One thing the governing bodies within Becker County can agree on is that normal is almost here.
Members of the Detroit Lakes City Council, Becker County Board of Commissioners, Detroit Lakes Public Schools, M State, the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center and the city's regional Chamber of Commerce met at the Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes and discussed the next few months of major agenda items to keep all of the governing entities on the same page.
Peter Jacobson, CEO of the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center, said while gym memberships at the center were down by more than 35%, the Historic Holmes Theatre was finally beginning a more regular entertainment schedule.
"It has been a challenging year and I've tried to think about life and how challenges create opportunities," said Jacobson. "We've just written a grant that will, hopefully, allow us to get a center projector screen in our theater which would allow us and, who knows, we could offer the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in here for a matinee series once a month in the afternoons. There are all kinds of things and opportunities we can do to bring the world to Detroit Lakes through technology and through what we've learned this last year."
He said the challenge over the next year will be getting members to come back to the gym, but noted the swimming pool has been busy as of late.
The Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce promoted its outdoor job fair scheduled for May 6 in the M State parking lot, which is aimed at getting more people back to work. On May 7, they will also be hosting a regional Economic Development Summit at The Historic Holmes Theatre.
Mike Brethorst, county administrator for Becker County, said he expects county employees to be back at work on April 15 as health guidelines continue to loosen as more Minnesotans become vaccinated. He also said they will be in court on May 15 to take control of certain property along West Lake Drive through eminent domain in order to start a road project that has been hampered by court delays.
"Coming up on May 15th, we will be able to take possession of some of those properties that are those stragglers out there to make sure that the West Lake Drive project can move forward," said Brethorst. "Final settlements will occur months later with those handful of individuals who are still out there."
Brethorst also said the county will be getting more than $6 million from the American Rescue Plan, while the city and townships will be receiving about $1 million each. While stipulations for the money's use haven't been released yet, Brethorst expects the guidelines will include broadband and waste water improvements.
Mark Jenson, superintendent of Detroit Lakes Public Schools, said all of district's teachers who wanted a COVID-19 vaccine have gotten one. He also said construction on Detroit Lakes High School is expected to be complete in summer of 2022 and prom, and commencement will be proceeding as planned this year. The commencement ceremony is expected over Memorial Day weekend, outside on the football field.
Ron Zeman, vice mayor of Detroit Lakes, said the open house for the new police station will be May 7. The city also highlighted a packed summer with the Northwest Water Carnival and city's 150th birthday celebration both taking place in July.
Carrie Brimhall, president of Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Detroit Lakes, said the received $5 million in CARES Act funding and are expected to receive an additional $10 million from the American Rescue Plan, of which 50% will need to be allocated to benefit students directly. She also said they are working with the high school on various academy programs.
The next joint governance meeting will be hosted by Detroit Lakes Public Schools on July 6.