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Commonweal offers a plate of family values for the holidays


Fri, Nov 12th, 2004
Posted in Features

At a time when the country is clamoring for more family values, the Commonweal Theater of Lanesboro is offering a Christmas production with more family values than you can shake a stick at.

A Sanders Family Christmas opened November 6 and will run through December 19. The play, written by Connie Ray and conceived by Alan Bailey is a sequel to the successful Smoke on the Mountain, which featured the musical Sanders family in 1938 at the Mount Pleasant Baptist church.

The sequel takes place at the same location, but the date is Christmas Eve, 1941. The country is still reeling from Pearl Harbor, and the Sanders family faces the departure of their son Dennis the following day when he ships off to boot camp. Though the play is humorous, the idea of America at war is ever present, and seems particularly relevant to audiences in 2004 when the U.S. is at war in Iraq.

I found myself feeling nostalgic at the performance not so much for Christmas past, but for a time when people had more courage, more faith, and were more easily satisfied. To be honest, Im not sure I even remember a time like that, but this play makes me believe in it.

The Sanders family is a humble, yet talented, musical group, invited by Reverend Mervin Oglethorpe to provide music and testify at the Christmas Eve service. What follows is nearly two hours of hilarious dialogue, funny mishaps, and touching moments.

The play will appeal to all ages, even children. The roughest language comes when the Reverend offers prayers for congregation members who are ailing, mentioning one unfortunate member who is all swolled up and another with a blocked colon.

As the head Sanders, Burl, David Hennessey offers an Andy Griffith-inspired performance and plays a mean string bass. Eric Bunge, as Burls talented, ex-con brother Stanley, provides a prodigal son theme and demonstrates his vocal and guitar-playing talents.

Scott Dixon is perfect as the kindly, bumbling Reverend Oglethorpe, and a highlight of the play is when he and mother Vera Sanders, played by Stela Burdt, try to out-quote Scripture to each other. Burdts lovely, crystal clear singing voice is another highlight in the show.

A friend of mine, lets call her Edith, attended the preview performance with me and was really tickled by Jill Underwoods facial expre .....
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Country Schools an important part of local history

Fri, Nov 5th, 2004
Posted in Features

Editors note: Shortly after Edna Thompson was interviewed for this article she passed away following a long illness.

Up until the middle part of the 1900s rural schools were an integral part of the public education system. Hav ..... 
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County says NO to Heartland subsidy

Fri, Nov 5th, 2004
Posted in Features

The Fillmore County Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to recommend that the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) deny a request for a JOBZ land swap for the proposed Heartland tire-burning plant.

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93% voter turnout in Fillmore County

Fri, Nov 5th, 2004
Posted in Features

Nearly 12,000 voters turned out in Fillmore County on Tuesday to cast ballots in the general election. The Fillmore County Auditors office tallied 11,798 ballots from 12,679 registered voters, 93% of eligible voters.

On the nat ..... 
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Some election food for thought

Fri, Nov 5th, 2004
Posted in Features

A year of relentless attack ads and $4 billion later, we finally have a president.

Regardless of whether your man won - whether you voted the way you did because of Iraq, the war on terror, the economy or some moral questions a ..... 
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Chatfield Police Officer charged in burglary ring

Fri, Nov 5th, 2004
Posted in Features

A Chatfield police officer and two Chatfield residents were charged with multiple felony counts of theft and burglary in Fillmore County District Court on Wednesday, November 3.

Ryan Michael Lettner, 26, a police officer with th ..... 
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Fillmore County District Court:Rochester man sent to prison for meth activities

Fri, Nov 5th, 2004
Posted in Features

Douglas Ray Howard, 31, of Rochester, was sentenced to 45 months in prison by Fillmore County District Court Judge Robert Benson on Monday, November 1, after pleading guilty to two felony charges related to the manufacture of methamphetamine.< ..... 
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Preston City Council Report: City renews contract for EDA services with SEMDC

Fri, Nov 5th, 2004
Posted in Features

The Preston City Council agreed at their Monday, November 1 meeting to renew the citys contract for economic development services with the Southeast Minnesota Development Corporation in Rushford for 2005. The previous Economic Development Authority ..... 
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We owe a debt of thanks to all veterans

Fri, Nov 5th, 2004
Posted in Features

  Editors note: The following is part of a speech that Mr. Halloran gave on Memorial Day in Chatfield. Mr. Halloran grew up in Chatfield and now lives in Colorado.

I can tell you personally, that just s ..... 
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