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Mayor's Musings: 'City on the grow' faces big changes, challenges

(Editor's note: West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern will be an occasional contributing columnist to the West Fargo Pioneer offering insight into varying topics of interest as they affect the community and its residents. Mattern, a longtime West Fargo resident who is serving his third term as mayor, also serves as an Information Specialist for the North Dakota State University Ag. Communication Department and as an adjunct instructor in the Minnesota State University Mass Communications Department.)

I was excited to hear from the West Fargo Pioneer about writing a column every other week or so. The plan is write about items that would interest West Fargo residents, with either fun or serious material.

I'm on Facebook, but don't comment a lot, even though I should. I decided that, instead of phoning a friend, I should ask on Facebook what I should write about. I was amazed at the response. People talked about writing about the diversion, proposed diversion, Green Bay Packers (yes, I'm a Packer fan), to all the jobs being created in West Fargo and the state.

However, I decided to write about my neighbors Butch (Cullen) and Doreen Johnson. What great neighbors! They embraced us as neighbors years ago when Jody and I moved to the west side of West Fargo. In fact, the whole neighborhood embraced us, which is one of the great things about our city.

Butch and Doreen are a couple that take great pride in the yard and home. The two of them spend countless hours landscaping, watering, mowing and whatever else it takes to have a beautiful yard. I've always envied their great work and, truth be told, it's caused me to get up off the couch and mow the lawn a little more often.

I always have to laugh because Butch often tried to plant new trees, but had some bad luck for a few years. He finally found the right combination of trees that are doing great.

However, the Johnson children are now on their own, so Butch and Doreen have decided to sell their home and downsize. I am sure that I speak for my neighborhood when I say that we are sad to see them go.

My point is, like the Johnson family, things in life change. The same holds true for cities. West Fargo has gone through some tremendous changes in the last decade. The "city on the grow" continues to grow.

With it have come some challenges, such as more roads to plow during the winter, garbage to pick up, areas for the police and fire departments to watch over, and needed parks, to name just a few.

The Johnsons made a decision and so do our park and school districts and the city commission. All of us have to look at these challenges as opportunities for change and growth. In the past, all of the entities have worked together to improve the city. This will become even more important in the future.

It always is a balancing act between providing good services and holding the line on taxes. I believe all the government entities have done a good job of it and will continue to do so in the future. However, we can't do it without your help. We need your ideas. I hope to hear from you soon!

Do you have a topic you would like me to write about, or a question you would like answered? If so, send me a note at