For much of the past two months you could have knocked, but chances are no one was available to answer the door at the New York Mills Dispatch. Due to a staffing shortage as a result of distance learning at the school we have not had regular office hours at the Dispatch.

With students heading back to school this week full-time our office will reopen as regularly scheduled from Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

We thank you for all of your patience over the past two months and are excited about once again having regular office hours. Now you will no longer have to explain to me whether you are calling about the Henning or New York Mills newspaper over the phone and can stop by our office at any time. 

Great American 


Some things get better with time, and I think we can agree this year’s Great American Think-Off question may fit into that category. This year’s question was also selected as the question of the 2020 Great American Think-Off, which was subsequently canceled due to COVID-19. 

This year’s question is “Which is more important: to win or to play by the rules?”

Given the political climate with the state and national elections one can argue that contestants in this year’s Great American Think-Off will have even more ammunition to make their case either for or against this question. 

Everyone is invited to submit their answer in essay form for a chance to win $500 and participate in the live debate on June 12, in New York Mills. 

To enter, submit an essay of 750 words or less by April 1.  Essays can be submitted online at (preferred), by email to, or by mail to Great American Think-Off, c/o Cultural Center, P.O. Box 246, New York Mills, MN 56567.

Excited to be 

back at school

There was a level of excitement in the air on Monday as students across the region headed back to school for the first time since November—in-person at least. While most school districts had some form of distance learning for a majority of their students to close out 2020, most school districts in this area opened its door to a majority of their students on Monday.

Count us in as being excited to see our kids go back to school in-person, even if there are some inherited risks associated with being in a school building with hundreds of other people each day. While we can get behind things like the mask mandate in certain situations, and things like social distancing, some of the recent mandates the Minnesota Department of Health and our governor have requested seem like a vast government overreach. 

For example, requiring high school athletes to wear masks while playing basketball and hockey, but not doing the same for college and professional athletes seems a bit ridiculous. We understand an argument can be made that professional and college athletics have access to greater testing, but maybe our state elected officials should be doing more to get these tests in the hands of high school athletes and school staff officials. It just seems very hypocritical to require high school students to wear masks while competing in athletics, but not people close-to the same age in college.

Masks are also now required for things like phy ed in school, which when said out loud also seems crazy. 

We also wonder if any of the people actually making these decisions have tried to play basketball or hockey while wearing a mask? If not, maybe they should and see what it’s like before requiring our 16 and 17 year olds to do so. We are worried about the prospect of kids overheating and getting sick from wet face masks.

Athletics aside, we also hope our governor will begin letting our small businesses and restaurants open up to the public in the new year. These closures are destroying small towns and rural communities to the point that business owners are finding ways to circumvent the law in order to stay in business.

Under the current emergency powers our governor has the power to essentially have unilateral power for things like masks, closing businesses and how people can operate things like schools. Unfortunately, power is something people spend a lifetime to get and rarely want to give up when they are in charge. 

We hope our legislators can find a way to work together and reign in some of the executive action our state leaders are taking to start the new year. There needs to be a common sense middle ground between the rules in place now and completely opening up our state for things like concerts featuring 10,000 people. 

Otherwise many people in rural Minnesota will continue to ask, what is the end game and when will all of this unilateral power end? Given the actions of the past year, we may never know as the target is changing all the time.