Anna Erickson is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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"This isn't fair" was the overwhelming theme of remarks from business owners Wednesday night at a storm water utility informational meeting. The Park Rapids City Council enacted a storm water utility fee in May, with billing starting in July. Customers first noticed higher bills in October because of quarterly billing. Close to 50 concerned property owners, the majority representing businesses, attended the Oct. 12 council meeting to express their concerns over high bills. Business owners said they were being hardest hit with the storm water fee, which many called another form of tax.
Families gathered this week to pack boxes of support for soldiers. The Northwoods Chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc., come together to support each other along with families who have loved ones in the military. The holiday packages include snacks, socks, spoons and forks, hats and toiletries. They were packed by mothers, fathers and friends. Connie Carmichael, president of the Northwoods Chapter of Blue Star Mothers, said she was impressed by the donations the group received from the community. The group launched an effort this fall to expand its list of soldiers.
Hubbard County residents are encouraged to participate in the Great American Smokeout Thursday, Nov. 18. The American Cancer Society is marking the 35th annual event by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. Advocates in Hubbard County are promoting the day through a Facebook page that can be found by searching "Hubbard County Great American Smoke Out." Diane Brophy, public health nurse with St. Joseph's Community Health, said this is the first year public health has grasped onto the Nov.
Main Avenue is now open to traffic as phase one of the reconstruction project comes to an end. A short parade with the Park Rapids City Council and downtown business owners marked the opening of the street, which had been closed since Aug. 2. Crews had been working on cleanup and final touches this week to have the road opened by Friday. One part of the project remains unresolved, however.
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 the area. A community broadband forum was held in Park Rapids last week for those who wanted to offer input on the issue and have questions answered. In Hubbard County, 997 households are without access to broadband, according to U.S. Census data.
The Park Rapids City Council is discussing whether to continue making capital improvements on an intense schedule or hold off due to the economy. On Tuesday, councilman Pat Mikesh questioned moving ahead on a 2011 Capital Improvement Plan project to replace old sewer lines in the Riverside area of Park Rapids. The project would replace infrastructure on Washington Avenue, Riverside Avenue, Forest Avenue, Beach Road, Third Street and Fifth Street west of the Fish Hook River.
n Editor's note: This is the last installment of a three part series about the Park Rapids School District levy referendum that will be on the Nov. 2 ballot. This installment looks at how the school will continue to utilize levy dollars if the referendum is continued. 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. The passing of the levy took several years to come together "We were in a crisis" in 2006, said Superintendent Glenn Chiodo.
Redevelopment of Armory Square will break ground by June 2011 thanks to a $300,000 grant. Financing was secured through the support of Congressman Jim Oberstar, and Arlen Kangas, president of Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation. Oberstar and Kangas visited Park Rapids Monday to make the announcement. "The armory is a particularly costly and difficult site to redevelop," said local developer Alan J. Zemek, managing partner for Echopoint Design & Development, LLC.
Editor's note: This is the second in a three part series about the Park Rapids School District levy referendum that will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.