Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias Let's face it.

At times, things in Vermillion can seem to be, well, just a bit slow.

The community has enjoyed its share of successes lately. Polaris and Gateway are here. It looks like Vermillion will be linked to Nebraska early in the new millennium, which will open up a host of new opportunities.

Construction will begin soon on a new addition to Vermillion High School. And The University of South Dakota continues to be a viable part of the community.

That doesn't mean Vermillion isn't faced with challenges.

In a perfect world, housing lots would sell at a faster rate at The Bluffs and other developments in the city.

In a perfect world, farmers wouldn't be suffering from such terribly low prices for the crops and livestock they produce. And the weather would always cooperate.

In a perfect world, the Polaris building wouldn't be sitting alone in its industrial park. Vermillion would be the home of additional industry that would compel people to move here, buy homes here and shop here.

In a perfect world, Vermillion's retail sector would be made up of more than mainly bars, restaurants and crafts shops. There wouldn't be so many for sale or going out of business signs on businesses.

In a perfect world, the enrollment at The University of South Dakota would be climbing steadily year after year. And people wouldn't drive to Sioux Falls or Sioux City or Yankton to shop.

The world of course, is anything but perfect, and that's what can sometimes lead one to feel maybe just a bit discouraged about Vermillion from time to time.

A hearing held in Vermillion by the South Dakota Supreme Court, however, helped reveal some information about the Vermillion area that provides a healthy dose of encouragement.

Unlike many regions of the state that are suffering from a downward spiral in population and economic trends, Yankton, Clay and Union counties are growing.

"This is one of the most rapidly growing areas of the state," Circuit Court Judge Arthur Rusch of Vermillion told the Supreme Court justices. "In the last 25 years, this area has grown significantly and is anticipated to continue to grow."

The population of Yankton County grew from 19,039 people in 1970, to 20,722 people in 1995. That's an increase of 8.8 percent. From 1995 to 2005, it is estimated that Yankton County's population will grow to 22,895. That's an increase of 10.5 percent.

Clay County's population grew from 12,923 people in 1970, to 13,680 in 1995. That's an increase of 5.8 percent. From 1995 to 2005, it is estimated that Clay County's population will have grown to 14,126. That's an increase of 3.3 percent.

Union County, by far, has proven to be one of the fastest growing places in the state, thanks to its close proximity to Gateway and IBP. In 1970, its population was 9,643. By 1995, its number of residents had increased by 16.7 percent, to 11,255.

From 1995 to 2005, it is estimated that Union County's population will be 13,119. That's an increase of 16.6 percent. The overall population of Yankton, Clay and Union counties was 41,605 in 1970. By 1995, that figure had grown by 9.7 percent, to 45,657.

The overall population of the three counties is estimated to be 50,140 by 2005. That's a steady, 16.6 percent rate of growth in the 10 year period beginning in the year 1995. In other, more densely populated states, these population growth figures aren't necessarily impressive. But by South Dakota standards, they are immense.

Clay County and Vermillion are fortunate enough to be in one of five regions of the state that have been identified as growth areas. Three growth areas are contained with the Interstate 29 corridor � mainly Clay-Union, Lincoln-Minnehaha and Brookings-Codington counties. Neighboring counties will also experience some growth.

The other two growth areas are identified as Pennington-Lawrence-Meade counties and Custer County.

The Brown and Hughes counties areas are projected to retain their current populations with limited growth.

These unofficial census projections don't take into account the impact that the new Newcastle � Vermillion bridge over the Missouri River may have on our region.

Clay County and Vermillion should grow and prosper in the next decade. The growth may not be as fast as we'd like. But it's certainly better than the negative population trends of many of our other counties.

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