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Akeley council hears updates on city projects

A cadre of enthusiast Akeley residents arrived at this week's council meeting to provide updates on Horizons, UCAN and propose am Arts Legacy Designation for grant eligibility.

Fred Rogers of Minnesota Folklore Theater, housed at the Akeley Regional Community Center, asked for the council's endorsement of the Arts Legacy Designation, requiring the city's "commitment to the arts."

He pointed out the ARCC and theater are among the required elements for cities to be considered.

Rogers will be working with the Region 2 Arts Council for the designation, agreeing to put together a committee. Local governments may apply for a $10,000 "healthy communities" grant.

"This is a ray of sunshine for Akeley," mayor Jennifer Mitchell said. "I have no problem supporting this."

Randall Morrison reported Horizons' four subsidiary groups received a $10,000 grant, "which we hope to leverage to make things happen."

Horizons is a community leadership program that aims to reduce poverty and increase prosperity in small rural communities.

Peg Davies, representing the Akeley CIA (community and individual assets), one of the Horizons components, announced a Taco and Tires event will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27 at Akeley Auto.

Tom Vogel will volunteer his expertise and site to teach people simple car maintenance - topped off with a taco.

Future plans call for a bike maintenance course and block parties at Paul's Patio in the summer.

"Getting to know neighbors builds relationships and safety nets," Davies pointed out.

She also provided an update on UCAN - United Churches of Akeley and Nevis. Utilizing funds from churches, individuals and gambling funds, UCAN provided support to more than 120 individuals in its first year of operation.

Gas vouchers were written for doctor appointments, work interviews and simply getting to work during a crunch time, she said. UCAN also provided advocacy support with clients' banks, power companies and phone companies.

At the present time, UCAN serves primarily residents of Akeley. The organization is seeking donations, she said, asking if the city might "spare a few dollars."

The Akeley Community Library, open afternoons five days a week, sponsors a Community Book Club, Davies reported. The library is in need of funding for heat and new books.

And Bev Peterson provided an update on Tots & Teens, working with youth from first through 12th grades. Projects have included a food drive and restoring a youth room at the ARCC, replete with pool tables, air hockey, TV and a VCR.

The students have taken part in theater productions and are planning a regional youth symposium in late March.

The group is working with the Hubbard County Drug and Alcohol Task Force, St. Joseph's Area Health Services and Nevis Target to dispose of unused prescription drugs in people's homes, Peterson reported.

A community garden is in the planning stages with a purchase agreement in the works for the lot on the northwest corner of Highways 34 and 64.

In other action, the council:

n Made no comment on any decisions having been made on Akeley police chief Eric Klein's paid administrative leave.

But city attorney Steve Bolton, contacted after the meeting, said, "The investigation is ongoing. We hope to conclude it soon, but at this stage, everything is confidential."

n Set a work session for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24 to discuss amendments to the "aging" housing ordinance and community fund.

n Reported liquor store net earnings of $3,878 in January.