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OUR VIEW: Community assets needed for small towns

Want to have a thriving, forward-thinking rural community? Here are some ideas: Update the town's ballpark. Polish up and improve the local pool. Or, like in Mount Vernon recently, build a new track at the high school. Mount Vernon late last week...

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Mount Vernon/Plankinton hosts its first track and field meet — the Greenway Relays — Friday at the school's recently finished facility in Mount Vernon. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Want to have a thriving, forward-thinking rural community?

Here are some ideas: Update the town's ballpark. Polish up and improve the local pool. Or, like in Mount Vernon recently, build a new track at the high school.

Mount Vernon late last week got to show off its $450,000 track at the inaugural Greenway Relays, and we couldn't be happier for the small town.

Community assets are so important for rural areas. And while these investments many times do not have direct financial returns, the benefits are for long-term success.

Important to understand is many of South Dakota's rural communities are losing populations quickly. And that trend will likely continue for years to come.

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But the towns with leaders who put stock into where they live will last much longer than those that are happy with business as usual. Remember, there's no silver bullet for success in rural areas.

We presume there are some who live in Mount Vernon who aren't happy that nearly a half-million-dollar track was constructed, but we applaud the move.

Communities like Mount Vernon need reasons to draw and keep people when there aren't as many jobs available as larger-sized towns. These rural areas need to engage the public and create a sense of community pride.

In Mount Vernon's case, the school district just showed a big commitment to athletics and extracurricular activities. It also gave residents an area to exercise and potentially hold community events.

So if you think your rural town needs a shot in the arm, talk to your local leaders about finding areas to spruce up or develop. Get involved with fundraising. Make a difference.

Doing nothing will only ensure a quicker decline to the death of rural South Dakota.

Related Topics: OUR VIEW
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