010.

That garden is a great place to stop, sit, and think. Or pray. Or meditate. Or just be calm. It's a rather sheltered spot, between buildings, so the grass actually is greener on the other side of that particular fence.

A bit of green, by the walk. April 8, 2010.

I'm not sure if this is quite a 'sign of spring' - but one of the neighbors has a motorcycle for sale. I'll admit I took a look - but someone else can have the pleasure of being its next owner.

Motorcycle for sale on south Ash: Looks pretty good. April 11, 2010.

One thing I've noticed, after the Ash Street Project and Dutch Elm disease took out quite a few trees in my part of Sauk Centre, is that there's a whole lot more sunshine on the ground. Right now, that's great. Around July and August? Maybe not so much. Oh, well: That's moths away.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Sunset, a Metal Flower, Lemonade, and a Chance to Help a Neighbor

Wednesday, April 7, 2010. That's yesterday's sunset. One of the advantages to losing the trees in our front yard is that we have a much better view of the sky. That, and the comforting knowledge that they won't fall on somebody. Those trick trees were surprises. (June 15, 2008, June 13, 2008 in Through One Dad's Eye)

This sunset covered the sky at one point. April 6, 2010.

I see in the paper that Congressman Colin Peterson says he'll support the Valley Forge Village on the Home School site. I've written about that before. And was pretty intense about it. I wrote an explanation of my views in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog. (April 7, 2010)

I think even I could take adequate care of that flower. April 7, 2010.

Meanwhile, Freeport is building a new water tower. The one with the smiley face will soon be history. I read in this week's Sauk Centre Herald that there's a discussion happening about whether the new tower should have another smiley face.

I hope they keep that tradition. I know it isn't the drearily somber sort of thing that terminally serious citizens think is properly dull and conventional for civic projects. But that cheery smile has been a familiar part of that part of the Interstate for decades.

Plus, it's a big part of the reason why I got off at that exit one time, and took a look around Freeport's downtown. My guess is that I'm not the only one who's done that - for the same reason.

But, it's their town. I hope they keep 'smiley,' though.

Sign of the season to come: lemonade. April 7, 2010.

I had a cup - two, actually - of coffee at Jitters Java this afternoon. Sauk Centre has two specialty coffee shops - the other one is a charming place farther south on Main, Main Street Coffee Company. It's a fine place, too: but I like the 'retro metro' look of Jitters.

The point I was wandering toward was that I saw a collection can near the door of Jitters Java. Chris Norgren (Class of 1975) had a serious accident - and besides medical expenses, he's got modifications that need to be made to his home. The Herald had an article about him last November.

Money isn't everything: but it sure is important when you don't have quite enough to cover necessary expenses. This isn't exactly 'passing the hat' - but it's the same idea. I hope folks pitch in. And I'm pretty sure we will.

Hard to miss: I hope. April 7, 2010.

There was a "secret" benefit for Chris Norgren March 20. Some 'surprise' - the announcement was online. I think the folks were having fun with that: good idea, I'd say. The benefit apparently was March 20, 2010 at the Mora Events Center in Mora, MN.

I'm going into this much detail, because I think Mr. Norgren can use the help. Being paralyzed from the neck down is no fun - and wondering where the money for a house refit, wheelchair, and all the rest will come from doesn't help.

Chris Norgren and his son Pete were working on a deer stand when he fell - there's more detail on that can.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010. Easter Sunday. I hope yours was blessed. Easter - Holy Week generally - is a pretty big deal for many families in Sauk Centre. Including mine. Just about the only places I've been since Wednesday have been church, the back yard grilling burgers, and Coborn's to get groceries.

That stone, with the names of folks who
contributed to the Marian Garden by Our Lady of the Angels church, may be the
'final touch.' April 1, 2010.

Holy Thursday at Our Lady of the Angels church. April 1, 2010.

Aside from Our Lady of the Angels church getting two new 'blessing angels,' I'm pretty much clueless about what's been going on around town. I'll start catching up tomorrow, though.