Mayors report the state of the cities: Proctor, Hermantown, Rice Lake

Two mayors and one city clerk/treasurer gave updates on the priorities and accomplishments of the cities of Proctor, Hermantown and Rice Lake.

A man in a suit stands behind a podium.
Proctor Mayor Chad Ward addresses the attendees of the Hermantown Area Chamber of Commerce's annual State of the Cities lunch on Thursday.
Teri Cadeau / Duluth News Tribune

PROCTOR — Two mayors and one government representative gave updates on the status of their cities and what community members can expect to see in the coming year at the Hermantown Chamber of Commerce's State of the Cities lunch on Thursday, March 16.


Mayor Chad Ward focused on four parts of the city's comprehensive plan: tourism, housing, economic development, utilities and infrastructure.

"A comprehensive plan is the framework that city leaders use to help guide them in making decisions and regulations," Ward said. "A good comp plan should be used in shaping decisions on land use, housing, transportation, parks, community facilities and services."

  • Tourism: Proctor began collecting a lodging tax in 1998. In 2022, the city collected more than $155,000, the second-largest amount since the tax was implemented. Funds from the tax go to local community events and marketing the region's assets.
  • Housing: Proctor has been engaged with APEX and Cirrus regarding ideas for workforce housing for all levels of employees and incomes. The city is looking at its land inventory, uses and infrastructure and will continue to work toward workforce housing goals "even if, at the current moment, it's one house at a time," Ward said.
  • Economic Development: Proctor Economic Development Authority is working on identifying and eliminating barriers to development. Some barriers are physical, such as wetlands, rocks, elevations and infrastructure.
  • Utilities and infrastructure: Last year the city underwent a study of the feasibility of infrastructure extensions under Interstate 35. Lack of infrastructure is currently a "major hindrance," Ward said, to building new housing and attracting new businesses.

Ward said he's looking forward to "a productive year in 2023 to make progress towards our goals and visions."


Mayor Wayne Boucher offered some statistics about Hermantown at present, looked at some of the city's accomplishments from the past year.


By the numbers:

  • Hermantown is a city of 30,396 households and 10,200 employees. Population is up by 35% since 2000.
  • The median age is 38, with an average of 2.5 persons per household.
  • Hermantown's median home value is around $300,000, 1% above the national average.
  • The median household income is $80,000.
  • The violent crime rate is 71% below the national average but property crime is 140% above national average.
  • The biggest employing industries are medical at 23%, retail at 15%, education at 11% and transportation at 7%.

"If I were to pick two words to describe the town's future, I'd pick growth and excitement," Boucher said.
Last year the city passed a 0.5% sales tax referendum to fund the city's three-pronged recreational initiative. The $19 million initiative funds the trail system, adding an additional ice sheet to the arena, and improvements to the city's parks. The city is currently asking the state Legislature for an additional $7.5 million as construction costs have increased since the plans were made in 2018.

Hermantown also saw a new 154-unit apartment building open in 2022 and developers are currently looking to develop other places in the city in the future.

Rice Lake

Toni Blomdahl, Rice Lake city clerk and treasurer, stood in for Mayor John Werner due to illness. Blomdahl spoke on the city's efforts to increase broadband in the city, the status of infrastructure projects in the works and some new recreational projects.

  • Broadband: Rice Lake has been working with CTC, a telecom company out of Brainerd, to get broadband fiber connected to houses around Rice Lake Road. Phase one started last fall and will continue this spring and the city received a grant to help fund phase two to connect to other corridors in the city.
  • Infrastructure projects: The city is asking the Legislature for $1.8 million to fund a sewer expansion on Rice Lake Road, near where they recently did a water-main extension. The city is also working with St. Louis County on major road reconstructions and roundabout placements on Rice Lake Road at the intersections of Martin Road and West Calgary Road.
  • Recreation projects: Rice Lake is making improvements to its city park including a new skating rink, a sledding hill and replacing playground equipment to make a more-accessible playground. A pickleball court is also on the list of possible projects.

The mayors and city clerk stuck around after their presentations to speak with constituents.

Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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