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Residents seem to gravitate back to Minto and its welcoming charm, leaders say

Beaver Novak, owner of Beaver's Cafe in Minto, shares a laugh with customers in November. From left; Larry Roy, Mike Farder and Gary Slominski and Dennis Ray and Kathy Reavis in the background. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 4
City Council member Jim Barta, left, and Mayor Larry Jamieson take a look at an old carriage at the Walsh County Museum in Minto, N.D. (Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald)2 / 4
Erin Misialek from Minto, N.D., helps teach dancing and marched with the Polish National Alliance in the 2016 Walsh County Historical Museum parade. (Photo by Hannah Black/Grand Forks Herald)3 / 4
Minto, N.D., was founded in 1883 and has a population of about 600 people. (Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald)4 / 4

MINTO, N.D.—Leaders of Minto say the town of about 600 residents is the type of place people come back to.

In fact, a few of them have left and come back themselves over the past few years.

"The people are good here," City Council member Jimmy Barta said.

Barta said he and his wife moved back to Minto after attending college at UND and living in Grand Forks for a short time, but ultimately they decided they wanted to move back home to Minto.

"The cost of living is cheaper than Forks, but we're close enough to Forks to have all of the amenities," he said. "We've got the cafe, the bars, the churches here."

Additionally, Barta said he enjoys that his daughter can go to a smaller school district as a result of them moving to Minto.

Stanley Miller said he also recently returned to Minto after being away for more than 50 years. His children, one of whom lives in Minto, encouraged him to move back home after being away for so long. It took more than five years to convince him, but he eventually made his way back home and now serves on the City Council.

Miller said the Minto community comes together to volunteer their time and support one another through events like fundraisers or potlucks, he said, noting that doesn't always happen in other places.

"I've lived in other communities, and they did not have that like they have it here as far as working together to accomplish a goal," he said. "I think that's why I like living here."

Mayor Larry Jamieson said the city has a good mix of younger and older people living there, which means the town doesn't fall under the mold of saying, "Everything's OK the way it is."

"We still try to be progressive and improve our city and move forward," he said.

One of the town's highlights is the Walsh County Museum, Jamieson said. The museum, which is the old Minto school, draws in people from across the region and even the globe, he said. Every other year, the town hosts a "Museum Alive" event, which celebrates the county's history and the museum.

People will dress up in costumes in the museum and turn the center into a historical recreation to help children and parents alike learn about what life was like in Minto decades ago. The town also hosts a parade as a part of the event.

"People will plan their vacations around that," Jamieson said.

Taking the initiative

Minto was recently selected to receive grant from the state as a part of Gov. Doug Burgum's Main Street Initiative. The funds will be used, in part, to fix up the town's downtown storefronts in the summer, Jamieson said.

Minto received grant money to fix up its lagoon as well. The city will also be adding lights to its baseball fields, which will allow it to host American Legion baseball tournaments and other events. Leaders hope that will bring in more money for the town.

The town also is partnering with the Walsh County Job Development Authority and the Red River Regional Council to help improves homes within the city.

The housing rehabilitation program assists low-income residents with health and safety issues in their homes at no cost to the homeowner. Barta said the repairs can vary from roofing and window fixes to things like plumbing, heating and electrical issues. He said the city still is looking for more applicants.

More information can be found by contacting City Hall.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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