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I. Falls Mayor addresses residents in taped speech

By Randy Thoms Mar 10, 2023 | 9:07 PM

The mayor of International Falls says the state of his city is good against all odds.

Harley Droba released a 20-minute, taped speech touching on the last three years.

He acknowledges residents for helping the city weather a storm of COVID, closed borders, floods and inflation.

“I owe our endurance through these tough times to the exceptionally high individual average of this city’s residents. Your resiliency and dedication to your home and pride in your community, it is because of you that I have the great fortune of saying that we have weathered the storm together. We have forged a new path and emerged stronger than anyone could have anticipated,” says Droba.

He says the city hasn’t been without its tragedies, from the loss of loved ones to COVID to unexpected business closures.

Droba focused part of his speech on the progress seen.

He cites the opening of two new motels, a new hair salon and the drive-through pharmacy at Rainy Lake Medical Center.

Droba says they have also seen several existing businesses adopted or rekindled by new owners.

Housing continues to be a big issue.

Droba calls it a huge pitfall that threatens to slow the city’s progress.

“We hardly have enough homes for our residents to live in now the prospect of attracting families to settle here to cement and grow our population and economy. It’s grim when we do not have enough homes permanent structures or rentals to offer where would these people live. We are painfully aware of this, and we are doing everything we can to formulate smart solutions to these shockingly complex issues.”

The mayor also addressed the move of the city’s police department to the third floor of the Backus Center.

The city opted not to partner with Koochiching County on a new law enforcement centre.

He says it does provide police with several benefits.

“The Backus office provides a uniquely secure setting while still offering a comfortable lobby, accessible to the public, being two blocks from the previous International Falls Police Department base. Its centralized location within the city would nearly be unchanged, thus assuring quick emergency response times.”

“As we continue to investigate our options, we uncovered several unintentional but not unwelcome consequences of this transition. It offered the police department a chance to build an individual identity outside their close relationship with the Sheriff’s Department.”

Droba says the move will not be permanent as the city has its own plans for its police, fire and ambulance services.

“It has been a well-known issue that all of those departments currently dwell in spaces that are too small, too old, in some cases 60 to 80-year-old buildings that are rapidly nearing the same regulation models that the county jail has recently went through.

These updates would likely cost a small fortune and still necessitate frequent keep up.”

“With this in mind, the city is seeking to design a new center for all emergency services that would provide less complexity and cost when considering additions modifications long-term keep up and would meet regulation standards.”


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