barnI think most want their town to be successful. I think success often comes with change or because of change. If you ask people if they desire change, they will probably say yes. If you ask them if they are personally willing to change, the result might not be as positive.
Here’s the thing, Thief River Falls was a little grim a few years ago. It needed some change. The strength of manufacturing, retail business and agriculture was there but it wasn’t being exploited to the growth of Thief River Falls. These strengths can only be exploited through their effects on people. If these people do not live in the vicinity of Thief River Falls, they don’t pay taxes or purchase items. If they don’t live in the vicinity then we lose their creative energy and drive to better the community. People need space to live.
Drive around town and look at the new living spaces created in the last few years. Better yet, read the minutes of various government organizations and notice their support for construction of new living space. The spaces now exist, or will soon exist, for people who want to live near their work. Government planning has done well to prepare for this increase in population as evidenced by better infrastructure to deliver water and remove sewage. When I see more green, above-ground boxes next to empty lots, I know buildings and people will soon follow. More families increase student numbers and make all of that money spent on the school look a lot more like investment and a lot less like expense.
Okay so people wanted their town to change and this change is happening. It is nowhere near complete and will need constant effort to maintain the momentum. I think it is now might be the time for people to change.
I have often said that we are a town of Band-Aids. We think in term of the cheapest fix to any problem and would rather spend 75 cents on a Band-Aid instead of spending a buck on proper repair. If you constantly spend money on Band-Aids it is just expense. When you do a proper repair or build new then you are investing. We need to think more broadly and allow ourselves to remember that we may all live to enjoy these investments and our children certainly will enjoy them. If we only slap gauze and tape on our problems, we then doom the next generation to do the same.
Trust me when I say I don’t believe in higher taxes. However, I have a sliding scale for taxes. This scale has always demonstrated that the further your taxes travel, the less they do for you. Tax money spent at the municipal or county level changes your life. Think how nice it is to flush your toilet, flick on a light switch or see your roads clean after a snowfall. A few years ago, the city council decided to dip into their purse to pay for increased electric rates instead of passing the cost onto the end user. This did nothing but delay the pain and didn’t even garner these individuals another term in office as most were voted out. People don’t want more politics, they want honest representation. I think recent infrastructure purchases were not only brave; they created a fertile place for Thief River Falls to grow. It took advantage of existing economic strength and leveraged it increase growth. It was a good change in how people think.
Thief River Falls is changing and growing, we need to support this change in ways that might require a change in thinking. We’ve seen how change was healthy for our growth; now let us follow that example in how we think about the future and how we will prepare for that future.

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