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Discussion event generates energy ideas for area

Officials from the city of Morris and the city of Saerbeck, Germany, had an official proclamation of an agreement between the two cities to continue to work on energy issues. From left, SaerbeckM Mayor Wilfried Roos, Morris Mayor Sheldon Giese, Guido Wallraven of Saerbeck and Morris's city manager Blaine Hill. The ceremony was on Oct. at the University of Minnesota Morris. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times

A group of community residents and civic leaders said on Oct. 2 they'd like for Stevens County and Morris to reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill and they'd like more solar power in the area. Those were two ideas shared at a gathering at the University of Minnesota Morris that involved officials from Morris' energy sister city of Saerbeck, Germany, and representatives of the Morris Model, an energy group that focuses on issues such as waste management, renewable energy and similar issues.

The evening gathering marked the official start of another partnership between Saerbeck and the city of Morris on energy issues. Saerbeck is a small city but is a leader in Europe in the use and production of renewable energy. The Morris Model is a group focused on community resilience, energy conservation, and clean energy options. Partners include the City of Morris, Stevens County, West Central Research and Outreach Center, The Office of Sustainability and the Center for Small Towns and others.

Troy Goodnough, of the office of sustainability at the University of Minnesota Morris and a member of the Morris Model, said that information from the Oct. 2 event will be used in a workshop retreat later this month for partners in the Morris Model.

Goodnough wanted the Oct. 2 gathering of attendees to consider "what big goals the community can consider." Attendees, including community members, broke into small groups to discuss goals and ideas for energy.

Some big goals shared by small groups included a solar panel project on the old county landfill, a cooperative that installs a wind turbine to provide power to the city of Morris, a net zero energy accomplishment where the city produces as much energy as it consumes and a county-wide compost site.

The input from the Oct. 2 group discussion impressed Saerbeck city officials.

Saerbeck mayor Wilfried Roos said that Morris is making progress. Saerbeck started with its goals 10 years ago and it included community meetings such as the one on Oct. 2, Roos said.

Although Morris can use Saerbeck as an example, the two cities can learn from each other, Roos said.

"I think you will find the way for Morris," Roos said.