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6/22 Mi Town: Patty Taylor Dutcher

Summertime ... and the living is just what we'd been hoping and wishing for all during what seemed like the longest spring in Oregon's history.

We awaken to blue skies more often than not, and the long, twilight evenings are very delightful, especially when we can pause at the end of a busy day and relax in the backyard with a cold drink, a good book, and friends and family who are more precious than gold.

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Thanks to the long, cold and wet spring weather and yard and house projects, our garden is not as far along as we'd like. But our local farmers markets, held Wednesdays in Monmouth and Saturdays in Independence, are providing us with so many excellent early fruits and vegetables from local farms from all over the Willamette Valley.

How special it is to be able to pick up the freshest produce even if you don't have space, time or the ability to plant your own garden.

This time of year, the benefits of living in MI Town are outstanding.

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If you are a high school student in MI Town (and Polk County), here's a wonderful opportunity to earn some recognition -- and a little money -- for your knowledge about the United States Constitution.

Polk County Women for Agriculture is sponsoring a Constitution essay contest for students in grades 9-12. Submit a 500-word essay that answers: Which do you think is the most important amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights, and why? An additional 150-word essay addressing "What was the purpose of the Bill of Rights," is also required.

First prize is $300, second prize is $200 and third prize is $100.

All entrants receive a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution. Authors of the top 10 essays from each school will be invited to a historical presentation this October, entitled "Constitution Discussions."

Entries must be postmarked before July 4. Include your name, age, grade in school, home address, phone number and e-mail address. Send entries to: Polk County Women for Agriculture, Arlene Kovash, 11425 Pedee Creek Road, Monmouth, OR 97361. E-mail entries to: akovash@earthlink.net. For more information: 503-362-6225.

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The Smith Fine Arts Series has been bringing quality entertainment to MI Town for 34 years, and next year promises to be even better than ever.

The new season begins this fall, with the world music and jazz group, Oregon, featured on Oct. 8, and concludes June 8, 2012, with western swing, boogie and roots music by Asleep at the Wheel.

To order season tickets and find out more about the complete series, call 503-838-8333 or visit www.wou.edu/sfa.

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Kids, the deadline for 4-H Program registration is Friday, July 8, at 5 p.m. For more information: Polk County Extension Office, 503-623-8395.

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