Welcome, peers, to a place I am proud to call my home

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Posted 5/03/16 (Tue)

Whines & Roses
By Cecile Wehrman

Two years ago when I proposed the North Dakota Newspaper Association (NDNA) hold a convention in Crosby, it was a little selfish. 
When some 110 people arrive between Thursday and Saturday to register at the Guardian Inn, I will be smugly happy I get to sleep in my own bed!
I haven’t missed an NDNA convention since 1999, and since then we’ve held conventions in Medora, Bismarck, Minot, Grand Forks and Fargo -- but mostly Bismarck.
Back when I was a harried working mother with three children in the house, I loved the excuse to travel to a big town for business, all expenses paid by my generous boss, including mileage typically spent at the mall before I even requested reimbursement.
I am so well acquainted with the features of Bismarck’s Radisson hotel, it practically feels like a second home to me! Park in the parking garage, wheel my suitcase in, pick up parking validation in a little bowl by the elevators, etc.
The trouble with holding a state convention in the same locale almost every year is simple. While a big town offers other amenities to draw the association’s members, it also tends to splinter the group and encourage skipping convention sessions or staying out socializing so late you miss breakfast.
Driven in earlier years by the desire to rub elbows with fellow journalists in the trenches of North Dakota’s small town news beats, I mixed and met a lot of people. Then, somewhere down the line, many of those people either left the profession or we lost touch in one way or the other. Eventually, I found myself at conventions hanging out with the same few people I already knew, or, less sociably, remaining fairly isolated, with my own outside agenda to follow while taking in only the most important convention sessions.
A convention in Crosby has a much different experience to offer and it’s one I hope my peers appreciate. While the Crosby Area Chamber has provided $5 coupons to help lure people to Main Street, I believe the NDNA staff has lined up such a packed program the only opportunity to shop or explore Crosby may be at the conclusion of the Gubernatorial candidate debate on Saturday afternoon. Here are a few reasons why I think this convention will offer a more rejuvenating and unique experience than a convention in larger towns:
1. All of the visitors will be packed into a single hotel with 69 rooms. Literally every room in the place will be filled by an NDNA member and every moment at the Guardian Inn will provide a chance for networking. 
2. As an ice breaker Thursday night, registrants will be led through a program by a Saskatchewan man in the “Newspaper Olympics.” All I know is I have been instructed to bring certain items, such as a welcome mat, the better for tossing newspapers at. I think conversion of picas to inches in measuring copy may also be in the cards, along with use of manual typewriters! We shall see!
3. Attendees are going to get to experience Crosby’s famous hockey rink burgers for Friday’s lunch, a type of cuisine you just can’t get except from Crosby’s hockey moms.
4. A Friday afternoon session at the Dakota Theatre will show off one of Crosby’s biggest and most long-lived community successes, a non-profit show hall I am proud to say I had a hand in preserving and rejuvenating 16 years ago.
Perhaps the nicest surprise for me in recent weeks is not only that so many peers have signed up to attend, but that so many people in Crosby have remarked with a smile on their face how exciting it is to be able to welcome these guests.
Regardless of how much of the community newspaper folks actually get to see beyond the motel, community center and theater, I am confident they’re going to come away with warm regards for Crosby, and that bodes very well for a future visit someday!