HHIC seeking city funds to pay salary of exhibit curator
Kris Groberg's job is on the agenda of the Moorhead City Council meeting tonight. Groberg is the curator for the temporary Red River Valley Exhibit at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, and her employer has run out of money to pay her $18,000 ...
Kris Groberg's job is on the agenda of the Moorhead City Council meeting tonight.
Groberg is the curator for the temporary Red River Valley Exhibit at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, and her employer has run out of money to pay her $18,000 salary.
So the Heritage-Hjemkomst Interpretive Center, a tenant in the city-owned Hjemkomst Center, responsible for caring for the center's historical items, is coming before the City Council with a request -- $10,500 in funds to continue paying Groberg's salary for June through December.
By then, members hope to have enough grant funding -- from grants requested by Groberg herself -- to start paying her salary again.
If the council doesn't favorably answer the HHIC's request, said Paul Dovre, chairman of the HHIC's board of directors, the year-old Red River Valley exhibit will lose more than Groberg's services.
"We will just drop the continuing development of the exhibit," Dovre said. "We won't be able to continue making the improvements and additions."
The Red River Valley Exhibit, which showcases local history, was originally funded by a $62,500 grant from the city, paid for with downtown tax increment financing dollars, said City Manager Jerry Sorenson. The grant money had to be spent by the end of March 2001, he said.
Since then, the HHIC has been funding Groberg's salary out of its operating budget, but it can no longer afford to do so, said HHIC executive director Charlotte Cox at an informal council meeting last week.
The lack of funding comes just as the HHIC is trying to transform the temporary exhibit into a permanent one, Groberg said.
"Attendance has been excellent; in particular this spring we have had a lot of schoolchildren in here," she said.
Her future plans call for making the exhibit more interactive and local, perhaps highlighting the history of certain families, she said.
But last week several council members hinted that they wanted some questions answered before they handed over the money.
"I'm interested in seeing to it that the HHIC is financially stable in the long run," said Councilman John Rowell. He said he likes the idea of the exhibit, and he wants to see it succeed -- but he's concerned about committing more money to it while the city's appropriation from the state is still uncertain. Perhaps the exhibit needs more financial partners to keep the balance sheet black, he said.
"Ordinarily one would think they would see they were running out of money for this particular position well before running out," Rowell said. "It's the sort of thing that makes elected officials grumble."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Joy Anderson at (701) 241-5556