Ellsworth breaks ground on new city hall

ELLSWORTH - Less than a year after their historic city hall succumbed to a fire and had to be demolished, Ellsworth officials on Tuesday broke ground on a new hall.

The January 15 fire was the third major blow to a small town with a population of less than 500 within a 6-year period. Tasha Domeyer has been mayor for all three of the hits that could have brought a small town to its knees.

"We have gone through three disasters since I became mayor - the ice storm of 2013, the electrical storm of 2018 and the fire of 2019," Domeyer said. "It's time to put that in the past and move forward."

Last week, the city council awarded a bid of $874,000 to Swift Construction. Contracts were ready for signatures on Tuesday, and according to Falls Architecture's Jeff Nelson, completion is set for June of 2020.

In attendance were Rep. Rod Hamilton and Sen. Bill Weber, who have been working to pass a bonding bill that would help the city of Ellsworth. During a bonding tour next week, the committee will stop in Ellsworth.

Weber warned that the senate is looking for a bonding bill of about a billion dollars, and so far there have been requests state-wide totaling between $4-$5 billion. Both men remain optimistic, and said they would continue to advocate for Ellsworth.

Nobles County Commissioner Gene Metz, also in attendance, has been in close contact with city administration.

"Drive through Ellsworth and see the viability of main street - it's something to really be proud of," Metz said. "The speed in which you put this project together - it's got to be exciting for Ellsworth and the citizens around here."

Despite the cool and wet day, rain did stop at about the precise time needed for a ground-breaking photo on Main Street, where the new hall will be constructed on the other side of the water tower from where the previous building stood.

Domeyer said she was ready to proudly raise her shovel for a better tomorrow.

"People can say a lot of things about small towns, but I have never been more proud to live in a small town than I am right now," she stated. "People fight for what they believe in and what they want, and I hope we continue to do that."

A bid for a city shop was rejected due to being higher than expected, and a multi-purpose center bid was not awarded due to lack of funding. The city will have to wait and see what happens in the Minnesota 2020 Legislative Session bonding process.

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