A potential new $2 million Cornucopia Art Center was men-tioned at the regular meeting of the Lanesboro City Council Mon-day evening.

In giving a report from the Lanesboro Economic Develop-ment Authority (EDA), Council-man Joe O'Connor noted that Mi-chael-Jon Pease, executive direc-tor of Cornucopia Art Center had visited the EDA meeting held ear-lier Monday, along with Com-monweal Board member/fellow City Councilman Tom Dybing. They advised the EDA that Com-monweal had visions for a new home: a $2 million art center in-cluding a gallery, retail and educa-tional space.

O'Connor relayed that Pease and Dybing said they had been talking to the St. Mane family about the vacant lot on Parkway as a possible location. Also, it was noted a new center would be cre-ated to fit the historical district look of downtown Lanesboro.

During the council meeting, Pease and Liz Bucheit of Crown Trout Jewelers, who is also presi-dent of the Southeast Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC), presented statistics from an arts study done in Minnesota called "The Arts: A Driving Force in Minnesota's Economy."

Pease explained the study looked at the economic impact of the nonprofit arts in Minnesota by regions, noting it was the first to do such a breakdown. He said that the southeast region of the state was second only to the "Arrow-head" along the North Shore. There was $31 million spent by organizations and audiences in the Arrowhead, following by $17.8 million in the southeast region.

Pease explained that amounted to the full-time equivalent (FTE) of 510 jobs, with 140 nonprofit arts and culture organizations.

He then shared a pie chart graph that showed "the average spent by local nonprofit arts at-tendees above the cost of admis-sion (for southeastern Minnesota).

In this area, just under $30 was spent - $29.80. The Minnesota state average was $21.57, while the total spent by visitors was $44.82.

Combining Cornucopia Art Center with Commonweal Thea-tre, Pease said there's an average of $900,000 in spending by the arts audience.

He also stressed the impact of individual artists, noting a large amount of their money may not show up in local surveys because of a large import/export business. Pease said he knew one local artist who sends $28,000 of work to galleries outside Minnesota, but the money spent is almost all lo-cal.

"Compare that to major league sports, where almost 70 percent of the money leaves," stated Pease.

He also discussed state appro-priations for artists made by the Minnesota Legislature to organi-zations such as SEMAC, which then distributes grants to local artists. He said $11,640 in tax appropriations had gone to Lanesboro projects. Other artists receiving grants directly from the state accounted for around $85,000.

Pease encouraged the city leaders to consider marketing Lanesboro as an "arts town" as they work on the city's compre-hensive plan. "We have $17 to $18 million to capture if the Ar-rowhead has so much," he stated.

He asked that the arts be in-cluded in all aspects of the comp plan and that city officials advo-cate the arts when talking to legis-lators and others. Pease and Bu-cheit handed out Arts Advocate ins.

Bucheit then said her business could be a "poster child" for arts and economics. The Crown Trout business she and Kary Kilmer own moved to Lanesboro 10 years ago. Two years ago they pur-chased a building on Parkway for the shop. She said they realize they help bring people to Lanesboro with their shop and how it's marketed.

In other business

• Taking a look back at the Buffalo Bill Days celebration, which ended the day before, Councilman Bob Norby men-tioned people had told him they were concerned with beer and alcohol not being restricted to one area and being taken all around town and the park.

It seemed more of "an Okto-berfest," stated Norby. People told him they were concerned with keeping it a family event.

Council members talked about having more signage and setting up a joint meeting with the Buf-falo Bill Days Committee before next year's event. City attorney Tom Manion noted there are regu-lations for establishments that beverages should be consumed on the premises.

• Roger Hegland of Peterson, co-organizer with Cheryl Lamon for events for the MS TRAM bike tour's overnight stop in Lanesboro July 24, thanked the community for its support. He noted a red carpet and flowers along the Root River Trail welcomed the 988 bicyclists to town. Many were happy to see it return to the town, which last hosted the tour in 2002. He said on that last tour Lanesboro was voted the favorite stop. Hegland also praised the riders for their fund-raising for MS.

• The council approved the Parkway Pub as a location for pull tabs for the Lanesboro Fire De-partment.

• A cable TV franchise was approved for Ace Telephone.

• Norby reported from the Planning and Zoning Committee that members are checking Stew-artville's permitting process to help simplify Lanesboro's. They want to see the zoning regulations on the city's website.

• O'Connor said that in addi-tion to hearing about Cornucopia, the EDA met with Fillmore County EDA coordinator Cris Gastner and also received a com-prehensive plan update from Carla Noack. She is also preparing a community survey with help from a "survey expert."

• Kevin Drake reported that Public Utilities was looking at the possibility of non-resident utili-ties. He and city administrator Bobbie Torgerson reported the city had been running its water wheel when the river was at higher levels. Torgerson estimated it saved around "$9 grand" in pur-chasing electricity.

• Torgerson reported progress on the 2007 budget. She said local government aid (LGA) lost amounted to less than expected, $3,508 instead of $9,000.

• A list of election judges was approved.