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EDITORIAL: We resolve, for 2013

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opinion New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

As 2013 kicks into high gear, we pause to look back -- and look to the future.

The following is a peek at the New Richmond News' resolutions for the past year and how the community scored in terms of following through.

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Later in our editorial, we have a 2013 resolution list.

Looking back

• The New Richmond City Council worked hard to develop a strategic plan for the next five years. Now the hard work of implementing the plan is ahead of them. The council should resolve to continue to keep a lid on taxes while promoting job and housing growth.

Grade: B+

The council, thanks to the hard work of the city employees, has been able to reduce the overall cost of government while maintaining a high level of service for taxpayers. We have to admit, it was a pretty tall order when the council challenged its employees to save more money and help the elected officials cut taxes. They accomplished the goal with relative ease.

• Boundary agreements between New Richmond and various township are getting closer to reality. With any luck, the first ground-breaking agreement (between the city and the Town of Star Prairie) will occur in the next few months. Everyone should resolve to see the process through to the end.

Grade: A

After years of negotiations between the city and the Town of Star Prairie, an agreement was finally signed by both parties. The agreement is awaiting final approval by the state, but Wisconsin officials won't hold up the agreement for too long. State officials say the agreement is a model for other communities. A job well done by all involved. Now it will be interesting to see if other surrounding townships begin talks with New Richmond to adopt similar agreements.

• Backers of a new bridge at Stillwater know that now is not the time to take the foot off the accelerator. Area residents should resolve to continue their lobbying of officials to finally get the bridge project moving.

Grade: A

There was no guarantee that the Stillwater bridge would get the green light it needed in 2012. But elected officials on both sides of the St. Croix River (in Wisconsin and Minnesota) worked tirelessly to get a deal done and get the signature of President Barack Obama. The bridge bill that passed Congress will always be remembered as the moment when the long-debated span finally moved forward. Congratulations to all who made it happen.

• The New Richmond public library continues to seek a new hope. Local officials and residents should resolve to develop a realistic plan to get a new facility built, as the current building remains inadequate.

Grade: B-

In the closing moments of 2012, the local Library Board hired an architect to begin the design process for a new facility. For boosters of the library, the speed with which progress is being made is frustrating at times. But perhaps a few questions will be answered in 2013 as various options for a new building are studied.

• As a new year begins, volunteers with New Richmond's Vitality Initiative continue to plan efforts to promote greater health and wellbeing of area residents. Everyone should resolve to be a part of the movement, taking steps to improve their individual health by eating better and becoming more active.

Grade: B

The Vitality Initiative helped promote a variety of community challenges and activities. The first ever Vitalympics was held in February. While the numbers were small, and the weather was cold, there was no lack of enthusiasm that day. Also, community weight loss and walking challenges promoted by JA Counter were a great success for those involved. In its second year, the initiative continues to push for community wellness but more volunteers will be needed to have a wider impact.

Our resolutions for 2013:

• Clearly, job creation is the focus of everyone's attention in the coming months. Whether the city's new effort to promote "economic gardening" (supporting existing businesses in their expansion and building plans) is the main tool, or if marketing the community to outside business interests does the trick, New Richmond needs to come together to add well-paying jobs to our economy.

• As the city's "small area study" wraps up, city officials will be left to sift through the ideas and opinions offered by local residents concerning the future of New Richmond's downtown. Whatever decisions are made concerning the WeTEC building and redevelopment downtown, city officials need to be clear about their path so existing businesses know what the future holds. Not everyone is going to agree with whatever choice is made, but it's important to chart the course and immediately head in that direction.

• Doughboy Trail appears to be on the verge of development. The city and local organizations need to partner together to make the link trail a huge asset for the community. For a relatively small investment of money, the trail could become one of the prettiest spots in town.

• Fundraising for a new library will eventually be a big task for the community. Local individuals and organizations will need to step up to the plate to make a new facility a reality.

• As the new Stillwater bridge begins to take shape, it's incumbent upon the city and St. Croix County to deal with the county-owned land on the northwestern edge of town. Appropriately zoning the land, and thus directing what is constructed on the land, will be an important decision for the city's future.

• With the majority of St. Croix County Board members in favor of building a new county-owned nursing home, it will take a concerted effort to get the necessary bonding accomplished to make such a project happen. County officials will need to decide what business plan is most likely to succeed and act accordingly. Experts agree the best chance for success remains a new facility, with a possible assisted living complex attached.

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