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Morris in 2012: What happened around here? (Part II)

MORRIS - In part two of our look back at the year that was, researchers demonstrate portable biomass power, Morris elected two new city council members, and the Tiger football team celebrated an undefeated season.


• Researchers with the University of Minnesota, Morris and All Power Labs of California demonstrated a scaled-down version of the campus' biomass facility that could be used to provide electricity in disaster areas called the PowerTainer.

• Despite drought conditions across the Midwest, corn in the Morris area matured ahead of normal and looked tremendous - well past the "knee high by the fourth of July" adage.

• The Regional Fitness Director hired Anita Nelson to serve as Assistant Director for Aquatics. Nelson will be responsible for coaching the high school boys' and girls' swim teams and directing the Tiger Sharks swim club in addition to directing the aquatics program at the RFC.

• The Morris City Council appointed former mayor Carol Wilcox to serve on the council until the set left vacant by council member Twig Webster's resignation could be filled during the general election in November.

• Six hundred and sixty-seven registered riders and supporters stopped at the Morris Armory during the 2012 L.T.D. Motorcycle Memorial Tour.

• Laura Kuhn of Morris was named Miss Morris Area 2012.


• Scientists at the North Central Soil Conservation Research Lab in Morris were part of a team that was awarded a $7 million grant to research ways to make biofuels a more economically viable option for the U.S. military.

• The Morris VFW baseball team went into the District 5 tournament as the top seed, but ended up taking third place in the tournament.

• Jacob Cobb, 18 of Alberta, pled guilty to murder in the second degree while committing assault in the third degree, in the December 2010 murder of his mother, Tamara Lee Mason. In September, Cobb and his brothers Andrew Cobb and Dylan Clemens were sentenced. Jacob was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Clemens was sentenced to nearly eight years in prison after pleading guilty to being an accessory after the fact. Andrew Cobb also pled guilty to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to 22.5 months in prison. As a result of time served, Andrew was released from prison after the sentencing hearing.

• The Morris Eagles baseball team won four straight to earn a spot in the Region 9C playoffs. The team clinched the top seed in the tournament to advance to state.

• The University of Minnesota, Morris was profiled by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the department's "Clean Energy in Our Community" video series.

• The Morris Area School District's former Director of Buildings and Grounds, Dave Stoffer, was charged with receiving stolen property. In November, Stoffer pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property.

• The Stevens County Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for a commercial development on Perkins Lake that will allow the owners of the former Luther Crest Bible Camp property to rent out the existing pavilion and cabins and create space for four overnight recreational vehicle camping sites.

• A Stevens County woman was the first Minnesota West Nile virus fatality in the state.


• The Stevens County FFA Alumni chapter hosted a local farm tour for University of Minnesota, Morris students. Participants visited the West Central Research and Outreach Center, the farm of Craig and Paula Feuchtenberger, and Riverview Dairy.

• Enrollment in the Morris Area School District topped 1,000 students for the first time since 2003. The district also started the year with two new principals: Craig Peterson, the former high school principal and activities director for the Warren-Alvarado-Oslo school district, was named the principal of Morris Area High School and Ken Gagner, a former fifth grade science teacher, started the year at Morris Area Elementary School.

• The Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta Tigers started the year off with a win, setting up an undefeated season.

• Morris' new Shopko Hometown store celebrated its grand opening.


• The Morris Theatre got a facade face lift with salvaged glass block tiles from around the country and an internal update when the theatre transitioned to a digital project system and added a new sound system.

• The Stevens County Drop-In Center, a space for local adults with mental illnesses to connect with each other and socialize, celebrated its fifth anniversary in the community.

• Candidates for the Minnesota legislature met in two local forums to discuss rural Minnesota issues ranging from education funding to local government aid. Candidates for the Minnesota House in District 12A included Jay McNamar (DFL), Scott Dutcher (R) and Dave Holman (Independence Party). Candidates for the Minnesota Senate in District 12 included Torrey Westrom (R) and John Schultz (DFL).

• The Morris Area School Board approved a two-year experimental trap shooting team to be coached by Morris Area FFA advisors Natasha Mortenson and Nick Milbrandt.


• More than 5,600 Stevens County residents cast their ballots on election day, sending Torrey Westrom to the Minnesota Senate and electing Elbow Lake Mayor Jay McNamar to the Minnesota House.

Locally, Ron Staples, Bob Kopitzke, and Donny Wohlers were elected to the Stevens County Board of Commissioners. Bill Storck, Kevin Wohlers, and Brian Solvie were elected to the Morris City Council and all four incumbents - Dick Metzger, James Solvie, Brent Fuhrman and Stan Wulf - were re-elected to the Morris Area School Board.

Almost 56 percent of voters supported a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman, but only 43 percent of voters were in favor of requiring a photo ID to vote.

• The Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta football team saw their season end just one game short of the state tournament after a 28-14 loss to the New London-Spicer Wildcats in the 6AAA championship.

• Senior MaKenzie Smith finished her prep career by placing 31st at the state cross country meet.

• Three winners were crowned in Morris' Grand Parade of Lights: Best Use of Lights went to McGinnis Appliance; Best Overall went to Community Development Bank; and Most Clever went to Accelerated Chiropractic.

• The Morris City Council approved a proposal to have an engineering firm draw up plans and specifications to demolish the old elementary school building. The council also voted to use Tax Increment Financing to help pay for the project, if it moves forward.

• Stevens County Sheriff Randy Willis announced that he would resign at the end of the year to take a position with the Minnesota Sheriff's Association. The Stevens County Board of Commissioners elected to interview candidates to fill the position and, in December, selected Stevens County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Dingman to fill the position.


• Long-time University of Minnesota, Morris choir director Ken Hodgson retired after 34 years at UMM. Theater professor Tap Payne also announced his retirement after 33 years behind the scenes at UMM and in local community theatre.

• The Morris Area was officially recognized as a Yellow Ribbon Community at a ceremony in Willmar. Representatives from the Morris Area Yellow Ribbon Network worked for more than a year to put together an action plan designed to create awareness of the needs of service members and their families and help connect them with resources in the community.

• Morris Area science teacher Kevin Pope was named the 2012 Teacher of the Year, and Liz Lundebrek was named the Support Staff Member of the Year.

• The Morris Area School Board voted to move forward with a consolidation with the Cyrus School District by approving a consolidation plan to send to the Minnesota Commissioner of Education.

• Construction of a new dorm at the University of Minnesota, Morris - the Green Prairie Living and Learning Center - began.

• Dave Dybdal was officially sworn in as the 11th fire chief for the Morris Fire Department after Doug Storck, who served as chief for 11 years, retired.