Art Center lays off five after discouraging audit

The Rochester Art Center fired five staff members this month following the release of an audit that said it was on the brink of financial collapse. Four full-time staff members remain, along with five part-timers, according to interim director Lee Koch.

The center's board of directors has written budgets for this year and next that should create a reserve fund, according to Koch. The center is also looking for new sources of revenue and to further cut expenses, she wrote in an e-mail to the local arts community.

The center's 2015 tax return showed a $279,000 operating deficit. The city supported the center with $570,000 of taxpayer funds in 2014 and 2015. The 2016 tax return has not yet been made available.

The center's annual meeting is scheduled for May 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rochester Art Center, 40 Civic Dr. SE., Rochester.

Matt McKinney

Stearns County

Dock owners offered cash to stop invasive species

Stearns County is offering dock owners cash to stop the spread of invasive species.

The county will offer an incentive of up to $200 to a shore owner selling a used dock or lift system to another shore owner in Stearns County. The catch: Dock owners must allow a county official to witness and verify that the dock or other water-related equipment has been cleaned of all aquatic invasive species and has been out of the water for 29 days before it has been moved.

Rafts, boat lifts, docks and other water-related equipment are often in the water for an extended period of time, making them more likely to pick up zebra mussels or other aquatic invasive species. It takes 29 days to kill the zebra mussels.

Anyone interested can review the information at the county's website,, or call Sue McGuire at 320-656-3613.

Mark Brunswick

Grand Marais

Music festival expects to draw tourists, raise funds

Leaders of the Grand Marais Music Collaborative are planning a new three-day music festival to be held in the prime of the summer tourism season.

The yet-to-be-named event in the city's park on the Lake Superior harbor will feature a mix of music styles from local, state and regional musicians.

The festival, which received a permit from the city's park board this month, is set to start the afternoon of Friday, July 28 and wrap up on Sunday, July 30. Organizers are hoping to raise $10,000 for the festival with the overall goal of providing music lessons for area students next winter.

"We have a tourism economy here," said Todd Miller, the board chairman of the collaborative. "For these kids to learn to play and perform is a valuable skill."

The group is seeking donations at

Pam Louwagie