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Dayton promises to be there for Madelia

MADELIA -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton promises his administration will help Madelia's 2,300 residents recover from Wednesday's blizzard-whipped fire that destroyed much of the community's downtown.Dayton visited Madelia on Friday, meeting with ab...

MADELIA - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton promises his administration will help Madelia’s 2,300 residents recover from Wednesday’s blizzard-whipped fire that destroyed much of the community’s downtown.
Dayton visited Madelia on Friday, meeting with about 150 people near where eight buildings burned.
As if to prove his point, as soon as a hair salon owner said that state regulations created a roadblock to her setting up a temporary shop, the governor promised to issue an executive order so she could proceed.
A tearful Summer De La Cruz told Dayton during the meeting that regulations such as requiring a certain number of electrical outlets at each station prevented her from quickly reopening, despite numerous offers of space from people in the community.
“You pick one (location), and I’ll issue an executive order,” Dayton immediately responded.
Dayton spokesman Matt Swenson said that De La Cruz told the governor that hair stylists in her salon are independent contractors, and cannot collect unemployment benefits for being out of work due to the fire.
Since Board of Cosmetology regulations are state rules, Swenson said, an executive order can give De La Cruz permission to open a temporary salon.
Swenson said he could not recall Dayton issuing an order in response to a similar situation.
The hair salon situation was one of several discussed during the 75-minute Friday meeting.
After hearing that it would take at least a week for CenterPoint Energy to assess the community’s natural gas situation, Dayton said he would order his Public Safety Department to do what it can to speed up the utility.
One issue that remained unanswered after Friday’s meeting was about whether property taxes on the destroyed property could be suspended. Swenson said that while that is a local government issue, Dayton asked his Revenue Department to look into what help it could provide.
The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the fire, at the request of Madelia fire officials. State officials said it is standard procedure to include pipeline safety inspectors to be part of the investigation.
Witnesses reported an explosion downtown before 3 a.m. Wednesday. With strong winds, fire quickly swept through the buildings in the community 25 miles southwest of Mankato.
No one was injured.
Area fire departments joined the local one, but Tuesday’s blizzard closed numerous area roads and made travel difficult.
The governor drove past the devastation on his way in and out of town Friday.
“It is just horrible,” Dayton said after seeing the burned-out area. “Everybody still is in a state of shock, understandably.”
During the meeting, he heard people wonder if they would hear from state officials once he left Friday.
Afterward, he told reporters: “The concern that we will just disappear is not warranted.”
Dayton gave out his home telephone number, as he often does in public meetings, for people who think state government may be able to help in the recovery.
Madelia-area residents have offered support to those affected by the fire, which Dayton said “really is a tribute to the city.”
Among those helping is the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, which used its Website to collect donations and quickly passed it initial goal of raising $50,000. Thousands more in donations came via other online sites.
Besides De La Cruz’s Tressa Veona Salon, businesses affected included Reed Gethmann dental office, Hope and Faith Floral and Gift Shop, La Plaza Fiesta Mexican Restaurant, Culligan water, Kay’s Upholstery and American Family Insurance. Some of the businesses were open in temporary quarters on Friday.

Related Topics: FIRES
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