Census results surprise local residents

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 7, 2001

The 2000 census results surprised many Freeborn County residents, who expected the county to lose a lot more people.

Saturday, April 07, 2001

The 2000 census results surprised many Freeborn County residents, who expected the county to lose a lot more people. Maintaining the population will depend on young families, and cultivating business opportunities, many agreed.

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&uot;It looked to me like we’ve kind of held our own,&uot; said Dan Hopper, of Albert Lea. &uot;The people aren’t leaving the county, they’re just getting older and moving to town. I don’t see an influx of a lot of young people though. I think it would be nice to see that.&uot;

Small towns especially maintained population, and in some cases grew during the last decade. That’s because people like the friendliness and lifestyles small-town living affords, said Andy Stenzel, a farmer in rural Alden.

As a babysitter, Katie Jacobsen has talked to a lot of young couples who came to Albert Lea to raise families.

&uot;When you start having children, a town like Albert Lea becomes more appealing,&uot; Jacobsen said.

Albert Lea’s good schools, library facilities and bike trails are perfect for young families, she said.

&uot;I hope that we can continue to bring them back and continue to bring young people to the community,&uot; Jacobsen said.

Mary Ann Hopper, who has lived in Albert Lea for two years, after living all over the Midwest, said young people’s tendency to move to larger areas may not hurt Albert Lea in the long run.

&uot;I’ve heard that young people actually will move away, then decide to come back,&uot; she said. &uot;So it could be it’s not as bad as they think.&uot;

&uot;It’s a good place to raise kids, I guess,&uot; said 18-year-old Markelle Rettey, of Albert Lea. &uot;But I want to leave. There’s not much to do.&uot;

Derek Nelson, a senior at Albert Lea High School, said the key to keeping young people in town lies in cultivating new business, and better jobs.

&uot;Most of the kids go to college and go to more populated towns that offer better jobs, more profitable ones,&uot; Nelson said.

Nelson would like to return to Albert Lea after college, but that will depend on what kind of work is available, he said.

&uot;Personally, I like the community,&uot; he said.

More Hispanic people came to Albert Lea in the last 10 years because of job prospects, said Louis Lopez.

Lopez, came from Mexico to Albert Lea in 1989 to work.

&uot;They’re looking for wherever there’s work,&uot; agreed Juan Flores, who came to Albert Lea in 1997 from Texas.

Flores said he will stay here as long as he has a good job.

&uot;Only time will tell,&uot; he said.