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'Make a day of it': Perham gets fresh look with new billboards

Perham passersby have recently gotten a fresh "welcome" to the city, with a new two-faced billboard sitting along Highway 10.

Meant to encourage career expansion and tourism in Perham, Chuck Johnson, with the Perham EDA, says a group of citizens put their heads together to figure out the best way to encourage people to visit and come to work in the city.

The billboards themselves are about 20 years old, put up jointly by Arvig and Otter Tail Power Company, and they have always held some sort of promotional theme for jobs in the city. For example Johnson says during the recession around 2008, the billboards sported a slogan that said "Perham refuses to participate in the recession"--and the saying was popular.

In fact, "Perham saw job growth throughout the recession," said Johnson.

Recently, though, the signs suffered some storm damage and began to look shabby, not holding to the standard the city wanted to keep in order to encourage the community to grow.

Johnson and his crew decided to utilize each billboard a little differently this time, still promoting the careers in the town but also adding a piece to support tourism, thus birthing the slogans "Make a day of it" and "Make a career of it."

In the face of the online shopping boom, retailers (especially of the small town variety) are struggling. Many are being forced to close, and Johnson said the idea was to counteract that with one of the billboards.

"Amazon might be convenient, but shopping in Perham is fun," said Johnson, explaining what he and his group of designers were hoping to express through the artwork.

Once the concept for the billboards had been planned, Johnson turned the design aspect over to Sue Von Ruden, who put together a team to turn the idea into reality.

The team settled on a more "modern" look with app-like tiles representing different tourism and career opportunities available in Perham.

Then they were sent to JH Signs for printing.

"Both of them (the billboards) have a lot of sticky," said Johnson, talking about the visual appeal of the design. "It's a nice opportunity for the town to have that exposure."