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Bemidji City Council: BREC director to be chosen

A committee has chosen Robert LeBarron as its top choice to oversee the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

LeBarron was the unanimously preferred candidate of five interviewed by the city's interview committee.

The Bemidji City Council is expected to consider the hiring of LeBarron as the BREC executive director during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

VenuWorks, the firm contracted by the city to manage the BREC, has completed background and reference checks on LeBarron has made an offer, reported City Manager John Chattin in a memorandum included in Monday's council packet.

A portion of the offer, Chattin wrote, is that LeBarron be allowed pre-approved expenses for relocation, temporary housing and moving to Bemidji.

The total amount offered is up to $15,000.

Repayment of that loan would be forgiven throughout the course of three years with LeBarron forgiven 1/36 each month.

However, "VenuWorks expects the total to be far less than the maximum allowed ($15,000) and all expenses must be allowed by under IRS regulations," Chattin wrote.

LeBarron, if hired, would be an employee of VenuWorks.

The contract between VenuWorks and the city of Bemidji states:

"VenuWorks shall be responsible for supervision and direction of all personnel staffing at the (BREC). All such (BREC) staff will be in the employment of VenuWorks. All expenses associated with the employment of staff will be considered operating expenses of the (BREC)."

However, the City Council approval is required for all "pre-employment and relocation expenses."

The city "has the right to participate in, and approve of, the recruitment, interviewing and hiring of the executive director of the (BREC)," the contract states.

Chattin said Friday that he did not wish to discuss the details of LeBarron's work history until the council takes action.

LeBarron is listed online as an associate director of the event center at San José State University in California.

LeBarron also previously was a general manager with Global Spectrum, a management firm that had bid along with VenuWorks for the BREC job.

The SJSU event center holds 4,600 people for basketball, and more than 6,500 people for concerts, according to its Web site. It has hosted concerts such as Bruce Springsteen and Faith Hill, and also hosts the SJSU men's and women's basketball games.

LeBarron, according to his LinkedIn page, has been the associate director of the SJSU event center since 2007. Prior to that, he worked 12 years with Global Spectrum.

BREC art

The council also will be asked to approve two artists chosen to showcase their work in the BREC.

A selection committee has chosen Barbara Keith of Fine Art Glassworks in Lanesboro, Minn., to provide the artwork for the terrazzo floor; and Alexander Tylevich of Tylevich Studio in St. Paul to provide the artwork for the entryway.

According to a narrative from Rita Albrecht, the city's community development director:

The entryway art will be suspended art and is budget for $80,000.

The terrazzo floor art is budgeted for $100,000.

Forecast Public Art, out of St. Paul, was hired by the city to locate and secure artists for the BREC work. The firm sent out a Request for Proposals from interested artists.

Three finalists for each project were invited to submit preliminary designs.

Following those interviews, the committee selected Keith and Tylevich as the preferred candidates to be commissioned for the artwork.