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Editorial: As we look back at 2012, we also look forward

The last year brought many changes to the area. Some were good and some were not so good.

A quick overview will show some of the highlights of 2012.

In the last year, we saw many positive strides in Park Rapids, with a downtown celebrating a full summer without construction.

The weekly Second Street Stage events during the summer were a highlight for many. The Thursday night music events downtown were a tremendous success and the weather cooperated throughout the summer. Crowds grew each week as people headed to Second Street for music, food and fun.

Armory Square, located off Second Street, also continued its expansion, with the addition of a Mexican restaurant and the first Northern Light Opera Co. performance.

We look forward to seeing what 2013 will bring for downtown Park Rapids.

In early July, a large storm headed through Hubbard County and Itasca State Park, causing widespread damage throughout the county.

With 80 mph winds, Itasca State Park, LaSalle State Recreation Area, Rosby and the Becida region were the worst hit. Volunteers stepped up, though, and helped with clean up after the storm.

Good news was announced for our tourism industry.

It was announced that in 2013 Park Rapids will host the Governor's Fishing Opener. Planning has already been underway and will pick up this spring.

The city has started to clean up in anticipation of the Governor's Fishing Opener, with downtown's Pioneer Park undergoing landscaping.

The Red Bridge is also slated for replacement in the near future. Several entities have been working together to create a new bridge that will fit into the existing landscape. The Red Bridge could also be saved and placed somewhere in the city so people can continue to take photos at the iconic bridge.

The city is also working on plans to improve water quality in Park Rapids. Several studies have been done and engineers will continue to work on a plan in the coming months.

2012 saw some change in leadership with Park Rapids Superintendent Glenn Chiodo stepping down from his role to retire. Lance Bagstad has taken the reigns and he is continuing to take the school district in the right direction with additional technology in the classrooms.

Park Rapids city administrator Bill Smith also left his role and John McKinney has stepped in to fill the vacancy in the interim.

The Park Rapids City Council will see some changes with Pat Mikesh voted in as the new mayor, replacing Nancy Carroll. Rod Nordberg was also voted onto the council. A vacant seat will be filled early in 2013.

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