Small towns show mixture of growth, decline over last decade

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 7, 2001

Location helped two of Freeborn County’s small towns post significant population gains in the last decade.

Saturday, April 07, 2001

Location helped two of Freeborn County’s small towns post significant population gains in the last decade.

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Clarks Grove and Alden, both located slightly off interstate highways close to Albert Lea, grew by 59 and 32 people, respectively.

&uot;That’s our number one asset in terms of attracting residents,&uot; said Clarks Grove Mayor Bruce Hanson. &uot;People have great access to the I-35, which is especially important if they work out of town.&uot;

Alden Mayor Richard Borge said many residents appreciate a quick commute on I-90 to Albert Lea and other cities.

&uot;I think we’ve attracted some workers who like the small-town atmosphere, but actually work in Albert Lea. It’s the hub of our county, and it’s very convenient to be located within 15 minutes,&uot; Borge said.

Both Clarks Grove and Alden also have available lots for new homes and a growing housing market overall, the mayors said.

We’ve got something like 29 lots available at reasonable prices for new homes. When our own residents decide to build, it opens existing homes so I think that has been a key for us,&uot; said Hanson.

Alden also has lots available for new homes and other development, Borge said.

&uot;I think we have eight or nine nice cheap lots in the northwest corner of town. There’s a lot of interest in them,&uot; he said.

Hanson and Borge agreed having a well-kept attractive town is important for growth.

&uot;I feel really lucky, because the people of Clarks Grove are proud of their property and take care of it,&uot; Hanson said.

Having a town police officer, said Borge, has also helped keep the Alden safe and attractive.

&uot;Having our own police officer, Gary Schroeder, is a major investment for us, but it’s definitely worth it. He’s very active with the schools, too,&uot; Borge said.

Clarks Grove surpassed Glenville, which dipped 8.2 percent to 720 residents, as the second largest city in the county. Alden is the third largest, followed by Geneva and Emmons.

Other towns showing net gains include Manchester, Twin Lakes, Hartland, Hayward and Geneva.

In addition to Glenville, other towns losing population include Myrtle, Hollandale and Conger.

Many of Freeborn County’s towns also gained in Hispanic population. Clarks Grove, Alden and Emmons, in particular, showed an influx of Hispanic families.