Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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Park Rapids Century students are embracing the importance of being kind to others this week. Several activities are planned for "Be Kind" week in Park Rapids. Monday, Panther Cub Club members met Park Rapids' high school sports stars for autograph night. Free hot dogs, pop and door prizes were available to students. Today (Wednesday), students are encouraged to wear their "Be Kind" t-shirts and bracelets, which are being sold throughout the week at Century. Thursday, students are wearing red to honor and remember everyone affected by heart disease.
A youth alcohol prevention group is moving forward with a new name and training in the works despite the resignation of its coordinator. Hubbard County received a five-year $1 million grant through the Minnesota Department of Human Services to address alcohol consumption by youth. The coalition involved in decision-making and volunteer work with the grant will be named Hubbard in Prevention (HIP). The next step is to develop a log and start a marketing campaign. Last week, Bill Dent, who was hired as the youth alcohol prevention coordinator, announced his resignation.
Park Rapids has shown gains in project valuations for two straight years. City planner Dan Walker recently completed a 2011 year-end report for the Park Rapids Planning Department. "I believe that development patterns will continue to trend upward, ever so slowly," he said in the report. "We are still below what I believe is healthy and sustained growth, but we are finally trending upward." The total number of building permits issued in 2011 was up 32 percent from 2010 and the total valuation of the projects was up by 9 percent from 2010 and 26 percent from 2009.
The Park Rapids area has received seed money to start organizing a local energy interest group. Park Rapids Area Energy Expansion - Sailer Environmental Park Rapids - was awarded $2,500 from Clean Energy Resource Teams. The Park Rapids Area Energy Expansion project's primary aim is to facilitate the formation of a cohesive, local energy interest group, beyond the city itself. "When we received a Green Park Rapids grant a few years ago it was restricted to the city limits," said Brita Sailer, who applied for the grant.
Anglers are gearing up for the 14th annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Contest this weekend. The event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4 on Fish Hook Lake. More than $110,000 in prizes will be given away. "We're in good shape. We measured last weekend and had more than 17 inches," said event organizer Bob Safratowich. Up until a few weeks ago the weather was unseasonably warm, making ice formation difficult.
Big plans are on the horizon for the arts community of Park Rapids. The Park Rapids City Council approved working with Northern Light Opera Company to submit a joint application to the National Endowment for the Arts for a grant.
SnoDaze events kick off Monday at Park Rapids Area High School. A SnoDaze dance is tonight (Saturday) from 8 to 11 p.m. Coronation is at 9 a.m. Monday with a pep fest following. Students can dress up for different themes throughout the week.
Hubbard County officials visited with state legislators Thursday to preview the upcoming session, which starts Tuesday. The legislative forum was hosted by the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission. Sen. Rod Skoe, Sen. John Carlson and Rep. Dave Hancock attended the session. "I expect this to be a quicker session than previous years," Skoe said.