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ARCC plans to open women's shelter

The Akeley Regional Community Center (ARCC) hopes to open a women's shelter in the brick building that was formerly the Akeley School by 2020.

Larry Holm, chairman of the ARCC board of directors, shared a little about their plans at Wednesday's Akeley City Council meeting. He said the decision to move forward with the women's shelter was a controversial one.

"It was a hard-fought battle," he said. "Two of the board members were against it and resigned because they didn't want us to go that way."

Holm said the organization saved $122,000 to use towards the cost of the elevator to make the building American Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible and other construction costs. They also applied for grant funding.

"We're jumping through all of the government hoops to get it all together," he said. "Give us a year or two and maybe we'll have some people in the shelter."

In a follow-up interview with board member Leah Johnson about the project Thursday, she said the women's shelter will be on the second floor of the ARCC, space that is structurally sound but currently not being used. She said there is a need for a women's shelter in the Akeley community.

"It will be for any woman who needs temporary housing, like someone who found herself on the street," she said. "We would do what we could to help them get on their feet and move forward to find a job and a permanent residence."

She said between six and 10 women and their children would be housed in the facility. Plans are in the works for a combination of rooms and mini-apartments in the space. "That's the hope," she said.

Increase in solid waste fees a concern

Holm also expressed concern about a separate matter at the Akeley council meeting: the increase in the solid waste fees at the ARCC.

"We used to get it for a couple hundred dollars a year and this year it's raised to over $1,000," he said. "I think that's terribly high. We're paying $102 a month to the people that pick up the dumpster plus the county assessment."

Holm said he has talked to the Hubbard County treasurer, the "solid waste man" and others. He said that the explanation he was given was that the rates charged were too low for a number of years and now they are trying to catch up.

"We're a 501(c)3 and employ eight people," he said.

"I'm surprised your rates are so high with you being a non-profit," council member Bobbie Wosika said.

"The last person I talked to was (commissioner) Dan Stacey and he said to come here," Holm said.

Holm was told the City of Akeley has nothing to do with the county's solid waste fees.

Holm said the county did help them reduce their taxes from $3,800 to $1,200 because they are a non-profit and have two apartments in the downstairs of the building that are taxed.

"That was a great blessing and favor," he said. "But now with this ($1,000 assessment) it's come back to $2,200. All I'm asking is if anybody's got any ideas or anything they can do for us it will be appreciated."

Holm was asked if having another thrift store in town has impacted their profits. "Not really," he said. "We're up this year from where we were at this time last year." He said the thrift store takes in more than $150,000 per year.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the project or donate money to the ARCC to be used for the women's shelter may contact Holm at 218-587-4473.