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Braun, D. K. Friesen and Elmer Hildebrand of CFAM began plans for an enclosed shopping mall in the center of town.
Opened in 1973, the Altona Mall immediately boosted Altona's retail trade and was in large part responsible for Altona's new growth during the 1970's. Between 1970 and 1980 Altona's service and retail trade grew from five million to twenty four million dollars stimulating all facets of Altona's economy; new jobs were created, house con struction increased and more younger adults decided to stay in the community. 35
An offshoot of this new emphasis on increasing Altona's retail trade was the establishment of the annual Sunflower Festival in 1965 to coincide with sunflower blossom time. Conceived as a means of pro moting Altona's commercial life and encouraging store sales, this festival soon replaced the Rhineland Agricultural Society's fall agricul ture fair. As the place of agriculture in the Festival declined so too did the agricultural function of the Rhineland Agricultural Society who ran the Festival. By the 1970's the RAS became virtually synonymous with the Sunflower Festival. 36
Unlike Altona, Gretna continued to decline in the 1960's and early 70's. Unable to attract industry and not able to compete with Altona or Winkler in retail trade, Gretna, like Rosenfeld and Plum Coulee, assumed the character of a quiet residential community with only the essential services. Modernization and automation at the pipeline pump ing station eliminated over half of the jobs at the pumping station in the 1960's and during the 1970's more station employees were transferred out of Gretna. In 1965 the town also lost one of its few remaining administrative functions when the county court was moved to Win mpeg.
Gretna's fortunes nearly suffered another serious blow in 1963 when the MCI was destroyed by fire and Winkler supporters started a campaign to have the school relocated in Winkler. Fortunately for Gretna, school delegates and a study commission decided to keep the school in Gretna. In 1964 a new $175,000 school was built. Since then a new gymnasium and library have also been added.
Plum Coulee fared better than Gretna after 1960 bypassing it in population and retail trade, but it too declined steadily in the period before 1976.37 After 1976 its fortunes revived and it has been growing modestly since that time. While its retail trade has not grown signifi cantly it has remained an active agricultural service center. In 1975, Manitoba Pool Elevators built a new composite elevator there and the town also offered a number of feed and seed services. In an effort to publicize the town the Plum Coulee Chamber of Commerce initiated an