Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the KEDA. After bonus summer-like weather in September and October, the tell-tale signs of the Fall season and the deer hunting season have given way to the first snow to bring us into the Holiday season. It’s a busy and beautiful time here in the Northland and as we look forward to the events surrounding the Holidays, we’re reminded that this is a time to re-kindle traditions with family and friends. And the Holidays provide an opportunity to reflect on the past while anticipating an exciting and fruitful 2016.
In this abbreviated Holiday newsletter, we’ll provide an update on some of the projects underway in the area, and share some photos that reflect the beauty of the season. From the staff of the KEDA, we wish you a safe and memorable Holiday Season and all the best in the coming year.
Road and Bike Trail Construction. As referenced in our last newsletter, this road construction season was one of the most ambitious in Koochiching County history. According to County Highway Engineer Joe Sutherland, over 50 miles of county and state highways were re-constructed and/or re-surfaced throughout the county at a cost of approximately $8 million dollars. In addition, the existing bike trail from International Falls to Ranier (approximately 3 miles) was widened and re-surfaced. Another new bike trail segment (approximately 2 ½ miles) was created south of International Falls as part of the re-construction of CSAH 332. Plans are also underway to rebuild the overpass on Highway 11 east near Ranier in 2017. The construction will also include a re-designed entrance into Ranier.
Broadband Expansions. Local service providers continue to make investment and progress in extending broadband coverage in Koochiching County. Frontier Communications extended its fiber network east of Ranier this summer as part of system upgrade that will eventually bring fiber to the end of Highway 11 east in 2016. This upgrade will bring high-speed internet to the resort areas. Frontier also made additional systems upgrades in and around International Falls. Midcontinent Communications recently announced a grant award of $277,448 from the State of Minnesota’s Border to Border Broadband Program to extend its broadband network south of International Falls to provide service to homeowners in Littlefork in 2016.
Voyage Forward Effort. In the wake of Boise Paper’s layoffs of 265 employees in 2013, and other county business layoffs that followed, a county-wide citizen’s group was formed to explore ways to positively shape the county’s future. With the support of funding through an EDA grant (including local dollars), the group – Voyage Forward – was formally created to guide the effort. The movement was modeled after efforts by other communities in the state that created movements to achieve various community goals. Voyage Forward, with the facilitation of the regional Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, conducted a series of county-wide surveys to determine goals and priorities. These goals and priorities were further refined into 11 “destiny drivers” that will help drive future efforts around community and economic development. For more information, visit the Voyage Forward website at www.voyageforward.org.
Jaguar Land Rover Engineers Donate to a Local School Group.
As test teams with Jaguar Land Rover spend time in Borderland, they’ve come to wonder how they can give back to a community that helped them settle into a place they feel comfortable testing their vehicles.
An idea that brought $850 to the Partners In Education group at the International Falls School District came as a surprise last week to John Florida, Jaguar Land Rover, manager of global test facilities & planning.
Paul Nevanen, director of the Koochiching Economic Development Authority, which manages the cold weather testing facility located near the Falls International Airport, said when JLR test teams come to test in the U.S. they buy a JLR polo shirt. A portion of the funds are set aside for local charities in Phoenix, Denver, and International Falls, where JLR has testing facilities.
When Florida was in Borderland last year, he raised the question about giving back to the community and asked Craig Hopkins, JLR North American facilities coordinator, and Ron Sutherland, JLR facilities support, to explore some options.
“We provided Craig with several local options and he liked the PIE option and the ability to impact students,” Nevanen told The Journal. “John didn’t know they had chosen a charity until we showed up at the school and had a chance to talk with the PIE representatives about how the group got started and the types of projects they get involved with.”
Nevanen said Florida feels it’s important to give back to the communities where they test.
PIE is a volunteer operated organization established in 2012 to improve the environment and educational opportunities for students and staff in the International Falls school district.
Jaguar Land Rover’s relationship with the community began in 2010 when the United Kingdom-based company contacted Nevanen about the testing facilities and opportunities the community could offer.
As a result, a second cold box was dedicated in 2012 and funded by International Falls and Koochiching County each committing $250,000 toward the $644,000 price tag. That money is being repaid by JLR at 2-percent interest.
*Article written by the International Falls Journal Staff and can be viewed on The Journal website at: http://www.ifallsjournal.com