Cambridge works on long-range disaster relief

The Cambridge city council accepted a $1,000 check from The Rotary Club of Cambridge-Isanti, which enabled the city to reach its $10,000 fundraising goal by June 30 in order to receive matching funds from Initiative Foundation. The money will go towards local disaster relief.

A tornado rips through the town. In the immediate aftermath, disaster assistance from the city, county, state, and possibly even nation are already in place to help those affected by this disaster. But what happens after all of that assistance disappears – most likely to the next area in need of assistance?

That is the question the city of Cambridge has been looking into for the past couple years through a long-term recovery committee, which is named #HART (Hope and Recovery Team). 

In partnership with the Initiative Foundation, an organization that helps central Minnesota communities financially build themselves up, the city of Cambridge has established a long-term relief fund that can be utilized by residents should such an emergency occur.

One of the most recent projects for #HART was raising money for such a fund. The goal of the city was to raise $10,000 by June 30, and if they did that, Initiative Foundation would match that amount. Through a fundraiser held at Willards in June, plus other independent donations, the city was able to reach that $10,000 goal by the deadline.

This money will be set aside until needed in an interest-bearing account.

“We can be thankful it ‘wasn’t us,’ but if it ever is us, we can be ready to respond appropriately,” mayor Jim Godfrey said at the July 1 city council meeting where the recovery team was discussed.

In the meantime, #HART will continue to hold two meetings a year, along with likely adding additional fundraising efforts.

“It (raising the initial $10,000) was kind of under the crunch as far as timing,” said Will Pennings, Cambridge’s emergency management director. “However, we experimented with a little fundraising, and I think we may take that to the next level or try it again. I think we have a decent format.”

City administrator Lynda Woulfe added that as part of the next “Third Thursday” event on Main Street, a bean bag tournament will take place, with the entry fees going to the fund. The Third Thursday event takes place July 18 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in downtown Cambridge – the theme that week is “Community BBQ.”  

Anyone wishing to donate to the disaster relief fund can drop off a check made payable to Initiative Foundation, with “Cambridge Disaster Relief Donation” written in the memo at Cambridge city hall. Any questions or offers to volunteer with #HART can be directed to Will Pennings at 763-552-3271 or wpennings@ci.combridge.mn.us.

Council makes citizen input easier

The Cambridge council is experimenting with ways to make it easier for residents to convey their thoughts and concerns to the council. 

The first such experiment was the “Love Your City” get-togethers. During the July 1 council meeting, a summary of the previous “Love Your City” event was presented. 

The event, an ice cream social held at City Park, was very successful, according to Woulfe, with approximately 150 people attending. During that event, a large list of items was discussed, including what residents loved about the city, what they didn’t necessarily love, and what they would like to change.

Woulfe said the council can meet during a study session later this month to go over specific items on the list.

The other experiment brings interaction with the council into the digital age. 

According to mayor Godfrey, someone from the city’s staff, or perhaps even a council member, will make a short video listing the agenda items for the next council meeting. That video will be posted on the city’s Facebook page on either the Thursday or Friday before the meeting, and residents will be encouraged to post their comments or questions regarding the upcoming agenda. Those comments will then be read during the meeting.

“This is for anyone who would like to participate, but can’t make it to the meeting,” Godfrey said.

Council action

In a very short meeting, the council also:

• approved closing part of Main Street and 2nd Avenue SW for the next two “Downtown Third Thursday” events, which will be held on July 18 and Aug. 15.

• approved declaring the residence at 1020 Marigold Drive South a “garbage house,” which allows the city to clean up the property due to the amount of garbage collected both inside and outside the house. According to police chief Todd Schuster, there doesn’t appear to be anyone living in the house at this time. The cost of the abatement will be charged to the property owner.

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