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Letters to the Editor: January 7, 2012

Thanks to Morris, Cyrus community for support during trying times

One never knows how truly blessed they are until they lose something. In this case, it was not just something but rather someone.

My wife and I recently lost three very dear people in our family. Only a week before Christmas, we were notified that my wife's twin sister, brother- in-law, cousin (raised as her nephew), and her niece were all in a devastating car accident in Evansville, Indiana. Her 36-year-old twin sister, Jenny, as well as her eight-year-old cousin were killed instantly. Her brother-in-law was in critical condition and her 15-year-old niece had broken several vertebrae in her back. Within days we learned that my wife's brother-in-law had also passed.

For my wife and I, as well as our three daughters, these first couple of weeks following the accident were horrific. Not only were we emotionally devastated, but physically and financially hurting as well. Only a few weeks before her sister's car accident, my wife was also injured in an automobile acci- dent.

With all of the odds stacked against us, my wife and I saw little hope in any- thing. It appeared as though the colors had been taken out of our days and all we could see were shades of gray and black. Then, amidst the turmoil, appeared a rainbow, then another, and another. These rainbows and glimmers of hope came in the shape of churches, friends, acquaintances and, sometimes, even strangers.

Although I am relatively new to the Morris area and the Morris Area Elementary School, where I currently work from, that did not stop the many individuals that came forward to sup- port my family. The generosity, kindness and care that has been showered upon my wife, daughters, and myself is more of a blessing than I could ever express.

The staff here at the Morris Area Schools, as well as churches within the area, gave of themselves in a selfless fashion. During the Christmas season, when money is tight and schedules are hectic, these wonderful, caring people gave of themselves financially, physically and emotionally.

Morris, you should be proud of those individuals that live and work within your city. My family and I have been shown more compassion and friendship from this school and the local residents than we have ever seen elsewhere. Thank you to the Morris Area Elementary and High School staff for all that you have done for my family and I.

A huge thank you to the Trinity Lutheran Church of Cyrus, as well. Because of your giving, we were able to make the trip to Michigan for the funerals. Because of your prayers, we have been able to remain strong. And because of your kindness, we have been truly blessed this Christmas. Your gifts embodied everything that Christmas is, selflessness, and generosity.

The words "Thank You" will never be enough. May God bless each of you richly as you have so richly blessed us.

KiloMarie Dunn

Morris, Minn.

Consumer demand impacts the producer

Everyday we hear of the decline of our rural communities. Our schools suffer as the population of our counties continue to shrink. Businesses are clos- ing in many of the small towns. We lose the health services that we once had.

As you travel through the country, notice that the concrete silos that were once used to feed livestock are a roost for pigeons. The barns, if they are still standing, are a storage place for boats and other items. The corn and soybeans that we raise are shipped to China. Our rural electric co-ops shrink in size and service. Worse than that, our most precious commodity, our young families, we ship off to some ghetto in a big city. There are opportunities in agriculture that would help remedy a lot of these things, and we ignore them.

But things have changed, and a lot of those changes were implemented by you, the consumer. Do you realize how different things are for us, the producer? The hog buying stations and stock- yards are closed. The swine processor wants a load of animals so uniform they are close to identical. Ditto, the cattle feeding industry. Almost all animals have an ID from birth. They want to know where the animals come from, what they have been fed, what type, if any, of additives they have had. Here again uniformity is very important. When you drive through your local dying town to shop in a Walmart, remember that Walmart store has to have a product that looks just right, because that is what you demanded.

Well, OK, think about this then: Try and build a livestock facility in the area to meet this criteria. Over the last year we have explored the possibility of creating a swine farrowing facility in two different counties in West Central Minnesota. Both sites met all the requirements and would have worked. But, in both instances, the plans were shut down by one single person in each township. Somehow that just does not seem like the principles this county was founded on. Isn't that strange? Go figure; I am at a loss to understand the logic here.

Harvey Koehl

Morris, Minn