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Worthington City Council accepts $50,000 Blandin Foundation grant

The Blandin Foundations’ Rural Leadership Boost Grant is aimed at supporting “local vision” and spurring “dreamers and doers who move rural places forward.” In their grant application, the CCAC proposed to create a pipeline of community members to city roles and elected positions that are more representative of Worthington’s diverse population.

Worthington city hall
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WORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council accepted a $50,000 grant from the Blandin Foundation during its Monday night meeting.

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Worthington’s Cross Cultural Advisory Committee applied for the grant, and City Administrator Steve Robinson said it was a surprise to learn the city had been selected to receive it. The council was not aware that the grant was submitted by a CCAC board member.

“That individual then moved on to another opportunity and is no longer on the committee. So everyone was a little taken aback when the grant was awarded,” Robinson said. “But it is a very … prestigious (grant), and to be selected for this grant is something that we really want to try and bring forward and carry out the purpose.”

The Blandin Foundations’ Rural Leadership Boost Grant is aimed at supporting “local vision” and spurring “dreamers and doers who move rural places forward.” In their grant application, the CCAC proposed to create a pipeline of community members to city roles and elected positions that are more representative of Worthington’s diverse population.

In that spirit, the Blandin Foundation’s grant will go toward the creation of two part-time internship positions that will help with translation and interpretation services, though it was noted by council that those roles and responsibilities will need further definition as the city moves forward.

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"We're hoping these interns can create some action with the ideas that are generated from the committee," said councilwoman Amy Ernst, who serves on the CCAC board.

While the grant and positions are limited to one year, the city was granted an extended deadline to get up and running, due to the unusual circumstances in which the grant was applied for.

While $36,000 will go toward the internship positions, $9,600 of the grant will be budgeted toward paying CCAC members $100 for attendance at monthly meetings during the grant period. An additional $4,400 will be for educational opportunities including interpretation and translation certificates, community engagement and communication.

“Although it sounds like this was attained in, maybe a little unusual manner,” said councilwoman Alaina Kolpin, “I do think that it was someone that probably had an idea for what needs to be done within the city…. It’s $50,000 to try to help make the city in a better way, so I think that’s a great thing.”

Faćade improvement

The council also approved two grant applications for the city’s faćade improvement program at the Economic Development Authority meeting, just prior to the start of the city council meeting.

Both applicants were eligible for a matching grant up to $10,000, and had received previous approval from the grant subcommittee.

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The building containing New Gen Studio and New Gen Smoke Shop will receive $3,988 from the city’s grant program, having secured a low bid of $7,977. The work will include repairs to the front of the building, windows, doors, side lights, transom and aluminum store front.

The second building receiving grant money houses Worthington Footwear & Repair and Flynn's Law offices. A majority of the work will take place on the Worthington Footwear side of the building.

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Having received a low bid of $17,540, the applicant is eligible for a maximum award of $8,770. It was noted by council that businesses could decide to go with the higher bid, but that would not change that amount of grant money they were allotted.

“It’s a good project,” said Mayor Mike Kuhle of the Faćade Improvement Program. “It’s been very well received.

Robinson noted that approval of the two grants would put the city in excess of the $100,000 allotted for 2022 by around $3,000. However, he stated the funds have not yet all been dispersed, and the city had $93,000 set aside for 2023.

“This has been a very popular program,” Robinson said. “I think the sentiment is going to be to continue it moving forward.”

Pension adjustment

Council members also voted Monday night to adjust the lump sum payment received by eligible volunteer firefighters at the time of their retirement. The benefit level has been adjusted from time to time to reflect inflation, with the last adjustment made in 2021.

The Firefighter Relief Association sought a 2% increase over the current benefit of $2,939 per year of active service. Having been approved by council, the adjusted retirement benefit will move to $3,039, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

In other action, the council:

  • Approved the second reading of an ordinance regarding stormwater regulations, first read during the Oct. 12 City Council meeting .
  • During committee reports, Kuhle issued a thank you to all those involved with the Governor’s pheasant opener. 
  • Councilman Chad Cummings noted the YMCA continues to move forward with discussion of bringing the new pool online and management under an aquatics director. 
  • Robinson informed the council that the Olson Park pavement project is complete, and he is hopeful the bridge abutment will be done soon.
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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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