Now let’s see results

It’s been said before, but is worth repeating, that there’s no way Fort Frances and International Falls should have waited 100 years to become “sister cities.”
But now that it’s finally official after last Thursday afternoon’s signing ceremonies both here and across the river, there’s no time to waste in putting our renewed spirit of goodwill and co-operation to serious work.
And there is serious work ahead. Both communities face similar problems—from “outshopping” to a declining population base (particularly among our youth)—and both depend heavily on healthy forestry and tourism industries.
Equally important is the challenge to attract new industry—and jobs—to the Borderland region.
As well, despite decades of close ties between Fort Frances and International Falls, an undercurrent of animosity still clearly exists just beneath the surface. The ink wasn’t even dry on the “sister city” agreement last Thursday when public outcry, coupled with an Immigration violation, helped scuttle Minnesota resident Denny Nelson’s attempt to hold a bass derby in Ontario waters of Rainy Lake.
It’s equally obvious any other such effort would be greeted with the same backlash.
Still, there are positive signs, too. The recent effort to save the Backus Auditorium in International Falls from possible demolition is a shining example of cross-border co-operation at its best. Several service clubs, including the Shriners and Kiwanis, also work together.
There also was some co-operation to fight the recent jump in toll prices to cross the bridge here, as well as look into the possibility of building a publicly-owned span across the river, although neither effort really amounted to anything after the initial uproar.
Which is why it is so important that enshrining our common goals in a formal agreement must go far beyond mere words on paper. As such, let’s challenge both councils to produce at least some concrete result stemming from our “sister city” deal within a year.
After all, council smoosh races and slo-pitch challenges may be fun, but they won’t keep our young people here.

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