Monday, December 22, 2008

What to call Monroe?

Is Monroe a City or a Town?

Officially, we are a city, but as is the case with so many things, size is in the eye of the beholder. I often refer to our community, Monroe, WI, as a city, but then a couple of days later, I will call it a town. It really is both, depending on your point of view.

I grew up in the country, first on a dairy farm and then in a home that could not see a single neighbor. The nearby towns that I call my hometowns are each home to about 2000 people. Those to me are small towns. The closest city was Madison, WI. Back then, the population was about 200,000 people, so Madison was the "Big City" to me.

My husband was born in Philadelphia, PA and lived in Caracas, Venezuela before his family moved to Madison during his elementary school years. From his point of view, Madison barely qualified as a city, and the communities I grew up around were blips on the map, the country.

When Luis looks at Monroe, he sees a Norman Rockwell small town. I look at it and I see an urban area, a small city. We are both right.

Why is it a city? Monroe is home to about 10,000 people. It is the largest community in Green County; you'll need to drive thirty to sixty minutes in any direction to encounter a larger city. We have everything you'll need to live your life locally:

  • Stores: grocery, clothing, hardware/home repair, pet or large animal feed, home decor, pharmacy, shoes, jewelry, ethnic food, medical equipment, big box stores and many independently owned specialty stores.
  • Medical care: Monroe Clinic and Hospital, dentist, chiropractors, orthodontists, podiatrist, dermatologists, optometrists, orthopedic care and more.
  • Cultural events and the Arts: Monroe Theater Guild, Monroe Arts Center, Shakespeare on the Edge and Primitive Soul Art Studio, Monroe Band Concerts, Concerts on the Square, multiple dance studios and options for music lessons.
  • Sports: Hockey, figure skating, archery, curling, softball, volleyball, high school sports, cross country skiing,
  • Restaurants: Cafes, coffee houses, diners, bar and grills, ethnic or American food. Whatever your dining choice is, it is here.
  • Professional Services: Lawyers, accountants, financial planners, real estate services, banks, web design, computer repair, graphic design, architects, insurance agents, printers, travel agents. Construction/trade services, automotive repair, machine shops, beauty services, cleaning services, moving companies, delivery services too.
  • Houses of Worship: Monroe itself is home to over 20 different congregations of different religions.
  • Recreation: Parks abound in the city, and state parks are nearby. Monroe has a large swimming pool open in the summer months and both an indoor and outdoor ice skating arenas. The Cheese County Trail and Badger State Trail are both in town too. There is a movie theater in town and a drive in theater just a mile south.
  • Eduction: Monroe has an excellent public school system, a charter school option and a virtual school. There is also a vibrant homeschooling community in the area. Black Hawk Technical College has a campus here as well.
  • Government Services: services at every level of government (federal, state, county, and city) are in Monroe. Post office, USDA, County Clerk, state and county health services, UW extension, City Hall, and the list goes on.

What makes Monroe a small town? For a community of 10,000, it has such a small town feel still. Why?

  • Is it the way that cars will stop for you while you cross a road or the fact that you can buy an hour of parking on the Square for a nickel? When we first moved here, you could buy 12 minutes of parking for a penny. The penny meters are now gone, but only because the city could not obtain parts for them anymore.
  • Maybe it is the way that people greet each other by name when bumping in to each other. When we first moved here, we marveled over the way people walked into a restaurant and greeted half of the other patrons like old friends. Now we understand.
  • You are likely to see the same people at your children's Little League games, the Art Center gallery opening and Fiesta Cancun restaurant. You can have an impromptu business meeting when you bump into someone at the Corner Cafe or soccer field.
  • The librarians, store owners and postal clerks take the time to know your name, chat with your children and ask about your job. You might stop in at the library to check out a book and walk out with a recipe for something you have always wanted to try. (Ask Maggie at the circulation desk for her noodle recipe!)
  • Neighbors talk, help each other shovel out after snowstorms, treat each other to baked goods and borrow/lend the proverbial cup of sugar.
  • Kids walk to school, play outside and use the parks.

Big or small? Whichever you call it, Monroe makes a great place to live. Come on and visit for a weekend, a week or a lifetime.

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