NY Mills Mayor delivers State of the City

Kevin Cederstrom Rachel Eklund and Mayor Larry Hodgson acted as tour guides Monday as they led attendees of the New York Mills Civic & Commerce Association's annual meeting and banquet on a look back through Mills' history. The...

Kevin Cederstrom

Rachel Eklund and Mayor Larry Hodgson acted as tour guides Monday as they led attendees of the New York Mills Civic & Commerce Association's annual meeting and banquet on a look back through Mills' history.

The banquet was held in the City Hall Ballroom, where as a child, Rachel recalls rollerskating. A pair of skates cost 25 cents and 10 cents for a bottle of pop. In the City Hall basement was the bowling alley, featuring 25 cent hamburgers.

Rachel asked if anyone remembered Mills used to have a jail. Only a few nodded they did. The jail had two cells and was back when John Mark was mayor. NY Mills used to have a train depot with water tower, and a mail sack was hung on a hook along the tracks for pick-up each day.


Remember the pickle factory? C&C members Glenda Maijava and Sue Nelson each held the prestigious title of Pickle Queen.

Ray Perala owned a stockyard in town and the Perala boys (Rachel did not specify which Perala boys) made their first dollar at the pickle factory. At night they'd crawl under the building where they'd find pickles that had fallen through the cracks, then they'd sell the pickles. This went on, according to Rachel's historical account, until they found Pickles Windels drowned in a pickle vat.

There used to be a pool hall in Mills back in the day. Rachel said children back then were forbidden to go into the hall, so they used to look through the grates in the sidewalk and watch the guys shoot pool.

Rachel worked in the telephone office, which was located in the old bank building on the corner of Centennial and Main, for four years. When the bar called for the cop and couldn't find him Rachel could look out the window and find him sleeping in front of the lumber yard.

Clarksean's farewell address

Past Mayor Randy Clarksean took the podium one last time for his farewell address and said: "The last four years have been interesting and I've learned a lot along the way."

Clarksean was even gracious enough to offer up some advice for newly-elected Mayor Larry Hodgson.

"This is the only job I've ever had where every decision was wrong," Clarksean said jokingly. "Good luck."


Clarksean pointed out some of the issues the council and mayor have dealt with the last few years, citing street improvements and assessments, $4 million wastewater treatment facility upgrade, and the opening of Stepping Stones in the near future.

Mayor Hodgson delivers his State of the City

"It's been quite an honor being elected mayor," Hodgson said. "But I've only been in the position for 27 days. We'll have to look back in time to relate what we'll try to do in the future."

Larry and his wife, Glenna, drove into this community 34 years ago to interview for a position at New York Mills High School. Following the interview Larry said he was driven around and shown the highlights of the community, and was told what made New York Mills such a special place in which to live.

"We were taken past the multi-winged hospital and Elders' Home where the icon of medicine, Dr. Hanson, worked. Down Highway 10, where it was pointed out that no less than five gas stations and five car dealerships would supply you with all the necessities of transportation - and not one of them dealt in a foreign make of car.

"There was the Lund Boat Company that employed more than 50 workers and there right next to it, the Don Lee Ice Company."

He went on to say there were five churches, a new bank, drug store, two cafes, bakery, two grocery stores, and the local co-op where you could get everything from fabric to free advice.

"But one thing that was pointed out to me, that impressed me most was that over 50 percent of the businesses operating at that time were owned by someone under the age of 35. Young people that were hoping to make a difference as to the survival of this community."


Back to the present

"As we look around today and remember those scenes of the past we see a much different picture today," Hodgson said. "We see a picture that shows that the past leadership of this community had a vision. That vision was one of growth in population. That vision was one of increased economic growth and productivity. That vision was one that brought culture into the community. That vision was one that took into account the care and concern for our elderly.

He pointed out some of the changes in New York Mills over recent years.

Lund Boats has expanded beyond expectations. There is a new clinic with plans to expand. New doctor. Major renovation of City Hall. New school and performing arts center. One of the largest auto auctions in the Midwest. Affordable housing with over 200 rental units. Wastewater infrastructure upgrade.

"I wish I could stand here today and take credit for these changes, but I have only been in office for a total of 28 days and if we were to talk about all that I have accomplished in that period of time we would have been done in about 90 seconds," Hodgson told the group.

Although he said he couldn't take credit for things done in the past, he added: "All I can do is promise you, the people of New York Mills, that I will do whatever I can to continue on with that vision of growth. We are constantly looking for additional businesses to become established in NYMills, businesses that will provide jobs and employment for both men and women in the community. We will continue to offer incentives for new home buyers to select NYMills as the place where they will want to raise and educate their children. We will do whatever we can to assist the elderly in being able to remain a part of our community."

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