Should the small town be saved? (5×8 – 4/12/11)

When is it time to give up, the Civil War 150, pulling Planned Parenthood, Iman’s rape, and misunderstood melodies.


Anytime you fight a flood, the goal is to make it be someone else’s problem downstream. For Fargo-Moorhead, that someone else is Georgetown. The Red River has backed up the Buffalo River and it wants to take Georgetown.

Anytime we get into flood season in Minnesota, we end up in a debate over whether any money at all should be spent preventing the Red River — or any other river — from wiping out what’s in its path. There’s an argument to be made — a good argument — that saving a regional economic center makes sense.

But now that the flood fight has moved to the rural parts of the Red River Valley, the debate takes on a different dimension.

By some accounts, Georgetown — population less than 150 — is a typical dying Minnesota town. I only visited for a few hours last Friday, long enough to notice that it’s an aging town whose best days are probably behind it.

In reporter Tom Robertson’s coverage of the town’s efforts, even a long-time resident acknowledges that maybe it’s time to give up.

“They’d be better off to buy out all the homes and everything right here in Georgetown, and ‘doze it,” Lester Nelson said. “It would make a lovely rest stop. Put a sign on the highway, picnic tables, maybe an outhouse, and a sign on the highway that this was historic Georgetown. From the monetary point of view, it would be the sensible thing to do.”

But the mayor of the town sees things different. She thinks it could be a bedroom community for Moorhead. “I think a lot of people are willing to fight for this community,” she said. “It’s 152 years old. It’s Clay County’s first born. It’s a historic town. Why would you want to see that go under?”

Discussion point: When it is time to give up on a small town?

Related: Fargo Moorhead area flood from the air.

Aerial view of the region’s flooding from FCC Interactive on Vimeo.


Today marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Let’s go to our correspondent in South Carolina…

A new poll says 25 percent of Americans sympathize with the Confederacy. In the South, that number rises to 40 percent.

In Atlanta, the Georgia Historical Society may move a marker noting the burning of Atlanta off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. “It’s not wise,” the head of Atlanta’s NAACP says. “It’s in your face to be on MLK, who is associated with liberation and freedom.”

In Pennsylvania, officials are about to decide whether to build a casino a half mile from the Gettysburg battlefield.


It’s unusual for NPR’s ombudsman to weigh in on decisions from its member stations, but that’s what Alicia Shepard has done, evaluating KPCC’s decision to suspend underwriting announcements for Planned Parenthood while it was at the center of last week’s debate about the federal budget. KPCC is an American Public Media station. A Republican plot, as some bloggers suggested?

KPCC pulled the spots following its policy to suspend sponsorships from any underwriter that suddenly comes up in the news, as Planned Parenthood did last week in the budget negotiations.

NPR has a similar policy. “If a given sponsor is in the news in a controversial way, there is a provision that calls for its schedule to be evaluated to determine whether or not the spots pose the risk of potential misperception on the part of the public,” said NPR’s Rehm.

If nothing else, this incident provides just another reminder for any news executive (or anyone, in reality) to carefully craft emails assuming they could reach the public, as well as the intended audience. That way, there would be less ground for misinterpretations.


More than two weeks ago, Iman al-Obeidi burst into a Tripoli hotel and told assembled journalists there that she had been gang-raped by members of forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi after being stopped at a checkpoint in the capital. An NPR reporter has become the first reporter to talk with her at length, but there’s no way to know whether any of her allegations are true.


Bonus: Last night at JFK in New York, a giant Airbus 380 hit a smaller regional jet. Assuming both planes were where they were told to be, this shouldn’t have happened if ground controllers were in charge.TODAY’S QUESTION

The Minnesota Lynx landed UConn star Maya Moore in the WNBA draft yesterday, creating some excitement for basketball fans. But the Lynx and other WNBA teams have struggled with low attendance. Why aren’t women’s professional sports more popular?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Ivory Coast’s bitter struggle.

Second hour: The art of the craft world.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The Vikings stadium proposal. Guest: Jay Weiner of MinnPost.

Second hour: GOP legislative leaders and Dayton administration tax and finance commissioners discuss the $5 billion budget deficit.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: What Black migration means for politics and culture.

Second hour: Doping in sports.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Sasha Aslanian samples voter reaction to the budget debate at the state Capitol.

  • Love the Misunderstood lyrics video. The lyrics I always got wrong were this…

    “Launch of the Timpani! [or Don’t shed a tear for me] My life won’t end… without you!”

    This is telling, as my background is a music teacher/band director!

  • Jim Shapiro

    My favorite misunderstood lyrics are deeply personal.

    Several decades ago, during a long ago losing conflict, my extremely sensitive little brother would dramatically sing what he thought to be the lyrics to a song by a favorite Minnesota son:

    “The ants are my friends, they’re blowin’ in the wind”…. 🙂

  • Drae

    Everything is a republican plot. KPCC… Air France… Misheard lyrics… Doping in sports…

    All Republican plots! Bwahaha!