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Foundation irons out nature center policies – Hours of operation also discussed

By Staff | Jan 11, 2008

WALLINGFORD–The Emmet County Nature Center Foundation hammered out rules for use of the center during its board meeting Thursday morning.

While the discussion is by no means a final draft of the rules that will be adopted, it did give a general idea as to what the requirements might be for using the center.

At the top of the list is a requirement that the nature center at Wolden Campground be a drug-free zone. Alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs will be prohibited.

A $500 deposit check will be required for use of the building and the capacity will be limited to 50 persons.

Nature center rental will be limited to educational and conservation programs. Any requests made outside those areas must be made in writing and will require a personal appearance before the board.

Members agreed that room rental fees, which would include either the basement conference room or the main floor classroom, should be $30 for a half day, $60 for a full day, and $15 an hour for each additional hour. For out-of-county groups using a meeting room, a speaker fee of $25 will be assessed for two hours with $15 for each additional hour. The speaker fee will be $30 for two hours and $15 for each additional hour without use of a meeting room.

Refunds will be made only for weather-related cancellations and a $50 returned check fee will be assessed.

The board also decided to consider having a key drop box. They opposed overnight use of the Nature Center or use after 9 p.m.

Public hours will be 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from May 1 through Oct. 1. Anderson said he would like to reserve Monday and Tuesday for out-of-area programming. However, the center will be open for scheduled programming on Monday and Tuesday if necessary. The center will not be open Saturday or Sunday during the winter.

No food and drink will be allowed in the facility without prior approval.

Michelle Nicoson of GKN was on hand to present a check for $5,000 to the board for the nature center. She encouraged the foundation to apply for future grants as well.

Anderson said he will be applying for a grant from the Emmet County Community Foundation for furnishings at the nature center.

In other business, Anderson said he would like to have the center’s parking lot completed before an open house is held.

The Emmet County Nature Center Foundation banquet will be held Saturday, March 29, at the Estherville Elks Club with the doors opening at approximately 5:30 p.m. The event is open to the public. Live and silent auctions will be held.

After the foundation meeting concluded, the Emmet County Conservation Board met to discuss Superior Ethanol’s application for a permit to discharge water from its cooling towers into the west fork of the Des Moines River.

Anderson said the water will come from a closed-loop system and will be used only for the cooling towers. He noted one possible benefit might be increasing the volume of water in the Upper Des Moines, making it easier for the City of Estherville water treatment plant to purify the water.

In the nature center construction update, Anderson said basement finishing work is scheduled to be done in January.

Anderson said $30.972.65 was received for 2007 from campground fees.

Contact Michael Tidemann at (712) 362-2622 or mtidemann@esthervilledailynews.com and visit our photo sharing Web site at cu.esthervilledailynews.com