By Deborah Banish
On Friday, March 29, representatives from the Main Street Initiative visited Rutland to meet with community leaders. The Main Street Initiative seeks to create healthy, vibrant communities to attract the talent needed to support growing businesses. The Initiative is built on three pillars: (1) healthy, vibrant communities; (2) a 21st Century workforce; and, (3) smart, efficient infrastructure. The goal is to give local leaders a direct access point to a variety of resources, helping capitalize on strengths and make sound planning decisions. Two representatives from the Department of Commerce toured Rutland to see first-hand the existing businesses, homes and infrastructure in the City before meeting with the community leaders. Representatives from the ND Game & Fish Department, USDA Rural Development, Lake Agassiz Regional Council and the Sargent County Teller attended the hour-long discussion. The turnout was small but that led to a robust and honest conversation that focused on Rutland’s strong sense of community, involvement of City and rural residents to help Rutland provide events and activities that draw people to town. Tim Phelan, ND Game and Fish, noted that the change in agriculture has impacted many communities. Farmers now have semis to haul grain, so they do not make as many trips into town and schools have consolidated in many communities so not every town has a school and café or a grain elevator. This is a challenge. Hunting only provides seasonal support and that also depends on the area wildlife. The group discussed the need in Rutland for more single-family homes, a café and child care. Katie McLaen, Rutland Community Club President, noted that there are many families with young children who may be able to support a childcare facility if one was in Rutland. She noted that Rutland has lower-cost homes that are more economical to purchase than to build a new home. Emily Brown, Dept. of Commerce, said there are funding possibilities including grants and loan programs for childcare centers. Shawn Kessel, Deputy Commissioner, Dept. of Commerce, informed the group that the State collects a 5% tax on Amazon sales. He suggested the City, as a Home Rule City, implement a sales tax to capture similar sales. The City could also implement a lodging and hospitality tax as another revenue-generating source. Rutland would be eligible for the Renaissance Zone program and funding; that requires Zoning Ordinances and a Comprehensive Plan as a start. City Auditor Deborah Banish stated that the City updated both of those documents in 2018; the next step is to prepare the Renaissance Zone paperwork and submit that to the State. Amber Metz, Lake Agassiz, suggested a community-owned café to start meals. Residents would need to commit to eating at a café twice weekly to sustain the business. Discussion focused on funding opportunities and community needs and it was a very informative exchange of information and ideas. The Main Street Initiative representatives will return later this year to help put together a Main Street Initiative plan for Rutland.
The Rutland City Council met on Monday, April 1, focusing on the Emergency Lagoon Repair project and the purchase of two radar speed signs for the City. Tracy Eslinger, Moore Engineering, discussed the Lagoon project and anticipated costs. Loan application documents and the plan design will be presented for approval at the May meeting before bid documents are prepared and issued. The Rutland City Council will meet on Monday, April 15, at 5:00 p.m. as the Board of Equalization. Sargent County Tax Equalization Director Denise Ferderer will attend the meeting to discuss the property assessments. This is an opportunity for residents to discuss property valuations with the Council.
Spring thaw has hit the area and the entire State. Governor Burgum declared a statewide emergency in preparation for the anticipated spring flooding. The combination of the deep frost depth and the abundant snowfall and recent rains have increased the risk of flooding because the frozen soil cannot absorb the snowmelt; this compounds the risk of runoff. On Tuesday, the Sargent County Commissioners decided to submit a Flood Declaration for Sargent County that has been submitted to the state. At this time, it is not known what type of funding may be available to assist with flood control and other flood related issues. Rutland is already acting to clear the snow and ice from Drain 8 south of town. The low area east of the City’s Maintenance Building was filling up with water on Wednesday so water and flooding will be a concern in town and in the County as a whole.
With the help of the Sargent Central Ambassadors, the Forman Community Club will host a brunch on Sunday, April 7, at Forman City Hall, 10:00a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Half of the proceeds earned will go towards the cost of the Ambassadors concert trip to Europe in July. Come on out and support the kids and the Community Club.