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HRDC to continue working on events center

The Headwaters Regional Development Commission has changed its mind.

The HRDC earlier this month said it would terminate its contract with the city of Bemidji as the project coordinator for the events center.

However, Executive Director Cliff Tweedale said Friday he did not ask the HRDC's commission for permission to terminate the contract during its meeting Thursday as he previously had expected to do.

Instead, Tweedale asked the commission for permission to allow him to terminate the contract if he deems it necessary at a later date.

The 25-member commission supported Tweedale on his request, he said.

"It went very well," Tweedale said. "My commission said, 'This is an important project. If you can be effective, go for it."

Mayor Richard Lehmann, who met with Tweedale Friday, said he was very pleased that the HRDC is going to continue working with the city on the events center.

"It's a process and product thing," he said. "One is just as important as the other, and the HRDC will work with us on the process."

In the last two weeks, since the HRDC originally said it would terminate its contract with the city, some members of the community have stepped up to voice support for the organization, including Lehmann and City Councilors Ron Johnson and Jerry Downs. The Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce also urged the council as recently as Monday to continue its relationship with the HRDC.

The HRDC was hired by the council July 16 to act as the project coordinator on the events center project.

But following an Oct. 3 council work session in which a proposal from HRDC Director of Community Stewardship Development Dave Hengel was barely discussed, Tweedale said he would terminate the $48,500 contract with the city.

Tweedale sent an e-mail that day to Lehmann and City Manager John Chattin stating his intentions, explaining that there seemed to be a lack of trust between the council and HRDC.

The day after Tweedale sent the e-mail, he met with Lehmann and discussed the HRDC's role in the project.

"The city asked me if we would reconsider," Tweedale said. "I indicated to them I would be willing to do that if circumstances changed enough to where we could be effective."