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What's important for future of Becker County and Minnesota? Sesquicentennial Commission meets

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Minnesota and Becker County are celebrating 150 years. Now the question is what is being done and what would this generation like to leave for generations to come in Minnesota and Becker County.

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Cindy Bigger, with the Minnesota Extension Service in Fergus Falls, and Sheri Holm, with West Central Initiative, have been traveling through a nine-county area to discuss change with residents.

The Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission held a series of meetings to discuss the Plan for Our Future: Many Voices-One Minnesota project to ensure a way of keeping Minnesota thriving in the future.

"Change has been constant, regardless of where you live," Bigger said.

And what has been the greatest change over the last 50 years?

Answers from the audience ranged anywhere from transportation to population, technology to property value increases.

Population is on the rise in Becker County, more than likely thanks to the lakes it has to offer.

"They say if you have water in your county, you're growing," Bigger said.

And with that population increase and more and more people coming in, property values continue to increase as well.

Chamber of Commerce President Dave Hochhalter pointed out that Becker County, and Minnesota in general, has seen a large decrease in agriculture land and resorts.

Resorts aren't the only things disappearing, but family time as well.

Librarian Mary Haney said a change she's noticed is when she grew up, her family was the oddity because her mother was the only mother who worked outside of the home.

"No one is home anymore. Growing up I had the only working mom," she said.

Now, she said, her sister is the only mom in her neighborhood to be a stay-at-home mom.

Other items noted included energy, the national debt increasing, deferring retirement longer, school system and complaints regarding government.

So changes, good or bad, are happening, and what's going to be done to continue positive change or curb negative for future generations?

As growth continues, rural areas are slowly becoming more urban and offering what was once thought to be out of reach for those outside the city.

"I want it so my grandchildren can go anywhere and have the best," Roxann Daggett said.

Saving nature, addressing the debt load of the country, state and personal, clean, efficient energy use, education and the need for laborers and a workforce were other issues brought up.

So what is being done now to ensure that quality of life for the future?

When asked, most everyone in attendance replied they recycle. There were also some replacing light bulbs with more energy efficient ones, working with children and walking rather than driving.

Haney said professionally she does everything in her power to encourage reading. The library hosts storytime, reading to a dog, and other forms of encouragement for kids to read.

Leadership for those children and the leaders they could become was also addressed.

Daggett said being a positive influence and having a positive impact in leadership roles should be a high priority.

"Positive influence, and never stop that no matter what age you are," she said.

Those who were unable to attend the meeting can visit www.mn150years.org and fill out a survey about planning for the future.

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