The new guy in town

If what happened this week in Crookston actually made it to an episode of A Prairie Home Companion’s “News From Lake Wobegon” segment, it could be good for laughs.

The Crookston Daily Times reports that a new resident, who just moved from New Mexico, stopped into the Crookston City Council this week to tell them how to change the city.

In any community, certainly not just those in Minnesota, it’s a dicey thing for an outsider to drop in and tell the locals what they’re doing wrong.

But why is there a Broadway in downtown Crookston when there are no Broadway shows there, Peter Rimar apparently wondered. He had recently moved from New Mexico and didn’t know much about either Crookston or Minnesota except what he heard on the radio.

“One thing I knew about Minnesota before I came here was Lake Wobegon and Garrison Keillor,” Rimar told the council. Crookston exists in the shadow of Grand Forks and Fargo, he continued, and when people ask themselves why they’d want to come to Crookston, the answer needs to extend beyond recreational activities or a University of Minnesota campus. “So what would be more Minnesotan than to designate your downtown a Lake Wobegon historic district?” Rimar wondered. It would be easy to say nice things about his idea but then not pursue it, he continued, bringing a farming analogy into the discussion. “Farmers have been planting a lot of seeds around here for a long time,” he said. “Maybe it’s time we planted this seed.”

As for the Downtown Square itself, Rimar said that if the city’s goal is to build some structures, than the city should follow the lead of New Mexico, where people like to sell bricks when it’s time to build something. “You buy a brick, you get your name or your business name on it, and pretty soon you have a lot of bricks, and some money, too,” he said. “When I see a town this size that has a daily newspaper and a radio station, that tells me there is a business community that is willing to get behind things and support things.”

From the sound of things, the local leaders were quite courteous as the presentation was delivered.

“It’s definitely a different concept,” one city council member said.

Keillor could hit that softball a mile.

  • A guy here in Hibbing spent the last quarter of his life on a “buy an engraved brick” project. There sure a lot of engraved bricks. Our statewide reputation remains, however, largely the same.