Chamber must change way it funds Dozinky expenses

Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

As a result of questions raised regarding payment of fees to bands at the Dozinky Festival, changes must be made in the way such payments will be made next year.

For the past several years, the New Prague Arts Council has made the payments to the bands, with the funds coming from a donation by the New Prague Chamber of Commerce through its charitable gambling funds. Since New Prague Community Education, which is part of the New Prague Area Schools, acts as fiscal agent for the Arts Council, the payments were shown on the school district’s list of payments approved at the September 26 meeting.

Several district residents saw the payments on the list of disbursements. One asked school board member Tom Fadden, who is also a New Prague police officer, why the district was paying the bands. Fadden asked Superintendent Dr. Frankie Poplau about the checks, and Poplau told him the district was reimbursed from the chamber’s gambling funds. Fadden filed a report with the New Prague Police Department, alleging a possible fraud or money-laundering on the part of the school district.

New Prague Police Officer Jim Gareis and Chief Mark Vosejpka conducted an investigation into the incident, speaking with officials from the school district, the Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Gambling Control Board.

Vosejpka said he spoke with Cindy Kruger of the Gambling Control Board. Kruger then spoke with representatives of the chamber, including the chamber’s gambling manager.

Kim Gassner, executive director of the chamber, said Krueger questioned some of the payments to the Arts Council, and advised them that those payments were not allowable expenditures.

The Gambling Control Board and the police found no criminal wrong-doing

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