By Joe Mellenbruch
Devils Lake is a town that has enjoyed steady, upward growth recently and all indications point to that trend continuing in the coming years.
The new Applebees opens this month, the new Leevers addition at the 4th St SE location in Devils Lake is nearing completion, and the Sleep Inn, located at the east end of the city, seems to be wrapping up as well. That isn't even to mention to new Walmart Super Center being constructed, which will be open for business this upcoming spring.
Devils Lake mayor Dick Johnson has been pleased with the growth that Devils Lake has experienced, and he expects that growth to continue.
One thing he feels is a monumental part of that growth is the city's new-found security from the lake thanks to the embankment project that is currently in works, a project that Johnson believes will be fully completed by spring 2014.
"For a long time, we were pretty flat, pretty stagnant, and I think a lot of those concerns were because of the lake," Johnson said. "We had to continue to raise our embankment. Our roads were terrible coming in from the south. It got to be a chore to get to Devils Lake, and a rough ride at that."
But now, the town is secure, according to Johnson, thanks to the new embankment that has been constructed. Now, Devils Lake can focus on further progressing as a city without the looming fear of dangerous, damaging floods.
"We're protected, and most of the remaining work will be done by the end of this year," Johnson said. "Now, investors know we're going to be around for the long term, and I think that has encouraged those investors and developers to take a closer look at Devils Lake.
"We can focus on economic development now that we're safe, secure and that we're going to have a future, and economic developers are beginning to see that."
That appears to be the case.
Johnson also alluded to further business ventures that are being pursued in the city's industrial park, including Ultra Green, which is expected to be up and running before the end of the year.
It all seems to be moving in the right direction for Devils Lake, and new Forward Devils Lake Director Rachel Lindstrom will be keen to keep the town's momentum going.
Originally from Carrington, N.D., Lindstrom, who replaced former economic developer Chris Schilken on a full-time basis just two weeks ago, was formerly employed by Mercy Hospital in an administrative position that gave her direct oversight across a number of different departments throughout the hospital. Lindstrom has a strong business and financial backgrounds, qualities that are demanded by Forward Devils Lake.
Page 2 of 2 - Lindstrom admittedly has big shoes to fill after Schilken's departure, but she has said she doesn't feel pressure to succeed, but rather she is motivated to further promote the city's growth.
"Chris did an amazing job here," Lindstrom said, "and the work that he's already done will allow me to come in and continue to move things forward. I'm in a position to enable that progress. There's energy in this community, and it's motivating for me."
Johnson, who has nothing but the best things to say about Schilken, has every confidence that Lindstrom will succeed in her new position with Forward Devils Lake.
Intellect, a positive attitude and strong people skills are characteristics that Johnson feels will play to Lindstrom's advantage.
"It'll take a little bit of time to get her acclamated to everything," Johnson said, "but she's smart, and she knows what she's doing. We're very confident in her."