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Growing up in New Richmond helps, hurts new editor

In some ways, growing up in New Richmond has given me a head start on my new job as editor at the New Richmond News, but in other ways it keeps me further behind.

I lived here from 1984 to 1996, but don’t ask me too much about who was mayor then, or any seemingly significant event. I only remember that time as a kid remembers things.

I knew which backyards I could cut through during bike rides, and which streets were the smoothest for rollerblading, but I had no idea what topics were on the city council agenda.

One topic that’s very close to me is the St. Croix River Crossing. My family first moved to New Richmond from Cumberland in 1984 (I was just 4 years old) when my father was transferred to a 3M plant in St. Paul. When we moved into our house at 1706 125th St., in New Richmond, we immediately started hearing about how the city was poised to grow as soon as the new Stillwater bridge was built. Each year it seemed the project was right around the corner, and each year it was put off.

In the early 90s, the family moved into a house on East Second Street. We were oblivious to the discussions happening at school board meetings that would eventually have a great impact on us. I went to fifth grade in what is now the New Richmond Community Commons. By the time I got to seventh grade, my brother (fifth grade) and my sister (third grade) were all going to school in separate buildings as East Elementary (now Paperjack Elementary) opened for fourth- and fifth-graders.

It happened again when we moved to Paperjack Drive and I began attending high school while my brother went to middle school and my sister went to East Elementary.

Another thing that makes being a towny difficult is that I still know things by their old names.

The high school is now the middle school. The middle school is now the Community Commons. Hardee’s is now Subway, and Subway is now Verizon Wireless. Stagedoor is now the Old Gem Theatre. Cox Motors is now the Post Office. Holy Family is now Westfields. Doboy is now Bosch. Maple Manor is about to become Grace Place.

What I remember as cornfields and cow pastures is now housing developments, factories, commercial lots, Walmart and two new school campuses.

On the other hand, I find that with just about anyone in town, I hold common acquaintances. When I recognize a last name and ask if they have a relative named so-and-so, it immediately brings a sense of community and understanding.

Many of the business leaders and government officials I have come across in my first days on the job I either remember directly from my childhood, or can connect to from one of my classmates or a family friend.

For example, when I went to last month’s school board meeting, it was interesting to see board member Dr. Neal Melby, my former physician, and Superintendent Jeff Moberg, my former high school math teacher.

It also was fun to take a walk down memory lane at Starr Elementary on the first day of school and set foot in the classrooms where I spent kindergarten through fourth grade.

So, when you see me around town, please take the time to reminisce with me about the 80s and 90s, but also help get me up to date on what life in New Richmond is like now.

Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley worked at RiverTown Multimedia from July 2013 to June 2015 as editor at the New Richmond News. 
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