New visitors bureau prepares to launch

A newly formed visitors bureau is on track to launch next year after submitting nonprofit articles of incorporation to the state, according to a board member.

The previous bureau, housed in the local Chamber of Commerce, was dissolved earlier this year.

Without a visitors bureau, local hotel owners were concerned about losing the benefits of the city's 3% lodging tax, which is dedicated to tourism marketing.

So the hotel owners got together and created a new visitors bureau, said Laurie Stahlecker, owner of the Crookston Inn and Convention Center.

"The Chamber decided it didn't want to do the convention and visitors bureau anymore," she said.

"We approached the City Council and asked if we could form our own entity, and they agreed we could go ahead with it."

The new group, dubbed the Crookston Visitors Bureau, has filed paperwork with the state to incorporate as a nonprofit. Once the state signs off, the group will negotiate an agreement for approval by the City Council.

Stahlecker said she's optimistic that the bureau can be operating early next year. Its mission is geared to promoting overnight stays, she said, while the Chamber of Commerce focuses more on general business promotion.

"The pandemic has really hurt a lot of businesses," Stahlecker said. "For the new Crookston Visitors Bureau, it's given us time to get our stuff going, so hopefully when things are back to normal, we will be up and running at that time.

"People need to see what Crookston has to offer."

john Reinan


Whitewater State Park gets upgrade

One of Minnesota's most popular state parks — the 2,700-acre Whitewater State Park between Rochester and Winona — is expected to complete a nearly $4 million upgrade to its Cedar Hill campground by the end of this year.

The upgrades include a new accessible shower building with a solar thermal hot water system and low-flow fixtures to reduce water use; four new accessible vault toilets; additional accessible campsites and longer parking spurs at campsites for RVs; upgraded electrical service at campsites in the Upper Cedar loops; a new campground septic system; improved drainage and stormwater management; tree and shrub plantings, and new paved roads.

The upgrades are being funded by state bonds and money from the Parks and Trails Legacy Amendment.