The Ostrander city council met in regular session on January 3. Members present were Mayor Pat Nesler, Clerk Chris Hyrkas, Heidi Jones, and DJ Start. The consent agenda items were approved, and no visitors had signed up to address the council.
Police Chief Tom Mosher summarized December’s police activity report. He attended an omnibus hearing regarding the ongoing child abuse case which he investigated, and said there will be another such hearing in late January. Mosher also said there will be an omnibus hearing regarding the city park damage case, and he added that the charges in that case include Gross Misdemeanor (Damage to property), Misdemeanor (Reckless driving), and Misdemeanor (Damage to property). He also informed the council that the squad car will need to be taken to Austin soon for three recalls, and he asked to be allowed to also purchase a new battery for the car at that time, since the old battery is weak. The council OK’d this. Mosher then added that, “Sometime in 2017, I’m going to retire from law enforcement.” He explained that the exact timing isn’t yet known, but will probably be later in the year. In answer to questions from the council, he said staying on “part-time” is not very realistic due to the ever-increasing training and documentation requirements. He’ll let the council know when he plans to retire, so the city will have time to decide how to replace him.
Rick Whitley (Peopleservices) was not in attendance, but Christine Hyrkas said regarding the wastewater treatment plant that, “There’s nothing to report, it’s going well here.” Dustin Tart updated the council on maintenance and shop issues. Mayor Nesler stated, “The shop looks great, now we just have to work on the truck.” There was discussion about the merits of buying blade inserts to go over the cutter blade on the city’s plow. It was noted that the city could get these installed for about $105, and they would extend the life of the cutter blade, which costs around $300 to replace. The city is also on the lookout for a good used plow, since it’s soon coming to the end of its useful life.
Fire Chief Brian Miner was not in attendance, but Tart and Hyrkas said there was nothing new regarding the fire department, other than the five letters being sent out to firefighters who are lagging behind on required training hours. Hyrkas shared a list showing the fifteen required annual trainings and two trainings that are required every two years for all fire service staff in Minnesota. It also states that “Each licensed firefighter is responsible for his/her documentation of the 72-hour continuing education training in the previous three-year period for license renewal.” Hyrkas added that she’s spending time trying to figure out the number of training hours, as opposed to days, since hours is what the requirements call for.
In New Business, the council discussed the situation of snow removal at Royal’s parking lots. Since the snow gets piled on city property, there is always a large amount of gravel and debris to be cleaned up when spring arrives. Mayor Nesler said he discussed this with the property owner, who said he will clean it up in the spring. The city is also looking into purchasing computer software program, which will allow for remote reading of water meters. Hyrkas shared information from three options for this, and said, “CTAS is run by the state of Minnesota, so it’s more secure.” She will check into pricing for that option.
Hyrkas informed the council that Ostrander received a $3,169 property casualty dividend check from the league of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, adding that, “That is for no accidents, no casualties. We’ve gotten it before, but it’s never been that much.” Heidi Jones asked if the council might use that money toward making an accessible entrance to the community center. There was discussion about whether the accessible entrance could be done at the front entrance, since ADA standards specify the allowable grade, which therefore requires a lot of space to install a ramp. Hyrkas will check with Bolton & Menk about this.
The council OK’d paying an invoice for $41,580 from Bolton & Menk regarding the infrastructure project. The invoice notes that the preliminary design phase of the project is 70% complete. The meeting adjourned about 6:50 p.m. The next regular meeting will be Tuesday, February 7 at 6 p.m. The public is welcome.