After flood, 2 Minnesota towns vote on merger

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Residents of two small northeast Minnesota towns rocked by flooding last year will vote Tuesday on a merger.

When June 2012 flooding hit the Duluth area, all of nearby Thomson's 159 residents were evacuated, and neighboring Carlton offered shelter to some of them, the Duluth News Tribune reports. Muddy roadways and a few boarded-up houses remain in Thomson, the newspaper reports.

The floodwaters (see Carlton flood pics here) caused an estimated $100 million in damage in Carlton County; nearly 900 homes were damaged, and businesses found themselves cut off by washed out roads, the Associated Press reported.

The merger would consolidate a tax base and strengthen both municipalities, backers of the proposal say.

The two towns would save money by sharing emergency and city services, the News Tribune reports. The new town would be called Carlton, but Thomson would maintain its identity. “We are going to keep Thomson’s history. It will essentially be a neighborhood in the city. There will still be signs pertaining to Thomson. People can still say they are from there,” Andy Hubley, regional planning director with the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, told the newspaper.

"You're going to have a city hall that's going to be open all day long, you'll have a maintenance crew that's there all day long, so it's a benefit for the people," Thomson Mayor Lawrence St. Germain, told MPR News.

Both city councils and the mayors support "the merge," as many locals are calling it. The merger would take effect Jan. 1, 2015.

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