Anna Erickson is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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Impact 20/20 is making a case for broadband access in northwest Minnesota. The group has formed a task force to examine the state of broadband in the region and establish goals and strategies to address the challenges in developing widespread broadband access in area. In Hubbard County, 997 households are without access to broadband, according to U.S. Census data. The goal is to have affordable access available. "It's a quality of life issue," said Nancy Vyskocil, president of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.
Local businesswoman Kathy Grell has received the Community Builder award from the Northwest Minnesota Women's Fund. Each year, the Northwest Minnesota Women's Fund recognizes women who have demonstrated leadership for improving the quality of their own life or those around them. The Women's Fund seeks to applaud the efforts of the women who have made northwest Minnesota a better place to live, work, raise families and have fun. Park Rapids mayor Nancy Carroll nominated Grell for the award.
Several upset citizens are questioning the fairness of a storm water utility fund established in Park Rapids earlier this year. Park Rapids approved the storm water utility fund in May, joining many other cities around the state. The fund allows the city to collect fees and create a fund that will be used to build storm water sewers and maintain existing ones. Several people attended Tuesday's Park Rapids City Council meeting to ask the city about the new fees. Many of those who attended own commercial property, which is charged at a higher rate than residential.
Menahga School Board candidates fielded questions Tuesday evening at a Park Rapids League of Women Voters forum. Eight candidates filed for three, four-year terms on the Menahga School Board. Since the initial filing Julia Kicker said she is no longer seeking a spot on the board due to other obligations. The remaining seven candidates are Amy Massie, Tadd L. Usher, Al Peterson, Ernest R. Huhta Jr., Mel Lockhart, Joyce Skoog and Jon Kangas. Massie did not attend Tuesday's forum. Huhta said there are some pressing issues on the table as far as education funding.
Concrete work is in full swing and nearing completion on Main Avenue. "Things are going very smoothly," said project manager Jon Olson. "By the end of next week we could be done with the concrete work." As for the project as a whole, concrete sidewalk work is completed for the entire phase one. Also, concrete work north of 3rd Street is completed. The short-range schedule includes completion of decorative sidewalk edging and main line paving wrapping up.
Communication is key when it comes to emergencies. This was identified as the main area to focus on at a recent tabletop exercise conducted by Hubbard County Emergency Manager Brian Halbasch. Several representatives from law enforcement, first responders, fire department and other agencies attended. "No plan is going to survive first contact," Halbasch said. "That's why we want to collaborate.
Concrete work will continue on Main Avenue for the next few weeks. "There's not much new, but we've had terrific weather," said project manager Jon Olson. "That has been in our favor." Decorative concrete work is being completed from Highway 34 to 3rd Street. From 3rd Street to 5th Street crews will continue to work on sidewalks and begin main line concrete paving and decorative concrete. Concrete workers have had some issues with people walking on freshly poured concrete despite barriers. The public is reminded to stay off of the sidewalks if they are blocked off.
The Park Rapids School District is asking voters to "keep a good thing going" and support a continuation of the existing levy referendum on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The existing levy was passed in 2006 and took several years to come together. "We were in a crisis" in 2006, said Superintendent Glenn Chiodo.