Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer shared a vision of what the community of Fergus Falls can become by its citizenship pulling together.
The mayor’s special guest, Governor Tim Walz, shared his vision for what the community of Minnesota might become by following Fergus’ example.
“The state of the city is strong,” Schierer declared Tuesday night before a large crowd in Kennedy Secondary School’s red-bricked auditorium.
Sitting in the front row Minnesota’s newly elected governor, and Schierer’s close friend, was one of many who listened as the mayor laid out his annual State of the City address, crediting many of the community leaders for their support, numbering the assets of the city one by one – the Otter Tail River, the arts, the newly remodeled public library and the Downtown Riverfront Council.
“We have to build on those assets,” Schierer said.
Schierer also looked many of the city’s challenges in the eye. He brought up the challenges of mental health and the three suicides the community has already seen in 2019. He talked about the rising homicide rate, which has gone from one every six years when he was a student in the District 544 school system, to one every six months.
Schierer brought up the challenges the business community faces and the need for the city council to do a better job in working with it.
“We must adapt,” Schierer said. “It’s not the 1980s.”
Schierer paid homage to the Spies family and their contributions to the betterment of Fergus Falls over their many decades here. Gary and Sharon Spies and the rest of their family will be honored for many civic achievements in the future by giving their name to the city’s newest park – the Spies Riverfront Park.
“The true impact of Gary and Sharon Spies will be in ways we will never see,” Schierer said as the couple’s family members filed onto the auditorium stage.
Schierer did not give Walz an easy act to follow but Minnesota’s new governor did his best.
“The state of the city is strong and that state of the state is strong,” Walz said but he pointed out to the audience that “we have choices to make.”
Inspired by his visit to Fergus Falls, Walz tossed party lines aside to talk about the good a united community can do for Minnesota and the United States.
“If Fergus Falls is thriving than Fairmont is thriving,” Walz said, but added the answers to Minnesota’s problems are not to be found in St. Paul, but in the strength of its communities.