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Frontier Village Association returns Village to city of Jamestown

frontier village reflections.jpg
Store fronts of buildings at the Frontier Village are reflected Friday in the windows of the emptied Jamestown Fire Department garage. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Frontier Village Association approved turning all assets and debt of the organization over to the city of Jamestown Friday on a split vote during an often contentious meeting where police were called to maintain order after the meeting adjourned.

The vote passed 3-2 with Jason Holland, Shawn Syverson and Melody Mittlieder in favor and Joann Herrick and Tina Busche dissenting.

Jay Mickelson, former president of Frontier Village Association, resigned that post earlier this week. It was unclear if he also resigned from Frontier Village Association. MaLinda Lux resigned from the association Friday, citing personal reasons. Sharon Riemerman was absent from the meeting.

Along with the five members of the Frontier Village Association board, about 30 community members attended the meeting in a room at Pizza Ranch. At times, comments from the public drowned out the discussion by the board and several members of the public asked questions and voiced their opinions.

Frontier Village Association and the city of Jamestown have been in a dispute regarding the renewal of the land lease for the Frontier Village location that expires at the end of the year. The city of Jamestown had declined to renew the lease but is in the process of preparing a request for proposals for an organization to lease the location and operate the tourist site.

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Frontier Village Association declined to submit a proposal and threatened to transfer the assets of Frontier Village to Perham Pioneer Village at Perham, Minnesota.

"We did not intend to take Jamestown and give it away," Busche said. "Perham did not get anything. Nothing was taken off premises."

The situation came to a head on Wednesday, Oct. 30, when members of the Jamestown Fire Department removed an antique fire truck and other display items from Frontier Village that belonged to the city of Jamestown.

Frontier Village Association responded by filing a complaint in Southeast District Court seeking a temporary restraining order preventing the city from interfering with the transfer of items to Perham that was scheduled to begin Nov. 4. The status of the complaint against the city is unclear.

The agenda of the special meeting Friday included authorizing some items to be returned to members of the board and staff such as decorations and tools.

Agenda items to authorize the sale of Frontier Village goats and horses grew more contentious as members expressed opinions that those items should be included with the rest of the items that would be transferred to the city of Jamestown or the next operator of Frontier Village. Individual agenda items regarding the goats and horses were tabled and included in the motion to transfer all assets to the city of Jamestown.

Also discussed was some of the debt accumulated by Frontier Village Association including roughly $3,000 in legal fees that have not yet been billed and expenses incurred during the dispute with the city of Jamestown.

Those discussions ultimately led to the vote that will turn over all assets and debts to the city of Jamestown.

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Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said after the meeting that action on the transfer will not be on the Nov. 4 City Council meeting agenda. Instead, he anticipates the city's attorney and administrator will determine how to proceed.

City Councilman David Steele also attended the meeting and said the move allows the situation to move forward.

"We'll sit and discuss this and look where the finances are," he said. "The Village will survive."

Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism, said the disagreement has shown how much Frontier Village means to the people of Jamestown.

"In the last 72 hours we've heard an outcry of support from the community in support of the Frontier Village," he said. "Now the real work has just begun."

Related Topics: TOURISM
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