Last minute efforts to get votes surrounding Confluence Project

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Polls open Tuesday morning but before voters head to the polls, volunteers are out in full force trying to get the final word out about how they think people should vote on the Confluence Project.

In Eau Claire County, all eyes are on the Confluence and where its future lies.

County voters will be asked if the county should spend $3.5 million dollars toward the building of the Confluence Project in downtown Eau Claire.

City residents will also vote on a referendum that would require voter approval on any arts project costing the city a million dollars or more.

Volunteers from both sides say they'll use the rest of Monday night to convince voters to head to the polls.

Over at the Voices for Growth Headquarters on S. Barstow Street, about a hundred volunteers have been busy making around 3000 phone calls.

Voices for Growth organizers say they hope voters choose ‘yes’ for the county and ‘no’ for the city.

“We've been going door to door. This week we spent some time in Altoona and we've spent considerable time in the greater Eau Claire community making sure every voter and every viewer knows that this is such a historic once in a lifetime opportunity,” said city council member Catherine Emmanuelle.

She said she’s been working with high school aged students and even people who have been retired for the last 20 years. The group started working to promote the Confluence Project since January through a grassroots effort.

“We've really tried to leave no stone unturned and hoping that our message of positive economic development will really resonate with the voters,” said Emmanuelle.

Just a few miles away on the west side of Eau Claire, city council member Bob Von Haden is going door to door on behalf of Voters with Facts.

He said Voters with Facts is also a grassroots effort comprised of people who agree that voters should be educated before the Confluence Project goes forward.

“The Voters with Facts is very simple. It’s to get information out to the public so they're informed on how to vote on the issues,” said Von Haden. “What we have is there are still more questions that haven't been answered. What we're saying is we have a referendum on a referendum so we can get answers to the appropriate questions.”

Voters with Facts want voters to choose ‘no’ for the county and ‘yes’ for the city.

Emmanuelle said a new arts center would draw new talent as well as talent still at home to perform and grow within the community.

Von Haden said the city already has one of the finest arts center, the State Theatre.

“With a little love and care and a little spit and polish, we can make that thing into a Class AA instead of a Class A facility,” he said.

As volunteers sat across the floor and make phone calls at the Voices for Growth headquarters, Emmanuelle said it shows the community it united.

“We certainly have disagreements from time to time but we are not a community that single handedly likes to tie the hands of one organization we wouldn't do this for sports organizations, we wouldn't do this for any organizations,” said Emmanuelle. “Unfortunately the arts is being targeted. But we know arts is not fluff, arts is a real force to be reckoned with in economic development.”

Von Haden said people need to know the facts and figures before they vote for the Confluence.

“We haven't actually seen a design of the interior of the building, nobody knows what that is. We had a venue works report that gave us some ideas what some of the operating conditions might be but then we found out that was only a guide. Well what’s the final one look like?” asked Von Haden.

If voters choose to support the referendum on having referendums for the Confluence and other arts projects, there could be another vote on the Confluence Project in the next election.


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