HJ/EDMarch 6, 2006

Mayor: Lester Prairie has a lot to be proud of

By Dave Cox
Staff Writer

Many elements have come together to create a sense of identity and to build a positive base for the city’s future, Lester Prairie Mayor Eric Angvall said.

Angvall pointed to a proactive police department, an independent school district, new businesses, and a new nature park as some of the things that have helped create a positive attitude in the city.

“I am proud of our police department. Going to three officers has allowed us to be proactive, and given us a chance to show people the positive side of policing,” Angvall said.

Lester Prairie was one of the first cities to have a certified DARE instructor, according to Angvall.

Angvall said that Police Chief Bob Carlson and the other officers have been very active working on education and crime prevention issues, and have spent a lot of time in the school working with students.

Angvall also said that Carlson has been very good about providing information to the city council, which has made it easier for the council to do its job.

City employees also received high praise from Angvall.

He said that city employees take pride in their work and have developed a proactive attitude, which is illustrated by their efforts to keep streets in better shape.

Employees have become more involved in the budget process, and try to find ways to achieve the best value for the city by taking a long-term approach to expenditures.

“I can’t think of any employee that has not donated considerable time to the city each year,” Angvall commented.

Community involvement, and people and organizations working together toward common goals, are key elements in making the city a better place, according to Angvall.

One example of how people can make a difference is a group of four area pastors who have worked together to find ways of reaching out to kids, Angvall said.

The group has provided a free monthly lunch for students, which has created an opportunity for positive interaction between adults and children.

“An independent school district is a plus for the city,” Angvall said, and added that Superintendent Joe Miller has been an asset for the community.

The new 50-acre Sunrise Nature Park, and another 12-acre park along the river, will preserve green spaces and provide benefits that will be enjoyed and understood even more in the future, Angvall said.

New opportunities

Angvall stated that in the past, the city was landlocked, and was not able to grow even if there was a desire for growth.

Two new additions provided that opportunity, and the city grew by 25 percent in three years, Angvall said.

Angvall acknowledged recent business closures, and stated that, while any business closure hurts the city, there has been good news as well.

A new medical clinic scheduled to open later this year could create opportunities in the city.

Angvall also mentioned new ownership of the grocery store, and a new chiropractic office and a meat market as some recent examples of revitalization of the city.

“These are signs that we have reached that critical mass of population where things can start to take off,” Angvall commented.

Local investment

Angvall stressed the importance of supporting local businesses as a way of building the community.

“Business owners have invested their lives in the community. Local businesses pay local taxes, try to hire local people, and try to provide what local people want. They invest in the community, and the profit they make is what is used to make donations to local organizations,” Angvall said.

Supporting local business is a strong sign to potential investors, and bringing new businesses to the city will create jobs and build a bigger tax base, Angvall commented.

Growth does place demands on infrastructure.

The city had to build a new water tower a few years ago, a new well was needed this year, and the city now needs improvements to the wastewater treatment plant, Angvall said.

What is ahead for the city?

“Lester Prairie is experiencing a transitional, redefining time,” Angvall said. “When you get involved in the community, you help determine what the future will be.”

Angvall stated that Lester Prairie is a different community than it was 10 years ago.

“New people coming in have different perspectives, and they will help shape the community,” Angvall commented.

In order to address the needs of the future, the city recently updated its comprehensive plan.

Other changes have included adding fees for green spaces and park funds, which are charged to new developments, Angvall stated.

The city council has fun together and focuses on long-term prudence of expenditures, Angvall said.

“We are all trying to find ways to benefit the city,” He added.

“We need to think about tomorrow. We need to plan for the future, and decide what is going to help us as a group,” Angvall commented.

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