Part of my job is attending local government meetings, as frequently as my schedule allows.
One of the positive things I've noticed is the increase in cooperation between varying entities, and the establishment of joint goals and projects.
For instance, the Clearwater River Watershed District was recently awarded a grant for $70,900 to help abate stormwater runoff into Willow Creek in the city of Kimball. Their engineer will coordinate the project with the city plans for street repairs, if they are funded.
Maine Prairie Township and the city have held several joint meetings in recent years, and several of these have included representatives from Stearns County. They have worked out agreements on orderly anexation and road maintenance, for example. The city completed its first comprehensive plan, and the township is nearly finished creating its first comp plan as well.
The city has a new city clerk, is in the process of hiring a new deputy clerk, and hired a new police officer. Two firefighters have left the squad. The city purchased the building at the corner of Hazel and Main (formerly Arnold's Implement offices) and the police department is moving into the building this week. New inspection schedules (and fees) have been adopted for rental property in the city. The floors in City Hall are being refinished, part of the Historical Society's renovation project.
Meanwhile, the school board has had some losses and an occasional victory. A new board took office in January, with two members retiring off and two new members being voted on. Voters in the district failed to pass a replacement levy that would give the district operational funds for next year. With the latest of the state's funding games (this time delaying money coming to the district), Kimball and several neighboring schools were spared additional cuts because their funds were already so tight. (Schools with bigger bank accounts and unspent money will receive their scheduled state reimbursements several months later than planned.) The school will seek another levy vote in November 2010.
Watch for - and fill out and return - your census forms next month. We all count on them, literally!