Peterson’s big annual June weekend fest, Gammel Dag, is set to get another activity. Councilor Gail Boyum requested permission to add a bonfire at the March 8 council meeting. Plans are to hold the bonfire at the former R-P Middle School athletic field.
“You know, in Norway, it’s never dark when they do their midsummer celebration,” said Boyum. Friends of Peterson, the volunteer group that organizes events and fundraising for the city, works with an individual well-versed in Norwegian traditions as the director of the Folk Art School of the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa.
Another Friends of Peterson effort is to add a garden along the Barefoot Path. They are looking for flower donations for them and the new landscaping area along Highway 16.
Public Works is keeping busy this winter, and the council noted its thanks to new Public Works Director Tim Hallum for some renovations at city hall. Hallum also cleaned out the basement of the building, which he said was previously a “dungeon.” The basement was painted with Drylok masonry waterproofing and is now not taking in underground water. Additionally, the city garage has been cleaned and organized. Finally, the Sentenced to Serve (STS) program assisted in cleaning up several outdoor areas in the city.
During citizen comments, resident Kymm Dessel, 221 Mill Street, discussed the sidewalk at her property which she maintains was improperly installed during the county’s reconstruction of County Road 25/Mill Street in 2015. As a result, water pools in the area, making it inaccessible, particularly in the winter when it freezes.
“I don’t want to get sued or fined from the city for not having sidewalks done, but I don’t want anyone hurt either. I appreciate city assistance with snow removal,” said Dessel. “It’s to the point where I will hire an attorney to fix the sidewalks like everybody else’s.”
“I tried for a long time to get it fixed. I don’t care what it costs,” added Dessel. “I’m trying to be kind, but I’m done. It was never done correctly in the first place. If done correctly in the first place, I would have the obligation. I’ve talked with the city numerous times, and it wasn’t addressed.”
Mayor Chris Stenzel indicated he’d looked at the area and thought Public Works could lower the sod around the area to let water drain. However, mud jacking the concrete will be expensive. The city will consider other options if Public Works can’t address the issue.
Resident Desirae Halvorson, 222 River Street, also addressed the council regarding an issue she’s been notifying the city of for a year. The problem relates to the city’s noise ordinance and what she calls the 24/7 barking of a dog at a property adjacent to hers. The resident was notified of the issue multiple times and fined $50 for the disturbance.
“It needs to stop,” said Halvorson. “We tried talking to her, and she’s very angry with us.”
Some council members noted that the dog has frequently gotten loose and run around the city. Halvorson reported an attack on her dog to the county in 2022.
The property owner is aware of the problem with the rental. With other ordinances in the city, the resident receives the fines, but if they fail to pay them, they are added to the property tax rolls at the end of the year and ultimately paid by the property owner. The council will review this city ordinance regarding that procedure if necessary.
Stenzel directed the clerk to send another letter with a $100 fine and give the resident two weeks to address the issue. He will also visit personally with the resident. If it still occurs, the fine will double. The city can impose a maximum fine of $700 for the nuisance. The council all agreed that penalties need to be reasonable and incremental.
The mayor’s first open forum for citizen concerns was on February 22. One resident attended and discussed several issues with Stenzel and Councilor Tracy Seelbinder. The open forum with the mayor is at city hall on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is at city hall on Wednesday, April 12, at 6 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.