City Mouse needed to look a little closer

NIAGARA, Wis. — This week’s column is a bit of a departure, in that it will not be discussing a senior issue. It stems from a Letter to the Editor that I read in the April 22 issue of this newspaper that was written by a woman from Caledonia, Wis., a village of 23,000 in Racine County. While it is organized as a village, it is more of a suburb of the Milwaukee and Racine metro areas.

My initial thought was to write a Letter to the Editor in response, but I knew the issue was larger than was appropriate for that venue.

The letter brought two very different lifestyles into stark contrast, along with the differing values and preferences that correspond to each. It reminded me of the discussion I have quite frequently with my “St. Paul son.” We refer to it as our City Mouse/Country Mouse comparison, which stems from a favorite children’s book. The story has been around for hundreds of years, with its origins as an Aesop’s fable, and has had many derivations since that time. Basically, the country mouse visits his friend in the city and encounters things he just doesn’t enjoy; he doesn’t like the rich food and lives in fear of the cat that is lurking at every corner. When the city mouse visits his friend in the country, there is a similar disconnect when faced with the rustic simplicity of that lifestyle. The message being that there is more than one way to live and that people, just like the mice in the story, are different and will understandably choose their lifestyle based upon these differences.

The most important lesson is that there is nothing wrong with being different from each other, and we are each free to live our lives in areas that suit us best.

Based upon the contents of her letter, our Caledonia visitor travelled through Iron Mountain during a recent visit and made the following observations.

— There is nothing here anymore.

— So many businesses have closed their doors — lamenting the closure of fast food chain restaurants and national retail chain stores.

— What are these “poor people” doing for work?

— There are no “real places” to shop.

— The hospital is in “bad shape.”

Wow! The letter writer must be possessed with some powerful deduction skills if all of those conclusions could be derived from a simple drive through downtown Iron Mountain.

Had this Caledonian City Mouse looked a little closer, asked a few questions of the people who live here, or taken a drive down a few additional roads in the area, her observations would have provided additional information and helped her to arrive at a more accurate picture of our lovely rural area.

The truth is that our area has plenty to offer both its inhabitants and its visitors; it just isn’t all lined up in the heart of town. The forests, lakes and trout streams we all love are not located curb side, nor do we have to worry about plugging a parking meter in an overcrowded, asphalt-covered parking lot to find them.

And chain restaurants close all over the country all the time due to increased competition from the next new chain to come along. The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive businesses. Consequently, even fine dining establishments in large cities frequently close their doors due to the competition within their industry. We have several fine restaurants that offer a variety of excellent meals — you just have to drive a bit to find them. And they generally have a lovely view of a wooded landscape or a picturesque lake to enhance the dining experience.

National retail chain stores are closing all over the country due primarily to the popularity of online shopping and the emergence of internet-based retail giants like Amazon. This change in shopping habits is a national trend and certainly not a symptom of a decaying Iron Mountain. It is also the reason that the smaller “mom and pop” retail stores have a harder time — if that is what the Caledonia visitor means by “real places” to shop.

It is accurate that our local hospital has had its challenges in recent years, not unlike many small rural hospitals across the country. The reasons for this are complex and stem more from government reimbursement inequities than anything else. But “struggle” does not mean “bad shape” or poor care. The quality of care at our local hospital is better in many cases than it is in larger city hospitals because the staff of medical professionals know their patients and provide personalized attention to every detail of that patient’s condition. Also, staff has worked diligently this past year to greatly stabilize the situation — things continue to improve.

And in answer to the lament over what “the poor people do for work,” Iron Mountain consistently has among the lowest rates of unemployment in the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Industry is not located in the central business district, so a simple “drive through town” will not show the visitor the many job opportunities that exist. The Iron Mountain area is full of intelligent, hard-working, enterprising, resourceful people who make a living and enjoy doing what they do in this rural area.

While the observations, and resulting conclusions, regarding our area were incomplete and inaccurate, the solution proposed by our City Mouse from Caledonia could not have been less helpful. I quote, “I say, pack up and get the heck out of this town…” This is a stunning statement. Since when does any difficult situation get improved by jumping ship or simply turning your back on the problem and leaving?

The mindset that justifies taking your money and spending it elsewhere is part of the problem. It is imperative for the survival of any community to be supported by its population. When there are products and services available in your local community, support them. If you have skills that can help, provide them. If you lack funds, volunteer your time. If you are too busy to volunteer, share your monetary support to the best of your ability.

Solutions to troubling times or challenging situations happen when people from diverse backgrounds come together — each with different ideas — to find common ground. They stay the course and work through challenges together so that life improves for everyone. Nothing is gained from leaving when the going gets tough. When times are toughest is when everyone needs to pull together and contribute even more of their time and talent to finding real solutions.

I am so proud to be living in this area. Though not a “native” of the North Woods, I am very definitely a Country Mouse, having grown up in a small farming community in central Wisconsin. There is a special work ethic that comes from living in a small community, and a greater understanding develops that everyone is better when people work together. In the 40-plus years that I have lived in this area I have lost track of the number of spaghetti feeds and community picnics organized to help out a neighbor in need. No, we do not pack up and leave when the going gets tough; we stay and face challenges together, helping in whatever ways we can.

I am not saying that if you are a City Mouse, you do not have a work ethic or do not understand what it is to problem solve or help others. That is not the issue, and it would be stereotyping. And I have already said that everyone is different with different preferences in where and how they live their own lives.

But, please, before any judgments are made about our area and certainly before any advice is given or solutions proposed to our way of life, spend enough time here to experience it fully. Take a walk in the woods in the fall, picnic beside a lake in the summer, downhill ski in the winter or spend an afternoon with friends on a snowmobile.

Most important, experience the down-to-earth generosity and compassion of our people. Then you will come closer to understanding why we do not just pack up and leave our home … if we don’t have a Starbucks.






Scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Ring toss, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; evening visitor, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.;

Thursday: Reading buddy,11 a.m.; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; Crystal Hogan, 2 p.m.; laundry day, 3:30 p.m.; “Lawrence Welk,” 5 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking, 11 a.m.; bunko, 1:15 p.m.; Golden K bingo, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; spinning records, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Exercise: 11 a.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; Pictionary, 10 a.m.; afternoon matinee with popcorn, 1:30 p.m..; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Crafts, 9 a.m.; resident council, 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book club, 10 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; mystery ride, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; evening group, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social/animal king, 10 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; getting pretty, 1:15 p.m.; men’s club, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; Christ United Church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits 1 p.m.; Mother’s Day party, 2 p.m.; classic movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: “Price is Right”/taste test trivia, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Movie, 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Popcorn Day, every Friday.

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; company’s coming room visits, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who, what, when, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; po-ke-no, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Who am I? 10:15 a.m.; bowling, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 a.m.; Golden Throats music/Mother’s Day party, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; K bingo, 2 p.m.; crazy for cards, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: ABC game, 10:15 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; chips and chatter, 2:30.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Cinco de Mayo trivia/social, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.; Christian fellowship, 5:30 p.m.

Monday: Pictionary, 10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.; Baptist service, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Baking, 10:15 a.m.; resident council, 2 p.m.; bingo, 2:30 p.m.; “Deal or No Deal,” 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Hot dog sale, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; sing along, 10:15 a.m.: Crystal Hogan, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; concert – group therapy, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; help your neighbor, 2 p.m.; whammo, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Ball toss, 10:15 a.m.; short stories, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Ron W., 2 p.m.

Saturday: Crafts, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 2:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: “Wheel of Fortune,” 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m. 

Thursday: Crosswords, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments 3 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Beauty shop open on Tuesday and Thursday.

Sunday: Hallelujah puppet show 10 a.m.; crazy 8’s, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; dyna stretch, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Chair exercise, 10 a.m.; resident council, 2:30 p.m.; room visits, 3 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Uno, 10 a.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.; Connect Four, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits,3 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; music with Larry J., 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; flippo, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; sensory, 10:30 a.m.; beauty shop, 2 p.m.; Phase 10, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Life connections, 9:45 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; song service, 1:30 p.m.; rosary 2:30 p.m.; bowling, 3:30 p.m.; Scrabble, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Employee of the month meeting, 10 a.m.; resident council, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; Scattegories, 3:30 p.m.; Hallelujah hand puppet team, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Social circle, 10:30 a.m.; Jim Clement, 2 p.m.; cribbage, 3:30 p.m.; room visits, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Chair chi, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; “Sorry” board game, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.; bunco, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; coffee social, 10:30 a.m.; mind joggers, 2 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month — except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


Suggested meal donations: $5 over 60; $6 under 60; $1 extra for take-out.

Call Center by 1 p.m. with name and number of people to reserve meals.

Open: Monday through Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., soup and salad bar; 5 p.m., dinner.

Monday: Soup, salad, fried chicken, twice baked potatoes, vegetables, and homemade dessert.

Tuesday: Soup, salad, chicken alfredo, noodles, vegetables, and homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Soup, salad, French dip sandwiches, homemade rolls, oven fried potatoes, and homemade dessert.

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner – all are welcome for dinner and/or class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; Mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free. 

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.  

The kitchen is currently closed due to plumbing issues, and meals are being served at the Breen Center. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Home-delivered meals are available as always. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at the center on Friday only. 

The meal site is temporarily closed Monday through Thursday due to a staffing shortage. 

Tipler Town Hall


Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 and speak to Christine Tramontine at ext. 235 or Stephen at ext. 230.

Menu for the week of May 6 follows:

Monday: Salisbury steak, au gratin potatoes, carrots, fruit and milk.

Tuesday: Tomato soup, egg salad sandwiches, chips, fruit and milk.

Wednesday: Scalloped potatoes, ham, mixed vegetables, roll, fruit and milk.

Thursday: Roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn, dessert and milk.

Saturday, May 11: Dance from 6 to 9 p.m.,$6 admission.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis., area. We welcome any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join us for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50.

Menu for the week of May 6:

Monday: Noon: Burger on a bun, tater tots, green beans, salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

5 p.m. meal: Company chicken dinner, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, soup and salad bar, and dessert.

Tuesday: Mother’s Day dinner: Roast pork loin, mashed potatoes and gravy, squash, soup and salad bar, fruit juice, and dessert.

Wednesday: Spaghetti or polenta with meat sauce, garlic toast, brussel sprouts, salad bar, fruit juice, and dessert.

Thursday: Hot chicken salad over egg noodles, carrots and onions, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

May 6: Bingo and prizes following supper.

If Norway-Vulcan area schools are closed due to bad weather days, so is the senior center. If the schools are on a two-hour delay, the center remains open.  

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available for any senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone check to see that all is well.

Note: File of Life packets available at the center.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome. 


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