On Pirate girls' basketball, empty buildings in Crookston, Johnson Controls, spring fever, and the World Baseball Classic...

Crookston girls, this is your opportunity
Crookston High School hasn't sent a team to a state tournament since Girls' Golf finished third in 2009. Pirate Girls' Basketball has a golden opportunity to end that drought this week as the highest seed remaining in the Section 8AA Tournament. Crookston faces Pequot Lakes in the semifinals Tuesday and the championship game will be Friday against the winner of Wadena-Deer Creek and Pelican Rapids, who beat the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the South, respectively. Crookston has the depth and talent to make it to the big dance and the road to get there is paved for them with their next two games at Bemidji State. We hope the State drought ends and Superintendent Chris Bates has to take the entire team to his traditional State-bound breakfast at RBJ's. Good luck, Pirates!

Fill some empty buildings
If you've ever driven around Crookston, you probably have noticed that there are several empty buildings/store fronts. Some have sat empty for many years or have gone to waste (the Wayne Hotel and the old cathedral come to mind). However, there are some that would still probably be good to use, such as the bowling alley. Why let that decent-sized building just sit there when it can be used for something useful? It could make a good dance hall. Old schools in town have been given different uses, because they were still in good condition. So it can be done.The Target store connected to the Columbia Mall in Grand Forks has been empty for many years, but it was announced a couple of years ago that Scheels would be utilizing it in the not so distant future (why anybody waited so long to do something with that place is confusing). Really, though, empty buildings should not just be a waste of space. -Amanda Wagner, Times intern

Tell Johnson Controls what you value
So what do you “value” in your local schools and, more specifically, in your school buildings? That’s what performance contractor Johnson Controls wants to know, and at various meetings they’re asking students, teachers, school staff, school administration and the public, the latter at a 6 p.m. meeting Monday evening, March 11, for some direction. (The meetings were initially scheduled for March 4-5, but have been postponed a week due to the winter storm.) Johnson Controls had a big, 10 year contract with the district a few years ago as part of an effort to make the schools more energy efficient, etc., and now the firm would like to enter into an agreement again. For $20,000, they’re assessing the buildings, and seeking out this prioritization of what is “valued” is part of that process. If you feel like it, tell Johnson Controls what you value, but maybe ask them if the district would get its money’s worth if it entered into another agreement with them. It’s a lot of money, and a big commitment. The buildings need attention, but has Johnson Controls earned a second go at them?

Spring fever? Read a book to pass the time
It's March. Although visions of spring are becoming dangerously close to reality, a few more weeks of winter are between you and nice weather. With so many people headed to Florida, Arizona and Mexico to cure their winter blues, those left behind in the frozen north are left to deal with the "will it ever end" attitude. If you are not one of the lucky few jetting off to someplace tropical, you can still give your mind a spring break. Hit up your bookshelf or the local library for a great novel. Allow yourself to become completely wrapped up in the setting and characters. Doing so is guaranteed to give at least a few hours of respite from the March doldrums.     

World Baseball Classic fever...catch it?
And they’re off! A bunch of baseball players from Major League Baseball and leagues all over the globe, to square off in another World Baseball Classic. Can they even think of topping the last WBC? That’s a great question, considering that about five people on the whole planet probably remember what even happened during the last WBC, much less where it took place, and when. This must be just an excuse for some people to line their pockets with more cash, because why else play these games? The Minnesota Twins, who have been absolutely woeful the past couple years, certainly don’t need important players on their team to cut their spring training short in order to go off and compete in the WBC and risk injury. Oh, well, there’s no stopping progress! U-S-A! U-S-A!