The times they are a changing

It’s been said one of the few constants in life is change. In the more than 13 and-a-half years I’ve been at the paper I’ve chronicled a lot of changes in New Prague.

There have been changes in businesses, local government, the schools and the town itself. One is the population of the community. When I moved to New Prague its population was between 3,000 and 4,000 people. Today it is around 7,401, which is close to the population of Thief River Falls (more than 8,000) where I grew up.

While housing has sprung up all around town, one area that I point out the most is the city’s south east side. I think it’s because it has seen the most change.

In 1999 there were a few houses and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, the rest of the area was a huge field. There was no Prague Estates housing subdivision, no Coborn’s Superstore, no strip malls, no McDonald’s, no SuperAmerica, no roundabouts, no ALCO, no 10th Avenue stretching south and no State Bank building. That institution was still along Central Avenue across from City Hall.

Other changes have been with businesses. Chart Industries was a bit smaller and the Wally Miller Business Park wasn’t full yet. Of course, another possible change on the horizon is a business park going in across the street. The city and the Economic Development Authority are still working on that, so it may be a while.

A new building along Highway 21 is the New Prague Fire and Ambulance Facility. The combined building along Fifth Avenue wasn’t even in the city’s plans in 1999. The fire department and ambulance service stored their vehicles and other equipment in the garages at City Hall.

There have also been the demolition of several buildings. St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church knocked down its old convent to make room for the Parish Activity Center. The Novak Barn, once owned by Dr. E.E. Novak, one of the community’s most prominent citizens, is gone. The brick barn was on the south side of town, near ALCO. Another is the building that was on the northwest corner of Main Street and Central Avenue. It had apartments above and housed several restaurants on the first floor. One thing that made it stand out was the mural of Anton Philipp, one of the city’s founders. A fire damaged the building and it was demolished. The old American Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) plant along First Avenue NW also went down to the wrecking ball. There were surprises during the demolition of both the AMPI plant and the convent as times capsule were found.

There have been many changes over the years. We’ll see what happens next in this coming year …and the ones after that.