April 10, 2021

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

HDC and Council differ on Community Center issue

Members of the Herman Development Corporation (HDC) were present at the Herman City Council meeting on March 8 to try to unravel who owns what and who is responsible for various decisions pertaining to the Herman Community Center. It was a lengthy discussion, not making a lot of headway, other than a decision to table action until the April meeting.Dan Ellison and Dave Horning of the HDC presented some facts for the council members. The first sheet showed the initial loan taken out by HDC in 2015 to do the construction. They stated that they had raised $1.09 million dollars and only have $50,000 left to pay on the loan. They have $20,000 in pledges which are hoped to be collected soon. HDC is planning a final fundraiser to raise the remaining $30,000.Ellison then handed out a sheet that showed the budget for HDC and what is appropriated for the Community Center. He stated that the building was turned over to the city, however HDC continues to manage and collect for events held in the center. The City of Herman uses the office space and meeting room, and collects $500 per month from the American Legion.HDC pays for the cost of cleaning and cleaning supplies. He estimated that it costs about $125 to clean after each event. The person hired to clean needs to have insurance and licenses to do the work. They were having trouble finding someone with those to do the work.He then said that HDC decided to hire his wife, Cindy, to manage the Community Center and also do the cleaning. She would be in charge of booking events and being present as needed when the events take place. She would be licensed and insured for the cleaning work. She has come up with a marketing plan to promote the space for larger events such as wedding receptions. Her hope is to add about ten more wedding rentals this year. She explained that she took courses in event planning and has done some research comparing the Herman Community Center to other venues in the area.City Councilman Tony Vipond wanted to know why the HDC is making all the decisions when the city owns the building. However, Mayor Paul Kirkeide stated that the city is not prepared to manage the events. The city simply wants clarity about the long-term management and maintenance of the center.“Is this a permanent agreement,” asked Councilman Jeff Nachbor, “it is still unclear who is responsible for what. In the last 18 months, the Herman City Clerk has had to actually do the cleaning since it was not getting done.”The current agreement between the city and HDC was drawn up in 2018. It was decided to have a meeting between representatives of both groups to iron out the details and then approve it at the next meeting. U.S. Fish and Wildlife presentationShawn Papon of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made a presentation at the meeting about possibly putting the city-owned Niemackl park land into an Easement Program through their office. Papon stated that there would be three options to choose from depending on what they want done.The first option was a Wetland Easement where the property owners simply agree to not drain the wetlands on the property. The second option would be a Grassland Easement where the landowners are paid to leave the wetlands and uplands in its native prairie form. This could mean some changes such as tree removal and making ponds, which would be the responsibility of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife office.The third option would be a haying easement where the landowners receive a per acre payment and will be allowed to cut the grass for baling after nesting is done on July 15. These easements do not open it up for public access or huntingThe city of Herman owns 228 acres surrounding Niemackl Lake. Papon estimated that the city could receive as much as $500,000 for the grassland or haying easement agreements. This could be put into an account set aside for future expenses at the park.Any of the three easements would be for the entire future of the property. The city would be making the decision for every landowner after them, as the easement follows with any sale of the land. The council members decided to take their time considering this and perhaps make a decision at a future meeting.Beyond the Yellow Ribbon  ProjectByron Gilbertson came before the city council to talk about the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon project which helps our local heroes. These include military, police, firefighters, and front-line workers. They are Heroes for Heroes who create a network to help the heroes and their families. Gilbertson stated that he will be contacting local businesses about how they can help, and wanted the city council to be aware that Herman is a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon City.Abatement processGrant County Sheriff Mark Haberer was present at the meeting to discuss a possible abatement at a property in Herman. However, after some discussion and what appears to be some progress in the clean-up, the council members decided to wait until April when a county-wide ordinance should go into effect.Berlin Ave projectThe council also passed a resolution allowing Grant County to seek bids and begin work on re-paving Berlin Ave.