Al Boucher had been mulling over a possible theme for the pottery collection he had volunteered to show at Muddy Waters Clay Center, but it was at the funeral of his uncle, who died from COVID-19 last fall, when the idea to create urns really took hold. His uncle died “too early,” as he was in his 80s, according to Al Boucher.

Journalist Pamela Knudson reports that on the day his “Covid-19 Urns” exhibit opened, Jan. 6, at the Muddy Waters Clay Center, the national coronavirus death toll reached about 360,000. Each of the 60 urns in his collection represented 6,000 people who had died, as of that date, he noted.

“It was kind of a strange coincidence," he said.

This weekend, look for community editor Sydney Mook's tour of the UND student union, which is nearing completion on the Grand Forks campus.

Also this weekend, journalist Ann Bailey reports on how the face of Gilby is changing. A new community center is in the works on Main Avenue. While many small towns in North Dakota are seeing steady population declines, Gilby is being revitalized through the efforts of young families who have returned to the north-central Grand Forks County town after living somewhere else, or who have moved there from other cities. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Gilby has 32 residents age 20 or younger. That’s eight more people than the number of residents 55 and older.

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Look for these stories and more in print and online on Friday and through the weekend.