A year in the life of rural Todd County

Nearly a year ago, Minnesota Public Radio News took its first serious look at Todd County. Joining with the Initiative Foundation’s Healthy Community Partnership, MPR News’ Ground Level project has reported on the effort to bring people together to talk about the future of Todd County while marshaling resources and building on existing strengths.

In the early part of the year, Nikki Tundel, Curtis Gilbert, Jennifer Vogel and Dave Peters talked to people of all ages and occupations and reported on what they found. A well attended public forum presented in Long Prairie back in May held a mirror up for residents to see themselves as others see them.

Two issues came to the forefront during that time: the high proportion of people in Todd County over the age of 65 and the need for jobs. The Healthy Community Partnership group tackled those issues and established focus groups to address them. If you have a little time, read back through the Ground Level blog to get the panoramic view. Here are a few of the highlights, successes and challenges of 2010.

• A new economic developer was hired for the county

• Voters and the county board decided it was time to renovate the historic courthouse

• Long Prairie’s mayor Don Rasmussen sold his bowling alley to new enthusiastic owners

• National Joint Powers Association broke ground for a new complex in Staples

• A new Mexican grocery store opened in Long Prairie

• A new Mennonite grocery store opened in Browerville

• A new Amish Country Co-op opened in Bertha

• A new medical clinic opened in Browerville

• A new potato farm warehouse was constructed

• Many of the county’s cities got new streets and infrastructure.

• One repairable auto sales business closed and another opened

• Harm’s Manufacturing in Bertha was taken over by the next generation

• Verna Toenyan and Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba encouraged the state Legislature to make senior bundled meals a statewide program

• Senior citizens will have the opportunity to take classes to become proficient users of computers

• Community gardens sprouted all over the county

• Community storefronts look pretty much the same as a year ago

• Long Prairie’s incubator building is still waiting for its first tenant

• A few young people moved back home; more departed

• People have died and babies have been born

• Part of a neighboring community blew away in a tornado making us thankful to have what we have

This is by no means an all inclusive list. Please feel free to comment and add to it.

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