Listening to the wonderful music played by Monroe Crossing was a great way to spend last Sunday afternoon. The gray and rather gloomy mid-March weather on Sunday was brightened by their wonderful musicianship and their rapport with the audience. The band travels the upper Midwest region and they also do shows in other areas of the country, as well. This is at least the third time they’ve played here and a number of years ago, Monroe Crossing fiddle player Lisa Fuglie played a few times in Granite at The Grinder as a member of the all-female group, The Hers.

Lisa and her husband, bass player Mark Anderson, along with mandolin player Matt Thompson, founded Monroe Crossing 17 years ago. The band, which is named after the father of blue-grass music, Bill Monroe, has added others along the way and the band’s current lineup has been intact since 2012. They are a fine-tuned music machine and do a great job on stage. Thanks to the Granite Area Arts Council for sponsoring the concert and bringing Monroe Crossing back to our area.

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It was very good to hear the news that Clarkfield resident Neil Linscheid had been selected one of 24 recipients of the 2018 Bush Fellowships. The Bush Foundation in St. Paul received nearly 650 applications for the fellowships this year. The fellowships make available the time and support to further the recipient’s education and Neil plans to do that by returning to the University of Minnesota to pursue a doctorate degree.

Neil served on the Clarkfield City Council for a number of years and worked in our area as an Educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service. Congratulations to Neil and his wife Nikki and their family as they begin this new adventure. The Bush Foundation has deep roots here, being founded by Granite Falls area native Archibald Bush and his wife Edyth.

Archie as he was known here, after high school here, went to business school in the Cities and in 1909, went to work for a small but growing company that made mining technology. The company grew into Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, which we know today as 3M Corporation. Archie became one of the top 3M executives and served on the board of directors for many years. With no children to inherit their $300 million estate, they started the foundation in 1953.

In the years since, the foundation has invested nearly $1 billion in grants to organizations and individuals. Over 2,200 people from Minnesota and North and South Dakota have been awarded Bush Fellowships since the program was started in 1965.

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The closing of the Macy’s Department Store in downtown Minneapolis was a newsworthy item last week. Even a vibrant downtown in a large city like Minneapolis isn’t immune to the changing times and trends. That store, mostly known as the anchor of the Dayton’s Department Store chain had been open on that site since 1902 and was a cornerstone of Twin Cities life, and by extension, a go-to place for many Minnesotans.

For those of us in small towns, going to Minneapolis didn’t happen often, maybe once or twice a year at most and going downtown was even more unusual. My folks made that trek a few times and my mom, certainly a small town girl, was delighted to go into that big Dayton’s store that seemed to have everything and did everything in a big way.

They had special displays and programs, music and more shopping than you could imagine. And there were things that you couldn’t buy back home. The Dayton family led the charge out into the suburbs when they built and anchored the county’s first enclosed shopping center, Southdale, back in the mid-1950s.

They expanded the idea first to Brookdale, then Rosedale and in the 1970s, Ridgedale Shopping Center. They also jumped into the “big-box” discount store trend in the early 1960s, starting their chain of Target stores. That grew so large that the company name changed from Dayton’s to Target. Eventually they sold off their department stores to Marshall Field out of Chicago which then merged into New York-based Macy’s. Good corporate citizenship and the Dayton family’s business become synonymous.

They were a Minnesota icon and the Dayton’s name retained a sort of special status in Minnesota. It was almost a signal of validation for her when my mom got a Dayton’s charge card back in the mid-1960s. My mom was able to join the club that shopped at Dayton's and they trusted her credit. Those days are gone and that iconic store in downtown Minneapolis will be repurposed to offices and small retail, the same kind of shopping experiences that many of our small towns offer.

That may prove to be a good model for the much bigger cities as well. Downtowns, as near and dear as they are to all of us, are always changing and that can be a challenge for everybody. The trick is to find a setting and a niche that clicks with folks. We’ll be watching how that goes in Minneapolis as well as out here in western Minnesota.

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Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the highest flood elevation ever recorded here. There are no formal observances planned for the anniversary of the big flood but there are many stories and memories from those crazy times, back in April of 1997. Next week we’ll plan to visit with you about that event, which set in motion some very big changes here and in other communities along the Minnesota River and also along the Red River. Those 20 years went by quickly. We must have been busy. __________