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Community Pride Project nearly finished with phase one

MORRIS, Minn. -- Morris' main street will sparkle a little brighter this holiday season, but organizers of a Community Pride Project are still working to raise money for year-round downtown improvements.

This week, Chamber Administrative Director Rhoda Smith said the project is "in sight" of the goal for the first phase, new holiday lights and banners, with $20,000 raised in just over a month.

The money raised so far is enough to purchase new holiday lights and brackets. Over the next several weeks, they will be looking to raise an additional $5,000 to purchase accompanying holiday banners to complete phase one, Tourism and Membership Director Carolyn Peterson said.

The project got a shot in the arm on Tuesday when the Morris City Council voted to use $10,000 from the Tourism Fund for the project. With that contribution, the Chamber will be able to order the holiday lights and new brackets.

A local company has agreed to pick up the lights and deliver them to Morris at the end of September or beginning of October.

If they arrive on time, the city should have time to put them up before Morris' Grand Parade of Lights on Thursday, Nov. 21. Peterson said there is a planned "flipping the switch" celebration scheduled for the evening of the parade.

In June, the Morris Area Chamber of Commerce, the city of Morris and a committee of Stevens County residents launched a campaign to raise $50,000 by Aug. 1 to implement a "comprehensive community beautification plan for all seasons" that included new holiday lights and banners and year-round banners for Morris' main street.

Phase two of the project, which they hope to complete in late spring, will be to purchase banners with pictures from across Stevens County along with flowers and benches for Morris' main street.

Both Smith and Peterson were optimistic that the organizers will be able to meet their fundraising goal. Committee members are still working on making personal contact with businesses and individuals in the area.

Peterson said those interested in supporting the project can drop off donations at the Morris Area Chamber of Commerce (215 Atlantic Avenue) or at any of the four local banks in Morris, Bank of the West, Bremer Bank, RiverWood Bank or United Farmers and Merchants State Bank.