Building Communities

McHenry County, North Dakota

McHenry County has a rich and fertile history. That history is best reflected in the “pin and truss” bridges that still stand as testimony of the hard work, ingenuity and perseverance of McHenry County residents.Just as these bridges from the previous century spanned geographical challenges for McHenry county residents, creating opportunity and improving the quality of their lives, we are constructing bridges of our own in the 21st century. The strategies and initiatives chosen in this strategic, community and economic development plan, bridge generations, tradition, cultures and economic fluctuations.

Not only are we geographically in the heart of North Dakota, we are the heart of North Dakota. We represent all that is good and wholesome in rural, agriculturally-based communities across America. We are building social and cultural bridges in our communities.We believe in each other and we believe that quality of life is the foundation of small communities. We are warm and welcoming to new residents. Many communities have welcoming committees organized to greet and include new residents as they move in.The “pins” that hold our bridges together are evident in the colloquial language we use daily that defines us as the honest, hard-working, practical neighbors that you’ll find in everyone of us. Idioms commonly used during our planning sessions were: “You get what you put into it.” “Let’s do this right!” “We want to do more than just exist.” “We’re doing this for the kids!”

In our quality of life discussions, the primary concern was the potential threat that growth could bring to the sense of trust in our communities that we now enjoy with our neighbors. We watch out for our neighbors and they watch out for us. We are concerned for the residents of Deering who have been in a decade long battle for quality water. Neighbors are more than just the person who lives close by. Neighbors are a part of our extended families and they are the fabric of our communities. Because of our commitment to our neighbors and communities, we are building generational bridges that address child care, public safety, housing, infrastructure and our sense of connectedness.

To describe McHenry county residents in one word, we’d have to use “resilient.” From 1920 to 2010, we have watched our small rural communities slowly decline in population. But over the last two years, we have seen a slight increase with our official census count at 5,505. We are anxious to create opportunities for our youth to return and find good jobs. We recognize that the oil industry will bring opportunities to McHenry county and we plan to capitalize on those opportunities. As Steering Committee member Stan Martin stated, “Oil will bring its problems, but it will bring solutions as well.”We are building economic bridges that will provide opportunities for future residents “to put down roots” and thrive in our communities.

Most of all, we are building bridges into the future. A future as solid, yet flexible as the pin and truss bridges that defined the roads that have carried us through the last century.

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