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Jensens initiate plan for Meteorite Center

First half of projected to be completed this year

July 2, 2012
By David Swartz - Managing Editor , Estherville Daily News

Most Estherville residents know about the meteor that crashed to earth north of town in 1879.

Bob and Lili Jensen of Estherville want all visitors to know about the meteor with the creation of a Meteorite Center.

Bob Jensen, owner of American Family Insurance Agency on Central Avenue, also owns the building to the east and the vacant area on the southwest corner of Central Avenue and Highway 4.

At the Estherville City Council meeting on Monday, the Jensens entered into an agreement with the city concerning the creation of a Meteorite Center.

The purpose of the center is to showcase and educate the public about one of Estherville's unique events.

The necessity for an agreement is because Excel! Estherville has set aside funding for the creation of such a facility. Since Excel! is funded by the local option sales tax and the city has fiscal responsibility for the tax, it was necessary to include it in a long-term lease and operations agreement.

Bob Jensen presented a proposal about the center.

Plans including moving the meteorite sculpture currently in Library Square to the vacant lot area. The area also will be landscaped including new grass and fencing.

Jensen said he hopes to have that portion completed this year.

A mural depicting a meteor them will be painted on the west side of Jensen's business. A smaller mural will be on the east side of the building. Also, Jensen has commissioned a stained glass window for that side of the building.

Plans also include upgrading that building in which the piece of meteorite purchased by the Estherville Chamber in 2009 will be displayed. The meteorite will be visible from the outside.

According to the agreement with the city, the Jensens will provide all ongoing support of the Meteorite Center at no cost to the city or Excel! including, but not limited to, furnishings, utilities, irrigation, lawn care, cleaning, taxes, security, snow removal, insurance, office equipment, restroom access and audio/video equipment.

Inside the Center, Bob Jensen has acquired the original Smithsonian Institute Book from 1879 listing details of the Estherville Meteorite and other documents.

The Center will also include a video showing other meteors hitting the ground.

The Excel! Estherville Committee has set aside $30,000 for the project. The agreement states it will be paid as follows: $10,000 upon execution of the agreement, $10,000 upon completion of meteorite statue relocation, sidewalk installation, irrigation and landscaping and $10,000 upon opening of a completed Meteorite Center.

Jensen said the plan is to complete the east half of the project this year with the second half completed next year.

The council agreed to the concept of the agreement pending its review by the city attorney.



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