An annexation issue and planning for Police Chief Tom Mosher’s retirement were the main topic at the Ostrander city council meeting on February 7. All council members were present (Erin Volkart, Pam Kunert, Mayor Pat Nesler, Clerk Chris Hyrkas, Heidi Jones, and DJ Start).
The only visitor on hand to address the council was Brenda Sheldon, who said she represents the owner of the Rudd property. There has been an ongoing effort to annex the property into the city of Ostrander. But Christine Hyrkas stated that Ostrander received a letter from the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings regarding this, and she said, “According to the Minnesota DOT map, it’s already in.” She explained that apparently that property, as well as some others previously thought be to outside the city, are actually in the city, and have been for many years.
Sheldon then explained that the property owner is interested in selling the land, and has a potential buyer who would like to use the existing barn for “a couple chickens, a couple goats, and maybe a couple pigs.” It was pointed out that this would be allowable only if the land is outside the city. Sheldon then added that the smaller (.75 acre) portion of the property could be sold separately but would end up “landlocked” with no street access, and she asked, “If we can’t have animals on that property, how can we sell it?”
After maps were consulted, it was suggested that perhaps the .75 acre section could be annexed back into Bloomfield Township. It was suggested that she contact David Kiehne (Fillmore County) to check and be sure the Minnesota DOT map is correct, and to discuss what can be done. There was discussion on if/how the city could put in “an alley” if the property is, in fact, within the city.
Police Chief Tom Mosher summarized January’s police activity report, including January 10 due to a power outage of about three hours in Ostrander. He said such power outages create a number of minor problems with alarms going off. The discussion then centered on Mosher’s plans to retire by the end of 2017, and what Ostrander will do for police services after he is done. Currently, Mosher serves as police chief in Ostrander and Fountain. The city’s options are to hire a replacement or contract with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s office for services. DJ Start suggested, “Maybe we need to talk to Fountain. We already have a car, we just need to find another Tom.” The council discussed and agreed that it would be tough to find another individual to fill the position, and Mosher said he hasn’t heard of anyone voicing an interest. He added, “A county contract might be cheaper,” especially if the county sheriff’s office is able to cover Ostrander without adding any deputies. He suggested having the council invite Sheriff Tom Kaase to an upcoming council meeting to discuss this. The council plans to invite Sheriff Kaase to the March meeting. Mosher also said he is willing to help out with city maintenance matters (plowing, mowing, etc) both before and after his police retirement, if the city would like.
Rick Whitley (Peopleservices) showed the council a PH meter which needs a new probe. After he explained the best option, the council OK’d him buying a new unit. Dustin Tart updated the council on maintenance issues, explaining that there have been a few repairs needed on the plow (wear bars and blade guide). The council then discussed the possibility of the city buying a small tractor for plowing. Leasing was also considered a good option, since the city tractor would not get many hours of usage. DJ Start said although tractors are expensive, “The municipality discount is huge,” and he said that would apply to a purchase or a lease. The city will look into pricing to see what is affordable. It was mentioned that Rural Development offers Community Facility loans that could be used for large equipment such as this.
The council OK’d paying an invoice for $16,320 from Bolton & Menk regarding the infrastructure project. The invoice notes that the preliminary design phase of the project is almost 88% complete. The council noted that Melvin O’Groske has retired after 35 years of service to the fire department, and Tim Lecy is moving and therefore resigning from the fire department. The meeting adjourned about 7:50 p.m. The next regular meeting will be Tuesday, March 7 at 6 p.m. The public is welcome.