by Frank Lee
It’s not every day a new building is blessed with Holy Water or a time capsule commemorating St. Joseph is installed for future generations to open one day.
But at the Feb. 6 open house for the new St. Joseph Government Center near Colts Academy, those were just some of the activities that were part of the opening ceremony for the facility.
“It’s lovely,” said Sister Michaela Hedican, prioress of the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict. “It’s profoundly straightforward in its design, but it looks like it’s very serviceable. It’s a real tribute to those who designed it and for all who will be able to use it.”
The opening ceremony at 75 Callaway St. E. included a flag-raising by members of the American Legion Post 328 in St. Joseph as a bugler played, and a ribbon-cutting by Mayor Rick Schultz and boys from the Central Minnesota Council Boy Scouts of America.
“Grant that all who plan and conduct business in these offices, through your guidance and support, help them make decisions, carry them out faithfully with justice and peace for all citizens of this city,” said the Rev. Jerome Tupa during the invocation.
Hedican added: “As we celebrate the dedication of this government building, we ask you bless all (who) work here. May they seek to preserve peace, promote the common good, and pursue liberty and justice for all. And may those whom they serve find assistance with their needs.”
Last year, the city council authorized the issuance and the sale of $4.28 million in bonds to build the new center, a 23,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that took almost a year to build.
“It’s nice,” city-council member Dale Wick said. “It’s got plenty of room and space for expansion.”
Nicole Merdan, a St. Joseph resident, attended the open house with her 11-year-old son Logan, a Cub Scout and fifth-grader.
“I think it’s a beautiful center,” she said of the new facility. “It’s bigger than I thought it would be. I think it’s a great place.”
The facility includes room for the police department, a 231-person capacity kitchen area, an 88-person capacity city-council chamber, two conference rooms and administration offices for city administrator, mayor, community development, building official, finance, engineer and more.
“Today, this government center, which grew out of a spirit of collaboration, will be a visible and tangible expression of our community’s shared concept for improved local and regional services,” Schultz said as part of his opening remarks to the crowd that had gathered.
The time capsule was installed behind the building’s dedication plaque and included a group photograph of Kennedy Community School students, a map of St. Joseph, copies of the Newsleaders, a statement of Benedictine values, information about the College of St. Benedict and a penny.
“I am proud to be part of the community which owns this facility,” Schultz said. “I look forward to not only using this building but to the future endeavors that will result as a result of this building being occupied and used for many years to come.”
Schultz said he wanted especially to thank Wick and former council member Renee Symanietz, “without whom the plans for this building may not have come to bear.” They were part of the original facility group and initiated the action that moved the project forward.
“I want to thank and mention the persistence of our architect (Hagemeister Mack) and construction management team (RA Mortan),” Schultz said in his opening remarks.
“I realize you took some heat during our struggle to get the project started and moving,” Schultz said. “But even after having circled the wagons a couple of times, you persevered and stuck with us, giving sound advice as we moved forward.”
The former St. Joseph City Hall, which was housed in a former bank at 25 College Ave. N., remains for sale.
“This new facility did not come easily, but by having many groups of people voice opinions and stay actively involved with its outcome, we did get it right,” Schultz said.