10 W Fallon Ave Baker, MT 59313
Fallon County of Montana

EMEDA Commissioner Meeting – August 8th 2023

EMEDA Commissioner Meeting – August 8th 2023

EMEDA Eastern Montana Economic Development Authority

Commissioner Meeting

August 8, 2023 at 6:30pm

SMART Conference Room

Members Present:
Chairman Steve Zachmann, Treasurer Karol Zachmann, Commissioners Melissa Higbeeand “Cookie” Zenko

Members Absent: Vice Chair Carson Beach, Commissioner Tasha Losing

Staff Present: Executive Director Vaughn Zenko

Meeting called to order: 6:32pm by Steve Zachmann

Approval of Last Meeting Minutes: Melissa motioned to approve the general meeting minutes from July 11, 2023. Cookie seconded. All present in favor, minutes approved.

Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person):  none

Financial Report: EMEDA had a net income of $370.21 for the July-August period. There are $677,519.78 in total assets, of which $123,800.39 remains in the general operating fund. Vaughn noted that the Wells Fargo Façade Improvement confusion on Quickbooks brought up in the June meeting had been remedied by SMART Assistant Shannon Johnson and Rachel’s Accounting and would no longer appear on the Balance Sheet.

Monthly Claim Forms Review: The board reviewed claims of $3,600 for the Executive Director’s hours and $300 in administrative assistance to SMART. Also Event Advertising Grants of $1,000 to the Chamber for Crazy Dayz, $800 to Friends of FMC for their 4th of July celebration, and $1,500 to the O’Fallon Historical Museum for Heritage Fest. Karol motioned to approve all claims. Cookie seconded.  All present in favor. Motion approved, July-August monthly claims totaling $6,900 will be paid.
No further discussion.

Director’s Report:  Vaughn reported that work had begun on the new Fallon County Visitor Center to be located in the old Wosepka building adjacent to the Baker State Bank Building.  Work on the downtown pocket park is expected to begin this week or next. Vaughn asked if he should approach the Event Marketing Grant recipients about a promotional photo shoot with a big novelty check to promote the grants that they received. The board generally thought that would be a fun idea and a good way to promote EMEDA and the grant program.
Vaughn also notthe new Community Theater had a successful run with their performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, with almost 400 people attending and earning over $9,000 profit for future productions.  He also reported that he pulled back EMEDA’s grant application with Grid United’s Community Investment Program for ADA access to the new childcare facility, as the Shepherd house was no longer an option.

Old Business:

               Baker Child Care Project:  Vaughn spoke with Shawna Sargent of Action For Eastern Montana (Head Start) and she informed him that progress had not been made on their end with Vesta Modulars designing a custom modular for child care. Problems with the Glasgow Head Start have delayed progress on the Baker project, but she assured Vaughn that the enrollment reductions have been approved in Miles City and Glendive, with those Head Start slots planned to move to Baker. She also said that Vesta’s original design for two classrooms may be better served to combine the two into one large classroom, which could save on cost.
Chairman Zachmann brought up alternative options such as a non-custom mobile home, an open plan modular home, or revisiting the workforce housing option. He said that people need to see something concrete in place to believe the Child Care Project is continuing to move forward.

7:08pm Pam Nelson entered the meeting.  EMEDA meeting recessed.
Pam had a quick, SMART related, question for Vaughn. Chairman Zachmann allowed for the question and answer, outside of regular EMEDA meeting.

7:12pm Pam Nelson left the meeting. EMEDA meeting resumed.

(Baker Child Care Project continued…) Commissioner Zachmann called the meeting back into order, suggesting the possibility of EMEDA purchasing one modular from Vesta, and utilizing the workforce modular for the additional facility.  The board agreed that action needed to be taken soon, but would wait until a proposal from Vest Modulars was presented.
Moving on from the facilities discussion, Vaughn presented the board with the Waterford Upstart “home learning” on-line pre-school program. It had been provided as a pilot project by the State of Montana for two years, ending in 2022 and had shown promising results for early childhood education. Despite the success of the program, the State discontinued funding after the 2022 cohort. A local citizen who took part in the pilot presented the idea to Vaughn about bringing the Waterford Upstart program to Fallon County as an EMEDA project at a cost of either $53,000 per year or $20,589 per year for a reduced program. Karol said her children were raised without anything like this and turned out just fine. Vaughn pointed out that the Waterford is a program that can only be funded by government organizations or schools, and that the program fees can be charged to parents to compensate for the potential cost to EMEDA.  After some discussion, the board agreed that, with the work EMEDA is doing on bringing in the child care facility and Head Start to Baker, working on the Waterford Upstart program would prove to be a distraction.  Karol motioned to set aside consideration of the Waterford Upstart program until at least after the child care facility was established. Cookie seconded. All present in favor, motion approved.

               Wild Roots Community Food Forest:  Vaughn spoke with the Fallon County Commissioners this morning, bringing up that EMEDA had yet to see an agreement with the County for the land for the Food Forest.  The Commissioners explained that this was because they wanted the original agreement to be redrawn to leave out any obligation to EMEDA to the Food Forest. Instead, the agreement will simply be a Lease agreement to EMEDA for the land, to be used for however EMEDA sees fit. As opposed to the SMART agreement with the City of Baker, this will remove any obligation to EMEDA to be forced to continue to operate the Food Forest in case the project is not working or Lacey Bert, the project supervisor, were to drop out.  Steve said EMEDA would be more inclined to that agreement than the previous one that committed EMEDA to the Food Forest project. He said EMEDA could not take official action until seeing an agreement, in writing, from Fallon County, and would like to see the agreement include that the County would remain responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the land outside of the designated Food Forest as well as the drainage ditch running behind it.  There were no objections, EMEDA will continue to wait for the lease agreement to be presented by Fallon County.

               Event Advertising Grant (Fallon County Fair):  Jennefer Wheeler, the Fairgrounds Manager, applied for the EAG for this year’s Fallon County Fair, asking for the full sum of $1,500.  Though it’s not written in the guidelines, Chairman Zachmann suggested that the intent of the EAG was to help with advertising in cases of hardship where the applicant cannot afford an extensive advertising budget. Karol said she feels that the Fair has a big enough advertising budget already. Melissa pointed out that with EAG’s already paid this budget cycle to Friends of FMC, the Baker Chamber, and the O’Fallon Historical Museum, EMEDA has no funding remaining in the budget for additional EAG’s.  Cookie motioned to not fund the Fallon County Fair’s Event Advertising Grant on the grounds that all budgeted funds have already been expended.  Melissa seconded. All present in favor, motion approved. The EAG for the Fallon County Fair is denied. 
Chairman Zachmann requested that amending the EMEDA budget to direct more funding into the EAG be added to the agenda for the next meeting.

               Other Old Business: 

               Christmas in the Park:  Vaughn asked if the board was aware whether Christmas in the Park will be happening in Baker this year, as the former organizer of the event, Beth Epley, has moved out of town.  Steve said that it will likely happen one way or another.  Melissa had also been on the planning committee, and pointed out that they need more volunteers for the event.  No further discussion.

               Baker Bowling Center Façade Improvement Grant:  After requesting more detailed information from the Baker Bowling Center on their FIG application, Tammy Hunt, the owner, provided estimates for the project for EMEDA review.  The new invoices included work on gutters, which is not included in the FIG.  Invoices for a new sign and painting, totaling $10,167.41 were approved, half of which would be $5,083.71. Melissa motioned to approve the Baker Bowling Center FIG for $5,083.71. Karol seconded. All present in favor, motion carried. Vaughn will inform Tammy Hunt that the grant has been approved.

New Business:  

               Officer Elections:   As the Annual Meeting in July was running long and adjourned before officer elections could be addressed.  The EMEDA board is required by statute to take up officer elections annually. After brief discussion, Cookie motioned to keep the slate of officers as they currently are. Melissa seconded. Three in favor, two absent, motion carried.  Steve Zachmann will remain as Chairman, Karol Zachmann will remain as Treasurer, Carson Beach will remain as Vice Chair, on condition that Carson accepts the nomination.

               Annual Review of EMEDA Mission:  Chairman Zachmann has searched for a copy of the EMEDA by-laws and has not found anything other than the initial Resolution of Creating a Port Authority, nor has he found an official Mission or Vision Statement. Vaughn agreed that he has been unable to find those documents either.  Steve said that EMEDA must operate by the dictates of State Law and the County Resolution, so that acts as the by-laws for EMEDA, even though Port Authorities are allowed to create their own by-laws aside from the Resolution so long as the by-laws are in line with State Law regarding Port Authorities.  Steve said that EMEDA should create a proper Mission Statement and requested that Vaughn send the Commissioners a copy of SMART’s Mission and Vision Statements, so that EMEDA can develop a new Mission Statement clearly separate from SMART’s mission.  Steve also suggested that the EMEDA board review the County Resolution guiding the Port Authority and note any changes or amendments that need addressing by the County Commissioners at the next meeting.

               Annual Review of Commissioners’ Obligations and Duties:  Somewhat addressed in the previous agenda item, Chairman Zachmann deferred this topic to a later meeting.

               Other New Business:

Vaughn pointed out that he will be speaking at the Montana Childcare Business Connect Summit on the day of EMEDA’s next scheduled meeting on September 12th.  After discussion, Karol motioned that the next EMEDA meeting be moved to September 5, 2023 at 630pm at the Plevna Bar.  Cookie seconded. All present in favor, motion carried. The meeting date and location for September have been changed.

Having no other business to attend to, Karol motioned to adjourn the meeting. Cookie seconded. All present in favor.
Meeting adjourned at 8:20pm

The next meeting date is September 5, 2024 at 6:30pm at the Plevna Bar

                 s\ Steve Zachmann, Chairman                                                                                  s\ Vaughn Zenko, Executive Director