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Minnesota Legislature: Work begins on bonding bill

ST. PAUL -- Four Minnesota legislators met behind closed doors Monday to prepare a list of construction projects the state will fund. Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, said he expected work to continue at least into today on the bill, which will ...

ST. PAUL -- Four Minnesota legislators met behind closed doors Monday to prepare a list of construction projects the state will fund.

Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, said he expected work to continue at least into today on the bill, which will borrow money to fund the projects.

Among items Langseth expected to be in the bill is a $5.5 million project to move the Trollwood Performing Arts School from Fargo to Moorhead.

Trollwood was one of more than $300 million worth of projects then-Gov. Jesse Ventura vetoed a year ago.

Langseth, chairman of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, led the way to write a $418 million proposal for this legislative session.

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Langseth's House counterpart, Rep. Phil Krinkie,

R-Shoreview, said he did not want a bonding bill this year, but House leaders told him to work with Langseth to put one together.

At Trollwood, Executive Director Vicki Chepulis said it would be "absolutely wonderful" if the project is funded.

"As we're setting up for the summer, it always becomes apparent that the site, though beautiful, is just not as functional for us as it once was," she said.

But even if the project is turned down this time, Trollwood will ask for money next year, Chepulis said.

"If it doesn't happen this year, we sort of look at the tight economy as a kind of pendulum situation, and we want to be there when it starts swinging back," she said.

Ventura vetoed $30 million in sewer grants, but Langseth said he expected $15 million to be in the bonding bill. Local road and highway funds also are expected to be included.

Other construction projects that Ventura vetoed last year include:

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- Northwest Technical College, Moorhead: $400,000. Design health-care education facilities.

- Fergus Falls Community College: $760,000. Remodel maintenance shop and design student services addition.

- Crookston dam: $1 million. Red Lake River restoration near dam site.

- Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center: $3 million. Renovate building to house patients and programs now in the Kirkbride buildings.

- Big Bog State Recreation Area, northwest Minnesota: $1.6 million. Develop area, including a visitors' center.

- Red River State Recreation Area, East Grand Forks: $2.9 million. Develop area, including visitors' center.

- University of Minnesota research and outreach centers: $8.6 million. For Extension Service.

- Greater Minnesota regional parks: $4 million. Park improvements.

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- Greater Minnesota transit grants: $2 million.

- Statewide public safety radio: $13 million. Improve two-way radio service.

- Local roads: $20 million. State share of local road projects.

Forum reporter Joy Anderson contributed information to this story

Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

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