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Shared facility, school funding among meeting topics

WORTHINGTON — Representatives from the city of Worthington, Nobles County, District 518 and Minnesota West met Friday morning to provide project updates and collaborate on joint efforts.

District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard reported on the legislation District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, and District 22 Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne, have proposed to the state regarding funding for new education facilities. Landgaard attended a March 6 committee meeting and testified on behalf of the bill.

School board member Lori Dudley said Friday she felt encouraged by the good turnout at Monday evening’s school board work session. After the meeting, she noted, she received numerous emails from community members asking how they could help.

Landgaard also shared ideas for a possible combined facility for activity space, early childhood education, adult basic education, county space and city administration area. He reminded everyone that so far, that facility — which would be located along Second Avenue, across from Knology and on former Campbell Soup Co. property — is just an idea and not a sure thing. Landgaard shared the concept map with the group because the potential project would involve cooperation between the district, the city and the county, and he believed all should be informed.

In city matters, Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson explained the need for a 2020 census Complete Count Committee that would educate and encourage all city residents to respond to the census.

Mayor Mike Kuhle added that the city is planning to reach out to several groups, such as the school district and the local hockey association, who each stand to benefit from the city’s ice arena project. He will invite them to attend a meeting at 5:30 p.m. April 29 to discuss possible options going forward.

Minnesota West Project Terry Gaalswyk reported enrollment growth at the college. It’s encouraging news, he said, but also requires careful planning for the future. On-campus housing is already at capacity and “next year, student housing will present a community need,” he noted.

With Worthington already experiencing a housing shortage, local leaders will need to work together to meet the growing need for affordable rental housing.

Nobles County Commissioner Matt Widboom reported that the county has also been receiving more Nobles Home Initiative applications lately further evidence of a need for housing in the area.

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