Grinnell Veterans Commission Returns to Full Strength
By Michael McAllister
For the first time since November 9, 2015, Grinnell’s Veterans Memorial Commission seated five members at its regular monthly meeting on Monday, February 12.
The newest member in the ranks is Randall Hotchkin, seated second from right above. His appointment culminates a nearly two-year campaign dating at least to March of 2016 when he was recommended as a commission member by then-Commission Chair Teresa McCall, a recommendation passed on to Grinnell’s mayor at the time, Gordon Canfield.
Since then, Hotchkin has worked for a commission seat through letters to the Grinnell Herald-Register and through frequent appearances at city council meetings. He has advocated in both the background and the foreground to support the Prairie Stare Artist Residency proposal and has become the voice of the proposal in broadcasts on KGRN.
“I’d like to thank the City and Mayor Agnew for this appointment,” Hotchkin commented after the meeting, “and I look forward to working for the community and making a positive impact on this project.”
Eleven people made up the audience. The meeting was short—fifteen minutes. Nonetheless, the commission took two significant steps toward realization of the Prairie Star Artist Residency at the Veterans Memorial Building.
Commission Chair Leo Lease gaveled the meeting to order at precisely 5:15 p.m. He welcomed Randy Hotchkin and expressed appreciation to the mayor and the city council for cooperation and communication. Mayor Dan Agnew was one of the audience members. Lease stated that he is “very much encouraged by what’s happened.”
With the agenda and previous meeting minutes approved, Lease noted that no current budget report was available. Nicole Brua-Behrens reported a balance of $24,782 in the Veterans Memorial Building Fund maintained by the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation. The amount, she noted, was as of December 31, 2017; January financials will be available on or about February 15.
Only one bill was listed on the meeting agenda and approved, an Aliant Energy charge of $93.70.
In the first of two steps relating to the Prairie Star Artist Residency, the commission members voted unanimously to “approve and recommend to the Grinnell City Council the Amperage Implementation Study Proposal and Addendum.” Payment for the study will come from the Veterans Memorial Building Campaign Fund per City Resolution 2018-17 entitled “Resolution of Support for the Grinnell Veterans Memorial Building Rehabilitation and Private Fundraising Campaign.”
The resolution states that the City of Grinnell and its City Council seek to “express their continued support for the Grinnell Veterans Memorial Building structural rehabilitation and private fundraising campaign,” among other provisions.
In discussion about the resolution, Hotchkin and Lease acknowledged the cooperation of the City of Grinnell, and Mayor Dan Agnew called attention to a provision of the resolution that allows the Veterans Memorial Commission to run a deficit of up to $25,000 to cover expenses until funds can be repaid from the levy that will take effect in 2019.
Agnew also noted that the monthly charge of $500 to the Bill Menner Group is no longer ongoing, Menner having stepped aside because of the commission’s involvement with Amperage Marketing & Fundraising.
A second step in the advancement of the Prairie Star Artist Residency came with a motion to approve Tom Lacina as a “volunteer liaison between the Grinnell Veterans Memorial Commission and the City of Grinnell.”
Mayor Agnew read a description of the position, clarifying that Lacina will not serve as an agent or an attorney and “has no power to commit the commission or the city.”
“He is simply to assist with communications,” the description continues, “and to give any recommendations he might have. His stated goal is to facilitate a positive relationship.”
“Tom is a perfect person for this,” commented Randy Hotchkin.
Commission members unanimously approved the motion that Tom Lacina serve as volunteer liaison.
There were no inquiries, and the meeting was adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
The Veterans Memorial Commission will meet next on March 12, 5:15 p.m., on the north side of the Drake Library’s Community Room.