Editorial

Whoopee!

That’s the loudest we can get in print. And a $184,130 grant from the Otto Bremer Trust to Citizens for Backus/AB deserves a loud shout out of congratulations and kudos to those involved.

It’s the second time we’ve celebrated for a similar reason. In 2008, a $75,000 Otto Bremer grant helped citizens surpass its goal of raising $250,000 for the repair of the roofs of the Backus and AB buildings.

Citizens for Backus/AB’s recent award was among $9.1 million granted by the trust to organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin as part of its most recent award.

Of the local grant, $130,000 was provided to support continued youth development, food security, and civic engagement at Backus Community Center.

Citizens also sought and was awarded $54,130 to continue activities as a part of the preservation planning and adaptive reuse of the Alexander Baker building.

Buildings are bricks and mortar. Even buildings historically important to our community do not nurture, stimulate, and strengthen a community.

Instead, these buildings give us a wonderful space to foster and develop as a community and they also play a huge role in the activities and events that take place there.

But it’s the people that make up the groups and organizations that make the Backus Community Center truly a community center.

The mission of the Citizens for Backus/AB is simple, but important. “Our mission is to restore and preserve the buildings of the E. W. Backus Jr. High School and the Alexander Baker Elementary School Complex and to create within them a community center for arts, culture, and life long learning: thereby serving the people of International Falls, Minn., and surrounding communities.”

Development of a multiuse facility at Alexander Baker makes perfect sense and would fill a huge need for affordable and yet quality rental housing stock for families.

Clearly, the folks with the trust understand that decent housing is at the very heart of a community. If that’s not clear, a quick review of the Koochiching House Collaborative’s countywide study provides proof that is supported by the State of the State’s Housing 2019 report by the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

We like the momentum the grant will provide the AB project and look forward to more details.

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