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Nobles County board delays decision on Armory building

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners had planned to discuss the fate of the Armory Business Center during its meeting Tuesday, but the county's historical society is asking for more time.Jerry Fiola told commissioners Tuesday that the Noble...

WORTHINGTON - Nobles County commissioners had planned to discuss the fate of the Armory Business Center during its meeting Tuesday, but the county’s historical society is asking for more time.
Jerry Fiola told commissioners Tuesday that the Nobles County Historical Society wants to have a couple of meetings - one with its approximately 250 NCHS members, and another with a smaller group of individuals interested in history and historical preservation and who have an understanding of financing.
The future of the armory has been discussed at numerous public meetings and board work sessions. Two weeks ago, the historical society presented a proposal to commissioners explaining its wishes to turn the armory into a museum. The proposal, however, included a request for the county to retain ownership of the building and to also increase its annual allocation in support of the society.
Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson said Tuesday the county isn’t prepared to make a counter-offer. He wasn’t sure the historical society had enough information to move forward, either.
Fiola said using the armory as a possible historical museum is a critical issue and significant project, adding that he wants to reiterate the mission of the society to NCHS members.
His goal is to have the two meetings within the next couple of months at the museum, where members can see what the historical society has for space and collections.
“We want to make sure we’ve taken a good look at this (armory idea),” Fiola said.
He also raised the issue of ownership of the armory building, saying approximately 40 percent of counties own the building in which their historical society is located.
“We understand your preference is that you not own the building,” Fiola said. “Perhaps you could get it partially turn-key ready and also help augment our budget. Without any more resources (the historical society) is concerned about being able to take on this.
“Hopefully we’re able to find something to still make this work,” he added. “For us to get an opportunity like this -- a building of that size …”
“You hate to throw it away,” said Commissioner Gene Metz.
Metz said he doesn’t want to see this issue “going on forever,” and said he’d like to know the historical society’s decision by the time the county sets its budget.
In other action, the board:
* Received an annual update from Randy Simonson and Beth Hoekstra on behalf of Project Morning Star. The recovery program serves approximately 50 to 70 adults and youths in weekly meetings in Worthington, with four females and three males currently undergoing treatment at Project Morning Star’s rural Worthington campus.
The program works to end the cycle of drug and/or alcohol abuse by providing a safe place for people to start over and get their life back. Operated as a 501(c)3 corporation, Simonson said it depends on private contributions as well as rents paid by the residents undergoing treatment.
Since the treatment facility opened in October 2014, Hoekstra said eight females and eight males have successfully completed the program.
* Received an annual update on the Southwest Crisis Center’s activities from program manager Kari Voss-Drost. In 2015, the agency served nearly 700 victims/survivors and their families, including 355 in Nobles County. She also noted that 17 youths in the agency’s five-county service area were identified as being sexually exploited or trafficked between July 1, 2015 and March 1, 2016.
* Approved a resolution of support for Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water to secure two GO bonds, totaling $9 million. Pipestone County is the lead county on the work and is doing the bonding.
* Approved temporary on-sale liquor licenses for three events at the Lao Buddhist Temple. The events are scheduled June 25, July 23 and Aug. 27. Commissioners requested the county sheriff be notified and sign-off on the requests, and that township officials and the county attorney be notified of the events.
* Approved an after-the-fact conditional use permit for V&M Locker, Leota, to construct a roof over a holding pen.
Nobles County Environmental Services Director Wayne Smith said he refunded the after-the-fact fee because he felt responsible for not asking enough questions when he was alerted to the work being done at the facility. The only condition on the permit is that hog slats be placed on the south side of the split rail fence to stop gravel from getting onto the adjacent landowner’s lawn.
* Presented the May Excellence in Performance award to Nobles County Corrections Agent Jolene Ennenga.
* Supported the reappointment of three Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water board members: Frank Engels, Brent Feikema and Janice Moen.

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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