By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Community members in Howard Lake who are passionate about, and have knowledge about issues facing the community will soon be approached by a Howard Lake Thriving Communities Partnership program core team member.
After Tuesday’s meeting, the core team is ready to establish several task forces to begin implementing projects it has decided are the priorities for the community in the coming year.
After reviewing the plans designed by the Minnesota Design Team during its visit with the Howard Lake community in October, the core team created a task force structure under the guidance of Dan Frank, program manager of the Initiative Foundation.
The three task force areas established were economy; quality of life; and, children, youth, and future workforce.
Projects within each task force area were prioritized by the core team to decide the most important areas to begin focusing on in the next year.
Once the projects were prioritized, the core team decided which individuals and organizations within the community would be good participants in each task force area.
Good task force area participants are individuals who are passionate about issues, have knowledge about issues, are good team players, have connections to key organizations related to the issues, and may be willing to commit some time.
The core team then divided into three groups, one for each task force area, and decided who would be responsible for contacting the individuals who will be invited to be part of each task force area.
Task force area priorities
Core team members were fairly cohesive in establishing two to three major priorities, and two to three minor priorities in each task force area.
One of the major priorities in the economic task force is cleaning up, fixing up, and talking up existing businesses and vacant buildings in Howard Lake.
Other major priorities included pursuing road changes that would benefit downtown customers, and greening up and improving the midtown arcade (the area between the American Legion and Citizens Alliance Bank and behind the businesses on US Highway 12).
Minor priorities established within the economic task force include helping new businesses start, increasing the use of the county fairgrounds for events, and greening up main street.
One of the major priorities established in the quality of life task force is cleaning up, fixing up, and talking up neighborhoods throughout Howard Lake.
Another major priority was working on the trail plan and improvements at all levels.
Minor priorities in the quality of life task force include expanding the quality and number of community events, creating more green spaces and gathering areas, improving connections between the lakes, and improving housing and services for senior citizens.
Major priorities in the children, youth, and future workforce task force include involving youth in community planning, involving youth in creating gathering places for all ages, and creating mentorship and apprenticeship programs between youth and businesses.
Minor priorities within this task force include consideration of establishing a youth business opportunity for learning and providing assistance for further education.
Don’t wait for the invitation
Individuals who are willing to commit some time and effort each month in making Howard Lake an even better place to live should not wait for an invitation to be part of a task force.
Those who find themselves interested in, having knowledge about, or being passionate about any of the task force areas can volunteer to be a part of the task force.
There will be a task force training session sometime in January (the date is yet to be determined), followed by monthly meetings.
Throughout the process, the core team and the task forces will be guided by the Initiative Foundation in their efforts.
There will also be grant money available through the Initiative Foundation to assist in implementing the projects.