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New CVB wants to work under CHEDA umbrella

Mike Christopherson
mchristopherson@crookstontimes.com
At this week's Crookston City Council Ways & Means Committee, Laurie Stahlecker of the Crookston Visitors Bureau distributes documents to council members, Interim City Administrator Angel Weasner and Mayor Dale Stainbrook. It was the council's first meeting since dividers were placed between council members. Asked by the Times about the lack of masks being worn by council members and city officials, Weasner said "Executive Order 20-81 Section 10 c states that masks may be temporarily removed for governmental meetings subject to the open meeting law to ensure everyone may be heard clearly."

    The day after a sometimes contentious debate at the Crookston City Council meeting about promotional activities the new “Crookston Visitors Bureau” is undertaking as the revamped agency seeks federal certification as a non-profit agency, CVB leaders submitted a request to the council to work under the Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority umbrella.

    One of the leaders of the relaunched agency, Laurie Stahlecker, made the same request to the CHEDA Board in May. They were open to the idea, but said they’d take the matter under advisement because the city council would have to OK the affiliation between the two agencies.

    Stahlecker, along with managers of the AmericInn and Cobblestone, this past spring asked to be separated from the Crookston Area Chamber of Commerce. In response, the Chamber submitted a request to the council to terminate the relationship, and the council granted the request.

    In a letter Tuesday to the council, Mayor Dale Stainbrook and Interim City Administrator Angel Weasner, Stahlecker and AmericInn owner/operator Cory Dallager indicated that the tone of Monday evening’s discussion and the lack of an opportunity for CVB leaders to adequately prepare for the discussion combined to lead to the request to work with CHEDA. (CHEDA is a government entity and not an official non-profit agency, meaning council approval would be required. But the entity could serve as the CVB’s fiscal host as it invests revenue generated by the local lodging tax to promote events in the community.

    “The reasoning behind the request being that the August 10 Ways & Means Committee meeting displayed the lack of trust, knowledge, communication and support that the City of Crookston seems to have with the CVB and we were denied the opportunity to present in a professional manner,” Stahlecker and Dallager state in the letter. “We do not anticipate these types of issues under the supervision of the CHEDA Board as we were offered a spot under their umbrella with the city’s permission after we approached them at their May 19 meeting.

    After obtaining legal counsel, CHEDA was informed that nothing prevents them from accepting this responsibility however the city must provide documentation granting lodging tax authority,” the letter continues. “CHEDA’s Board of Commissioners may also be willing to serve as the liaison between the CVB and Crookston Chamber of Commerce to promote partnership and further both of our agendas.”