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Column: Ready, set, referendum

I feel somewhat like a shrill old woman as I write this, but perhaps that's what I'm slowly becoming.


My Monday deadline morning and afternoon were consumed with conversations with people interested in submitting a letter to the editor regarding the upcoming school levy referendum. Unfortunately, I had to tell each and every person that, in the issue before the vote, we would not be allowing comments on either side of the aisle.

It's difficult for me to do this, because I truly believe the 'letter to the editor' portion of the paper is incredibly important. I'm delighted on weeks when the letter count is high, and I always look forward to reading your thoughts and opinions on the issues.

I also feel it's important that you have the paper as a sounding board for your thoughts - this is your paper, after all.

Sure, we've had a few people write in, both in favor and against the levy, but, compared to past years, this year was pretty light.

In taking these phone calls Monday, I felt a little bit like an old, cranky school teacher (no offense).

I would have loved to see letters flooding my inbox over the course of the past few months, full of conversation and debate among area residents over an issue that affects many. But, I didn't - not until the last minute. The deadline had passed - the gradebooks were closed.

Having said that, I will compliment the temperaments of many whom I had conversations with on Monday - they proved to be very respectful, overall.

A story regarding the levy is also absent from the Nov. 3 print edition of the Focus. On the front page, we have information regarding polling places, but, out of fairness to both sides of the issue, we made the decision to not print information on the levy, as it would not allow time for corrections, if the public felt the story called for it.

I would like to point out that we have been covering the levy issue since the school board passed a resolution to move ahead with it months ago.

We've tackled it from a number of viewpoints, including why the school is asking for it, what it would mean for taxpayers and why recreational properties - cabins - are not included in the tax. We've also covered it in context, comparing the Perham-Dent levy referendum with existing levies in other communities and around the state.

Unfortunately, it has been a little difficult getting people on both sides of the issue to go on the record.

If you happened to miss these stories, give us a call this week and we'll be happy to sell you a paper.

If, at this point, you're just eager to see what happens on Nov. 8, stay tuned to our website,, for up-to-date information regarding the Perham-Dent and New York Mills school levies.

We'll also have full stories covering the results and what it will mean for each community moving forward.

Election nights are my sporting events - I can't wait to see what our communities decide.