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Lanesboro City Council Report: Art center back on table maybe

Fri, May 23rd, 2003
Posted in Features

Ken Graner addressed the Lanesboro City Council on Monday and asked if they could reconsider their April 7 motion to return the $1 million bond by the state for the Lanesboro Art Center to the state. Graner urged the council to keep the money available in case a group might come forward with a satisfactory plan for the project, commenting that the money could always be returned at a later date. David Drury, who is on the board of both the Commonweal Theatre Company and Cornucopia Art Center, joined Graner in asking for "one more last try to get this to work." Mike McGrath, who has been involved in the Art Center issue over the past few years, reminded the council that the bond is a general obligation capital bond to fund a publicly owned building and it would be an affirmation by the city that the city wants to build the building. McGrath stated, "It is a tremendous opportunity for the city, but the council would need to get on board."Council member Peggy Hanson inquired of Graner, chair of the EDA, if the EDA is willing and ready to take on the job. Graner responded that the EDA is willing to be the go-between to cover the city’s side of the project. Before the vote, Council member Joe O’Connor offered his concern about the project, "I have an uneasy feeling about the grassroots support of the community for the project." The council (with one opposing vote from Council member Jerome Halvorson) voted to rescind the April 7 motion and send a letter rescinding their earlier letter to the state. This will effectively keep the grant money available until the ending date of February 2005 and give the city one last chance to get the project underway.Police DepartmentAfter Police Chief Stuart Stotts made his monthly report to the council, Stotts asked the council to advertise for several part-time officers to help during the upcoming busy season. Stotts informed the council that he wanted to do the background checks on potential officers himself to save money and assure that they were done well. The council was hesitant, inquiring what the standard procedure was in other towns. Jerome Halvorson commented, "This is where the city got in trouble before."Ultimately, the council opted to proceed with advertising for two part-time officers, postponing the decision on background checks. City Administrator Resigns In a surprising conclusion to the city council meeting, City Administrator Barbara Hoyhtya handed out her letter of resignation effective June 13 to the council members. Hoyhtya, who has been Lanesboro’s administrator for four years, will be taking a position in Canby, Minnesota, a larger city with a population of 1,900. Joe O’Connor commented, "our loss, their gain," as the council accepted her resignation. With the less than month before Hoyhtya’s scheduled departure, the council moved quickly to begin the search process for a new administrator. A hiring committee with a member from the Utilities Commission and council members Joe O’Connor and Steve Rahn will be formed, and Hoyhtya will revise the job description to more clearly reflect her current duties. Other businessIn other business, the council:•discussed the open meeting law and its application to serial meetings, letters to the editor, and email communication;•heard that representatives from Bethlehem and United Methodist churches were forming a cable TV committee to look at equipment for local broadcast and to look at ways to recoup money from the cable company and to have more input on channel selections;•discussed procedures for adding items to the council agenda; and•recognized the huge amount of volunteerism in the city of Lanesboro.Wanda Hanson can be contacted at news@fillmorecountyjournal.com

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