The Monona Rag

Dealing the Dish on Monona, Wisconsin

Tag: Cottage Grove

You know you are a cottage grover when…

We found this on the web and thought w’ed share – it’s ‘You know you are a cottge grover when…’ page on Facebook (not my spelling!).

I find it pretty amusing that more than 40% of the items involve disliking Monona. Another 1/3 is not particularly flattering regarding Cottage Grove – but at least they are way cooler than Monona.

NOTE: The poor spelling is not mine – mine is bad, but not this bad.

You know are a cottage groveriif you do/think half or more of these things:

1. You are sick of Mcdonalds, Subway and Pappe Jimmy’s and soon Arby’s

2. Cenex and the water tower are the coolest places to hang out at in town

3. You hate being called a grover by the monona people

4. You think we should have the monona people bused out here because we out number them by ALOT

5. If you think the ghettoest part of cottage grove is the few houses with the chipping paint

6. If you hate when your stuck behind a tractor and they’re going 10 mph and your late for school thast 15 minutes away cuz the monona kids wont come here!

7. You can walk or ride your bike to your friends house becasue they live at the next street over.

8. You used to live in monona but realized that cottage grove is much better.

9. You go to double days on friday and/or saturday nights and know the workers personally.

10. You know the whole town like the back of your hand.

11. Your parents went to MGHS and know some of the teachers there. like mr. wendorff!!!

12. You know C to the G is so much cooler than Monona!

Go see it here.

Those wacky Grovers.

A dream school scenario

Someone wrote us and asked, “What if you could create the school district system from scratch? What would you do?”

An interesting challenge. If I had a magic wand, here’s some quick changes I would do:

1. Expand each of the three Cottage Grove schools so they had more room.

2. Give Monona back K-8, with Maywood K-2 and Winnequah a 3-8

3.  Pick up the high school and move it right between Cottage Grove and Monona.

That’s it. Sure there are lots of things about curriculum and so forth, but this is the basic idea. I think the last one is the toughest. The high school has always been in Monona and so forth, but I think in fairness – and in acknowledgment of the partnership of the two communities – it would be nice to have the high school in a central location for both cities.

With this arrangement, each community gets K-8, and we share a high school midway between the two cities – perhaps off of Cottage Grove Road.

Now, we can’t just pick up the high school and move it, so this won’t happen (unless something really strange occurs). But it’s fun to imagine.

Send us your questions. We might totally ignore them – but then again, maybe not.

Festering anger between Cottage Grove and Monona

This is a rather long post, so bear with us today.

Last week, I ran into a former coworker who I had not seen in several years. She had lived in Cottage Grove for many years, raising two kids who went through the Monona Grove school system. After the kids graduated from high school about 10 years ago or so, she and her husband moved to Madison.

We talked for about 10-15 minutes, catching up on friends, family, etc. Since she is a former Cottage Grover, I mentioned the nice new school that had been built, which led to other subjects – including the referendum a few years ago, the recent attempt to close Maywood, etc.

It was then that my former coworker – a pretty even tempered, fair woman – let out a “F**k Monona.” She continued: “Monona screwed Cottage Grove for years. I have no sympathy.”

On more than one occasion, I’ve witnessed hostility between Monona and Cottage Grove residents, but this one came as a bit of a surprise. There was pure venom in the words.

We spoke a little more on the subject and the root of her feelings came out. She talked about how Monona had always treated Cottage Grove like a poor cousin. How Monona pretty much did whatever it wanted, irregardless of the needs of Cottage Grove. How Monona acted like Cottage Grove should be happy with whatever scraps they got from Monona. There was a real and lasting bitterness in this woman’s voice. Even after being removed from the district for more than decade, the anger was still there – very real and very raw.

I bring up this story to remind everyone that there is a long history between these two communities, and not all of it is good (as my encounter above describes).

This anger still exists today. I’ve seen it many long time residents – and they’ve handed it down to newcomers.  And I see it increasingly in Monona residents as well.

I’ve seen current board members make very inappropriate remarks about one community or the other. I’ve seen people at the board meetings – both in CG and Monona – ripping on the ‘other’ community – casting the ‘Monona vs Cottage Grove’ stone over and over.

I’ve also heard many comments from Cottage Grove residents in the vein of ‘You reap what you sow.’

And to a degree, Monona is reaping what we have sown. The last gasp for Monona was getting the High School built here instead of a location somewhere between Monona and Cottage Grove. Or perhaps it was voting down the first referendum. But now, Cottage Grove is larger and can grow, while Monona will – at best – maintain its population. It’s a losing hand for Monona. Why should a Cottage Grove resident care about Monona’s ability to attract families? Or Monona property tax values? Or how long our kids have to ride a bus out to GD? Why should CG care about Monona when most of the population tried to stop Glacial Drumlin from being built (successfully, the first time, unsuccessfully the second time). Most Cottage Grovers probably don’t care about Monona – and in fact, for some, there’s probably a hint of satisfaction at our woes. Payback, as they say, is a bitch.

Some Monona residents did form an alliance of sorts with regard to getting Glacial Drumlin School built. That angered many Monona citizen not because of the fact we needed a school in CG, but the  high costs – and ultimately, the shifting of Monona kids to Cottage Grove.

All this leads to anger for many Monona residents. Anger not unlike the same kind displayed by my old coworker. Anger that the bigger partner makes the decisions – often times without regard to your concerns. It’s an anger that will be hard to dispel – and things will only get worse if Maywood is closed.

The sad part about this history is that many Monona residents don’t understand it. They have moved here recently, and don’t know and/or care about old grudges. They don’t ‘get’ why some Cottage Grovers don’t care one bit about Monona. It makes them very frustrated – and only fuels this same kind of anger – anger that the bigger partner is bullying your community and denying you what you feel is the best thing for you.

What does all this mean? Not really sure, but here’s some thoughts:

Monona residents need to recognize that they need to make decisions to help Monona. No one else is going to do that for us.

Getting angry and bitter toward CG (like my old coworker) isn’t going to do anything but make us angry and bitter. It helps no one. And displaying that attitude toward CG is only going to reinforce their own biases.

Come up with solutions. Come up with alternatives. When the first referendum for building GD was shot down, many Monona folks simply sat back and clapped about saving ourselves from a $40 million monstrosity. Instead we got $30 million in debt and lost three classes to Cottage Grove. Why? Because we let those willing to bargain away our local schools set up the referendum. Instead of sitting around being proud of ourselves after defeating the first referendum, we should have gotten like-minded Monona residents and politicians together and found out what truly would have been an acceptable compromise to get GD built. Instead we let others define the agenda – allowing for a very flawed referendum, which despite all the big flaws, the board accepted and put on the ballot – hook, line and sinker.  We are now stuck with it – and the flaws continue to cause divisions.

Finally, we need to look at the anger in the community and remember it’s not just Monona vs Cottage Grove – but Monona resident vs Monona resident. We’ve let this happen by not coming up with truly acceptable alternatives. You might criticize the POP group for supporting a bad referendum, but hey, they got it on the ballot. No one else offered an alternative – and the school was desperately needed.

Two things I want to note: the Monona vs Monona internal battles are too big of a thing to dive into here – it deserves its own post.

Second, I want to stress that this isn’t supposed to be a slam on all these supposed old school angry Cottage Grovers looking to settle some decades old grudges. It’s not that at all. We can get everyone into a room and sing Kumbaya and so on, but it’s not realistic to think these kinds of feelings are suddenly going to go away. Instead, this is post is to let Monona residents know that we have a tough situation, and the only thing we can do to make it better is to act. Sitting around waiting for others to do it will only get you less and less.

Is Cottage Grove PTO endorsing Sobol and Pickel? Looks like it.

This past weekend the Cottage Grove PTO did a literature drop to get people out to vote.

Unfortunately, they ‘accidentally’ stapled information for Jennifer Picket and Peter Sobol to the flyers.

They said it was an accident, but they also include a link to a group called – which has endorsed two candidates (guess which ones! – shocker).

You can get details on this over at Jessica Ace’s blog.

District Split Info

The School Board said last week that it would post information regarding the split report published several years ago. People have been wondering when that would be forthcoming, and since we haven’t seen it yet, the Monona Rag has decided to take it upon ourselves to provide the information for the public now.

Attached is the study done by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance with regard to the fiscal impacts of splitting Cottage Grove and Monona.

Please note that lots (and we mean lots) of things have changed, making this report pretty obsolete.

Still, it’s a starting point for those interested in talking split.

Download the file.

Fox in the Hen House

Some folks have said that Monona Grove School Board member Sue Fox has put the screws on Monona with her vote to move 6th graders to Cottage Grove and her apparent support of closing Maywood School – in the Comedy Herald she is quoted as ‘agreeing’ with Craig Gerlach with regard to closing Maywood, saying, ‘The stark reality of the economics is staring (us) in the face.’

Some people have said that Fox, a former teacher, is more indebted to her the teachers and administration than the citizens of Monona.

The district teacher’s calls for less ‘travel’ between the two school’s is a frequent comment about the positives of moving the 6th graders from Winnequah to Glacial Drumlin.

We argue that less travel for 50-75 Monona kids a year is a worthy trade off than 6-10 teachers having to travel between the two schools.

Still, the Maywood vote hasn’t happened, but we are not hopeful that Sue will try and maintain the beloved Monona Elementary School.