Minnewaska Area Schools Superintendent Chip Rankin, Central Square board member Larry Zavadil and Rep. Paul Anderson spoke to the Minnesota House Bonding committee when it visited Central Square in Septemberof 2021. Anderson was instrumental in organizing the visit to Glenwood.

After five years of collective efforts from various stakeholders, including a senator, a congressman, a superintendent, several business leaders, a capable staff, and distinguished board of directors, Central Square Arts and Cultural Center has secured a $4 million portion of the recently passed State Bonding Bill for repairing and restoring its iconic building.

Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, who represents 21A at the legislature, confirmed on Monday that Central Square was included in the long-awaited bill. Anderson was a key figure in securing the inclusion of Central Square in the final agreement. He championed the cause and tirelessly advocated for the center. 

Central Square’s executive director, Marie Chan said, “Paul never took his foot off the pedal in his advocacy of Central Square. His belief in the importance of this project, and his support of the bill was unwavering. It is difficult to overstate how vital his role in this process was.”

Further government support for Central Square’s inclusion in the bill came from Senator Torrey Westrom who met with Central Square staff in a Zoom meeting in 2022 to discuss their future plans. 

Chan noted the efforts of her predecessor, Cheryl Larson, in initiating the project along with Central Square board member, Larry Zavadil. 

“When I came onboard, most of the heavy lifting was done. I simply supported some of the follow-up needed since the initial application was submitted. Cheryl, Larry, and other members of our staff, board, and community worked through a lot of tough issues to get us to this point. I’m excited to help their vision come to fruition,” she explained. 

Of her time spent on the project, Cheryl Larson said, “The process was extensive. From surveys, assessments, applications, architectural drafts, fundraising, reporting, zoom testimonies, writing a bond booklet, negotiating property purchases, and maintaining the day-to-day operations, the process has at times felt insurmountable. But perseverance and hard work has paid off. I consider this my crowning achievement and the culmination of my 10 years at Central Square. I am very proud to have worked with so many great people to achieve great things for our community. The best is yet to come!”

Chan acknowledged numerous supporters who played critical roles in Central Square’s pursuit of bond funds, both through significant contributions and smaller gestures, but emphasized the indispensability of a select few.

The Central Square Restoration Fund, held by Glenwood State Bank, has been funded by donors large and small, through multiyear fundraising efforts. The Martinson family, the Larson family through their family foundation, The David and Janis Larson Foundation, The Klick Companies, American Solutions for Business, and American Diversity Business Solutions, have all contributed substantially to the fund. 

“The donations and support from the community have been extremely important; every gift counts in fundraising. We are grateful for the examples set by our large donors, their involvement and partnerships shine a light on the value of having Central Square preserved for continued community use,” Chan stated.

Chip Rankin, superintendent of Minnewaska Area Schools, agreed to have the school district take on a critical role as the fiscal agent as required by bond application guidelines. A fiscal agent ensures that all funds are spent in accordance with the rules and regulations stipulated in the bond agreement. 

“The involvement of Chip and the school district was a turning point for us,” said Larry Zavadil. “That partnership lifted our profile and bolstered our chances at being included in this bill.”

Chan added board members, Pope County commissioner Gordy Wagner, Tim Douglass, and John Stone to the list of people to thank. “They utilized every opportunity when they attended meetings at the Capitol, and in conversations with government representatives, including Governor Tim Walz, to advocate for Central Square. They kept our project in people’s minds,” she adds.

About Zavadil’s involvement, Chan said, “Larry, and Diane are both so generous in their support of Central Square. Diane never hesitates to sponsor and support our programming. And anything I say will ultimately come short of doing justice to the incredible contributions Larry has made to make this project successful. His determination, patience, work, and collaborations were critical to every step of this process. I don’t think I need to say how lucky we are to have Larry as a champion for CSQ, it is so obvious. We are grateful to have someone like Larry care, and work so hard to make our dreams for CSQ a reality.”

With the $4 million allocated for building repair and restoration, Central Square will embark on a comprehensive project to preserve its historic integrity while enhancing its capacity to serve as a hub for artistic expression, cultural enrichment, and community gathering. 

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we are happy to finally have the ability to address the critical needs of the building. But today, we are just feeling really grateful to the legislature, and Governor Walz, who has shown his commitment to greater Minnesota and the arts with the signing of this bill. We are also thankful for every single person who has supported us along the way. We love the Lake Minnewaska area community and look forward to revitalizing Central Square for their benefit. Today feels like a day of thanks.” Chan said.