Looking at things like a visitor does
Two recent visitors to my office got me to thinking about all the great things going on in Blue Earth and the other towns in Faribault County.
One visitor was Lucas “Lu” Nelson, a policy program associate for the Center for Rural Affairs, which is headquartered in Lyons, Nebraska.
As its name implies, the Center for Rural Affairs is very interested in promoting agriculture, business, and economic development as well as enjoying living in small towns in the Midwest.
We have run a guest column written by Nelson in the Register a couple of times in the past.
He was here as part of a one-man tour of small towns in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa. He wanted some first hand looks at what is going on in small towns in rural America.
The other visitor was a former editor of the Faribault County Register, Rich Glennie. Perhaps you remember him.
Glennie was editor of the Blue Earth Post/Ambassador and then the Register back in the 1980s. He first worked for Bob Tuff and then for Darwin and Bonnie Oordt when they bought the newspaper in 1989.
He left Blue Earth shortly after that and went to Glencoe to be the editor and was there for many years, and just retired two years ago.
He has been back to visit Blue Earth off and on since that time, but it had been quite a while since he had been back in town.
So, Nelson was getting a first look at Blue Earth. Glennie was seeing the changes that have been done over the years especially in recent years.
Both men, during their separate visits, expressed surprise at everything that has been happening lately in and around Blue Earth.
Nelson was especially interested in the story about the Three Sisters buildings and the proposed plans for turning them into a destination point for the area.
What the Rural Renaissance Project people hope to accomplish is exactly what his Center for Rural Affairs wants to see happen in small towns. They need to reinvent themselves anyway they can, he says.
Nelson also expressed amazement at some of the many new things going on here, which were listed by yours truly.
The new Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center and Giant Museum might have topped the list, but the new housing development, new city Public Works building, the parks and swimming pool, school, hospital, nursing home, all of these things he found to be surprising to find in a small town.
When I told him there was a multi-million dollar project going on at UHD, and that they are independent of other large hospital systems, he was even more surprised. Same thing with the proposed improvements to St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center.
Glennie was also quite surprised to hear me tell about all of these things going on in Blue Earth. He agreed it is quite amazing to see all this in a town the size of Blue Earth.
In Glencoe, he said, it is the opposite. Things are not looking up, and they have lost a lot of businesses and other amenities in their town. And no new progress.
I didn’t even have time to mention to either one of my visitors all of the things I find fascinating to be happening here lately. There just is so much.
I didn’t have a chance to mention that in Elmore there is an assisted living facility that was built in the former school building. In Winnebago and Wells there is a new assisted living facilities being built. That in Winnebago the community has big plans for the former school building. Wells is developing a business park.
Of course, not everything is rosy here in Faribault County. The farm economy is taking a big dip lately, and that affects us all. We have many old, dilapidated buildings in our towns and rural areas that need to be torn down. Some of our small town businesses are struggling and having a tough go of it.
And, as the court stories we run in the Register can attest to, we have some problems here with violent crimes, poverty, drugs, domestic assault and other social issues.
Everything is not all great here in Mayberry. But, neither is everything as terrible as it might seem some days.
We have a lot of folks who are interested in making this a wonderful place to live, work, play and go to school. They care about what is going on, and they want to make improve things and make them even better than they were before.
Sometimes it takes a couple of out-of-town visitors to come and stop in and give me a chance to list off the things that make living in Blue Earth and Faribault County a pretty nice deal.
Try it sometime.