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Chatfield and Preston put on a show House: Capital Investment Committee Tour

Fri, Oct 11th, 2013
Posted in Chatfield Government

On Tuesday, October 8, 2013, members of the House Capital Investment Committee went for a road trip around Southeastern Minnesota to visit candidates requesting bonding support.

Led by State Representative Alice Hausman, chair of the House Capital Investment Committee, the members of this committee will be visiting each section of the state as they gather information that will help to determine who gets funding. With roughly $850 million on the table, and a total of $2.4 billion in requests -- with that number still growing as requests are submitted -- only a fraction of these state-wide projects will garner financial support.

As a matter of protocol, state representatives for their own districts were asked to give a speech about the significance of supporting specific bonding projects, which gave State Representative Greg Davids (District 28B) a few moments at the podium.

While the House Capital Investment Committee had scheduled visits at Winona State University and the Southeast Minnesota Rail Alliance (in Rochester) to discuss support for the Zip Rail, Fillmore County captured the attention of legislators during their visit to Chatfield and Preston.

National Trout Center

First, at a crowded National Trout Center (NTC) in Preston, Minn., legislators had an opportunity to hear about a mission and vision revolving around the famed trout of the Root River.

Citing the economic impact of the NTC illustrated with a clever fact-filled 16-1/2 inch colorful trout-shaped handout, NTC Chairman George Spangler shared the following information with the House Capital Investment Committee.

•More than 450 miles of trout stream restoration over the past 25 years

•$1.1 Billion annual economic benefit to local communities

For every dollar spent on stream restoration, $24.50 is returned annually to the regional economy

•Over 155,000 Trout Stamp holders in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin

•Non-resident anglers contribute 47 percent of direct expenditures to the trout fishery

In addition, Spangler shared the mission of the NTC, which “is to conserve our natural and cultural heritage of trout and their cold-water environments by engaging the public through education, practice and awareness.”

Following a presentation by Spangler at the NTC location on Saint Anthony Street in downtown Preston, additional support was offered by Preston Mayor Kurt Reicks, Fillmore County Commissioner Duane Bakke, Preston EDA Director Cathy Enerson, and State Representatives Greg Davids.

A question was posed by State Representative Alice Hausman regarding the impact of frac sand mining on the Root River and the survival of trout in our streams. Commissioner Bakke answered questions relating to where Fillmore County government was at with the process of evaluating the impact of frac sand mining. According to Bakke, the frac sand mining interest in Fillmore County appears to be in Pilot Mound in areas that are no where near waterways. And, Bakke added that the sand quality that has been mined in this region is not of the same quality as frac sand that has been mined in Wisconsin, which is why there is more frac sand mining in Wisconsin.

Following the visit to the current NTC location, Spangler led the large group of State Representatives down the street to the proposed site of a 10,250 square feet National Trout Center that would come with an estimated price tag of some where between $3.5 and $4.0 million for fees, site work, building and exhibits (living stream aquarium).

Alongside State Representative Greg Davids, native to Preston, NTC Chairman George Spangler stood by the Root River and shared the vision for what this investment could become for the City of Preston and the region.

Spangler emphasized the importance of providing “an experiential education and outreach program for people of all ages and abilities that engages them in the ecosystem that supports healthy trout populations.” With the backdrop of a gorgeous, naturally sculpted rocky bluff, a quiet and calmly flowing Root River, legislators had an opportunity to embrace the possibilities of a bustling downtown Preston full of anglers visiting taverns, cafes, and family restaurants while lodging at hotels, motels, cabins, and campgrounds.

Following the visit to Preston, House Capital Investment Committee members hopped on a coach bus and wasted no time hurrying to the Chatfield Center for the Arts.

Chatfield Center for the Arts

When they arrived at the entrance of the Potter Auditorium, they were greeted on the front steps by Chatfield Mayor Russ Smith, Chatfield City Clerk Joel Young, and Chatfield Center for the Arts Director Megan Kleven. Just like in Preston, there was a crowd of business owners showing their support for this initiative.

From the onset, the possibilities of the center were brought to life with live theatre, arts and entertainment as the auditorium went dark, a spotlight grew on the stage, and actor Al Dietz gave a dramatic, humorous and thought-provoking performance that captured the attention of legislators. In just a few minutes, legislators observed a sample of what’s been happening inside the walls of the art center.

Led by Joel Young, the group walked down a hallway to a room where Megan Kleven played acoustic guitar while singing a Japanese melody. With food and beverages in hand, legislators listened to her performance while Young prepared to give a video presentation on the other side of the room.

And, then the testimonials started playing on the big screen with performers, local residents and business owners sharing their support for the Chatfield Center for the Arts.

The theme for this entire presentation revolved around transformation. With hopes of pulling in $7.985 million from the state, Chatfield proposes that they could generate more than $14.0 million in local funding to add to the financial support needed to pay for the entire project.

The mission for the Chatfield Center for the Arts is “to create a sustainable attraction for culture, education, entertainment, and economic development that will enhance the quality of life... while preserving the historical importance of the most prominent, architecturally significant, and well known building in downtown Chatfield.”

The vision revolves around renovating the 1916 school building and auditorium to create an outstanding performing arts venue.

The meeting concluded and the House Capital Investment Committee was off and running to their next stop.

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