Public gets information as election nears
With the election less than a week away, a second town hall meeting regarding the proposed Wellness and Event Center in Devils Lake was held Thursday evening at the Robert Fawcett Auditorium. The purpose of the event was to give individuals who had questions or wanted more information on the centers the opportunity to talk with project officials.
"It is important that everyone has the facts and that voters can go to the polls fully informed Tuesday," event moderator Joe Kittell, a Lake Region State College instructor and coach, told the crowd.
The panel discussion included comments from Rachel Lindstrom, Forward Devils Lake, Dr. Doug Darling, Lake Region State College, Terry Johnston, City of Devils Lake, and Suzie Kenner, Devils Lake Tourism.
Much of the presentation included information on the $23.5 million projects.The two-story wellness space would be located near Lake Region State College while the convention center would go in the former Walmart building.
"I think these spaces would greatly benefit in bringing new families to the area and at the same time be a huge asset to the community," Lindstrom commented.
The panel addressed feedback from the community particularly issues brought up at the first town hall meeting held in September. Much of the comments from visitors at that event regarded operating costs of the projects.
Operations of the Devils Lake Event Center will come from fees used for statewide conventions and conferences as well as other large events in the area.
Meanwhile, students at Lake Region State College will be assessed a fee for membership and the college itself has agreed to make an annual payment of $100,000 to utilize the Devils Lake Wellness Center.
"I'm confident that we have been pretty conservative with the figures," Terry Johnston, Devils Lake city administrator commented. "To break even, the wellness center would need around 10 percent of the community to become members. I think that is a very realistic figure."
Darling, the Lake Region State College president, pointed out that the event center will bring in a lot of positive things for the community.
"By bringing in conventions to Devils Lake, the entire community will greatly benefit," Darling stated. "I think our location will be a draw for events."
The election will be held Tuesday, Oct. 7 at the Memorial Building from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
No matter what happens, the collaboration of businesses, organizations and different groups has been impressive, Lindstrom stated.
"It has been amazing," she commented. "So many different individuals have put in so much time and effort to bring this issue to a vote. If it passes or not, this shows how people can work together. This is the probably the best committee I have ever been a part of."