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Senate hears Heritage Center expansion bill

Posted 12/14/09 (Mon)

Seven-year-old Owen Piehl of Bismarck was among those testifying at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the expansion of the North Dakota Heritage Center.

A full house gathered for the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing Thursday morning, March 5, on the North Dakota Heritage Center expansion bill. The hearing started 15 minutes early and adjourned at noon. A diverse assortment of perspectives about the project and the need for the facility were presented.

Support for the project was evident at the hearing and the atmosphere was cordial among the senators on the committee. We look forward to working closely with this committee to continue to forge an alliance to garner full funding for the Heritage Center project.

Thank to everyone who prepared testimony for the hearing, and it was unfortunate that everyone did not have time to share their stories. However, all prepared testimony was provided to the clerk of the Senate Appropriations Committee and will be given to the Senators.

These individuals provided testimony:

---Al Berger – Society Board President – Trustee - History of the project and major features and economic impact to heritage tourism
---Merl Paaverud – Society Director – Trustee- Overview of project – questions from committee-need to build the full master plan at one time
---Dave Skalsky – Asst Director Society -Financials for project- costs for phases—comparable buildings in the region and their costs
---Claudia Berg – Expansion Coordinator Society – Trustee- Details on the images for the project – walk through of services to the public and project details
---Jon McMillan – Foundation Board President – Trustee - Eight year support of expansion efforts by Foundation board of directors-good things take time and are well worth the effort- our children need to know their history to make good decisions in their lives
---Owen Piehl – Grandson of Dina and Bill Butcher – Trustees – Dina was member of the SHSND Commission - eight year old – loves dinosaurs and the Heritage Center
---Ed Murphy – ND Geological Survey – Need for appropriate space to do their work—pictures of their current project Dakota dinosaur
---Cordell Dick –Foundation Fundraising Consultant –Trustee – Fundraising history and feasibility for efforts – smaller project will affect fundraising
---Mike Gustafson- Foundation Board- Trustee -History Heroes fundraising efforts – statewide support for the project- visited with 300 people in 17 counties- potential to raise over $5 million from History Heroes
---Enoch Thorsgaard – Trustee - Former Legislator – Brought the first $40,000 to original Heritage Center Project- worked many sessions to see Heritage Center funded- truly a champion for the Heritage Center today and yesterday
---Janet and Chuck Esser – Trustees – Legacy project – build full project—a tribute to the character of our settlers- recognize important of service club, private sector support
---Joe Satrom – Trustee -Former State Senator – Project needs champions, increase state support of this project—climate for fundraising has changed with economy as is
---Bruce Schwartz- Statewide Lions Club support of the expansion- 3200 members and over 100 local clubs- pledging financial support-Heritage Center would give travelers a reason to stop in North Dakota and not just drive through
---Amy Sakariassen – Contractor that uses Historic Preservation files- temporary employee in Paleo Lab working on Dakota dinosaur –need for more space for dinosaur preparation and file space and research space for contractors in historic preservation division – uncomfortable working conditions
---Marlo Sveen – Foundation Development Director –Donor - Fundraising efforts—answered questions from Senate Committee

Testimony Prepared for Hearing but there was not enough time to present:

---Governor Art Link – Trustee – Donor – Now is the time to build – he is as vitally interested in project today as when first built Heritage Center- one of first major donors—copy of letter of support provided to Governor Hoeven to ask for inclusion in his budget
---Calvin Grinnell- Foundation Board- will help garner support from tribal groups in the state – he is member of Three Affiliated Tribes of New Town—his people were the first farmers in this important agricultural state—they understood completing a project in one push as they built earth lodges in one week as a village
---Don Walz – Trustee – service club support from Sertoma Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, Optimists and others- service clubs have provided much to their local communities and have history to share—want a place in the story of North Dakota
---Stevan Dewald – Trustee – Lightowler Johnson and Associates, Fargo – architect firm for expansion project – economic stimulus- good time to bid – great for local contractors
---Barbara Handy Marcello – Heritage Center a focus for educating our children
---Sara Otte Coleman – Society Board- Tourism Director – Trustee - tourism markets Heritage Center as a destination – impresses clients and visitors- hub for history
---Kay Link - Trustee – owns local Bed and Breakfast – father supported building the original building as former legislator- Heritage Center drives tourism development
---Virginia Nelsen – Foundation Director – Trustee – Thank you for funding $21 million in heritage tourism enhancements- current list of corporate and private major donors- letters of support provided to Governor John Hoeven in 2008
---Jack Olin – Trustee- former Legislator – now is the time to do this project – respect for our history prepares us for our future
---Terry Harzinski – Bismarck Mandan CVB – support for tourism in region—Heritage Center as a destination educates our visitors—keeps them here longer—provides a meaningful stay in North Dakota
---Dick Weber – Trustee- Heritage Center used by local medical and energy community to recruit employees and their families- out of state people appreciate Heritage Center
---Gerald Skogley – Trustee – Consulted with Foundation to identify 12 major grant sources for funding for expansion- urged authorization so Foundation can then apply for foundation grant support
Others in attendance at the hearing were staff of the State Historical Society and Foundation, Office of Management and Budget and Facilities Management, and Trustees Bill Schott, Alice Schott, Larry Rolfson, Hollis Nappen, Ralph Feland, and Bill and Dina Butcher.