Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Midwest Farm Town, Transformed by Immigration, Thrives

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"Beardstown lost population from 1980 to 2000, from 7,232 to 5,766, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But it grew from 2000 to 2010, back up to 6,123. Blacks increased from 52 to 360, while the number of Latinos grew from 1,032 to 1,994. The number of whites fell from 5,233 in 2000 to 4,576 in 2010, and from 90.8 percent of the population to 74.7 percent. Smaller Rushville has also seen a spike in the number of minorities.  Both towns are well-kept, with mowed lawns and flowers in the front of brick and frame homes. They lack the forlorn, hollowed-out quality of some other rural Midwest towns that are more troubled by job and population loss. Beardstown Mayor Bob Walters said Latinos bought and fixed up many run-down houses.  Marge Corwin, 62, who owns a Rushville flower and gift shop, thinks diversity is good for the area, both for learning about different cultures and for economic growth.  "There are some people who will never, ever accept it