Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rural Demographics: is rural Minnesota shrinking?

The Sept.-Oct. 2007 issue of Minnesota Preservationist included an interview with Benjamin Winchester, Data Analysis and Research Coordinator for the Center for Small Towns, U of M-Morris.

Here are some of his comments:
  • "Our research shows that there is a large influx of 35- to 44-year-olds, and they are bringing their children with them. People are realizing as their kids are getting into second and third grade that they do not want to be in an urban area. And we see this reflected in the school populations."
  • "The number one predictor of population growth ... is the presence of or proximity to water ... The number one predictor of population decline between 1990 and 2000 is reliance on agriculture; the second is reliance on manufacturing."
  • "If your town is going to keep growing, it’s going to be through people who don’t look like you. And that tends to be the rule, especially in agricultural areas."
  • "Within any town, there are limited human and financial resources. The physical infrastructure systems – roads, water, and sewer systems – are aging, and replacing them can be costly. The lack of a proactive approach to maintaining this infrastructure is a tremendous hardship today."
  • "The social infrastructure is also aging, yet it is here that people can make a difference ... By providing a welcoming social environment for these newcomers, small towns have a tremendous opportunity to reinvigorate civic life."
Read article.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hospital helps save MSCTC lab program

Excerpted from Fergus Falls Daily Journal, 1-29-08

A popular medical program at Minnesota State Community and Technical College - Fergus Falls will not be a victim of the chopping block.

The Lake Region Hospital Foundation has stepped up to finance budget shortfalls for the program, which was slated to be eliminated in 2009.

The hospital foundation’s contribution will keep the program running for at least two years, said Steve Guttormson, director of public relations for the college.

The Fergus Falls community played a major role in saving the program, Guttormson said.

Following a community meeting at MSCTC on January 4, a task force was formed to identify possible alternatives to closing the program. From that meeting the Lake Region Hospital Foundation became a player in the program’s future.

Read entire article.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Elbow Lake says no to utility improvements

excerpted from Fergus Falls Daily Journal, Jan. 24, 2008

The city of Elbow Lake will not move forward with a proposed underground utility and street improvement project following a public hearing at the city's community center Wednesday evening. The project, slated for Elbow Lake's west side, would have included an estimated $2.1 million in improvements to the city's sanitary sewer, watermain, streets and sidewalks.

For many of the residents in attendance, the project's financial burden was too large to ignore. Though the city would have covered $1.2 million of of the cost, assessed residents would have contributed the rest, with some property owners in the $20,000-$40,000 range.

Read article.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ashby includes residents in decision-making

excerpted from Fergus Falls Daily Journal, 1-2-07

Many communities talk about open communication between residents and city government, but Ashby takes extra steps to see that this takes place. A prime example is the Ashby City Council holding an open forum prior to each council meeting.

“People are invited to discuss their issues with two councilmembers at this meeting,” Ashby Mayor Tom Grover said. “The idea is to provide a better line of communication between the public and the council. This allows people to voice their concerns without having to attend a full council meeting.”

Council meetings are held the first Tuesday of the month. The open forum starts at 6:30 p.m. prior to each council meeting.

Read article.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Surveys to help determine housing needs

excerpted from New York Mills Herald, 12-27-07

The city is taking steps to create more affordable housing opportunities in New York Mills through gap funding, and at the same time look to fill its Country View Addition. The plan is to submit a proposal for funding through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency process.

A survey was inserted in the Herald to determine the need for affordable workforce housing in the city. The surveys have also been distributed to workers through some employers in town.

Read article.

High fuel prices can mean hard times

excerpted from Detroit Lakes Tribune, 12-30-07

Mahube Community Council reports a 10-percent increase in applications for energy assistance. In Becker County, heating oil in now about $3.35-3.75 per gallon, and propane is $2.29/gallon. The cost of natural gas has increased about 10 percent in the last year in Minnesota.

Congress last week approved a $2.6 billion Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program package, however, funding for Minnesota stays near last year's rate of $77 million. That money is expected to run out by February.

Read entire article.

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Alexandria Echo Press

Breckenridge/Wahpeton Daily News

Detroit Lakes Tribune

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Perham Enterprise Bulletin : Perham

Pope County Tribune

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