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Talking Points -- 'What Happened Around Here?' will touch on the good and the bad of '09

It's been an eventful year in this area, and much of it has centered on the fits and starts of an ailing economy.

We've heard more than a few experts say that rural areas like ours have been somewhat immune to the economic diseases that have inflicted other areas of the state and country.

But that's hard to comprehend when, in the last year, the Morris area has endured the closing of its Coborn's grocery store, the temporary closure of the DENCO ethanol plant, and layoffs and restructuring at the area's two largest employers, Superior Industries and the University of Minnesota, Morris. Only contract concessions by workers staved off layoffs in Stevens County.

These stories and others will be reviewed briefly when the Sun Tribune publishes its year-in-review, "2009: What Happened Around Here?", in the coming weeks.

Probably the biggest news story of the year was the year-long battle over Stevens County's plans to include construction of a jail in its courthouse and law enforcement center building and renovation project.

Opposition to the plan surfaced in late 2008 and reached a peak early in 2009. Hundreds of people attended at taxpayers group meeting early this year, and opposition to the jail portion of the project swelled until things got fairly heated. A group of residents threatened a recall attempt against Stevens County Commissioner Don Munsterman, and he and other commissioners who supported the jail received protesting letters and phone calls. Citing those issues, commissioners dropped the jail plans, and construction on the rest of the project began this fall.

But a charged governmental arena and a struggling economy weren't the only stories that warrant notice, and "2009: What Happened Around Here?" will touch on those, too. Stay tuned.