Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, April 17, 2000

Traveling 'Artrain' may be headed for Lester Prairie

By Jane Otto

Lester Prairie City Council gave the go-ahead to Lester Prairie High School counselor Jim Schultz Tuesday to initiate the possible arrival of Artrain in Lester Prairie in the summer of 2001.

"Isn't this cool?" said Schultz after a short video presentation. "I'm pumped."

His enthusiasm for Artrain, a traveling art museum on a train, permeated the council as it gave the project a big thumbs up. It also has the support of Lester Prairie Schools and CAPP (the Lester Prairie chapter of Comprehensive Arts Planning Program).

Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Artrain was founded by the Michigan Council for the Arts in 1971, and has traveled through 42 different states and visited more than 600 communities. The train has five cars but no locomotive. It travels from town to town with support of the local railroads.

The present exhibition, which runs through 2002, is Artistry of Space. It consists of paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and sketches from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum collections. A few of the featured artists are Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, and Peter Max.

Schultz said the cost to the city is $7,000, but that CAPP member Cathy Nelson-Messer told him there are two grants available to cover that cost.

"If we can get two grants to cover the $7,000, this is a no-brainer," said council member Ron Foust.

The train needs 450 feet railroad siding to park for its four-day visit. The city would have to secure that 450 feet, but Artrain would take care of getting the train to Lester Prairie.

Aside from the $7,000, Schultz said Artrain will also need power, accommodations for its staff, portable restrooms, telephone service, liability insurance and its fuel tank topped off before it leaves town.

Artrain, in turn, provides assistance in planning its visit, training for volunteers, educational programs, and promotional materials.

Council member Rollie Bruckschen said financial help from local organizations, such as the Legion, would probably be available. Businesses, such as NSP or Minnegasco may also be willing to make a donation, Schultz added.

Discussion revolved around the school's 100-year anniversary celebration, Longhorn Days and the Prairie Arts Festival occurring in conjunction with the train's visit.

Mayor Eric Angvall said it could make those events more worthwhile.

"The school thinks it's a good idea. CAPP thinks it's a good idea. The city thinks it is a good idea," said city clerk Marilyn Pawelk.

"I say it's a go," said Angvall.

Hochstein leavess

Council member Galen Hochstein sat for the last time at the u-shaped table to discuss council business. Hochstein, who will wed in July, resigned his office since he will be moving to Maple Plain.

Hochstein, who served on the council since 1993, was in his second four-year term.

At Angvall's request, Hochstein swore in his replacement, Rose Halloran. Halloran will serve the remainder of Hochstein's term, which ends in December.

"It's been an honor and a privilege, and fun working with you guys," Hochstein said.

Angvall said most are not aware of the number of behind-the-scene hours Hochstein contributed.

Foust will take Hochstein's place on the economic development commission and Halloran will replace Foust on the parks board.

Tower lease

Lester Prairie will enter the age of digital communications via an antennae on top of its water tower.

Aerial Communications will pay Lester Prairie $500 a month to rent space on the city's water tower for its antennae.

Chuck Beisner of Midwest Real Estate Services representing Aerial Communications, said the antennae will enable cellular phone service for about 10 miles in all directions.

That 10-mile range will only help Aerial Communications customers. Beisner said it will not improve coverage for other cellular phone company customers.

"You will need Aerial to take advantage of it. Different companies, different technology. Everyone has their own system," said Beisner.

Bruckschen said he had read that Cokato recently had an antennae placed on its tower and get $1,000 per month, and asked if the lease amount was negotiable.

Beisner said no. He said the rate is based on the demand for space ­ how many cellular companies want an antennae there, and supply ­ how many customers will use that antennae.

Hoof said the lease money should be put into the water tower fund to cover future maintenance costs.

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