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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Tama Theis (R)

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Saint Cloud a Priority for Bonding Projects this Year

Friday, May 16, 2014

Saint Cloud has been waiting a long time to expand the Saint Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center, and now the end is in sight.

Early Friday morning, the House approved a bonding bill and a cash bill to fund much needed building and infrastructure projects around the state. A few of these projects will greatly benefit our city.

I ran on securing state dollars to finish the expansion and parking ramp for River’s Edge and introduced the bill to fund it last spring. If signed into law, the state will put forth $11.56 million for the project with the expectation of $10 million from non-state sources. 

Additional parking and an expanded convention center will attract more business to our community, creating a boon for local hotels, restaurants and businesses both large and small. And with completion of the parking ramp, it will make it easier for people to attend events like next month’s Apollo High School graduation ceremony.

Of course, securing funding for River’s Edge was not a singlehanded effort. It took the cooperation of rural and greater Minnesota representatives to ensure that our priorities were not pushed aside for metro projects in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

It’s not to say that Twin Cities projects weren’t still favored for bonding projects, but outstate members put forth a united front and our priorities could not go overlooked.   

So not only would the state fund our convention center expansion—which is long overdue, but there is also funding for Saint Cloud State University and for the Saint Cloud Correctional Facility.

In the bill, SCSU received $865,000 to design renovations for their outdated Eastman Hall. The new renovations will allow student health services and several other academic programs to move into Eastman Hall when the updates are completed.

Additionally, the Minnesota correctional facility in Saint Clout received $18 million for infrastructure needs including a new health service unit, a new security station, a loading dock and the removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials. Maintaining these buildings and ensuring they are safe and functional is not glamorous, but the funding is much needed. 

Saint Cloud will strongly benefit from this year’s bonding and cash bills, as three important community projects received vital funding. Especially for the River’s Edge expansion which has been in limbo for five years, this is excellent news.

Representing Saint Cloud for the past year has been a true privilege. I will continue to fight for your interests in Saint Paul, representing the people and priorities of our great community.