By Sylvia Wier
The U.S. Census, an every-decade accounting of who’s where and what’s what in America, published its list of population winners and losers this month.
The losers? Philadelphia, Pine Bluff, Ark., Danville, Ill. The reasons are varied. The winners? A myriad of reasons too but gold stars went to Phoenix, New Braunfels, Texas, The Villages in Florida and Ranier.
Yes. The home of Big Vic and the Muni saw its population in 2020 almost quadruple to an estimated 569 from 145 in 2010.
Californians, no, seeking reasonable home prices? Chicagoans weary of the rat race? Surely, the Twin Cities crowd seeking some relief from the bustling shores of Lake Minnetonka.
Longtime Ranierians know the answer and can stop reading here.
For the uninitiated, Ranier City Administrator Sherril Gautreaux can explain it in one word: Annexation.
The town grew by acquisition, scooping up the nearby unincorporated areas of Alberta, French, Jameson and Brennan’s Beach. Gautreaux said the consolidation was completed late in 2010, too late for the population growth to be reflected in the 2010 Census numbers.
With the people came the land, increasing the size of Ranier to 1,142 acres from 98 pre-merger.
The road to this municipal marriage had its bumps along the way. A 2009 International Falls Journal story recounts the Koochiching County Board meeting where commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of annexation. Some residents of the unincorporated areas clapped and hugged commissioners on their decision. The other half called immediately for those officials who voted yes to be canned, along with then-Ranier Mayor Ed Oerichbauer.
Differences aside, all five areas remain wedded almost 11 years later now.