Family, friends and supporters fill the City Hall conference room to hear Aaron Olson’s presentation Monday.
Family, friends and supporters fill the City Hall conference room to hear Aaron Olson’s presentation Monday.

   A cultural center concept vying for nearly a half-million dollars from the estate of Lloyd and Grace Mitchell put its best foot forward as discussions heat up toward a decision on the money.

   Its chief proponent, Ripon native Aaron Olson, offered an hour pitch Monday night in the City Hall conference room, positioning it as the most appropriate use of the funds.

   “In comparison to the other proposed uses of the Mitchell gift, the Grace Lloyd Mitchell Heritage Plaza and SD Mitchell Cultural Center is more appropriate to the Mitchell family legacy; it’s more appropriate to the intent of the Lloyd Mitchell gift,” he said. “It brings more unique and valuable resources to the city. It makes a more direct and significant positive impact on the downtown area. It serves as a broader cross section of the greater Ripon community ... It fulfills the wishes, desires and expectations of the surviving members of the Archibald Mitchell family.”

   The pitch came before a room packed with family, friends and other supporters of the project, as well as two city council members, the mayor and city administrator.

   It also came weeks after the park and recreation committee heard final pitches for the same $485,000 in late July, and then selected an alternative project in early August to recommend to the Common Council for approval.

   Olson did not attend the late July meeting, with committee members noting that Olson had not followed through with getting the committee additional information.

   As such, he was not considered a serious contender for the funds, though Olson had made an initial pitch in February for the same dollars.

   But at Monday’s meeting, Olson framed the situation as a “miscommunication” between himself and the city, and stated to the one-quarter of the Common Council present that he should remain in consideration.

Read the full story in the Aug. 29, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.