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2011: A year in review

Main Avenue reconstruction was completed in 2011. Above, the Northern Knights show their street rods on the new street in August.(Anna Erickson / Enterprise)1 / 4
Denise Ott, of Deer River, competes in the single buck competition with her father, Gus Carlson assisting at Legends and Logging Days in August. She was the women's single buck world champion in 2010. The annual event moved to the East 40 grounds in 2011, which allowed for expansion. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 4
An F1 tornado sent part of the fairgrounds grandstand flying onto a car May 31 in Park Rapids. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)3 / 4
Amber Harstad of Hudson, Wis., and family took a quick detour to the Headwaters before Itasca State Park closed for the state shutdown in July. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)4 / 4

The past year has been filled with ups and downs and the Enterprise has been there to cover the good and bad, the triumphs and tragedies. The Park Rapids lakes area is showing promise for growth in 2012.

Here's a few of 2011's highlights.

We saw growth despite an economy that continues to struggle.

The Main Avenue reconstruction and revitalization project, which started in 2010, was completed this fall. It's been a tough couple years for downtown business owners but the result is a stunning shopping district in the heart of Park Rapids. We've already seen new businesses pop up downtown and existing businesses have been sprucing up their awnings and storefronts. Armory Square development also started in 2011 with plans to continue expansion in the future.

M State offered classes in Park Rapids this fall for the first time. The opportunity to take courses locally has been a good option for many students. We look forward to more opportunities for the community to partner with M State.

We saw our share of tragedy with a murder-suicide in Park Rapids March 22. The community mourned the death of Dawn Anderson, who was killed by her estranged husband Gregory. Dawn Anderson was well known among daycare providers. She had started her daycare center, Briar Patch Corner, in her home. She later moved it to its present Henrietta Avenue location, where it flourished.

The community has stepped up discussions of domestic violence and the memory of Dawn will live on with the creation of a children's park in downtown Park Rapids on the horizon.

We also mourned the deaths of Karl Dyer, an iconic member of the area tourism industry and former Park Rapids social studies teacher, and Jerry Fuller, a pioneer of tourism and fishing in the Park Rapids area.

An F1 tornado hit Park Rapids May 31 and took down many trees on the west side of Park Rapids along with the grandstand at the fairgrounds.

The state shutdown affected area tourism this summer when Itasca State Park closed for several weeks in July and Highway 34 construction came to a halt.

But we persevered.

We had an excellent summer with traditional events such as Legends and Logging Days becoming bigger and better each year. This year, the area's premiere event moved to the East 40 grounds adding more music and vendors while keeping the traditional flavor with carvers and logging events.

Carter's Red Wagon Farms created a gigantic corn maze this year in the shape of Minnesota with history lessons along the route.

The arts community continues to grow and the area displayed its clean lakes, historic trails and unique artists for a Legacy Destination weekend in September. The event highlighted local outdoors, arts and cultural resources supported by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.

Hubbard County also is home to the state's newest park in Fern Township. The state acquired 268.7 acres of pristine wooded lands and the deep lake northeast of Itasca State Park earlier this year. We look forward to seeing this park grow over the years.

We've seen some great activities at our schools this year. The Be Kind program in Park Rapids is showing students the importance of being kind to others and is creating a positive environment. Nevis School voters approved a levy to support education for students and the district's leadership is looking to the future with technology. Menahga School continues to thrive and completed renovations this fall for additional space.

We look forward to 2012 and know that it will be a great year for expansion and growth for the area.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561