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City of Dassel begins museum expansion immediately

Aug. 11, 2008

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

As soon as the Dassel City Council decided to go ahead with the museum expansion project, it hired Nordberg Excavating of Dassel for $12,000 last Monday.

The council had decided last month that the City of Dassel would act as its own general contractor for the expansion of the Universal Laboratories building, when the bids for the project came in too high. Kevin Compton of Compton/Anderson Construction will coordinate the expansion, which will include bathrooms, a lobby, small kitchen and a community room to the west side of the historical building.

The $588,000-project was broken down into about 20 parts, such as excavation, concrete, plumbing, electrical, framing, painting and floor covering. The quotes for each part from local businesses totaled $587,700. The project was budgeted for $589,275.

In addition, local banks are providing desirable interest rates on the financing, saving the city bond costs, said City Administrator Myles McGrath.

Any changes in the plan will be to make the construction cost less, not more, McGrath added. For example, the project team might decide to use narrower window moulding. The changes won’t affect the original specifications for the expansion, nor harm the historical aspects of the building, located at 901 First St. N., Dassel, Compton said.

Compton assured council members he will be at the site every day during the construction, even if it’s only for a short time.

Council members discussed whether leaving the community room out of the plan would lower the cost significantly. It doubles the square footage of the expansion, but the majority of the cost of the project is in rest of the expansion, where the bathrooms, kitchen, office, archives, meeting room and lobby will be.

Mary Jane Arens, financial officer for the project, reported that the city has pledged $150,000 over three years, Dassel Township has pledged $75,000 and Meeker County has pledged $25,000. The Dassel Area Historical Society’s capital campaign, Building on the Vision, has collected $68,000 so far, Arens added.

McGrath said the city has $185,000 in cash to begin the project immediately.

Council Member Bob Lalone asked if the city goes ahead with museum expansion now, will it have enough in the budget to build a street later to the property Spectralytics is considering at the intersection of Highways 12 and 15? McGrath responded that yes, a street is a different kind of project and will be financed with bonding.

After the council hired Nordberg Excavating, Carolyn Holje told a humorous incident that occurred shortly after she became the museum’s new director. Six plant pathologists, who had found the museum by accident while attending a plant pathologist convention in Minneapolis, told her if they had known a week earlier there was an Ergot laboratory in the area, they would have made it part of the convention’s program. Then, 1,800 plant pathologists from the convention would have paid the museum a visit, Holje said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• approved a 3.2 beer permit for sales by the Red Rooster Day committee for Red Rooster Days, Friday Aug. 29- Monday, Sept. 1.

• waived the permit fee for the storage building be constructed at the baseball field because it is city property.

• heard a report from State Rep. Dean Urdahl, (R-Grove City) that Dassel’s local government aid was increased the last legislative session $5 per capita to $358,000. The formula used to calculate LGA includes population, the number of homes in the city built before 1940, and how many traffic accidents there are in the streets, he said.

Urdahl also arranged Dassel’s public financing for its $778,500-water tower project. Urdahl believes water projects are legitimate government expenses. “You have to have safe water to drink,” Urdahl said.

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