MARILYN HAGERTY: Newcomers surface in September; welcome mat is out in Grand ForksDear New People, I don’t know who you are, but I know you are out there. Every September when things get humming at UND and in the city schools, we have a batch of newcomers.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
Dear New People,
I don’t know who you are, but I know you are out there. Every September when things get humming at UND and in the city schools, we have a batch of newcomers.
So, I’d like to join in the chorus welcoming you to Grand Forks. I hope you like it here in this small city of 53,000 people plus East Grand Forks and Grand Forks Air Force Base. And most of these people have strong opinions.
Just wait. You’ll read about the issues in this newspaper and on the television and radio stations. Right now, the big deal has to do with letting go of the UND Fighting Sioux nickname. The NCAA that runs major college athletics has found it unacceptable and we haven’t been able to get a vote out of all the American Indian reservations.
This has been going on forever. Kylie Oversen is president of the UND students this year, and she hopes to move on. The issue has been hanging for years like a cloud over students.
We also have the library issue. It won’t go away. This is a city rooted in education that should have a first-class library. The present facility is in need of updating and physical repair. The needs for street repairs and water works are always with us. But then, you probably knew that before you came here.
It’s good to be in Grand Forks in autumn. We have Sioux football games in the Alerus, and the annual Potato Bowl Parade is coming up Sept. 24. Don’t miss it, because it is the biggest and best parade we have all year.
I didn’t know what hockey was when I came here 54 years ago. It didn’t take long to realize this is a hotbed of hockey. The kids were playing hockey on rinks in their backyards, on the streets and in schools. UND hockey games at the magnificent Ralph Engelstad Arena are a happening. The games attract a capacity of more than 11,000 who go sort of wacky watching the play. Or watching others watch the play.
It isn’t all hockey. Sioux football fans gather around the Alerus Center for tailgating before games. People have gone ga-ga around here over Sioux volleyball games at The Betty. That’s what we call Betty Engelstad Arena. And more and more are getting into watching women’s hockey in The Ralph. Ralph was Betty’s husband. He passed on after making that gigantic $100 million gift to the school.
Lots of fans are getting into women’s hockey, too. I like it because it’s open seating and you can choose the angle from which you like to watch. The Lamoureux twins on the team grew up here in Grand Forks. They came from a hockey playing family that learned to skate before they walked.
There’s far more than hockey in Grand Forks in the long, cold winter. The Chester Fritz Auditorium has a schedule beginning with AudioBody on Sept. 11 and Bill Cosby in October with “South Pacific” on Nov. 1.
We have the Grand Forks Symphony and a fair amount of theater, including the UND Burtness productions and Fire Hall downtown. There’s always something going on in the Empire Arts Center.
There’s still time in September to take in the Farmers Market on Saturday morning in Town Square. What I like to do is grab a scone and some coffee at Dakota Harvest Bakers and then meander down Third Street to the market.
Grand Forks is a place where you can get acquainted, and you can get anywhere you want to go in less than 15 minutes. In Grand Forks, you can make a difference. It’s small enough so you can speak your piece. Or you can sit back and be anonymous.
City parks are beautiful this time of year. Don’t miss the plantings in University Park. There’s a Greenway that runs around the city — so you can bike or hike or run to your heart’s content. The system of dikes that was built up after our monumental Flood of 1997 has been keeping us safe and sound for 14 years. If you want to see how high the flood waters were, you can check out the monument near the Sorlie Bridge downtown.
For a real view of the city, go to the sixth floor of the County Office Building. It’s spectacular.
Over on Reeves Drive you will see some of the interesting architecture of the city’s oldest homes. And there’s a statue of Alexander Griggs, the father of Grand Forks, in front of the courthouse. When you look up at the top of the court house, you see Themis, the goddess of justice, faithfully holding the scales.
There’s a picturesque English Coulee that runs through the city, but I think Mayor Mike Brown should do something to keep it flowing. It gets a little stagnant. But then, Mayor Brown is often busy delivering babies at Altru Hospital. Robert Kelley is president of UND. He and first lady Marcia get out and hike from the Wellness Center with students. The dean of the med school is Joshua Wynne, and he keeps the future doctors in shape by inviting them to join in on runs around campus.
This city is full of interesting people. Penny Pape was the instigator of the unique children’s park in East Grand Forks that is now being rebuilt after a fire. Jackie McElroy was honored Wednesday as a Mayor’s Choice Artist.
Here’s hoping you like it here in Grand Forks!
Your friend, Marilyn.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 772-1055.