Economy on the rebound
Well, the world didn't end in 2012.
Not for everyone, anyway.
The first five Top 10 stories of 2012
In Emmet County, 2012 was a year when the economy pulled out of a recession. Buoyed by good commodity prices, and despite a withering drought, good yields, Emmet County farmers sat back and called it a good year for production agriculture.
The good economic news spread to towns like Estherville as well.
Two major signs of new growth were store expansions - Pamida to Shopko Hometown and Dollar General to a new store across from Estherville High School. Not only that, but Carrico Heights saw new housing units - all at a time when housing was largely on hold in many parts of the country.
Halfa feed mill
StateLine Coop, with main offices in Burt, started work on a $9 million feed mill in Halfa this summer. Plans are to finish the project by late 2013.
"We chose the Halfa location in Emmet County to meet the needs of our feed customers now and well into the future. We are very excited about the new feed mill which will also give area corn producers another market for their grain," said Cherilyn Kirchau, StateLine Cooperative's Feed Department manager.
Upon completion, the mill will have the capacity to manufacture up to 400,000 tons of meal feed with the option of pelleting 200,000 tons of feed annually. The facility will be able to receive 20,000 bushels of corn per hour.
Ringsted school closes
Just a few miles to the south of Halfa, Ringsted Elementary closed its doors for good on June 30 after having served the community for 60 years.
The Save the Ringsted School committee, a group of local Ringsted citizens, put in an 11th-hour bid to save the school. However, the Armstrong-
Ringsted Board of Education had its eye on a ticking clock, and feeling a responsibility toward taxpayers and the community at large, decided to sell the property with the understanding that the building would be demolished.
North Union whole-grade sharing
The year 2012 was also the first year of whole-grade sharing between Armstrong-Ringsted and Sentral and North Kossuth. Armstrong took high-school students while Sentral took its own elementary students as well as A-R's. North Kossuth took middle-school students and its own elementary grades into the Swea City building.
In the spring, the district let students choose a mascot, name and colors, something that helped draw students together in a common cause. The success of that strategy was evident in the North Union homecoming theme, "Old with the old, in with the NU."
A-R and Sentral are working toward consolidation by 2014 with that new district to be designated as North Union. Plans are for that new district to whole-grade share with North Kossuth, with an eye toward possible future consolidation.
Only two or three years after city leaders were ready to sound the death knell of their commercial district, Armstrong saw significant growth in its commercial sector this year.
Casey's bought the former Kum & Go and demolished the store and started work on a new facility that will serve the community well.
Just to the east, Armstrong Service Center started construction on a tire and alignment center that will also house its rental business. Plans are for the facility to be open in the next couple months.