News Column

Mapleton lawyer and laundry get loans from county

July 29, 2014

By Mark Fischenich, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

July 29--MAPLETON -- The Blue Earth County Board approved a pair of economic development loans for Mapleton Tuesday -- one for a cleaners and one for a lawyer. And commissioners didn't even make a joke about the latter taking people to the former.

Instead, both projects, financed by the county's Small Cities Revolving Loan Program, were praised by Mapleton leaders and commissioners alike as key components of the economic vitality of a rural town.

Mapleton Mayor James Swanson said city officials were worried the laundromat's future was in doubt when its previous owner died. That would have been a serious problem for renters who don't have their own washer and driver, Swanson said, noting that Mapleton has dozens of rental units.

"To have a laundromat where they can get clean clothes is huge," he said.

North Mankato resident Adam Huiras, doing business as Blue Knight Investments, will receive a $21,460 low-interest loan to make repairs to the laundromat on Mapleton's1st Avenue and possibly add a third a rental unit to the building. Huiras provided as collateral the business, valued at $89,000 with its equipment, which he is slated to purchase Friday.

Interior construction is expected to be completed by October. John Huiras, Adam's brother and an investor in the business, appeared before the board and said his brother knows how to run a laundromat.

"Adam already operates the Stadium Laundry at MSU," Huiras said. "So he has experience operating these."

The second loan was a bit more unusual -- $59,842 for construction of a home office for attorney Bruce Sellers at his Smith Street home. Sellers, a partner in a firm based in Blue Earth, now has a satellite office at 306 Main St. in Mapleton.

The home office will provide for more confidential discussions with clients and ensure the firm will continue to practice in Mapleton, Sellers said.

"The current office I didn't feel gave us enough privacy," Sellers told the board.

Commissioner Drew Campbell said he was initially uncertain about the loan for the home law office but was persuaded when more documents were provided.

"I did have some concerns about this particular loan application," Campbell said.

Both loans were approved by the Mapleton Economic Development Authority and the Mapleton City Council before coming to the board for final approval. They were also reviewed by a consultant and county officials.

"These are vetted very well," Sellers said. "I can testify to that."

Swanson testified about Sellers' Mapleton roots, noting that he was a graduate of Maple River High School who wanted to return to his hometown after graduating from the University of South Dakota law school. Encouraging local kids to stick around after college is crucial for small rural towns, he said.

"Whenever I see that, I feel there's hope for the future," Swanson said. "This community will be in good hands."

Board Chairman Will Purvis said Sellers' continued presence in the community is important for a more basic reason -- he's interested in ditch law, which isn't commonly the case for young lawyers.

"It's a wonderful thing to have an attorney (in a small city)," Purvis said. "Especially one with an expertise in farm drainage. ... So we're very fortunate to have you in our community."


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Source: Free Press (Mankato, MN)

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