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November 17, 2016     Tri-County News
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November 17, 2016
 

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PAGE 21 November 17, 2016 Sl By Jean Doran Matua, Editor At its Nov. 10 meeting, the Watkins city council approved the final draft of the agremeent with Andromeda Community Solar/ Geronimo Energy. The contract has been going back and forth between attorneys for Geronimo and the city pretty much since March when it was first proposed to the city. The city could save up to 10 percent off its electric bills for the next 25 years of the contract by subscribing to a community solar garden in cooperation with Xcel Energy. There should be no cost to the city (except the lawyer fees to-date), and the garden of solar panels will not be located in the city of Watkins. The city commits to 25 years with the solar garden, and Geronimo commits to main- taining the solar panels during that period. The council approved the city sign easement agreements as well. The council unanimously approved amending the city's ordinance regarding fencing. The change allows fencing to go up to the property line (instead of up to 2 feet from the property line, as it was); the fencing must be mainte- nance-free, or fully maintainable from the one side. The council unanimously agreed to raise Joint water rates by 50 cents to cover costs from Eden Valley for processing water for the city. The raise will be effective Jan. 1. Both the city's water and sewer funds are relatively healthy according to their last audit. The council unanimously agreed to sign on with Government Payment Service for credit card By Jean Doran Matua, Editor After the October council meeting where there was some consternation about fees charged (or not charged) for using the Event Center which is owned by the city. The Eden Valley Area Library uses one portion of that building for the library, but often spills into the Event Center with events because of the numbers they draw for author talks, movies, and the kids' reading program. Board members Nancy McNab and Judy Thielen attended the Nov. 2 council meeting to present a plan. The board proposes pay- ing a flat fee of $150/month for the Library to use the Event Center as needed, and when not reserved by other groups. In addition, they propose to pay $30 (or the stan- dard fee) for events for which they charge a fee, or at which some- one makes money. For instance, an author making a presentation likely will sell books (and make money), so the Library would pay $30 to use the Event Center for such an event. The Library has scheduled adult and kids' movie nights (sep- arately) in the Event Center. The Library has access to even the most recent movie releases for this. They charge $2 per person, and popcorn and beverage are free. They had been told they can- not advertise movie titles, as that may conflict with local theaters. Since the nearest theater is 15 miles away, and this week they are advertising Friday night's movie ar a processing in-person, by phone, or online. The company will provide the equipment, plus any public- ity for it, and all processing costs will be tacked on to the customer's bill when paying (a "convenience fee," if they choose to use it). There should be no cost to the city for this service. The council unanimously approved the bid from American Door Works to replace four over- head doors and motors for the city and ambulance garage. This company had replaced the other two doors, so they should look the same; they are also the lower of two bids. The council declined a $400/year service agreement on the four doors and motors. Eileen Hennen has been Village Hall manager for some time now, taking reservations and arrang- ing cleaning as needed. She has retired. The council discussed what to do next. They will keep Jeanne Olson on to clean the hall when needed, and not hire a replacement manager just yet. They expect to lose hall bookings to the brand-new fellowship hall at St. Anthony's Church, and soon they may not need a Village Hall manager. The city approved installation of three LED street lights in Faber Addition for an up-front cost (from Xcel Energy) of $1,000 for the three lights, plus $21.87 per month per streetlight. Clerk Deb Kramer submitted a letter of intent to MnDOT for walk- ing trails in Watkins; the letter was due Oct. 31. The full application will be due in January. Clearwater River Watershed District plans a wetland project ("Jack Reacher"), it would seem that is no longer a restriction. The council unanimously approved the Library board's pro- posal for a $150/month flat fee plus $30 per event where money is made or exchanged. John Derichs of Jack's Oil came before the council to update them on the status of his new project, a Jack's gas station and convenience store on the site that formerly was Mike's Bait & Tackle. MnDOT is involved with the project because of highway access to his business. MnDOT has approved access to the new Jack's from Highway 22 contingent that it is the only access from the highwa therey. Other properties nearby will need to use the Jack's driveway to access their own properties. Derichs has no prob- lem with them using his driveway. The city's alley will be the only other access in that area. The council unanimously approved this request by MnDOT to restrict access from Highway 22 to Jack's and the city alley. There is no cost or involvement by the city to improve, maintain, or remove snow from this property. The council also unanimously approved Derichs to remove the city street light that sits where the driveway needs to go, at his expense. If the city chooses to reinstall it somewhere else, that will be at the city's expense. (Derichs believes that the illumi- nation from the Jack's sign th be installed there should be bright on the edge of town, and needs a statement from utilities and the city on the effect of the project. There should be no objetions, and no adverse effects. Kramer will email the CRWD regarding legal and engineering costs on the proj- ect. Public works director Steve Geislinger advises that the soil should be stabilized, especially in the low pond area. CRWD will cross the city's force main to haul and move dirt during construction. He says the force main will need to be found, about 8 feet down, but there shouldn't be any adverse effect. Michel is nearly done boring for the gas main being installed along Highway 55 in town. Another seg- ment will come next year. Meeker County has agreed to provide salt and sand to the city for winter at $36 per ton, same as last year. The new street signs are in, and they'll start to replace those that were twisted by the tornado in July. They believe the cost of the signs should be covered at 75 per- cent, like other tornado-related repairs. Council member Marc Wirz reported that the Fire Department is still discussing plans to fix McCarthy Park (after the tornado). There have been discussions of adding water for bathrooms and a kitchen. They will need to coordi- nate the efforts of three groups on what type of building(s) to put up, and where to put them. The meeting was recessed, to be reconvened Nov. 14 in order to canvass election results. The next regular meeting of the Watkins city council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8. enough, and that no street light will be needed there. The council asked about the possibility of selling groceries there. Derichs responded that there will be room for grocer- ies, but that he's not sure that will work. It works for KwikTrip, he added. But he hasn't ruled it out yet here. Planning & Zoning reported that there are 25 rental inspec- tions ongoing. Codification of the city's ordi- nances has been extended to Nov. 21; the council will meet again at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14, to con- tinue working on this. There was only one delinquent utility/garbage bill (for $205.47) that will be certified to the prop- erty owner's taxes. Clerk Mona Hang reported that the credit card processing com- pany the city uses will add a $20/ month fee because of low volume of usage (otherwise it would be free). There are more people using it now, so that fee may go away. (All costs are paid by residents who choose the convenience of paying by credit card; there is no cost to the city, other than this added fee.) Police chief Ernie Junker reported that there were no prob- lems with Halloween. He will have a report next month. The next regular meeting of the Eden Valley city council will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7. Meetings are recorded, and broad- cast Thursdays on Arvig cable. By Jean Doran Matua, Editor At its Oct. 18 meeting, the Kimball city council heard argu- ment for granting a property tax abatement to Donita Knaus and her new business in what used to be the lumberyard building. The building is located on rail- road property and, historically, the land can only be leased from the railroad. Without being able to own the land, the building is worth much less than a compara- ble building elsewhere. Knaus made an offer on the land, and the railroad indicated they might agree to sell the land to her. Banker Keith Marquardt helped make the presentation to the council. He explained that they are not asking for a TIF (Tax Increment Financing), but rather an abatement on what the tax dif- ference would be on the current building vs. an improved building on land that is owned rather than leased. There are currently five TIF districts in Kimball, and two abatements for improvements (for Willow Creek Concrete and for AM Maus & Son). Knaus has requested a sim- ilar tax abatement from the Kimball school district and it was approved. Stearns County only approves tax abatement if the project has regional impact. The city, then, is the only other abate- ment she seeks at this time. The former lumber building has 9,000 square feet and a cur- rent value of $22,000. The city taxes paid now are $884/year. The building sits on an acre of land, and she has an option to buy an adjoining lot of about another quarter-acre. If Knaus pur- chases the property and the value increases, the difference between the new taxes and $884 currently paid would be deferred until a later date. Marquardt believes purchas- ing the property could increase the value of the building to about $80,000. Knaus' business, The Body Strength Training Shed, will be health and fitness, with classes and education, massage, and fit- ness equipment. She hopes to be open around Jan. 1 with at least the first phase of the business. The council is amenable, but wants to see concrete plans for the business and land purchase before making the decision. The council opened three bids for garbage and recycling collec- tion. They accepted the low bid from Waste Management. The pick-up schedule may need to be changed, possibly to Friday. Their bid included free fluorescent dis- posal, and donation of two $500 scholarships to the school. The other bids were from Advanced (the current provider) and West Central Sanitation. The council raised the fee charged to Stearns County for snow removal on Highway 15 by $5: to $110/$115 per hour for the truck/tractor. The city removes the snow on behalf of the county, and the county pays what the city bills for it. Chuck Sterling approached the council about what he viewed were sudden and unneeded parking restrictions on Magnus Johnson Street. That part of the street (connecting to Highway 55) was included in the city's restrictions of parking to only one side of the street. Otherwise, it's considered that the streets are too narrow for school buses - or emergency vehi- cles- to pass when cars are parked on both sides of the street. Linden Avenue is another such street. The council agreed to look at that part of that street again; it may be wide enough that it does not need to be restricted. The council met again Tuesday, Nov. 15. The next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6. Legals also are posted online at tricountynews.mn available 24/7, archived, searchable, always there for you. . 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