Explore Minnesota Tourism and the Department of Natural Resources are looking for more collaboration to get people to state parks and trails. DNR commissioner Mark Holsten called for a meeting Thursday at Itasca State Park to get ideas on how to market the state's parks and trails more effectively. "We are all in our capacity of life, going through a lot of changes, whether you are coming from the county or from a city or whether you're from a private business around here," he said.
U.S. Census Bureau representatives are asking for the city of Park Rapids' help in getting the word out about the 2010 count. Cynthia Madigan, who works out of the Bemidji office, would like to have Park Rapids become a partner with the Census Bureau. "We'll need help recruiting people," she said. The 2010 census is especially important in Minnesota because the count affects political representation. The state could lose a seat in the House of Representatives. The count will begin April 1 and continue through June. Approximately 1,000 field staff will be hired.
Property owners on Main Avenue will pay 100 percent of the assessments on water mains, water service and sanitary sewer improvements to replace aging infrastructure in 2010. The Park Rapids City Council approved recommendations made by a task force concerning special assessments. Homeowners and merchants will foot half the bill for sidewalks and 60 percent of the street costs, the committee recommended.
Park Rapids is planning street improvements in a southwest section of the city. The improvements are part of the city's Capital Improvement Plan to replace sanitary sewer, drainage, water mains and street improvements.
The Park Rapids City Council approved the 2010 general fund budget with an extra $5,000 for economic development. Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission executive director David Collins requested the city give an extra $10,000 in funding for 2010. The HCREDC is asking for $40,000 in 2010, up from $30,000.
A blue spruce is standing in downtown Park Rapids waiting to be lit up Friday at the annual community Christmas tree lighting celebration. This year's tree was given by Jack Brann, of Affinity Real Estate in Park Rapids, along with wife Trisha, daughter Jaime and Scott and Carrie Parks.
Planning has been under way for the 2010 Park Rapids All School Reunion with events nearly finalized. The large community event is slated for Aug. 6-8, 2010. Dave "Lefty" Anderson, class of '58, is chairing the event. A fundraiser meal Friday night was a successful event, he said. "We served about 275 meals," Anderson said. "We had Evie Harvala's famous meatballs." Harvala is from the class of 1960 and her meatballs and gravy are "to die for," according to those who have eaten them. "We haven't had one of these in 10 years," Anderson said of the fundraiser meal.
First English Lutheran Church in Dorset is undergoing renovations that will save the historic building. Gordon Kath, an elected trustee, has a long history with the church. His father, Rev. Gerald Kath, was the preacher in 1956. Gordon left the area and worked in the Twin Cities for a few years before moving back in 2003 with his wife. "The church was built in 1936 with all local field stone," Gordon said. "It's been an active, thriving, church for many years." Over the years, First English Lutheran has started to show wear and tear, with leaks and rotting wood in the tower.
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 latest care packages had snacks, pillow cases, cards, spoons and forks, hats and toiletries. They were packed by mothers, fathers and friends. Mae Benjamin, president of the Northwoods Chapter of Blue Star Mothers, said the group's focus is on support. "It's about supporting soldiers, supporting families," she said. It's not just for mothers, either.
Park Rapids Area High School students have been planning for their future. High School Principal Al Judson reported on some educational opportunities students have been participating in at Monday night's school board meeting. "One of the things that helps make things relevant to students is if they see what it's supposed to look like at the end," he said. As students reach 10th or 11th grade, knowing what it is that they want to do after they graduate from high school is important, he added. One of the recent activities students participated in was a day trip for juniors to Minnesota S