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Campaign continues for new women’s shelter

The Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center campaign for a new facility has been set back by state budget issues, though it continues to push ahead.

The Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center campaign for a new facility has been set back by state budget issues, though it continues to push ahead.

While a proposed financial award of $750,000 from the North Dakota Oil and Gas Impact Grant Fund program was suspended before it could reach the center, administrators there are now working with the Roosevelt-Custer Regional Council for Development to secure a federal Community Development Block Grant that would add $500,000 to the project’s coffers.

Dariann Johnson, the center’s executive director, said the groundbreaking for the new facility was originally planned for this month but was delayed after the grant from the state was frozen as part of a total of $14 million in unfunded grants already awarded by the program.

Johnson said it will now hopefully begin next spring with the help of the federal funding.

“With the CDBG money comes some strings, because it’s money tied to (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development),” Johnson said. “It makes the building just a little more complicated, but nothing that we can’t handle.”

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The proposed building in question is a new 30-bed facility designed to replace the center’s current 18-bed structure to accommodate an increased number of temporary female residents and their children.

Rhonda Dukart, the center’s head of fundraising, said the center’s board revised its building plans to save on costs when the oil impact grant money was suspended.

What was originally planned as a two-story building to divide out the various functions of the center, Dukart said, has been revised down to one-story.

Including the block grant money, which is not yet fully guaranteed, Dukart said the center has $2.2 million in raised project funds. That sum includes $1 million committed by the city of Dickinson to be drawn from the city’s 1 percent sales and use tax, of which 30 percent is earmarked for capital improvements intended to increase the social and economic vitality of the city and region. The municipal money would be distributed over a period of up to three years.

The land for the proposed facility has been donated to the center by CHI St. Alexius Hospital and is on the hospital’s grounds.

Dukart said the center hopes to raise $3 million, which she said will cover the costs of construction outright.

“The goal is that we will be able to raise the rest of the funds by February 2017, so we can break ground right away next spring,” she said. “If some generous donor out there wanted to bring us a check, we’d start next fall.”

Dukart said she and the others at the center were optimistic that the frozen state funding would be opened up in the next session of the state Legislature.

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If that $750,000 was cleared to come to Dickinson, she said, the center would be in a position to start building “as soon as the ground thawed next year.”

Dukart encouraged any interested member of the public to call the center for more information on the project and its fundraising goals.

Gene Buresh, executive director of the Roosevelt-Custer Regional Council for Development, appeared before the Dickinson City Commission last Monday to seek city sponsorship of the project. Buresh said CDBG projects require local governments to sponsor any project that would receive funds and complete an application for the grant money.

“It’s a technicality,” Buresh said. “The money goes from the Department of Commerce to us, then to whoever’s handling the money for the actual project. There’s no obligation to the city.”

Currently, he said, the development council is in the process of completing an environmental survey and, when that’s done, construction would be cleared to begin.

Right now, it’s still unclear when exactly ground could be broken. Johnson said she was “disappointed, but hopeful” with the recent series of events.

“It was disappointing to not be able to break ground and be able to go forward right away, and yet, having this extra time will give us the ability to do things right,” she said.

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