Like the humble prairie pasqueflowers that wait beneath snowdrifts, one small town news item has been buried beneath a blizzard of coverage of partisan state budget bickering, Wisconsin workers walking (and sleeping) like Egyptians, and spring flood predictions.
Lack of resources to construct a temporary berm puts a warehouse full of Schell's "brewery products" at risk from those floods, the New Ulm Journal reports.
The funding woes are laid out in New Ulm Council debates flood response:
. . . The Council discussed the construction of a clay berm to protect at-risk properties along the Minnesota River. The berm was estimated to cost $350,000.
Gramentz explained that the City was in an unique situation regarding the funding of a berm.
Previously, the City was reimbursed for emergency procedures in the '97 and '01 floods by FEMA.
However, Gramentz explained that the City only received the funding because the berms protected infrastructure and only coincidently protected properties. Since that time, the City has improved protection of infrastructure, like making the sewer water-tight, to the point that it is no longer at risk. He said the City wouldn't be able to make a strong case that the berm was protecting infrastructure. He said that it was unlikely that FEMA would reimburse the City for only protecting property. . . .
. . .The consensus was that it was unlikely the berm would be built, especially with budget restrictions and a lack of FEMA funds.
Councilor Les Schultz said the City's challenge was it couldn't afford to build a berm if the flooding was light, but it needed it if the flood was catastrophic. He said that the uncertainty over the flood levels made the City unable to build.
One property owner outlined his issues with this approach:
Ted Marti, owner of Schell's Brewery, addressed the Council, stating he need a definitive decision about the berm.
"My problem isn't that I can just find another warehouse if I flood. I need to know now what the City will do so I can prepare," said Marti.
After the meeting, Marti said that the Council's decision put him in a difficult position. He said that he would have to look for another location to store brewery products or he would need to construct his own berm. He said both would be difficult.
And there we have it. It's come to this. If that beer, lying vulnerable in the path of a rising river's torrents, doesn't make the case for adequately funding LGA by the barrelful, I simply don't know what does.
Moreover, one would think that we could readily tap the imagination of the most disaster-hardened FEMA bureaucrat to make the case that Mr. Marti's brewery operation, the second oldest family brewery in America, is a crucial part of our nation's infrastructure.
Listed on the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places, the brewery opened in 1860 by August Schell, to came to the Minnesota River Valley with a group of socialist gymnasts. It's one of the few outlying buildings left standing in New Ulm by Dakota warriors during the 1862 U.S-Dakota War. (The brewery history says that Mrs. Schell's habit before the war of inviting her visiting Dakota neighbors in for a little lunch prompted indigenous soldiers to spare the property).
The brewery survived Prohibition and the years when the nation's tastes in suds dictated the production of "deer piss."
Now known for its splendid seasonal and craft beers, Schell's has become a beacon for both enterprise and beer drinkers--especially given the many beerfests staged on the brewery grounds. Recently named Minnesota's Family Business of the Year:
Schell’s Brewing Company currently employs 49 full time employees, three family members, and 19 part time employees. Five extended family members hold titled board positions and the remainder of the shareholders is made up of descendents of August Schell. The Brewery has been 100% owned and operated by the same family since its inception in 1860. . . .
There's a party coming up, Bockfest:
Date: March 5th, 2011
Time: 11am - 4:30pm
Where: Schell's Brewery
Admission: $10 - Please note that part of the Bock Fest proceeds will go to benefit the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program in support of the New Ulm National Guard Unit and their families who are to be deployed this year. Also, some proceeds will go to benefit the New Ulm Area Food Shelf.
For the love of all that is sacred and tasty, FEMA, pay for that berm! Senators and Representatives! Fund LGA! Save our strategic beer reserves--the Grain Belt Nordeast you spare may be your own.
Governor Dayton, build that wall!
Image: The label for Schell's Bock Beer. When our beer supply is under attack, stand up and fight back.