West Central Blogger

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sunrise session at Perham

It's 7 a.m., but the back room of the Lakes Café in Perham is already filling with city and school officials, businesspeople, media, clergy, nonprofit representatives, civic leaders and more from both Perham and Frazee. They are there at WCI's invitation--all 36 of them--for a hearty breakfast and to share their thoughts, ideas and concerns about their community.

Perham folks are proud of their schools--both public and private. They love their quality of life and their town's amenities like the Perham Area Community Center, a stellar golf course, ball fields--and don't forget it's in the heart of lake country. The city's healthcare system is growing and innovating. People regularly come together in support of local events and are active in service organizations.

Perham also has more jobs than they have workers, and more workers than they have housing. And that's causing consternation. If people can't live close to work, they move to the surrounding towns. Then, school enrollment doesn't grow, which means less dollars for a school district that is already facing $500,000 in budget cuts. Also, with rocketing gas prices, many may not be able to afford the cost of commuting for much longer. So, local--and affordable--housing seems to be the lynchpin in the breakfast discussion this particular morning. But, if you want young families in town, you better make sure there's good day care and early childhood opportunities along with those new homes and apartment complexes, someone reminds the group.

Pressing issues, but not anything to keep a town down for long. "Perham is known as a town that cares about community. It’s known as a progressive community that will tackle tough issues," a participant says at the close of the meeting.

There is good working cooperation between businesses, schools and community, another person chimes in. “When people say we need something, we come together. Hard work and the initiative of community leaders get things done in Perham."

WCI holds community breakfasts throughout the region on a regular basis. It's a great way for WCI staff to learn the latest about the communities WCI serves.
Want to know when we'll be in your area? Contact Kim Embretson to find out.

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