Mayor sworn in, project funding hits snag

Local News

Winnebago councilman Rick Johnson’s stint as acting-mayor was short-lived.

City Administrator Chris Ziegler didn’t wait until next month’s City Council meeting to administer the oath of office to re-elected Mayor Jeremiah Schutt.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, three council members elected last November were sworn into office, but Schutt was unable to attend due to illness.

Ziegler at the time said Schutt would be given the oath in February, meaning Johnson would serve as acting-mayor until then.

According to the League of Minnesota Cities handbook, “public officials must take and sign an oath of office before exercising any of their powers.”

After being contacted by Tripleanews late Wednesday afternoon, Schutt was given the oath Thursday morning.

Council members received an update on a $14 million renovation and acquisition project involving senior care facilities in Winnebago, Wells and Truman.

Council member Jean Anderson says Heartland Senior Living’s $7 million loan application with USDA to purchase the facilities from ElderCare of Minnesota has hit a snag.

Anderson asked the council to again sign a letter of support for the Heartland project so it could be sent to the USDA.

“We want local ownership,” says Anderson. “In the three communities it would mean an annual payroll of about $3.6 million and 174 jobs.”

Heartland, a non-profit organization comprised of city leaders of each community, will be seeking additional funding from a financial institution.

Anderson says Heartland expects to receive $5 million by the end of June to buy the three assisted-living centers from Jim and Kathy Birchem of Little Falls.

When asked what the future holds for Genesis Classical Academy, a non-denominational Christian school located in the north end of Parker Oaks, Anderson says, “It’s been proven that having seniors and youngsters together is a win-win situation.”

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