Taking stock, 2013 has been a better year for county

At the beginning of 2013, the Record laid out a five point plan of emphasis for the coming year. On most fronts, the county made progress, and on all showed no signs of slippage.

Most important was to bring down the felony rate in the county.  In 2012, 10 people were accused of murder or attempted murder. All but two were convicted this year, and those two are still awaiting trial.

More importantly, except for a murder-suicide in Little Falls Township, no other acts of homicidal intent were reported this year.

Another goal was to build community ties. This county, home to Camp Ripley, can be especially proud that it achieved Beyond the Yellow Ribbon status. The campaign assists the families of deployed soldiers as well as veterans, to make sure that they have a support system.

Community events are often taken for granted, although those directly involved know a lot of work takes place to make them successful. This year, Pierz held its first Freedom Fest, and all reviews were positive. Other new events are in the works in other communities.

A third goal was in support of the development of the Camp Ripley/Veterans State Trail. While the Legislature bonded only for repairs of the State Capitol, and offers no guarantee of critical funding during the coming session, the trail eventually will receive state funds. It makes too much sense from an economic development standpoint not to. The trail would link the Paul Bunyan and Soo Line trails, creating one of the largest trail networks in North America.

Like the trail, the Pine Grove Zoo awaits state funding as well. The money would be used to finance a building to house the large cats at the zoo. That is the last major hurdle needed to achieve American Zoological Association accreditation. Accreditation, in turn, would make Pine Grove eligible for a share of state funding now going to zoos in Apple Valley, St. Paul and Duluth.

And finally, Morrison County made some small gains on the jobs front. The county added 58 jobs in the past 12 months, even though neighboring Cass, Crow Wing and Mille Lacs counties all lost jobs. The November jobless rate in the county was only 5.8 percent, down from 6.2 percent a year ago.

Overall, 2013 proved to be better for Morrison County in a number of ways. May 2014 continue the trend.