Eat local on New Year’s Eve

Looking for a romantic dinner for two or a family-sized meal that you don’t have to cook this New Year’s Eve? Eat local. If you read the last two Valley Shoppers, you’d find specials from Crookston restaurants and bars like the Irishman’s Shanty, Crookston Eagles Club, Happy Joe’s, IC Muggs & Best Buy Liquor who will welcome you into their doors on NYE. (Even Hugo’s Family Marketplace has options if you’re looking to stay at home.) Looking to venture east in northwest Minnesota? Check out the Ness Cafe, Erickson Smokehouse, Lakeview Resort, or River Walk Public House. What ever you decide, be happy and be safe this New Year’s Eve.

Make sure the snow doesn’t cover anything important

Obviously, the snow in and around Crookston is a lot deeper today than it was a few short days ago. So let's all be on the lookout and wary of things that all of that new white stuff might be covering up. Like your natural gas meter outside of your house, or your roof vents, or the fire hydrant on the corner of your street, which might be covered by a big drift. There are things we don't want the snow to cover, so take a look and get it cleared.

Let people have fun with their serious/half-joking New Year’s resolutions

Some people kind of get smarmy when it comes to New Year's resolutions. So many people make them, but before the end of January, most resolutions have been broken. So they're dumb, right? A giant waste of time. Well, no, and who are you to judge anyway? If someone who wants to somehow better themselves and makes a resolution to do so, there's no law that says you have to be their biggest cheerleader, but you can certainly support them. And if they break their resolution, big deal. New Year's resolutions are kind of a gag, most definitely, but if someone wants to make one, let them have their fun. And if they're serious, cheer them on.

Give student-athletes freedom coaches enjoy

When the Minnesota Gophers football team takes the field in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day against Auburn, their offensive coordinator they employed last week, Kirk Ciarrocca, won't be there. He left abruptly, you see, to take the same position with fellow Big Ten school Penn State. And with that, you have the latest example of coaches in NCAA athletics being allowed to do things that student-athletes don't. Most players, when they transfer, they have to sit out a full season, even if the reason they transfer is because the coach who recruited them leaves the program for another job in another program. Suddenly, people are defending the way the NCAA does things, citing the recent decision to allow student-athletes to profit off their own likeness. But don't be so quick to pat the NCAA on the back; they made the rule change only because the State of California beat them to the punch. Plus, the rule change is years away from taking effect; watch the NCAA water it down between now and then.

Help stray, feral cats this winter

Whether you like it or not, there are stray and feral cats that roam local neighborhoods even in the cold winter weather and it can get difficult for them to find shelter for survival. There are some ways you can help using items found around your home or garage. Using old tires and some scrap wood, you can make a cat shelter by cutting a hole on one end of the tire with a saw, nailing an equally-sized wood sheet on each side of the tire and filling the tire with wood chips. You can also do the same with an old tote/bin or even Styrofoam cooler that has a cover. Cut a hole in the side and fill with wood chips. These makeshift shelters can get cats out of the bitter cold if even for a short while. It’s then your choice whether you want to provide food/water or bring them to a local animal rescue. Either way, you’re doing a good thing by providing shelter from the storm.