Viewpoint: Goodhue County must preserve Government Center
By Paul Drotos, Goodhue County commissioner
The Goodhue County Board began planning to hold budget talks in February and held its first budget planning meeting on May 15, 2018. These discussions about costs and benefits were started early to avoid the last minute, crisis-management mentality that has plagued the budget process in the past.
Budget meetings and discussions are where the needs of roads and bridges, Health and Human Services, veterans, the elderly, the homeless, and the vulnerable, are supposed to be discussed.
The fruit of those prolonged discussions is how the 2019 County Preliminary Budget was set on Sept. 18. Jason Majerus was highly critical of this process in a recent opinion piece (RE, Sept. 29-30). In fact as board chair, he actually canceled a public budget meeting on the grounds that he felt that, "It wouldn't be productive." This lack of due diligence was reflected in his recent opinion piece and requires a response.
How many times have you seen the Antiques Roadshow when something old and beautiful loses a lot of its value due to its shabby condition? Well, the Goodhue County Government Building is something old and beautiful; and, it has missing and peeling paint.
Contrary to the recent op/ed from Commissioner Majerus, $50,000 is not being wastefully budgeted for a mural restoration. It is being budgeted to repair water damage caused by a leaking skylight that was fixed in 2008. At that time, and again in 2013, contractors from Midwest Art Conservation Center issued reports and recommendations to fix the peeling paint and damaged plaster. Nothing has been done.
Is there any building that is 86 years old that doesn't need maintenance? A lot of the expense is because it is three stories up in the air and it requires special contractors.
I believe it is important to preserve our architectural treasure by maintaining it properly. I think that if you are going to the trouble of making repairs, you should complete all the repairs and painting at the same time, including the murals. And, by the way, painting over the murals, as someone actually suggested, is not an option. They are already covered by a black colored dirt/grime/soot layer.
Public art belongs to everybody. The four classic William Peaco murals are a tribute to the: Agriculture, Industry, Recreation, and History that built Goodhue County. They should not be neglected, defaced, or destroyed because someone cannot find the value in expressing our common heritage.
Please come to the Goodhue County Government Center and decide for yourself if something that is so grand and that was built during the Depression, should not be shown the respect of maintenance and preservation.
Things that we own together and share together increase the value of our citizenship.