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Menahga mayor starts economic development committee

Menahga city administrator Walter Salo leads new Menahga City Council members in the oath of office. From left are councilmember Alden Yliniemi, mayor Patrick Foss and councilmember Roger Henstorf. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Menahga's newly elected mayor, Patrick Foss, came into Monday's City Council meeting with a plan.

By the end of the night he had handed out committee assignments to each councilmember, saying he chose them so everyone would have a chance to work together.

Also, he proposed the creation of an economic development committee, something he said was sorely needed in Menahga.

"This is a committee that amazingly we have not had in this city," Foss said. "When I looked at the funding that we have in the city of Menahga for economic development, it doesn't appear like we've really hit it very hard. I'd really like to see us get a little bit more active in that."

Along the lines of economic development, the council also approved entering a cooperative agreement with Sebeka and Nimrod to apply for a Small Cities Development Program grant Monday.

If the grant is awarded, funding would be available to commercial and residential properties in the city to be used for rehabilitation.

Jason Kresbach, representing Central Minnesota Housing Partnership, told the council Monday that he received feedback from several people in the community.

The application is for community development block grant funds through the Small Cities Development program.

"The local needs we document were twofold," Kresbach said. "... Both on a commercial level, improving commercial districts and the buildings in those areas, as well as housing needs."

The activities proposed for all three communities include commercial and residential.

The commercial funds applied for total $225,000, with a maximum of $37,500 per property. The Menahga target area is Main Street from Cedar Avenue West to Cottonwood and Highway 71 from Second Street northeast to Helsinki Boulevard.

The residential funding applied for totals $378,000. The target area is within the city limits of Menahga, with a maximum of $20,000 per home.

If the cities receive the Small Cities funding, property owners can apply for 0 percent interest forgivable loans and low interest loans on a first-come, first-serve basis, Kresbach said.

Eligible rehab items for commercial buildings include roofing, siding, windows, doors, energy efficiency items, awnings and signage, accessibility modifications or electrical items.

For residential buildings, eligible rehab items include roofing, siding, windows, doors, energy efficiency items, electrical, plumbing, furnace and duct work.

The grant would be for two and a half years if awarded. Grants are forgivable after seven years if the property doesn't change ownership, Kresbach said.

"Right now, we've been collecting letters of intent," Kresbach said.

He has received a lot of feedback and interest in the program. These letters will be submitted with the application.

Awards are announced for the funding at the end of April, Kresbach said, and applications could be accepted from property owners by July of this year.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561