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Minnesota Nice goes around, comes around

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opinion Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Extending the Hubbard County welcome mat to newcomers is a mixed blessing for residents.

That became apparent last week when we were visited by two brief days of summer. Our lakes filled with screaming kids, power boats and anglers. People got cranky.

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But our merchants were visited by the summer influx of tourists. Hospitality businesses were happy.

Sure, some newcomers bring habits and loud jet skis we aren't too keen about.

At times visitors have a tendency to ignore laws, both on and off the waters. Just read today's traffic court and incidents for proof. There's also resistance to polite suggestions that kids should wear life jackets in a boat, or on an inner tube racing across the water's surface. We're just watching out for you. But...

Fireworks are for holidays, not everyday. Please ride on the right side of the trails, not spread out. Please walk on the shoulders, not in the roadways. We'll stop finding fault. We aren't perfect either.

We want people to like it here. We want them to stay or return year after year, to be good lake stewards, good citizens and good neighbors even though their stay might be brief. Noise and activity bring money.

Let's not get our undies in a bunch when the media and bait shops publicize where people are catching the big fish. Visitors then crowd the public launches on those lakes, out for adventure. How dare these outsiders come in here and take all our fish?

Residents panic when we hear increasing threats of aquatic invasive species coming soon to lakes near us, or worse - ours. They confront visitors at public accesses on their lakes.

They cry foul when new residents make home improvements without permits, ignorant of our strict shoreland regulations.

Should each newcomer be given a manual for Hubbard County citizenship? If so, should we all be re-tested annually?

The "we can be here, you can't" argument sometimes sounds like we're trying to keep illegal aliens at the borders. Shame on us.

We want new residents filling our vacant and foreclosed homes, wiping out the vacancy rates of our resorts and motels and maybe, if we're lucky, sharing our tax burdens.

Hospitality can be welcoming and educational.

The Board of Adjustment suggested realtors might want to provide each new homeowner with a copy of the shoreland management rules. Good idea.

Lake associations could pay a welcome call to new waterside residents explaining invasive species, boating rules, the best fishing spots and swimming areas. Bring them a Residents Guide. It's a good place to start.

Resorts can share in educating our guests and we all can share our fish. That angler hauling up a prize walleye could be your new neighbor.

If we're overly pushy about keeping our area pristine, which of course we all want, we run the risk of driving people elsewhere.

But being Minnesota Nice could reap great dividends.

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