2019: An exciting year ends, but looks to the future of opportunities ... and an editor’s farewell

By: 
Jordan Gerard

If Spring Grove were on a roller coaster named “2019,” it would be perhaps the most exciting ride this town has ever rode. 

As I am scrolling through this year’s stories, I suddenly remember how much good stuff has happened this year.

From polar vortexes to near-blizzards (okay not so good, but we survived and the snowmobilers had a terrific season) and housing celebrations to housing problems, and then the addition of a coffee house and a realty office in town and so much more, I’d say 2019 was a good ride. 

We saw the addition of Spring Grove’s first Habitat for Humanity house going to a deserving family. The home’s anticipated completion date is May 2020, hopefully just in time for Syttende Mai.

Not only is it a home for a local family – Sherry Pitts and her kids – but local architectural designer Miranda Moen and students at Spring Grove High School also helped designed it. What an accomplishment to finally see it come full circle.

Speaking of Syttende Mai, the town saw its second year of Musikk Fest, even though a thunderstorm cancelled a majority of the show. Spring Grove is lucky to have a passionate group of volunteers willing to head up a large music event.

And here we go into 2020 with Tracy Byrd and Kimberly Dunn set to play for a third year. Good job!

Spring Grove was also chosen for a Safe Routes to School grant that will bring new opportunities to make our streets safer for pedestrians and students. 

I think Main Street could use one more crosswalk in the middle of the business district where people’s favorite places to hike across the street is between Ivy Grove Cafe and Sterling Drug. It would probably mean eliminating a parking spot, but would it make our streets safer? Hopefully. 

And this is the last time I’ll be able to type this, but it’s hard to cross Main Street because ... drivers do not stop for pedestrians.

2020 is also bringing in a new landmark for Spring Grove too. A new water tower will be constructed next summer. As for the designs on the tower, if you want the rosmaling on it, have a discussion with your city council members and mayor. 

Speaking of city council, they really took their agenda items by the horns this year. They added a third full-time police officer, Alex Olson.

With the addition of the Habitat for Humanity home and several other lots being bought and built upon, most of Spring Grove is filled up. 

Luckily, the council and EDA conducted a housing study to see what other geographic areas in the city had potential to be developed for new housing.

They also explored different types of housing, like cottage or patio homes, which are similar to townhomes except there is no adjoining wall. 

Finally, the city explored the possibility of bringing more recreation to town, hopefully in the form of multi-use trails. A study was done with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s recreation department where a group of students and their professor determined areas for potential trails. 

The city of Spring Grove has tools in front of them to push Spring Grove into 2020 and beyond. Ready, set, go!

The school district is also ready to take on a new decade where students take ownership of their learning, thanks to a Bush Foundation grant, the amazing teachers and new transformational leader Gina Meinertz, who helps students and staff wherever and whenever she can. 

Students are testing the waters of personalized learning, where they decide on what to work on during the school day and how to learn. They also use different presentations to show what they’ve learned. So far, they’re enjoying the process. 

The board also remodeled the main entrance of the school, which is now the first door on the east side of the building. Not only does the remodel signal the main entrance to new visitors, but also improves school safety.

Finally along the business side of things, Spring Grove saw the evolution and addition of new storefronts. 

First was the remodel of the former Herald building by Edina Realty realtors Pete Peterson, Stephanie Gulbranson and Laurie Peter. A beautiful building given a new purpose.

Second, Spring Grove has an officially authentic coffee house, thanks to Red’s IGA and manager Jayme Longmire. Delicious coffee and pastries await customers any time of day.

And for one night only, Spring Grove got to relive the memories of the Lion’s Den, including memorabilia and beer slides. Yah Sure You Betcha Shoppe owner Robin Bartell is currently remodeling the space. 

Farewell

We’ve arrived at the end of this year in review and it’s the last one I will write for the Herald. It was probably the most difficult one to write because I won’t be writing about the aforementioned stories and whatever kinds of stories 2020 may hold.

I have accepted an editor position at the Caledonia Argus and with Adams Publishing Group. 

It’s hard to leave all the stories I’ve written, the people I’ve gotten to know and the environment I am used to, but when a great opportunity knocks on your door, you answer and let it in.

It’s a little sooner than I expected to say goodbye to the Herald and Bluff Country News Group but it is the opportunity of a lifetime and a great chance for the rest of my career. I’ll still live here; I’ll just be commuting to Caledonia. 

I want to thank all of the people I’ve interviewed over the past three years. You were the voices that gave life to my stories and I am so thankful for a wonderful community that supports local journalism, even if I pushed your buttons more than once. I have learned so much from this one job. 

I know Spring Grove will keep going in the right direction without myself as an editor. We are still the little town that could.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Comments

I believe Spring Grove should be working at fixing the safety of driving out of Kwik Trip where it is so hard to see cars coming. There should not be cars parked so close to the store that we cannot see to drive out of kwik trip. Another bad spot is turning off division street on to Main Street, still the worse is coming out of kwik trip. Easy fix would be just to make the yellow line longer so cars cannot park on that one side.