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Progress Park Rapids ready to launch indicator report to create better future

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Progress Park Rapids is gearing up to launch a new Web site that will present areas for the community to improve on.

Cliff Tweedale, executive director of Headwaters Regional Development Commission, has been working with the group, which was organized about four years ago.

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"It's really about us saying you know here's some great big opportunities and challenges, and we really need to embrace them if we're going to have the future we want," he said.

Community leaders came together with an idea to work together to create a better community, Tweedale said.

"Our organization has been fortunate enough to help them with this project," he said.

The indicator report is the latest initiative to reframe the debate. It includes the following five areas:

-People and Talent;

-Economics and Prosperity;

-Community Wellness and Safety;

-Livability;

-Social Capital and Community Readiness.

The report identifies how Park Rapids is doing in each of the areas and includes ideas for improvement.

Millisa Smith, development specialist with Headwaters Regional Develop- ment Commission, has been working closely with members of Progress Park Rapids to complete the indicator report.

"This report will look at strategies for the community to move forward," Smith said.

For example, Park Rapids has a four-year on-time graduation rate that is about average. The indicator report identifies ways to improve this rate.

Park Rapids Area Schools Superintendent Glenn Chiodo has been involved with Progress Park Rapids since it began.

He describes the group as working with other entities in the community to help enhance the area.

"We've helped to tackle different tasks, such as the school referendum," he said. "We really just try to take on a support role to help move Park Rapids forward."

Progress Park Rapids has teamed up with the League of Women Voters for a community engagement forum, "Determining Our Future," this Thursday, March 26 at Riverside United Methodist Church.

The forum is part of a statewide State of Democracy project, sponsored by the Minnesota League of Women Voters, to identify the most significant shortcomings in Minnesota's political system and collect public opinion on the best ways to lay the groundwork for reform. Of several topics available, the Park Rapids League of Women Voters chose civic engagement and public interaction. Other partners include the Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC) and Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce for the local event.

At the March 26 forum, HRDC staff will present an overview of Progress Park Rapids, civic engagement and why being involved in your community is important to having a healthy democracy.

A soup and bread supper will be served from 5 to 5:30 p.m. for a free will offering. The presentation will start at 5:45 p.m. and end by 7:40 p.m. Free child care and snacks will be offered at Frank White Education Center from 4:45 to 8 p.m.

For more information on the State of Democracy project, go to www.lwvmn.org.

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