According to reports, the State Historical Society Board narrowly approved the purchase of Lawrence Welk’s homestead.
— Tom Gerhardt (@bistom) January 10, 2014
Last year the state legislature approved $100,000 for the purchase. Since then an assessment by state officials indicated some $580,000 worth of repairs needing to be made.
Here’s the language from the legislation:
SECTION 5. LAWRENCE WELK HOMESTEAD HISTORIC SITE PURCHASE – REPAIRS. The project pool line item in section 1 of this Act includes funding that may be used to purchase the Lawrence Welk homestead. If the homestead is purchased, the state historical society shall determine repairs that must be completed by the property owners and negotiate with the property owners to have those repairs made prior to the state’s purchase of the Lawrence Welk homestead, during the biennium beginning July 1, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015.
No word on what arrangements have been made with the current property owners for repairs to be done before the sale takes place, but I’m guessing the taxpayers are going to be stuck with the bulk of the repair bill. Just taking into account the $100,000 appropriation, and not the repairs, North Dakota taxpayers will be paying about $200 per visitor for this place. Just 500 people visited the farmstead last year, no doubt a testament to Welk’s aging fan base.
Here’s the make-up of the board, which includes Secretary of State Al Jaeger (who moved for the vote) and Treasurer Kelly Schmidt (who voted against the purchase).
Update: This quote from Treasurer Schmidt via the AP report is priceless:
Board member Kelly Schmidt, who also is the state treasurer, said she was troubled by locking the state into the purchase of the Welk farmstead when so many of the details remained unknown. She also wondered if it might set a precedent, mentioning University of North Dakota alumnus and NBA legend Phil Jackson as an example.
“Heck, maybe we should be buying the dorm room for Phil Jackson.”