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Use of flood money for start-ups questioned


Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - In the days immediately following the flood of 2007, it was difficult for Rushford residents and civic leaders to imagine anything worse than the muddy water covering their town and nearly everything in it.

Now, seven months later, city officials may long for those days when the task at hand was clear: clean up.

The mayor, city administrator and council now find themselves dealing with legislation, stipulations and intents that at times seem as clear as mud.

At issue is the question of just how flexible the flood relief dollars really are. And in what direction can they flex? If dollars can be given to start-up businesses, why not citizens trying to rebuild homes?

In a letter writing campaign to legislators, the council, and local papers, homeowner Larry Mierau is questioning why some of the funds being used for business can't be transferred over to housing to help residents who are still struggling with flood recovery. Mierau says he's one of the people who've "fallen between the cracks" because he qualified for a Small Business Administration loan, which makes him not eligible for the Quick Start funds.

At age 62, Mierau says he now has thirty years of payments to SBA, in addition to his original mortgage. He maintains that there is nothing in the flood relief bill "that precludes a transfer of funds" from business to housing.

Mierau further contends that by granting funding for $500,000 each to two businesses not impacted by the flood last month (Hypersonic-LLC and Connaughty Industries), the council was violating the intent of the law. Mierau quoted from the Preamble which refers to "providing money to match and supplement federal disaster assistance for property damaged by the floods of August 2007."

Mierau also points to a phrase in Section 8 of the bill that says "Assistance under this subdivision is not limited to businesses," thus bolstering his argument that it should be okay to transfer funds to flood-damaged homes, but not to new business.

Mierau received a reply to his letter from state representative Ken Tschumper, an email that he circulated at the council meeting, where Tschumper appears to agree with Mierau "that the City council acted on false and inaccurate information (when it declined to move funds into housing). The disaster relief legislation clearly states that money can be moved from one fund to another."

Tschumper also wrote that he confirmed with .....
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Rushford council accepts resignations

Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

A pair of resignations bookended last Monday's city council meeting.

Christina Friederichs, Vice-Chair of the Rushford EDA, resigned her post, effective April 9.

Friederichs, Business Manager for Winona Health, had asked for time at ..... 
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Harmony hires architect for Community Center project

Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

City Council members in Harmony have been looking at ways to finance the projects that need to be done at the Community Center, both to the building and the parking lot. At the regular meeting on March 11, City Administrator Jerome Illg presented th ..... 
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Spring Valley City Council holds brief meeting

Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

It was one of the shortest meetings in months as the Spring Valley City Council breezed through a handful of agenda items.

Liquor License Application

An addition was made to the recently approved Liquor License for Johnny Ringo's. It ..... 
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Preston council committed to eminent domain

Fri, Mar 7th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Kay Ristau made a plea to the Preston City Council at the March 3 meeting to reconsider and rescind their motion of last fall to institute eminent domain proceedings to acquire land for the bicycle trail from Preston to Forestville State P ..... 
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Social Service programs reviewed

Fri, Mar 7th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - The history, operation and goals of the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) and the Diversionary Work Program (DWP) were detailed at the March 4 county board meeting. Gail Bunge, Financial Assistance Supervisor, explained that the M ..... 
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Rushford City council: Joint session looks at flood loans

Fri, Mar 7th, 2008
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - In a special joint-session of the Rushford City council and EDA on Monday, March 3, members presented tailored specific disaster loan policies to meet special-case needs, but largely decided to stick with program guidelines that have resu ..... 
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Lanesboro Council discusses need for hazardous mitigation plan

Fri, Mar 7th, 2008
Posted in Government

Lanesboro's City Administrator Bobbie Vickerman recently attended a Hazardous Mitigation meeting, and spoke to the City Council about it during their regular meeting on March 3. Information has been acquired from every city in Fillmore County regard ..... 
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Rushford council okays $1 million in loans to non-flood businesses

Fri, Feb 29th, 2008
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - Oh, the headlines. Nobody signed up to be front-page-news when the Feds-and-the-State tipped a dump truck full of disaster recovery funds on Rushford. Like-it-or-not, that money belongs to the taxpayers, the People. And exactly how the Pe ..... 
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