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Rushford hires fundraising firm for library project

Fri, Jan 30th, 2009
Posted in Government

Rushford librarian, Sue Hart, along with Crescendo-LLP consultants Ellen Hongerholt and Laura Eddy at the Rushford City Council meeting.

RUSHFORD - Minus one-member, the Rushford City Council voted unanimously last Monday, January 26, to enter into a contract with Winona-based consultants, Crescendo-LLP, to "manage and direct" a capital campaign designed to raise $1.2-million for construction of a new library. Crescendo will be paid $2,500-per-day, not to exceed $135,000, for services rendered in the upcoming 48-to-52-weeks.

Responding to a broad-range of concerns expressed mainly by council-members Larry Johnson and Robert Dahl, Crescendo partner Laura Eddy stated, "Despite the economy, it seemed [at a recent community meeting] that people still want to move forward and do this."

Johnson asked, "Is there a point when we know this is going to work?"

Replied Crescendo partner Ellen Hongerholt, "We will know in 28-36-weeks."

Librarian Susan Hart added, "This is a project the Library Board's been working on for 10-years. We are very confident this group [Crescendo] can raise the funds. It's something we cannot do ourselves."

"We need to support this 100-percent for it to work," cautioned Council member Nancy Benson. She looked around the table and asked, "Is the Council 100-percent in favor of this?"

"Everybody's got a different opinion about everything we do," replied Johnson.

"This [capital campaign] was triggered when the City purchased buildings and cleared ground for construction," administrator Windy Block interjected. "The Council [through past resolutions] has supported preparing for this day."

Dahl shook his head skeptically. "I think it's going to be very hard to raise that money."

"Are you not willing to give it a try?" responded Mayor Les Ladewig.

Eddy reminded the Council that the contract can be terminated at any time with 2-weeks notice. "In a community of this size," she said, "we can't afford to have only half of the community in support of this."

"We're blown away by community leadership," added Hongerholt. "And let me tell you, money does follow leadership."

"We will know rather early on in the process if this is going to go," explained Eddy. "Four-months, we should know."

Still skeptical, Dahl responded, "You should go talk to the people on the street."

Ladewig: "Everybody at the last meeting at Montini Hall - 40-50-people - they were all very excited about this."

With that, Benson formally proposed, "that we move forward on this, give it 28-weeks, spend a little money, do the research to see if it's going to work."

"We don't have any guarantees," cautioned Eddy. "There will be people against this."

Johnson: "Have you done any surveys yet to get a feel for community support?"

Hongerholt, who has a Masters Degree in philanthropic-giving, explained, "We feel the assessment tool we use works best. There is support among the 51-community leaders we talked to."

"This Library Board is not looking for the City to pay for everything," Block noted. "We should not walk away from this opportunity, or we'll end up paying for it."

Johnson seconded Benson's motion to authorize contracting with capital campaign manager-Crescendo to raise funds for a new library.

"What is the Council's pleasure?" asked Mayor Ladewig, who will sign the contract on behalf of the City. The measure passed unanimously.

In Other Business:

• The Council acknowledged $26,400 in donations from various sources toward renovation of Creekside Playground, which included transferring more than $7,600 from the disaster relief fund. In addition, the Council authorized Mayor Ladewig to request an additional $50,000 in Federal assistance to replace flood-damaged playground equipment.

• Following a recommendation by the Airport Commission, the Council authorized contracting with Mead-Hunt to provide engineering services required prior to tree removal at the south end of the runway.

• Officially acknowledged receipt of "The City of Rushford Street and Utility Improvement Program - 2009, Part I" from Otomo Engineering. The catalog of infrastructure improvements totals more than $12-million. Individual projects may now be submitted for State and Federal funding assistance.

• In anticipation of future attrition, the Council agreed to proceed with hiring and training 3-new firefighters.

• The City has received 8-applications to fill the Council seat vacated when Laura Deering resigned. Benson, Johnson and Block will evaluate the contenders, conduct interviews and, at the 9-February meeting, recommend a candidate to complete the 3-years remaining in Deering's term.

• The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing 17-February at 6:30 p.m. to consider the preliminary plat for the "Himlie Business Park", proposed new hotel, community center and housing development site.

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