Township levy reduced by community fundraisingThe Friends of the Finland Community presented a $100,000 check to Crystal Bay Township at its annual meeting in March. It’s the culmination of the group’s fundraising efforts over the course of six years and it will go directly towards the debt remaining from the construction of the Clair Nelson Center in Finland.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
The Friends of the Finland Community presented a $100,000 check to Crystal Bay Township at its annual meeting in March. It’s the culmination of the group’s fundraising efforts over the course of six years and it will go directly towards the debt remaining from the construction of the Clair Nelson Center in Finland.
The $2 million center was completed in 2011. Thanks to grants, donations, tax levies and now the Friends contribution, Crystal Bay Township owes only $275,000 on the building.
“Until now, our focus has been on the building and getting it finished,” said Township Supervisor Roger Peterson. “We’ve got a great building and we only have a $275,000 loan to pay back. We have high prospects for the building and what it’s doing for the community.”
The center is a hive of activity these days. Friends of the Finland Community Program Outreach Coordinator Honor Schauland said there’s something going on every weekday and most weekends, too.
“We have people in and out all day and it’s fun,” she said. On Tuesday, the Northshore Area Partners held its monthly mobile resource center, a group of homeschooled kids used the gym for some physical education and maintenance workers were in and out.
As for the remaining balance on the loan, it will be paid back using current tax levies on Crystal Bay Township citizens. They’re also actively seeking grants and help from state and local government agencies to ease the burden on taxpayers.
Schauland said the township’s residents have voted to raise their own property taxes to support the center. That, combined with the impressive amount donated by individuals, proves the community values the center, she said.
“It is really gratifying to know that people see the connection between property taxes and the very real services they get,” Schauland said.
An exciting new feature in the center is an industrial kitchen. With a grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation, they will be able to make the kitchen USDA certified and let Finland residents use it as a business tool.
“There’s a potential catering business that might operate out of there,” Schauland said.
The kitchen is a big step for Schauland’s Bush Fellowship, which she received last year. Schauland’s goal is to make starting and owning a business in Finland a little easier, and the kitchen will do just that.
She’s also been attending the Blandin Broadband Community meetings, where folks have been discussing the best use for the broadband service, soon to be available countywide.
“There’s a bunch of potential for projects to come out of that,” Schauland said.
Schauland has been gathering input about how to accomplish her fellowship goals and now she’s combing through the suggestions to find what’s most feasible and appropriate for Finland.
“There have been some really amazing suggestions,” she said.
She issued surveys to Finland residents last year and she’s been making sense of the results over the last couple of months. One theme that emerged from the surveys and conversations is the need to strengthen the identity of Finland and the surrounding areas. While Two Harbors and Silver Bay are established communities with tangible identities, Schauland said many residents of the Finland area feel that organization is lacking in the northeastern portion of the county.
While Two Harbors has the Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce and Silver Bay has the Silver Bay Area Tourism Association, “up here, there’s no corresponding organization,” Schauland said, noting that there used to be an East Lake County Chamber of Commerce years ago, but it dissolved.
Schauland is still entertaining ideas for the future of her hometown and can be reached at 218-353-0300.
Donations are still being accepted to help reduce the balance on the Clair Nelson Center loan. Donations can be mailed to Friends of the Finland Community, PO Box 582, Finland, 55603. The names of donors who give more than $25 will be added to the donor display in the center.