Historical center needs funds
With the economy in tough shape, no one is left unscathed including the Lake County Historical Society.
At Tuesday's Lake County Board of Commissioners meeting, officials from the group asked the county for more funding. The society is hoping to receive $35,000. In the past, the society had received $32,000 a year. This year, the allotment is $28,000.
Willard Clark, vice president for the group and member of its executive board said that if the economy takes another dip it will make it difficult for the LCHS to make it through the months between December and May. He said that everything the county gets in funding goes right back into the community.
"With the cost of everything going up ... we are here to ask you for a little more support," said Mel Sando, who runs the LCHS. He said that not all of the money would go to the group based in Two Harbors. Thirteen percent of the funds would be given to both the Finland and Bay Area historical societies.
A bad economy could also mean a loss of jobs for the society. Sando said they could go from four full-time positions to two in the fall.
Commissioners seemed supportive of the cause.
"We want to see if we can find some extra money," Paul Bergman said. He suggested going to the city and asking for funds and maybe getting a reduction in utility costs.
Clark said historically the group has not done that, considering it's a county-wide effort.
Commissioner Tom Clifford suggested having a county-wide lodging tax set up to help the Historical Society. Two Harbors already has a lodging tax in place which is helping the society.
The historical society is also looking for money from the county, or maybe the city, to help pay for the project plan for the restoration of the Yellowstone Mallet locomotive down at the Depot. LCHS would cover the other half of the cost which would not exceed $10,000.
The entire project, which includes the abatement of hazardous material from the train and repainting it, will cost $251,000 with LCHS paying $50,000 along with help coming from various other sources.
"[We are] going to paint that train come hell or high water," Sando said.
The county board passed a resolution to act as the sponsor for the receipt of federal funding for the Two Harbors Welcome Center. Funding for building the visitor center on the west side of town adjacent to Culver's can be found in a transportation bill Rep. Jim Oberstar is trying to get through. Bergman said it's about a year away from actually passing.
The welcome center is expected to cost $3 million. The county must act as the agent to get the funding.
Lake County Highway Engineer Al Goodman said the signs put up by the Minnesota Department of Transportation pointing people down to Scenic Highway 61 and its business district are "pathetic." He said Wednesday that larger signs were up.
The original signs, which are found near Lakewood Road for travelers heading to Two Harbors on the expressway, were about 2-by-2 feet. Now they are double the size.
Tourists are less likely to travel on Scenic 61 because of the construction on Lester River Bridge in Duluth.
The board also approved a bid from Northland Constructors for the reconstruction of First Avenue for about $1.1 million, which around $130,000 under original estimates. The city of Two Harbors still needs to approve the bid. Construction is expected to begin after Heritage Days.
It was announced that county money going to Arrowhead Regional Corrections is up 61 percent from last year, which is more than $100,000. Commissioner Brad Jones said it has a direct correlation with how many county residents are using the facility.
According to its Web site, Arrowhead Regional Corrections provides correctional services to five counties of Northeastern Minnesota's "Arrowhead" region. ARC was formed under the auspices of the Minnesota Community Corrections Act and a joint powers agreement between the participating counties of Carlton, Cook, Kooch-iching, Lake and St. Louis.