Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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More than 50 volunteers answered the call to help clean up debris flung around the Wadena County fairgrounds by a tornado that destroyed multiple buildings in June. Mark Haugen, Hubbard County 4-H Program Coordinator, reached out to all county 4-H club members and families to help clean up after 80 mile per hour winds scattered debris. "4-H families are extremely busy in the summer," he said.
Classes will begin this fall at the new M State Park Rapids office this fall. Community members gathered Friday to meet with M State officials and learn more about the collaboration. The Park Rapids office is a collaboration between Minnesota State Community and Technical College and the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission.
Main Avenue construction starts bright and early Monday morning. Jon Olson, Ulteig Engineers project manager, gave a briefing on the project this week. "The next couple weeks will be some of the biggest hurdles," he said. Traffic and erosion control signs will be in place before Monday to help customers find their way downtown. Starting Monday morning, the milling machine will be on Main Avenue. Crews will first be removing the asphalt. A crew also will start saw cutting around awning posts to prepare for sidewalk removal. Curb and sidewalk removal will begin Tuesday, Aug.
A new Tax Increment Financing District for the Armory in downtown Park Rapids received overwhelming support from the community. Local developer Alan Zemek asked the city to consider designating a redevelopment Tax Increment Financing District for the Armory due to the unique challenges associated with the building. A public hearing was held Tuesday. Zemek has been acquiring grants to research the building and determine whether it is feasible to redevelop. "There's still a substantial challenge there," he said previously.
The American Legion Auxiliary Blood Drive is Aug. 16-18. The annual blood drive will be held from Monday through Wednesday this year. Organizers Rose Loeffler and Lynn Spilman said online registration is available. Go to www.unitedblood services.org to pre-register. Those interested in giving blood are encouraged to make sure they watch what they eat before showing up to give blood.
With less than a week away, the Park Rapids All School Reunion is coming together, with several new events for alumni to participate in. Park Rapids All School Reunions have been every five years. The last one, in 2005, was held during Fourth of July weekend. This year's reunion is under new leadership, with Dave "Lefty" Anderson chairing the event.
Century School's cafetorium is being transformed into a theater for a production of "Godspell," which opens this weekend. The Northern Light Opera Company has been in rehearsal for "Godspell," its 9th annual summer production, for several weeks. It is scheduled to open Friday, July 30 and will run through Aug.
A dousing of rain didn't stop people from heading to downtown for a community picnic and groundbreaking for the Main Avenue reconstruction project. "I think everyone had a great time, even with the rain," said Kathy Albrecht, an organizer of the event. After a brief groundbreaking ceremony at about 5 p.m. the rain came.
A proposed crop rotation could help with nitrate issues in the Park Rapids water supply. Luke Stuewe, water quality advisor with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, has been working with area producers to determine new activities that support wellhead protection. Last year the city of Park Rapids was notified well 7 had to be closed due to high nitrate levels in the water. At that time, the city engineer said high nitrate levels in the closed well appeared to be from area farms that used fertilizers. Over the last year Stuewe has been working with producers in the area, including
Park Rapids is developing a Revolving Loan Fund to utilize several pools of economic development funds. The RLF will use funds from past state or federal assistance, including funds from the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Urban Development Action Grant. The total now is about $200,000. Dave Hensel, with the Headwaters Regional Development Commission, has been working with the Park Rapids Economic Development Commission, which is made up of the city council.