Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oldham, Montrose involved with success stories

Two area communities are among several across South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska that have had recent community success stories.
Representatives from both communities gave presentations at the 10th Annual Midstates Community and Economic Development Conference in South Sioux City, Neb., last month. The day-long conference focused on successful strategies and innovative ideas to help communities and rural development groups in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.
Amy Condon, who has been working with projects in Montrose, said the main point of their talk was sharing with other communities how they went about starting and sustaining projects.
Roger Eide, who is the mayor in Oldham, said his talk focused on not giving up. “When you start looking at your community you find out there a lot of assets,” he said. “People are our most important assets.”
Oldham has developed a housing development project to take possession of tax delinquent property in the city, clean up the lots and make them available free to anyone who will build a single family home on the property.
To date, five lots have been cleared. In addition, there have been 25 inquiries about the lots and the community has seven applications.
“I think we’ve come a long way,” said Eide, who is also the head of the Oldham Area Improvement Corporation. “We weren’t doing anything as far as any type of development activity in the past. We’re making some progress. It is slow and it is challenging. It takes persistence.”
Montrose has also been working on a community development project. The project provides opportunities for community members for healthy, low-cost product, financial assistance for those who cannot meet their basic needs, education classes and physical and recreational activity.
Three ladies have been spearheading the activities.
Charla Cope has been orchestrating Spudfest, a yearly celebration that provides community spirit. In addition, the community has started Cash for Community program where part of the proceeds to help those who need to make payments, such as utility bills or groceries.
Connie Smith and Condon are both involved in community education that includes computer classes and yoga classes. Condon also spearheads the community garden, where community members grow produce and then distribute the produce through a farmer’s market.
One challenge for the Montrose community was getting people involved. Another was suggesting projects that just didn’t work out.
What the organizers did learn from the project was that the city has community spirit. “People are already asking what day the next Spudfest is because they want to be there and have fun,” Cope said.

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