We had a bit of a day brightener recently when a note arrived in the mail from my now-retired 4th Grade teacher, Betty Dallman. She is an avid reader of the Advocate Tribune each week and was delighted to read about my recollection of being in her classroom and about exploring the Granite Falls grade school library in search for books about stars and the planets. It was fun to read that she regarded our class quite well, too, saying that she remembered us as being good students and happy to be in school.

Betty lives in Rogers now, near both of her daughters, in a congregate living community and is doing well. She has been retired for 30 years, after teaching here for 34 years. She shared that she stays very active with her friends and her family and added that she has many fond recollections of her many years in Granite Falls. So do her former students.

Several of her former students, and several of Betty’s former faculty colleagues were happy to hear about her note, too.

During the school year, students often spend more waking hours with their teachers than with their own family. And, most of those teachers leave a pretty strong impression on their students.

Former school Superintendent, Chet Flack, used to say that most of us think that being in school is the way it was when we were students. He added that isn’t at all accurate and that school experiences have and always will evolve and continue to change. School is different now than it was last year and the years before. However, one thing that doesn’t change, is the impact that teachers had, and still have, on their students’ young minds and on their lives.

It’s great to stay in touch with those wonderful teachers from our past.

As we all seem to know, child day care is a frequent topic of conversation these days. It was on the minds of city officials across the state again this past week during a conference call with members of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Officials from cities as far-flung as Grand Rapids, Thief River Falls, Austin and Worthington all expressed the urgent need for more day-care providers and options in their communities.

We talked about possible solutions that could be taken up by the Legislature when they are back in session next February, including rules revisions, day care expense components and tax issues. We also talked about the changing demographics around the state, something that plays a big role in the day care needs that every community faces.

Day care was also a topic of discussion the week before, at the League of Minnesota Cities board meeting, when we heard from Growth and Justice President, Dane Smith, and Program Director, Matt Schmidt. Their organization is involved with the Minnesota Rural Equity Project and is working to find solutions to bridge what seems to be a widening rural/metro divide in our state. Day care is one of many issues that affects all corners of the state including the metro area.

This is a huge issue that goes hand-in-hand with employment opportunities, worker shortages in rural areas, and economic development, no matter where you live in Minnesota as well as other states. We will all hear a lot more about this in the coming months and years.

It’s a busy week with YME Homecoming school events happening all week including a home volleyball match, the season’s home cross country meet and the traditional Friday night Homecoming football game followed by a school dance.

Capping off the week is the always interesting and busy Art Meander on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Don’t miss out on the chance to check out the great work by our region’s many talented artists.

Adding to the Meander fun, we are again fortunate to have the Granite Chamber of Commerce sponsor a Meander kick-off event on Friday evening. Known as “Granite Falls Musical Chairs”, the event offers a five-course progressive dinner, one course at each of five establishments in and near Granite Falls, with live music at each location. Call the Chamber office at 320-564-4039 for more info about this fun event.

Another significant event this weekend is the grand finale of the Kiwanis Popcorn Stand season. It will be open for the Meander Kick-off on Friday and again on Saturday but it all draws to close at 9:30 Saturday evening so if you crave one last tub or two of the best popcorn in the world, stop down and make sure that Kiwanis volunteer Les Bergquist’s last two evenings are busy ones.