OUR VIEW: Our town: Gem in the ‘boondocks’
We who live here are well aware that Mitchell is a really great city.
It matters not that we’re located “in the boondocks,” as Mayer Ken Tracy pointed out recently, noting that, for the second year in a row, our fair but diminutive city has been selected by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) as one of the world’s Smart21 Communities. In fact, Mitchell is the smallest among 20 other global communities now contending for the coveted distinction of being named 2014 Intelligent Community of the Year. The winner will be announced in June.
Mitchell was selected for this prestigious citation due to its panoply of forward-looking capabilities, including comprehensive access to high-speed, fiberoptic Internet. Roger Musick, CEO of Innovative Systems in Mitchell, said a lot of communities do not have any fiber system, while Mitchell’s fiber network streams 10-30 megabytes (MB) per second into homes, businesses and government offices, compared to a sluggish 1-2 MB in many other cities. It’s one bright example of how Mitchell is on the fast track to the future.
Other features of our city that impressed ICF evaluators included Mitchell’s success in growing its population, and public amenities and services, bucking a bleak trend in the American heartland that’s seeing population bleed away. In fact, in the last few decades, while the Mitchell area was losing 30 percent of its population, the city’s population was surely and purposefully edging upward.
ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla lauded Mitchell’s success in stemming the population tide so sadly evident elsewhere. “You’ve figured out a way to keep kids home in a place that some might consider the middle of nowhere,” he said, “but you’ve declared the middle of nowhere is no more.”
One critical reason Mitchell is wellpositioned for the future is enlightened, progressive city government. Fiber-optic Internet access, for example, doesn’t just happen — government needs to envision its value and benefit, organize financing and smooth the bureaucratic path for its arrival. And speaking of technology, all of the city’s public-school seventh-grade through high school students receive iPads or laptops. City leaders have also approved many key programs for improving the local quality of community life, not least of which are a planned expansion and upgrade of the city’s iconic Corn Place venue, and the addition of a second ice rink to accommodate a fastgrowing need for ice-related recreational activities here.
The community also has a robust educational establishment, including Dakota Wesleyan University, which recently opened a new $11.5 million medical center, and the fast-expanding Mitchell Technical Institute, which has also received multi-million-dollar infusions to grow its campus to prepare workers for good jobs now and in the future.
It’s easy, as residents of this comfortable, warm-hearted city, to just take our sense of civic well-being for granted. But we should also, from time to time, think of the many hard-working and visionary people who help to make this all possible and inspire optimism for our future.
-NOTE: This editorial has been updated from it's originally published version to reflect the correct price of DWU's new medical center.