City, county, school district and college officials discuss multiple initiatives
WORTHINGTON -- Leaders from the city of Worthington, Nobles County, District 518 and Minnesota West Community and Technical College met Friday morning to discuss a number of projects and initiatives.
WORTHINGTON - Leaders from the city of Worthington, Nobles County, District 518 and Minnesota West Community and Technical College met Friday morning to discuss a number of projects and initiatives.
Minnesota West Housing Minnesota West President Terry Gaalswyk discussed progress on the proposed dormitories for students at the Worthington campus.
The current proposed structure, being worked on by Iowa contractor Bluffstone, has 108 beds. Two different elevations, a two-story building and three-story building, are being considered. The site, located directly south of Ecumen Meadows, is currently being appraised.
“We know it will stabilize enrollment, we think we’ll also grow enrollment,” Gaalswyk said. “Students that have to drive more than 30 miles have difficulty finding housing in town. Now, this will provide an option.”
Additionally, Gaalswyk announced that Minnesota West was named the number one community college in Minnesota by bestcolleges.com. It’s the third year in a row the college has held the title.
Nobles Home Initiative The tax abatement program - which forgives all new city, county and school taxes for five years on homes built in Nobles County - sunsets Dec. 31.
County Commissioner Robert Demuth Jr. said the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. board had made a consensus to extend the program as is, without making any changes, and would be asking the three entities to make a decision on renewing the program.
City Administrator Steve Robinson said the program has led to the construction of 16 spec houses since it was launched in 2014, as opposed to one or two every other year before the program was launched.
“That’s really where it’s made an impact is spec homes - they were pretty much nonexistent before,” Robinson said.
District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said the program started slow in its first two years, as many of the homes built would have been constructed anyway. However, he said development has picked up since then, especially in Adrian.
“Good for Adrian - and that still benefits Worthington and the rest of the county,” Landgaard said.
ALC/gymnastics facility The school district has had its first conversations with architects on what the facility will look like. The design and planning will happen over the next three to four months, and bidding will occur late fall.
The $10.5 million facility, intended for use by Alternative Learning Center students and the Worthington gymnastics program, is planned to be ready for Jan. 1, 2019.
Landgaard said he has asked the county to extend the Armory Business Center lease through December 2018 for the continuation of the gymnastics program.
Additional plans Other potential initiatives were discussed at the meeting.
Mayor Mike Kuhle brought up the idea of a sports authority, which would manage all of the athletic fields in town under one roof. A committee was formed a few years ago on the issue, but its members couldn’t come to a consensus - Kuhle felt a new committee could be formed to explore the possibilities further.
County Commissioner Matt Widboom brought up an idea to hire someone to supervise facilities owned by the city, school and county. He also felt the hiring of a grant writer could help the community, as officials sometimes don’t have enough time to capitalize on grant opportunities.
He also encouraged citizen ownership in the community for people looking for new amenities in the city and county.
“The government can only do so much, and I encourage grassroot ownership,” Widboom said.