History center backers will form non-profit

Forest Lake Area Historical Society

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

A major move for the creation of a permanent history center in Forest Lake was taken last week as citizens working for the concept agreed to form a non-profit corporation.

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the volunteer group agreed to form the Forest Lake Area Historical Society and move ahead with formal steps to incorporate and form a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The decision was reached during a meeting at Forest Lake City Hall that included representation from the cities of Forest Lake, Columbus and Wyoming.

In doing so, the citizen group stopped short of proceeding with the option of forming as a formal commission within the city. The idea would have required action by the city council to complete.

Diane Finnemann, spearhead of the project, said the commission could be considered at a later time to work in partnership with the historical society.

The objective of the society will be to preserve the history of the Forest Lake area which is intertwined with that of border communities such as Wyoming, Scandia, Hugo and Columbus. The goals will include offering public opportunities for the display and access to historical artifacts and creating educational opportunities for the public.

Along with Finnemann, other board members who will join in the incorporation process are Keith Banta, John Fino, Glen Berg, Michele Siedow and City Councilwoman Susan Young.

Once the incorporation process is completed, the society will be able to move forward with fund-raising efforts that will offer donors tax-deduction options.

One of the first proposals that will be considered in a history display tentatively to be located in the former library space at city hall. A secondary option for the display is the Headwaters County Services annex in Forest Lake.

A committee of the society met again this week to work on a business plan and a first-year budget. A general membership drive could be one of the topics that will help provide start-up costs.

The drive for the permanent history center follows a highly successful six-week run for the museum operation last June and July that came in concert with the first Lake Fest in downtown Forest Lake and the celebration of the 100th graduating class at Forest Lake High School.