The CHEDA Board held their annual meeting Tuesday morning at Irishman’s Shanty, also in attendance were seven of the eight City of Crookston Councilman, City Administrator Shannon Stassen, Finance Director Angel Weasner and Mayor Guy Martin. The only councilman not in attendance was Clayton Briggs.
The CHEDA Board summarized their annual review of CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth explains Board President Kurt Heldstab. “We had a closed meeting to review Craig and each year at this review we give him tasks or objectives, and he gives a written notice on the three or four objectives from the last year,” said Heldstab. “All the board members thought he did a fine job last year. As for next year, we gave him a couple of objectives. One is promoting CHEDA a little more, and we had a video today talking to businesses and individuals we deal with for comments on what we do. The second one is working with the City and what to do with this $350,000. At that meeting, I then issued a directive to the board members that the money is our responsibility too for what we’re going to do with that money. After that, it’s business as normal and good discussion today on items coming up. One of the big things will be new plumbing at Oak Court, and we’ll roll up our sleeves and work with the architect on that. A great review and looking forward to a positive 2019.”
The board reviewed a video with many of the businesses and individuals who have taken advantage of the CHEDA Programs over the past couple of years in which they talked about their experiences and how CHEDA has been instrumental in their efforts.
Hoiseth presented the board with the flat rent rates for Oak Court Apartments. “The top rent for Oak Court Public Housing residents have dropped a little bit this year,” said Hoiseth. “It’s the first time in recent memory we can say we’ll realize a rent reduction for those people. It’s a formula that’s driven by HUD and acknowledged today by our board.”
The 2019 flat rent rates at Oak Court are $447.00 for an efficiency apartment, $537.00 for a one bedroom and $696.00 for a two bedroom. Oak Court will also be undergoing some renovations, and the board approved Michael Burns & Associates as the architecture firm for the project which will temporarily displace roughly 62 residents.
CHEDA is also working with the Crookston City Attorney on the language to serve as the Operating Entity on a grant for the Prairie Skyline Foundation Roofing Project. “The foundation had asked us before submitting their application for the grant to serve as fiscal host,” said Hoiseth. “We are all aware now that they have received it. We’re working with our City Attorney, Kay (Hegge) and the rest of the Skyline Foundation Board to work out an agreement that there will be a fiscal agent at CHEDA. We would take in the revenue and make disbursements to contractors and subcontractors.”
CHEDA has also taken responsibility for the workforce house at 1609 Hoven Lane, which was the Crookston High School Construction Trades class house this fall. With the class only lasting one semester, Hoiseth has been approached by two potential buyers looking to complete the construction. “We’ve had a couple of people approach us,” said Hoiseth. “One who would like to take over the house as is and complete it. And another one who’d like to have the roof put on and then take it from there. I ran it by the board today to see their appetite for selling the house at the halfway stage rather than trying to bring it to completion. The board acknowledged it would be a good thing to do and start fresh with the construction trades crew again next year.”
Valley Technology Park has had a difficult time renting the cubicles in the front half of the building and is considering instead repurposing the area for a “Makers” space explained Hoiseth. “We talked about trying to create a maker’s space,” said Hoiseth. “Trying to encourage entrepreneurs and innovators to link up and have some speakers in, maybe a mentorship program. We think that the front cubicles are difficult to rent, it’s old fashion to have that cube environment. We thought maybe opening that up, bringing in some technology catering to UMC students. Visiting with the Chancellor (Mary Holz-Clause), Lee (Groeschl) at the EDA Center, Christine (Anderson) at the Small Business Development all though this was a good idea to see if the programs could work. And hopefully, if this is a robust response, maybe in a year or so find a place to do this in downtown Crookston.”
CHEDA is also planning an informal orientation with City Council, particularly new members, so they understand what CHEDA has and their transparency. “Every other year we see new council members seated,” said Hoiseth. “After the Council has taken their Oath of Office we like to bring them in and pair a couple of council members with a couple of board members and have an informal discussion laying out our enabling documents, bylaws, budgets, and general fund summary. We want to make sure the council, particularly the ones who are new, understand all that we have and our transparency with that data. It’s also a good refresher for existing council members or board members to partner together.”
Hoiseth has heard from a few different directions that it would be nice to see some changes or updates to the website and an increased social media presence for CHEDA. “It’s come to our attention from a few different directions and even some City Council members that it would be nice if we saw a revision or update to our website,” said Hoiseth. “Along with a discussion about Facebook pages and other social media platforms. No real decision on that other than let’s go ahead and pursue it and get up to times with how it should look. I know KROX recently did theirs, it looks nice, so, something along those lines with a contemporary look and easy access to the things we offer at CHEDA.”