The City of Peterson has a new councilor after receiving three letters of interest from residents, including Steve Feldmeier, Joseph Kochen, and Justin Simon. The city declared a vacancy in January following the election of then-Councilor Chris Stenzel to the mayor’s seat in the November general election.
“I’m impressed with everyone, but think Justin is the best fit,” stated Councilor Kristina Grindland.
“I agree. His background is something we could really use,” echoed Councilor Tracy Seelbinder. Simon currently works in finance for Fastenal, according to Clerk Chris Grindland.
Councilor Gail Boyum also agreed before noting her thanks to all. “I think it’s very nice in this small town that we’ve had three show interest,” she added.
“Justin’s education and experience would be very valuable to the city,” said Stenzel. “I especially appreciate it considering all the times when you’ve had to beg for someone to fill this position.”
After a unanimous vote, Simon was sworn in by the clerk. After, the council proceeded with assigning members to various committees. There are two councilors to every committee and the responsibility is largely assisting with plans and projects and identifying and issues, as well as helping determine funding for projects.
Seelbinder and Simon will serve on Electrical/Streets and Finance Committees. Councilors Boyum and Grindland will serve on Park and Museum, as well as a subcommittee for grants. Boyum and Seelbinder will also serve on Water and Sewer. It was noted this committee is rather detailed, dealing with utilities and coordinating with city engineers. The Personnel Committee was determined in January. Clerk Grindland and Seelbinder serve on that committee.
Public Works Director Tim Hallum discussed the proposed contract with former director Rick Lee, who retired in December. The city is legally required by the state to have a licensed wastewater operator on staff to supervise and it’s two years from when Hallum will be eligible to take the test and attain licensure. The proposed contract is for $600 per month, half cost for February, and to begin February 13. The contract will be reevaluated at the end of the year.
If the city needed to hire a different licensed supervisor, it’s estimated it would cost $2,000 per month. “There’s an older generation that’s all retiring. The amount of wastewater treatment-certified individuals in the state is low,” said Clerk Grindland. “We’re fortunate that Rick is willing to come back and help. If not, we’d have to contract with Pollution Control or someone else.”
During new business, Stenzel brought forth a number of items needing review including city street and evaluation of the water system.
“We need to finish the cross roads. We also need to seal the ones we did blacktop,” he began. “It’s not going to get it all done in one year, but I’m hoping to get done in three years.”
Boyum indicated she’d spoken to the county engineer last year and he’d recommended sealcoating newly done streets regardless of others being done, noting it should be done every three to five years.
“It’s important that we definitely look at sealcoating. We need to protect the roads we put in. Let’s protect the ones we have,” echoed Clerk Grindland.
“We can’t delay, but we can’t do them all at once. We need to space them out so we can afford it,” added Stenzel.
Hallum will begin securing bids for streets to get an idea of where to prioritize work and funds.
While there are currently no issues with the water supply, the city has been cautioned that it needs evaluation. There is no backup well should the city’s well fail.
“Five years ago the council started researching. It’s not so much what we have needs replacement, it’s more that we need a double system for backup,” said Boyum. “But, how can we afford to do a second system? Very few towns have one well.”
Minnesota Rural Water has proposed to Boyum a conference call to work with the city on this issue. As the city would need to borrow to pay for the added system, Minnesota Rural Water also had suggested funding sources.
“They might come in and say do it right now or you’re good for 30 years. It’s hopeful thinking, but I think we should be more aggressive looking at tackling this issue,” said Stenzel. “We need to be proactive instead of reactive.”
Lastly, the city will be outfitting its ranger with sticker detailing that identifies it as a city vehicle. The lack of identification was brought to the council’s attention after a resident was unsure who was on the property during recent meter readings.
The mockup sticker designs, done by Kelly Printing, have a decidedly nostalgic feeling. A design from an old Peterson High School yearbook was the basis for the rear window and hood design which features the city name and a tiger mascot in maroon and gold detail. Additional reflective striping, in maroon and gold, will be added to the hood and sides of the ranger. The cost to remove all current logos and detailing and install the new is $560.
As a reminder, Mayor Stenzel and one councilor, to be decided, will host a public forum Wednesday, February 22, at 6 p.m. at city hall. The purpose of the forum is for citizens to bring forth concerns and recommendations.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, March 8, at 6 p.m. at city hall. The meeting is open to the public.