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JDA director steps down

By Staff | Mar 29, 2019

Rugby Job Development Authority Executive Director Jessica Brossart announced her intent to step down from her position at the board’s March regular meeting last week.

Citing difficulties balancing demands from other pursuits, Brossart said, “I do have another business, and I don’t want my hours and any negativity from here to affect my business. I’ve worked for 13 years to build an alternative health business that I’m really proud of, and I’ve helped a lot of people. And with how our town is right now, frankly we could use another successful business on Main. I feel like my time is going to be more needed there. It hasn’t been an easy decision.”

Brossart told the board, “I just wanted to let everybody know that in my eleven months working here I’ve come to realize that I’m not cut out for politics. I’m not cut out for a lot of the negativity that comes along with this job. I’m too independent, too positive to be able to deal with some of the things here.”

“I know I have thick skin,” she continued, “because I’ve dealt with a lot of crap here, but I’ve dealt with a lot of good, too. But for personal and professional reasons, I’m going to need to step out.”

JDA Board President Tanner Johnson told Brossart, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

Mayor Sue Steinke thanked Brossart for her service, and requested that she stay on until a new executive director was found, and help with the transition.

Brossart agreed to do so.

The board also discussed restructuring the JDA board to comply with a city ordinance passed last fall. City Ordinance 413 calls for board members to serve three-year terms, arranged so the terms of one third of the board expire on December 31st of each year.

Steinke, Johnson and Board Vice President Rob St. Michel discussed the benefits of reducing the size of the board to 7 or 9 people.

Johnson pointed out reaching a quorum with fewer board members would be less of a problem. “It’s a little bit easier to conduct business, and everybody feels a little more comfortable in a little smaller setting, too,” he noted.

Discussion also focused on two part-time office managers hired to take care of clerical functions. Brossart noted hiring the new staff “has made a huge difference”.

Brossart said the increased efficiency in office work meant she had more time to invest in three JDA projects.

When asked by Steinke to describe the projects, Brossart said, “Unfortunately, I can’t. They’re too confidential at this point, and too new.”

Brossart also discussed modifications to reports detailing budgets vs. actual expenses for 2018. Brossart said six items were not included in the 2018 budget and would be added to the 2019 budget. The report was amended with help from office staff Jamie Wentz.

Other topics for discussion included participating in a joint program with Souris Basin Planning Council and the AmeriCorps Vista program to hire a volunteer to work in the JDA office for a term of one year researching grants and performing other duties. The volunteer would split his or her time with the nonprofit Father’s Farm in Wolford, and costs for the volunteer position would be divided between the JDA and Father’s Farm.

Expenses for the program would total $6560 plus computer equipment and supplies.

Old business included a letter from Affordable Housing, Inc. to thank the JDA for their help, and the payoff of the JDA’s loan on the Heart of America Johnson Clinic building.

Brossart also announced a Lunch and Learn with the Chamber workshop, to be held April 29th. The workshop will present information on using social media to reach customers, and will include a small lunch for $10 per person.

Before the meeting adjourned, board member Terry Hoffert asked for an update on Shopko’s Rugby store closing.

“I had an update from the building’s owners this week, and they’re actively recruiting,” Steinke told Hoffert.

“A retail business?” asked Hoffert.

“Yes,” Steinke answered, noting the store’s closing meant a 10 percent loss of sales tax revenue.

“We need the tax revenue. But they (building owners Pierce Investments, Inc.) are actively pursuing new businesses,” Steinke indicated.

The next JDA board regular meeting will be held Thursday, April 25th.

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