A regular meeting of the Ostrander city council was held on February 6, with all members in attendance (Pam Kunert, Mayor Pat Nesler, City Clerk Wendy Brincks, and Heidi Jones and DJ Start).
Rick Whitney (PeopleService) addressed the council regarding issues that he’s heard have been concerns, related to PeopleService’s work at the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). He shared that PeopleService very much values the contract with city of Ostrander, and wants to work together to achieve what the city wants and needs. He said, “We noticed that the windsock was taken down, and the gate’s been unsecured.” He explained that the windsock is a requirement, so that if a chemical leak (such as chlorine) was suspected, emergency personnel would be able to see which direction wind would carry the chemical mist. He added, “We’re more than willing to put the windsock back up, if that’s what you guys want to do.” Mayor Nesler disputed that anyone from the city had taken the windsock down, and said it appeared that a plastic coupling had broken, and the windsock simply fell. Whitney said he’ll get the windsock back up again.
Whitney also stated, “Going forward, it we want to leave the wastewater plant unsecured, then we’re not going to eat that liability” for events such as if a citizen came in and damaged something on the grounds. Mayor Nesler said the city needs to leave the gate unlocked at times, for a variety of reasons.
Nesler asked, “Why is it when this well froze that you were not notified by the alarm system?” Whitney responded, “I don’t know. I came in and checked the alarm, and it was in standby; it wasn’t even active… I put it into active, and it started calling us immediately.” Heidi Jones asked if it’s possible to check the system to see that it appropriately calls PeopleService phone numbers when an alarm situation is triggered; Whitney said he will arrange to have it checked.
Whitney stressed that anytime the city has questions or concerns regarding PeopleService and their work, immediately calling would be the most efficient way to get things corrected. After brief discussion, the council voted to renew the contract with PeopleService for another year.
On behalf of the engineering firm of Bolton & Menk, Brian Malm addressed the council, saying that three solid bids have been received for the infrastructure project, ranging from about $3.7 million to $4.4 million. The lowest bid is from A1 Excavating, and he said that firm has done a number of projects in the area. The council voted to accept the bid from A1. Malm said A1 expects to be able to start April 1, or possibly sooner, depending on weather conditions. He said A1 wants to bring in some equipment ahead of time, to beat road restrictions that will be in place later. City staff will be in contact with A1 to arrange for the best locations for A1 to leave their equipment until it is needed. Malm also suggested the city host an “open house” meeting soon to explain the project and answer the public’s questions. After discussion, the council set this meeting for Thursday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. This will be communicated to citizens in the upcoming water bill mailings.
The council voted to approve a contract with Kruegel LP services for 2018, and to have Smith and Schafer again perform Ostrander’s annual audit. The council set a date for a farewell dinner for outgoing city staff (Erin Volkart, Chris Hyrkas, and Dustin Tart). Wendy Brincks said she’s found a number of “extreme oddities” in the city’s water billing to citizens, and she’s working to fix the glitches from 2017 and going forward. The council agreed to “write off” any from prior to 2017.
Regarding filling the vacant council seat, it was discussed that the best and most affordable solution is to hold an election as part of the next general election. Brincks will check with the League of Minnesota Cities to see if Ostrander can appoint someone to fill the spot until the election is held.
Deputy Leif Erickson gave a monthly report of police activity providing to Ostrander by the Fillmore County Sheriff’s department. He said in January, there were six ambulance calls, two theft reports, one arrest warrant, one vulnerable person report, one lock-out situation, one scam report, two civil paper service calls, and two traffic contacts. Council members voiced a concern that recently some trucks have started driving through town at excessive speeds, especially in the mornings. Deputy Erickson said he and his staff will try to keep an eye on this.
The council approved paying bills from Bolton & Menk, as well as Hoversten/Johnson. The meeting adjourned about 8:05 p.m. The next regular meeting of the council will be Tuesday, March 6, at 6:30 p.m. The public is welcome.