We are excited to welcome Searle Swedlund to the UMVRDC! As a Community Development Specialist, Searle will be working on the MnDOT Transportation Planning Program and the Safe Routes to School Program.
Click here to read more about Searle and find his contact info.
Welcome to the Newest Board Members
Loan Advisory Board
Jordan Bothun has joined the UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) board representing Lac qui Parle County. Jordan joined the Dawson Co-op Credit Union in 2018 as a Loan Officer. Jordan is a Dawson native and is involved in the Dawson Development Corporation as well as Knights of Columbus.
The UMVRDC RLF board also welcomes Carie Driessen who will be representing Yellow Medicine County. Carie has been in the banking industry for 12 years and currently works for the Co-op Credit Union at the Montevideo-Canby branch. Carie lives outside Canby with her husband and three children.
Elroy Ross recently joined the UMVRDC Board representing the Upper Sioux Community where he works as their Housing Director. Born and raised in Granite Falls, he has 30+ years of experience in the private sector prior to his current position. Elroy spends his spare time with his wife, two daughters, and eight grandchildren.
Commissioner John Berends has joined the board representing Yellow Medicine County where he has served as commissioner since 2012. John is a native of Granite Falls. He is currently working for Hansen Agri-Commodities as a Risk Management Advisor. In the past, John worked in the restaurant business where he both managed and owned his own restaurant. John is active in the community being involved with the Granite Falls Lions Club, Prime West Health, Countryside Public Health, Yellowstone Trail, and Yellow Medicine County Historical Society. John is a familiar face around our office as he sits on the Western Minnesota Prairie Waters Regional Marketing board.
Linda Pesch with Minnesota West Community and Technical College has joined the board as a Special Interest Representative. Linda has worked at different agencies within southwest Minnesota and brings much experience to this board. She began her work at Minnesota West in 2007 where she has held many positions and is currently the Director of Enrollment. During her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors gardening, exploring nature, back packing, hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing. She also likes to travel and meet new people. Linda and her husband live in the Taunton area where they own and operate Ricks Body Shop on their farm site along the Yellow Medicine River.
A special thank you to Gary Johnson. Gary recently retired as Yellow Medicine Commissioner and has sat on the UMVRDC board since January 1993. He served as Chair for four years and also represented the UMVRDC on the Loan Advisory Board. We want to express our gratitude for his 29 years of service, as well as his leadership and commitment to this organization and its staff. Gary will be missed and we wish him all the best in his retirement!
We would also like to thank Chuck Swanson for his three years of service to the UMVRDC board, as well as Dawn Regnier, for her four years of service. Thank you for your time and commitment to the UMVRDC and the communities we serve!
“Save Your Town” Coming to the Region
Save the Date! 7pm, Tuesday, November 15 Deb Brown from Save Your Town will be in Granite Falls to share her message on how to revitalize communities using vacant and underutilized spaces. She has recently been at several statewide conferences talking about ideas and strategies all communities can employ to address this pressing issue.
The demolition and redevelopment of properties has been a top regional issue for some time in our region according to our annual survey and this event will be one way we can provide ideas and resources to our communities.
This is an event and message we would like ALL community boards and committees to hear across our region. Her “you can do it” and “idea friendly method” is a pep talk for leaders who are trying to work on so many important topics locally. An in-person event will be held in Granite Falls and it will be streamed with the help of Pioneer TV and we will also have a recording that can be used by boards and councils at future meetings.
2022 UMVRDC Annual Meeting & Tour
This year, the UMVRDC took their annual meeting to the community of Granite Falls. Dinner was catered by The Rock (RLF business) during the business meeting. After the meeting was adjourned board members, staff, and citizens in attendance had the chance to hear from business owners and community leaders. Visits were made to Granite Falls Woodworks, an RLF business, Poppy + Stella, Bluenose Gopher Public House, The YES! House, and the Granite Area Arts Council. Speakers touched on what makes Granite Falls so unique and the importance of community involvement.
Granite Falls is a thriving, vibrant community in the UMVRDC region and we enjoyed getting a glimpse of what makes it so special. Thank you to speakers and all those who attended the 2022 UMVRDC annual meeting!
UMVRDC nearing completion of Local Human Services Transit Coordination Plan
The UMVRDC is working in partnership with the Region 6W Regional Transportation Coordination Council (RTCC), to update Region 6W’s Local Human Services Transit Coordination Plan (LCP). This plan is completed every five years to assist stakeholders as they determine ways to improve transportation for non-drivers and others with transportation challenges, especially seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income people. It serves as a blueprint for regional transportation coordination. The public comment period is complete, and the plan is currently being reviewed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The LCP includes the following:
- Describes regional demographic conditions
- Provides an updated inventory of existing transportation providers
- Highlights gaps in service/unmet transportation needs
- Outlines goals and potential strategies to improve transportation services
- Has incorporated significant public engagement
Appleton Area OHV Park Improvements Project Awarded Funding
As we shared earlier this year, UMVRDC staff assisted Swift County in applying to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for funding under the ARPA Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Program for improvements to the Appleton Area OHV Park. The County requested funding to carry out many of the identified projects listed in their recently adopted 2021 Appleton Area OHV Park Master Plan such as the creation of a day use beach area for swimming, fishing, and kayaking; walking trails; improved parking areas; permanent restroom facilities; new wells; vehicle wash stations; and improved signage.
We are very happy to report that Swift County was notified that they have been awarded $1,034,196 in federal funds to carry out the proposed improvements. The total project cost is estimated to be $1,477,423. Representatives from Swift County and UMVRDC staff met with EDA officials in early September for a project kickoff meeting. Congratulations Swift County!
Border-to-Border Grant Application Submission
In August, UMVRDC staff assisted Chippewa County and Farmers Mutual Telephone Company in the preparation and submittal of a grant application to the Minnesota DEED Border to Border Development Grant Program. The proposed project would provide 1G of fiber broadband service for up to 636 possible passings in the northern and western rural areas of the county. This includes many farms, rural residences, small businesses, and community institutions. Most of the project area is considered unserved (current broadband speeds under 25/3 Mbps), while there is a small area of underserved (current broadband speeds between 25/3 Mbps and 100/20 Mbps) residents. As the applicant, Farmers Mutual applied for $4,728,186 in state funding, while committing $2,889,447 of their own funds. Chippewa County, along with Louriston and Rosewood Townships, also committed $2,889,447 toward the project for a total project cost of $10,507,080. If funded, this project would provide reliable, high-speed broadband service to an area of Chippewa County that currently has little to no access to consistent and reliable broadband. Grant awards are anticipated to be announced later this fall.
Make plans to attend Meander this weekend!
The 19th Meander Art Crawl is taking place this weekend, September 30th, October 1st & 2nd! Six new artists join the returning 30+ artists to make for a memorable event. Shop beautiful, quality art while visiting the artists’ studios who created it. Find a brochure, artist pages, maps, and more on the Meander website.
The UMVRDC continues to provide technical and financial management for the Meander since its inception and is pleased to see continued growth and support for the event.Meander Website
Mark your Calendar!
September 27: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Appleton Civic Center || 6:30 p.m.
September 30 – October 2: Meander Art Crawl
Upper Minnesota River Valley
October 25: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Appleton Civic Center || 6:30 p.m.
November 1-3: MADO All Staff Retreat
Mankato || UMVRDC office will be closed as all staff attend this event
November 11: UMVRDC Office closed for Veteran’s Day Holiday
November 15: Save Your Town
Granite Falls || 7:00 p.m.
November 22: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Appleton Civic Center || 6:30 p.m.
November 24 & 25: UMVRDC Office closed for Thanksgiving Holiday
December 26: UMVRDC Office Closed for Christmas Holiday