This year’s changes will ripple into the future

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Posted 12/27/16 (Tue)

Whines & Roses

By Cecile Wehrman

I enjoy the “chore” each year of surveying all of our front page headlines to compile a list of the top stories. It’s become a Christmas week tradition and whether the story runs in the 52nd issue of the year ending or the first week of the new year, it’s a process I find fascinating.
If newspapers write the first draft of history, a year end compilation must be the second draft. What’s gained between that first telling and the second, hopefully, is context. Many of the stories that began in February or March are concluded by the end of the year, and we have the ability -- within just a few sentences -- to show the entire arc of an issue, from genesis to conclusion.
Other times, a story line is more drawn out -- such as the quest for a school district to gain approval for new construction -- or the ebb and flow of a district’s student enrollment over time.
Often, at the time a story breaks, many threads are still in play and not all of the answers can be given in a single issue. No matter how hard we may try, we can’t present the whole picture in one article.
As the entity charged with paying attention to what goes on week after week, you would think I’d be the first to spot a trend or realize the enormity of a particular set of stories. But until I sat down last week to work on our 2016 review, I had not realized just how historic one story’s thread had become  -- that of a community undergoing perhaps the biggest upheaval in decades -- never mind the major construction project that actually did turn Crosby’s business district to a dirt road for most of the summer.
I think everyone expected the waning of the oil boom to create challenges for businesses, but the reality of what’s occurred is very different. Instead of what some might have predicted -- shuttered windows and “out of business” signs -- all over Crosby you’re seeing shifts that indicate a great deal of optimism about the future.
On one corner, you’ve got two young couples buying into a business nearly everyone in town enters several times a week -- Crosby Self Serve. Another young couple, up the street, started a computer services business, Edge Technology.
In the middle of the next block, you have entrepreneur store owners accepting the challenge of opening a second furniture store in Kenmare. 
Just up the block from Garbel’s, a group of small town pharmacists took over from longtime operators I.J. and Bev Jacobson, to assure residents continue to be able to get their drug prescriptions filled locally.
Travel down the street a few more blocks and two of Crosby’s longest-held family businesses are undergoing ownership transitions -- the grocery store, moving out of the hands of the Ekness family; and the creamery, moving out of the hands of the Power family.
If you go back just a few months farther -- to the middle of 2015 -- a fourth “legacy” business changed hands in Crosby -- Farmers State Bank became The Bank of Tioga. Meanwhile, another Crosby bank, BNC, is just about to open a long-desired new building offering drive up service.
In the same year, Crosby lost Mr. K’s Steakhouse and Lounge and the Golden Hub Motel -- two more longtime “anchor” businesses, as a result of a fire that leveled the former and sounded the death knell for traffic to the latter.
Of course, I covered some portion of every one of these business transitions as they occurred. While I recognized each one as a major story for the community when they happened, I had not stopped to consider until last week just how huge these changes are when added together in a small town like Crosby.
If you count up all of the years in business between the Hanisches, Wisharts, Jacobsons, Powers and Eknesses, you will come up with a number over 300 years of service to the community.
These families not only made a living for their themselves, they made themselves a part of the fabric of the community. It’s sad, in one way, and also a little scary, to see so much longevity cut back to square one. On the other hand, it’s heartening that in every case but one -- and we don’t yet know what the future may hold for a Wishart-run restaurant -- each of these businesses will continue to serve the community for what would appear to be many years to come.