The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 7, 2013

Plan saving Historyfest moves forward

Buildings will be moved to higher ground

(Continued)

Initially McGowan thought he would be able to make some adjustments to the buildings that would allow them to stay where they are on a scenic peninsula at the convergence of the Blue Earth and Le Sueur rivers. He found out those plans were denied when he received a letter in October setting deadlines for all of the buildings to be moved before the end of the year.

That's when McGowan's pro-bono attorney, Chris Sandquist, and others put the new plan in motion. That plan has garnered the support of a wide variety of business owners and citizens who, like Sandquist and Holtmeier, are volunteering their time and equipment to move the buildings to higher ground. The support started when Southern Minnesota Construction, which used to own the property used for Historyfest, donated the land to McGowan's nonprofit organization called Little People Inc.

Sandquist said the county has issued all necessary permits. Crews from the county's Sentence to Serve program, which are manned by people who have been sentenced for low-level crimes, also have been sent to the farm to help move things out of the buildings. Most of the equipment that will be needed has been found, so plans are in place to have everything moved before Thanksgiving.

A push by U.S. Rep. Tim Walz to have FEMA take another look at McGowan's property and possibly change the flood lines won't be necessary, Sandquist said. It was unlikely anything could have been done before the deadlines passed.

"I think by next weekend we should have the buildings moved and that will be 90 percent of the work," Sandquist said. "Mankato is moving faster than the federal government and everybody is doing it for free."

Once the excavating is done, Holtmeier will leave equipment on the farm that can be used to move the buildings up the hill. Some of the buildings are already being lifted off their foundations and prepared for being moved.

"Our company is donating the work because we think Jack is a good guy and does a lot of great things for the community," Holtmeier said.

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