Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency Updates Lake County Board

Beth Davies, of Arrowhead Economic Op­portunity Agency (AEOA) was on hand at the Lake County Board of Commissioners meeting this past week to talk about ongoing efforts to address a variety of needs for in­dividuals and families living in North Shore communities. Davies was joined by represen­tatives from a number of community organizations including Lake County HRA, Com­munity Partners (Two Harbors), North Shore Area Partners (Silver Bay), and others.

In the past several years, AEOA has been able to acquire and administer many grants and loans that have helped rehab 10 family homes and 3 businesses in the Two Harbors area. These grants have allowed homeowners to afford needed repairs to their homes, including new doors and windows, repairs for cracked and crumbling basement walls and foundations, radon mitigation equipment, re­placement of aged bathroom fixtures and other needed work to keep family homes livable. In the challenging economic times that we are living in, these efforts have been helpful in improving energy efficiency for homeowners and have helped save the financial resources of those who otherwise would not be able to repair and stay in their homes.

Another area of focus for AOEA and other community change-makers is to create local systems that support aging with dignity in North Shore communities. The median age of Lake County residents is 48 years old. For the first time in Lake County history, folks aged 65 or older outnumber younger residents. We are all on the Aging Path so the idea of working to make our communities more age-friendly is something we will all benefit from. The goal is to enable all community residents to thrive at every age. Involving older adults in discussions and decisions around this goal is essential. Access to affordable housing and social connectedness are two of the top prior­ities that older people have identified as be­ing of primary concern.

Ageism is one of the shortfalls of American culture. We elevate the image of idealized youth and as a society tend to marginalize older citizens. Thus, stereotypes and preju­dices about older adults are perpetuated and they often end up being ignored or discrimi­nated against.

The good news is that there are organizations like AOEA and other agencies in our communities that are working to change this. In addition to assisting with grants and loans for single-family home and business rehabilitation, AOEA and collaborators provide access to senior and nutritional services, home-delivered meals, transit services, exercise classes that provide balance and strength training, and Senior Expo days that provide social connection, entertainment, and fun for older adults. These and other efforts help older adults stay active and involved in their communities and rather than just providing services, actually bring dollars to the community.

AARP provides resources to help towns, cities, and rural areas work to develop livable communities for people of all ages. AOEA and their collaborators are seeking the en­dorsement of the Lake County Board so that they can tap into these resources. The Board will be reviewing AEOA plans and will make a decision on support soon.

In other business, the Board agreed to fill a number of needed human resource positions including one full-time Administrative Assistant to work in the Recorder’s Office, two workers for the Highway Maintenance Department, and one Social Worker. The Two Harbors HRA will be forwarding documents for the transfer from the County of tax forfeit­ed land in SEGOG for the purpose of HRA home construction projects. The County Ad­ministrator will review these documents and will coordinate with Two Harbors HRA.

The Knife River has been running high recently and this has delayed efforts to re­inforce the wooden piers on the Hawk Hill Road bridge that are damaged. County High­way Engineer, Jason DiPiazza indicated that the work will hopefully be able to be done by the end of this week.

The Lake County Board welcomed new District 1 Commissioner, Joe Baltich, to Tuesday’s meeting. The next County Board meeting will be held on November 28th at 2:00 in the Split Rock River Room.

Rick Evans
Rick Evans
My wife, Marsha Kinzer (a proud DEHS Greyhound, class of ‘77) introduced me to the North Shore on vacation in 2012. It became our regular escape when the stress of our careers in education became overwhelming, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the breathtaking scenery, the nice people, and “salad” containing Jell-o and marshmallows. So you can either blame or thank my loving wife for my being here, because when we needed to choose a retirement hometown, Marsha advocated hard for her beloved Duluth, and here we are, six months later. Yes, this will be my first northern Minnesota winter. Yes, I welcome thoughts and prayers. Government, public policy, and social justice weighed heavily in the curriculums I taught at the high school level over a thirty-eight year career. In addition, we were a laboratory school focused on critical thinking in conjunction with technical and scientific writing. So when I found myself adrift on the great ocean of retirement and spied a raft, I jumped at the chance to take up what I’d left behind…minus the bad teachers’ lounge coffee. My position at the NSJ allows me to combine my passions for government and writing, and it’s helping me to feel less out of touch in new surroundings. When I’m not being “Cubby” (Marsha’s favorite new nickname for this green reporter) I enjoy pointing at eagles and saying, “Look, honey. There’s an eagle.” I’ve had an active side hustle as a professional musician for almost as many years as Charlie Parr. As a guitarist/singer/songwriter, I graced the stages of clubs and festivals around southern Wisconsin, including an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. Should I even mention A Prairie Home Companion, or am I the only one here old enough to remember what that is? Look! An eagle!
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