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Building owner responds to request for membership

By Staff | Sep 9, 2012

An official of a non-profit group is hoping inquiries to join their effort to fix up three vacant buildings on Main Street in Blue Earth are sincere.

“I see this as a positive that people want to be part of restoring the historic buildings,” says Robert Johnson, president of Hot Springs Citizens for Progress.

“I hope they aren’t just playing games or harassing us,” he adds.

In the past, city officials and leaders have expressed concern regarding the deteriorating condition of the buildings sometimes referred to as the “Three Sisters.”

It’s been almost four years since Hot Springs Citizens for Progress purchased the properties to renovate them for businesses to locate.

Last month, Mayor Rob Hammond and City Attorney David Frundt came up with an idea to help the South Dakota organization meet its goal.

Thus, a letter-writing campaign seeking membership was launched.

Johnson says he’s received several letters so far. He says the organization’s attorney is looking at Minnesota laws governing membership.

“We’ll have to wait and see if there are restrictions in Minnesota. It won’t be up to me. I’m just one voice on the board,” he says.

The letters were sent to two addresses in Hot Springs and another in Buckeye, Ariz.

Johnson, his brother Chad and James Moore are referred to as officers and directors of the non-profit organization.

“I have no legal requirement to respond. Yet, the letter says if they don’t hear from us the person assumes they are a member,” Johnson says. “I don’t think you would do that to another organization or company. This is hostile.”

According to the charitable group’s bylaws, applicants are charged a $100 non-refundable fee that is used primarily to conduct a background check.

Johnson says the organizations’s six-member board decides who can join.

If a person is approved for membership, they must pay an annual fee of $375 and agree to raise funds in the same amount for the year.

“I’m excited people want to help us. But, we want members who will be active and not just a name on paper,” Johnson says.

The organization’s bylaws, he says, may have to be changed to allow out-of-state members. And, that could take some time.

Johnson says he and board members will discuss whether this is, “an opportunity we can harness.”

If so, board members will draft a response letter outlining requirements to those interested in joining the group.

In the past, Johnson says he has tried working with local officials and has been unsuccessful finding someone to manage the buildings.

“It is going to require people who have a passion for fixing up historic buildings. They have to think it is worth volunteering their time and effort,” he says.