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Full story: Nobles County approves $500,000 contribution to historical society

WORTHINGTON -- In a unanimous show of support, Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday approved a $500,000 match grant from the county's general fund reserves to comply with a challenge issued by Bob and Pat Ludlow and the city of Worthington.

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The Armory Business Center, shown Tuesday in Worthington, could become home to the Nobles County Historical Society. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - In a unanimous show of support, Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday approved a $500,000 match grant from the county’s general fund reserves to comply with a challenge issued by Bob and Pat Ludlow and the city of Worthington.

The action will result in $2 million - joining $1 million from the Ludlows and $500,000 from the city (taken from its savings dating back to the sale of Worthington Regional Hospital) - to renovate the Armory Business Center in downtown Worthington into a museum for the Nobles County Historical Society.

Meanwhile, ownership of the building remains a concern.

Commissioner Donald Linssen said he’s received a lot of phone calls over the past several days about the plans for the armory, and a lot of varied thoughts from those he’s spoken with. There are a lot of unknowns, he said.

“I don’t have an issue with the $500,000, but I do with the continued ownership,” Linssen said. “I think within five years the property is not the county’s anymore and would go to the historical society.”

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Linssen said at the five-year mark, the Nobles County Historical Society should be solvent enough to cover its operational expenses.

Jerry Fiola, representing the NCHS board, said five years would give the group leverage to apply for more grant opportunities knowing that’s the direction the county would like it to work with.

“Then, in five years, we can discuss the pros and cons of that idea,” Fiola added.

He said the historical society board is interested in moving as quickly as possible, and is in the process of vetting different options for architects.

Also on Tuesday, county commissioners approved the submission of a legacy grant application for $10,000 to conduct an assessment on the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system inside the armory. The grant application is due Oct. 12.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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