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Helmut Schmidt, Published May 11 2012

Timeline of the history of Trollwood and Bluestem

FARGO – Important dates in the history of Trollwood Performing Arts School and Bluestem Center for the Arts.

• 1978 – Trollwood Performing Arts School starts in north Fargo’s Trollwood Park.

• 1997 – Several summer and spring floods are topped by a 100-year-flood that spring. Erosion and damage gives added impetus to efforts to find a new home for Trollwood.

• 1998 – FutureBuilders in Support of Trollwood Performing Arts School is created.

• March 2000 – Moorhead leaders try to convince Trollwood Performing Arts School to become a centerpiece of the city’s downtown.

• May 22, 2000 – Moorhead presents two plans to lure Trollwood. One would locate facilities between Memorial Park and M.B. Johnson Park, the other calls for a total relocation to M.B. Johnson Park.

• May 2003 – Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signs off on $5.5 million in bonding for a regional arts center in Moorhead to house Trollwood. The bonds require $5.5 million in matching funds. The facility must be completed by Dec. 31, 2008.

• June 2004 – Moorhead officials get an offer to buy 174 acres of land that includes the Town and Country Golf Course. A deal is made in August, and it becomes the site for the new Trollwood.

• June 21, 2007 – Groundbreaking is held for the new home of Trollwood Performing Arts School.

• Aug. 21, 2007 – TPAS and FutureBuilders cut more than $1.25 million in costs from their plans due to higher-than-expected construction costs. Total costs are now expected to be $13,115,412.

• Jan. 4, 2008 – The Fargo School Board approves a $3 million interest-free loan to help finish construction of the new Trollwood Performing Arts School in south Moorhead. The loan is made from the district’s general fund balance.

• Sept. 23, 2008 – More money is needed to complete the new home of Trollwood. The School Board agrees to act as the backer or co-signer of $3.5 million of “in conduit financing” (bonds that will be issue to provide a loan) to FutureBuilders.

• Nov. 4, 2008 – Clay County commissioners approve the $3.5 million of in conduit financing requested by FutureBuilders in support of the Trollwood Performing Arts School.

• July 2009 – Trollwood holds its first mainstage musical at the new site in south Moorhead.

• Aug. 27, 2009 – John Marks, a longtime TPAS leader and visionary, says he will leave after 31 years.

• Oct. 2, 2009 – TPAS Executive Director Vicki Chepulis says she will retire. Feb. 28, 2010 is her last day.

• November 2010 – The Trollwood facility is renamed Bluestem Center for the Arts.

• Jan. 22, 2011 – Sue Wiger is named director of the Bluestem Center for the Arts. FutureBuilders later renames itself Bluestem.

• December 2011 – Bluestem fundraisers fail to make a $286,000 bond payment. The Fargo School District makes the payment, and takes over day-to-day operations and bills.

• April 2012 – The Bluestem group proposes the Fargo School District pay off $2.1 million in remaining debt for bonds used to build the Bluestem Center for the Arts.

• May 8, 2012 – The chairman of the Bluestem fundraising group says that his group wants nearly $5 million in debt forgiven by the Fargo School District.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583