ST. JOSEPH -- St. Joseph has hired a lobbyist with over 10 years of experience to help them in their state bonding requests.

The city has decided to hire Chris DeLaForest. The city hopes DeLaForest can help them in getting funding for the Jacob Wetterling Community Center, the County Road 75 Pedestrian Crossing, and East Park.

The city is asking the legislature for a grand total of $3.8-million between the three projects.

City Administrator Judy Weyrens says they're picking those specific projects because of the regional impact they may have.

"We believe those are all three regional type projects, and they're all projects that have been brought to us by people."

At a council meeting last May, St. Joseph committed $6-million to the Wetterling Community Center, which will feature gyms, community rooms, and a memorial to Jacob, a few community groups are currently trying to raise the remaining money needed.

The County Road 75 pedestrian crossing was the subject of a study to see how they could connect the north side and south sides of town in a better way. Several kinds of crossings are being considered.

The 90-acre East Park is undeveloped now, and while part of it would remain untouched, the city would like $300,000 to develop part of it into either a camping or a community area.

Weyrens says DeLaForest is a successful lobbyist at the capital and a natural fit with the city since he's got history in central Minnesota, being a graduate of St. John's University.

"The one that we chose actually is familiar with the area, he's an ex-Johnnie he's had success, so it seemed like a natural fit because he's so familiar with the area."

Besides St. Joseph, a few of DeLaForet clients include Hennipen County, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Salvation Army, Saint Louis County. The city hired him on a 3-1 vote. He'll be paid $10,000.

DeLaForest has been lobbying at the capital after starting his own firm in 2008.

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