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You Can't Go Home Again...or Can You?
January 7, 2014 - Dawn Bliss
They say you can’t go home again. No one can tell me who “they” are precisely, but “they” are an often referenced and apparently trusted source for words of wisdom. In this instance, though, “they” may be a bit off. I recently came home to Fort Dodge after five years living on the East Coast and making a few trips overseas and found many of the people and places to be the same. Not that I expected any great upheaval in the character and make-up of the city, but the welcoming words of those on the street who recognized me and the unbroken, familiar rhythm of the community made it feel as if I hadn’t been away for anything more than a long weekend. Still, to give the vague yet knowledgeable “they” their due, in simply driving around I did notice enough changes and additions that I felt a bit disorientated. Ethanol plants and accompanying construction has shaped the outlying landscape even as new businesses and restaurants have taken root in town. Also, the once industrial face of Fifth Avenue South has changed into a more welcoming mix of tidy, complementary business fronts of all varieties. A water park and splash pad offer summer cool-off spots, and a family fun center is now an option for the expenditure of free-time. Empty when I left, the old Carnegie library building is now contains apartments. A new, sprawling middle school was constructed near the high school while it seems Iowa Central Community College exploded, establishing multiple locations in town. Another organization that expanded while I was away is the former YMCA, which is now called The Rec and contains four sites rather than just the single, original building on First Avenue South. And these are just a few of the noticeable differences and expansions. I admit my awareness of these changes is superficial and derived simply from passing once familiar buildings, billboards and altered signs. So I need to reacquaint myself and go a little deeper into the fabric of Fort Dodge and Webster County. What’s more, I plan to take you all along for the ride as I go places, attend events, meet people and generally make myself at home.