2008 wishes for west central Minnesota made by WCI staff and folks from around the region. It was good to see that some of these wishes came true or strides were made.
Marsha Erickson, WCI program assistant, wished for "access for young children, whether is be for dental care, mental health care or finding a loving place to call home." Since January, the Early Childhood Dental Network and Apple Tree Dental's mobile dental outreach clinics have expanded to all of the counties in west central Minnesota, and plans are being made for a permanent Apple Tree Dental clinic in Fergus Falls. Also, this year four counties have initiatived early childhood mental health coalitions with the help of WCI and the Early Childhood Initiative.
Marsha also hoped for a strong winter tourism season to boost the local economy. With December's record snowfall, local motorsports stores are reporting record sales. It could be Winter 2009 will be a banner season for snow-related activities.
Nancy Straw, WCI president, wished that communities in west central Minnesota take steps toward becoming recognized as one of the most environmentally green areas in the U.S. In 2008, the Otter Tail Ag Enterprise's ethanot plant came online. The University of Minnesota Morris's biomass gasification facility has been built and is being tested. Barnesville was chosen as a "green leader" by the League of Minnesota Cities. Some initiatives that took off in 2008 included the Bag Lady Project and Savetimes3.
Nancy also hoped an Italian restaurant would open in Fergus Falls. That dream became a reality with the opening of Bello Cucina this past fall!
Sheri Holm, WCI communications director, wished that the redesign of WCI's Web site would be complete and that an online social network for west central Minnesota communities would be launched. While that didn't happen in 2008, both of these things will become reality in January of 2009! Stay tuned!
Now, dear readers, what are your wishes for 2009?