The Ostrander City Council met on September 1, with all members present (Stephanie Start, Dan Hellerud, DJ Start, Vernon Thompson, Mayor Pam Kunert, and City Clerk Wendy Brincks). There was discussion that some citizens have suggested the city have a presence on social media, such as Facebook, as a way for citizens to stay informed of city news and events.
Stephanie Start suggested checking for a recommendation from the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC), since she’s heard there could be liability issues for the city, based on content that might end up on the city’s page. Council members said they’d be more open to the idea if such a page could be set up as a “read only” means of communication, meaning that citizens could read what the city posted, but citizens would not be able to add, comment or alter content. Brincks stated she will look into this. The consensus among the council was not to implement such a page unless the liability concerns could be adequately handled. No action was taken at this time.
Fire Chief Jason Rice shared information regarding prices on several pumper trucks available for purchase. After discussion, the council approved him to make an offer of $35,000 on the used truck, but it was pointed out that this price would be for the truck only, and additional costs would be incurred to get it lettered and equipped prior to usage. The $35,000 offer will be made contingent upon the city designating additional funds for the additional costs required. Rice is expected to bring an update to the council’s special meeting on September 8. Because of this, Brincks asked to table the approval of the 2021 budget until September 8, as well.
Brincks presented a letter from the city to local businesses, which outlines the details of “micro-grants” available to Ostrander businesses, through the county’s CARES Act funding. An application process opened September 1. Details are available from Brincks at (507) 657-2505 during her office hours Mondays through Thursdays. Brincks also brought up using some CARES Act funding to purchase hand sanitizer liquid and dispensers to be installed in several locations within the city. The council approved her request, as presented.
The council discussed the city’s street signs, which Jeremy Runkle explained are outdated. He said the lettering on the signs is four-inch lettering, while new guidelines stipulate six-inch lettering. It was also mentioned that many of the street signs throughout the city have noticeable sun fading. The city will implement a plan to gradually replace street signs, over the next few years, as the budget allows.
Mayor Kunert asked about absentee and mail-in ballots for the upcoming election in November. Brincks said citizens should be able to request such ballots very soon, if not already. Hellerud then stated, “I have a question about absentee… So if these people vote by that, can they come in also… how does that work?” Brincks replied that she gets a list of all of the registered voters in the city, and added, “If you have applied for an absentee ballot, it is listed in the book.” But she acknowledged that this is a hot topic this year, and predicted, “It is just going to be a boatload of drama.” The council voted to use a portion of the available Coronavirus Relief Funds to pay an extra $5 per hour for election judges working the general election in November.
Mayor Kunert informed the council, “I think Wendy does an outstanding job, so I nominated her for KTTC Amazing Woman, and of course, she won.” Council members concurred with the Mayor’s praise for Wendy. It is not yet known when the award will be televised.
The Ostrander council will have a special meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 8. The next regular meeting will be Tuesday, October 6 at 6:30 p.m., in the community center. The public is welcome at all meetings, other than special closed meetings.