New State Senator Secures $700,000 for Cook County Historical Society

Photo Credit Bruce Barsness

In a press release issued May 20, the office of Senator Grant Hauschild announced the success of the “Grand Deal on Bonding Bill'' by the Minnesota Legislature. Both houses of the Minnesota Legislature are majority DFL but the effort on the “Grand Deal '' by its nature is bi-partisan. The cash bonding portion of the legislation may pass both houses with a simple majority, but the general bonding legislation requires a supermajority. The DFL could not do it without Republicans joining in.

Hauschild was elected in 2022 to represent the newly crafted Senate District 3, which includes part or all of Koochiching, St. Louis, Lake and Cook Counties. He proved his abilities when, as a freshman senator, he brought home significant state funding for programs in the Arrowhead.

“Our district had the most projects in this legislation,” Hauschild said.

The final bonding legislation included $300 million in funding for nursing homes. A chronic shortage of available nursing homes persists in the mostly rural district. It also included almost $40 million for a large number of other projects in District 3 according to Hauschild.

Hauschild also announced that his work in the Tax Conference Committee this last session included his “Mineral Article” to fund ten projects, mostly on the Iron Range. 

The Cook County Historical Society in Grand Marais is one of the Mineral Article recipients receiving $700,000 in state money to maintain and improve the properties it owns.

Photo Credit Bruce Barsness

Prior to the most recent legislative session, Hauschild visited communities in his district for a listening tour. At a meeting in Grand Marais he was approached by Historical Society representatives who explained its need for funding to maintain the five sites under its purview and to build an effective storage facility for society archives. The current storage is maintained at the Society main office, formerly the lighthouse keepers house in Grand Marais, which is well known to regularly flood. The intention is to build a new storage building on a site in the Grand Marais Business Park that the Society recently acquired.

“At the meetings, I told them that I thought the bonding request would work for the $2.1 million they needed to raise,” Hauschild said. 

The Historical Society worked with Visit Cook County and its lobbying firm early in the session to get the provision in the bonding bill. Ultimately that effort was not successful but Hauschild worked $700,000 into the tax bill. 

“The Cook County Historical Society needs more money,” Hauschild said. “I will try to get more in the bonding bill in the next session. My goal is to get them what they need.”

Katie Clark, Director of Operations for the Historical Society, is delighted with the results of Hauschild’s efforts. “The $2.1 million figure came from our “dream list” that we put together a couple years ago,” she said.

As for now, Clark said in an email, “Our main goal is to focus on the necessary site repairs and restoration work in order to avoid further damage and deterioration. We also will be addressing our archival storage project. The state funding will allow us to act faster - spending less time on patching together funding and instead focusing on securing the resources needed to preserve our historical sites.”

The Historical Society maintains the Chippewa City Church (St. Francis Xavier),  Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery, the  Replica Fish House/1935 Nee-Gee Fishing Tug at the Recreation Park,  the Bally Blacksmith Shop, and the Museum, all in Grand Marais.   As they prioritize projects they intend to complete design, site engineering, construction, and equipping  the new archival storage facility.