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Secretary of State's office: On paper, Grand Forks arts group doesn't exist

According to state records, Grand Forks' Public Arts Commission doesn't exist—though a top leader with the group says North Dakota records are wrong.

The website for the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office lists the commission as "dissolved involuntarily" as of Feb. 5, which Allison Schumacher, a business information associate with the state, said is due to the group's failure to file timely reports stating the group's leadership, address and other basic information. Schumacher said such a status can affect the a group's ability to obtain certain permits and licenses and can provide obstacles to opening new checking or savings accounts, should banks require certain paperwork.

"Their name is no longer protected," she added. "Somebody could come in and use that name (or) a deceptively similar name."

Barry Wilfahrt, a member of the group's Board of Directors, said the requisite paperwork has been filed, though he was unsure when it was sent, and Mike Kuntz, the board president, called the state's online records "not correct."

The Public Arts Commission was first registered with the state in August 2014, online records show. Schumacher said annual reports from 2017 and 2018, due Jan. 31 of those years, have not been filed, leading to last month's dissolution. Schumacher said that the group would have to file a new report to be reinstated. If a group doesn't file a new report within a year of dissolution, it takes either a court order or a fresh filing with the Secretary of State's Office to re-register a group.

Leighann McKenzie, group's events director, said its 2018 report was filed in January and that its 2017 report should also be on file with the state. PAC and Secretary of State officials are working to resolve the matter, she said.

A second call to the Secretary of State's office, answered by a second official, confirmed Schumacher's history of PAC's status with the state.

The Public Arts Commission is in the midst of a project to place multiple large-scale public art pieces throughout the city, a push that could spend more than $1 million on five such works of art in coming years. Perhaps most notable among those is a metal set of arcs, dotted with what appear in renderings to be pieces of colored glass, which is expected to be placed near 42nd Street and DeMers Avenue this year.

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108