City to donate $15k over five years

Photo by Robert Williams
The city council unanimously approved a resolution at the first monthly meeting Monday, May 8 to contribute $3,000 per year for five years to CornerStone Community and Youth Center beginning in fiscal year 2024. Current director Mackenzie Hamm, pictured, presented a brief history of the project since 2019 and encouraged the council to help complete the fundraising. The center is $95,000 short of its startup fundraising goal of $870,000.

By Robert Williams


CornerStone Community and Youth Center executive director Mackenzie Hamm and three fourth grade students presented information on the need for volunteers and funds to the Frazee City Council Monday, May 8. 

The students spoke about how much they enjoy using the youth center and the convenience of its proximity to both the school and their homes.

Hamm presented a brief history of CornerStone’s evolution and spoke on the current and future benefits to both adults and kids. She also discussed finances, both on the fundraising front and the center’s future self-sufficiency by way of rentals of the youth center and the bistro, community and performance center upstairs.

The center is $95,000 short of its fundraising goal of $870,000 and is seeking pledges and donations to complete that effort.

The lower level is fully functional, ready to be rented, and the remaining tasks of cabinet installation and some more equipment are slated to be completed by the end of May.

The upstairs bistro area is in the process of receiving approval from the Minnesota Department of Health to proceed. Once it opens, tentative hours of operation are going to be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The youth center hours are currently based on the availability of volunteers.

“Honestly, as soon as we get volunteers we could be open every day,” said Hamm.

Hamm is hopeful to have the center open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Volunteers need to be at least 18-years-old and pass a background check. Training will be provided. For more information visit

Former executive director and current board member Karen Pifher relayed information on the number of communities around the state that have visited CornerStone in hopes of replicating the project.

CornerStone is also currently seeking funding from Becker County and one of the prerequisites to acquiring those funds is to show how the city is supporting the project. The center has a large display board inside CornerStone that showcases all the donations they have received since 2019.

“We’re hoping we can put the city of Frazee on there and hope we have your support,” said Pifher.

Cornerstone has a five-year capital campaign seeking donations of $2,000 per year. The council unanimously approved Andrea Froeber’s resolution to contribute $3,000 per year for five years beginning in 2024.

“Here we’re having a direct impact on children and adult’s lives so I’m fully on board with it,” said mayor Mark Flemmer.

Positive Community Norms grant 

Heidi Moen, the new Positive Community Norms grant coordinator and GROW Frazee Vergas facilitator at the high school, introduced herself to the council during the open forum.

Moen was already on the GROW Frazee Vergas coalition board prior to the resignation of former coordinator LeeAnn Felix. Moen brings 25 years of social work experience to the position having worked as a program supervisor for the Becker County Developmental Achievement Center and as a children’s and adult mental health case manager at Solutions Behavioral Health in Detroit Lakes.

She has also worked at the school the past two years as an administrative assistant to athletic director Nick Courneya. 

The Frazee-Vergas School District received a PCN grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services-Behavioral Health Division July of 2021 and the Grow Frazee Vergas committee has been utilizing the funds of the five-year grant to benefit youth in the surrounding community.

Loose Dog

Donna Esklidson spoke to the council of an ongoing issue with a neighbor’s loose dog that has resulted in three misdemeanor citations to the owner but has not come to an acceptable resolution. 

Both the Frazee police department and city attorney Thomas Winters advised Esklidson to continue documenting the issue with photos and video in the event the issue needs to be resolved in court.

Wannigan Park

The council passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of land parcels adjacent to the city of Frazee. The purchase involves the land that will become Wannigan Regional Park, two parcels of land totaling 157.75 acres. The official purchase will be made late summer from the Frazee Community Development Corporation (FCDC) following its acquisition from The Entrust Group, FBO Gregory Lee Ness.

Fire truck sale

Two sealed bids for the fire department’s 1994 F-350 XL grass rig were opened, one for $3,500 and the other for $4,001.99. The council had the options to accept either bid or deny and continue to keep the truck up for sale. Fire chief Nathan Matejka had relayed the department’s desire to reject any bid under $1,000. The board approved the larger of the two bids. The winner was notified Tuesday, May 9, with a two-week deadline to complete the purchase before the truck will be awarded to the next bidder.

Construction, ARPA funds

The council discussed adding improvements to the alleyway between Second and Third Street NW to the future East Main Avenue construction project scheduled for next year.

The council reviewed a technical memo prepared by city engineer Kris Carlson last May that gave a preliminary evaluation of the construction requirements for drainage and surface improvements within the proposed project area. The project area is the alleyway located directly north of the City Hall/Fire Department. The improvements are being considered to alleviate the drainage issues of the mid-block stormwater ponding on the alley surface that also results in stormwater backing up onto private property located on the north side of the alley.

Estimated project costs for the improvements as of May of 2022 ranged from $120,000 – $140,000 for the costs of construction and engineering only. They do not include any costs for legal work, easements, financing, capitalized interest, permits, or other items which may be necessary to complete the work. Those costs are not typically extensive relative to the construction cost and can be more effectively determined as the project scope is refined. 

Combining the project with the East Main Avenue project will likely gain possible cost savings due to economy of scale of construction operations.

The city has approximately $130,000 remaining of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that need to be used before expiring. Those funds need to be allocated for a project by the end of this year. The alleyway project would qualify to use the relief funds, but Carlson noted the number of upcoming road projects would allow the alleyway to be included in one of those at a savings rather than to complete the construction as a standalone project.

A more popular option that could use the ARPA funds are improvements at Town Lake Beach.

City administrator Stephanie Poegel advised council to bring a resolution to the council by the next meeting to assure the funds are committed.