Census tied in with PR tree giveaway

Park Rapids residents who call or email city hall saying they responded to the 2020 Census will also be entered in the city's Arbor Day tree drawing, extended until May 11.

Park Rapids resident Crystal Brown, center, received a free Japanese tree lilac in the city's 2018 tree giveaway from Cheryle Wilke, chair of the city’s Urban Forestry Committee, and then-City Planner Ryan Mathisrud. (Enterprise file photo)

Park Rapids city staff are linking responses to the 2020 U.S. Census to a tree giveaway.

The city’s urban forestry committee has been offering to give away two live trees to the winners of a prize drawing connected with Arbor Day and the city’s designation as a Tree City USA. Meantime, Hubbard County’s Complete Count Committee (CCC) has been seeking feedback from residents saying they participated in the census.

According to City Planner Andrew Mack, a proposal to kill both birds with one stone was floated at the CCC’s April 8 meeting.

“Due to the times that we’re in now, we’ve had a very low response rate at city hall for the tree drawings, because we’ve had the front door locked to the public,” said Mack. “Tough times call for creative minds.”

To start, the urban forestry committee has postponed the tree drawing by one month, until the committee’s next meeting at 8 a.m. on May 11, in line with Gov. Tim Walz’s extension of the statewide “stay at home” order. Mack said this gives citizens more of a chance to enter the drawing.


A second issue, Mack said, is that “right now, Minnesota leads the country in online response. Hubbard County is lagging quite a bit behind that. So, we’re looking for ways to bolster participation.”

And so, he said, it was decided to encourage Park Rapids residents to participate in the census by entering anyone who reports that they did so in the tree giveaway.

City residents can contact Mack (237-2746 or or Carmen Lockhart (237-2749 or to report that they responded to the 2020 U.S. Census online or by phone.

“Because they can’t fill out the slip themselves and put in the box at the city hall front desk,” said Mack, “we’re going to fill it out for them and enter their names into the drawing for free.”

Although the tree giveaway is limited to homeowners, Mack said, “If a renter calls in that they’ve completed their census, we’ll be still happy to enter them into drawing, as long as they give us the name of the owner of the property, so we can enter the owner’s name.”

He added that this will be an honor system. “If you call in and you say you completed your census survey, we’re going to say, ‘Thank you very much. We believe you,’ and then we will fill out their names for the drawing.”

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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