ALBERT LEA, Minn. – Local officials have been seeking state dollars for years to help fund the cleanup of a southern Minnesota lake.
While some money has come their way in the past, leaders were never able to secure the $7.5 million they were asking for – until now.
It has been a long time coming, but local leaders are ready to get the dredge in the water.
“Before the ink was even dry we started moving forward, we need to acquire some land for the de-watering site, we need to finish up the final design, so we just started marching ahead very aggressively,” said Brett Behnke with the Shell Rock River Watershed District.
Despite the years of waiting, he said it was important to get those state dollars.
“To us, this was huge. This is the biggest piece to the puzzle and we needed this and it was just huge for our project,” Behnke said.
As a celebration, Governor Mark Dayton was in town to see the lake and sign the ceremonial bill. He said his role was mainly just to put pen to paper.
“Senator Sparks and Representative Savick are really the heroes up at the capitol and, of course, all of the work that was done here and all of the persistence that has gone forth,” Dayton said.
While the northern part of the state may get much of the credit for the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” he said it is important to remember that lake country can be found anywhere. After all, Albert Lea is known as the “The Land Between the Lakes.”
“The bonding bill is where we make investments in the future of Minnesota, in buildings and education facilities and in our natural resources, which are as precious here as they are anywhere else in Minnesota, so it’s a very, very good project and very glad to have been a part of it,” Dayton said.
While it may have taken longer than he would have liked, Behnke said he is just glad the project has not been forgotten.
“It’s nice to have that kind of support, that kind of recognition and the governor knows our project and he likes our project,” Behnke said.
While Albert Lea finally got their state funding, another city is still looking for it.
Lanseboro is seeking support on the town’s dam and did not get it this year. Now the city is looking at other options for funding or to see if they can wait another two year to seek state funding again.