At the February 21 meeting, John Hart, district supervisor USDA Wildlife, requested permission from the Preston City Council to use firearms to hunt deer on the Pine Tree Apple Orchard.
The authority was requested from the city council because the Jacobson orchard property is located within the city limits in the northeast part of the city. Other property owners in that area were given the opportunity to express their concerns prior to the council meeting.
The council approved the use of firearms by trained USDA Wildlife Services personnel using suppressed firearms to reduce public disturbance on the orchard property. They will have written landowner permission. Councilman Robert Maust voted no.
Deer will be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Any deer testing negative will be released back to the landowner or for public distribution via DNR.
The USDA-Wildlife hunt will begin February 20 and continue through March 19 in cooperation with the DNR. The hunt will be conducted by Wildlife Services sharpshooters in the area outlined by the DNR in the Preston/Lanesboro area where there have been recent CWD positives. Sharpshooting will occur on private property with landowner permission and on state property authorized by DNR.
City Hall Exterior Restoration
City Administrator Joe Hoffman presented two quotes to do insulation/stucco work (EFIS) on the north wall of city hall. Four quotes were presented to put on the new roofing material. Queen City Construction, Rochester, offered the lower quote of $40,500 for the base work including surface preparation, foam insulation and stucco and another $14,200 for alternative paint work to paint the west and south walls. Ledegar Roofing, La Crosse, offered the lowest quote at $80,129 for roof work. These lowest quotes were approved.
Other business in brief
• The council unanimously approved the removal of the Cease and Desist Order for wood burning at the 217 Preston St. NW property. City Attorney Dwight Luhmann noted he had received a letter from neighbor Diane Ruud’s attorney Thomas Manion stating their continued opposition to the removal of the order. Neither Manion or his client were able to attend this city council meeting. Police Chief Matt Schultz said he was not aware of any complaints received since the stay on the order was continued at the January 18 city council meeting.
• Councilman David Collett maintained that half, or $15,000, of the funds budgeted for the National Trout Center should be used to start a fund for the Riverside Center. Councilwoman Holly Zuck suggested a representative from the NTC come to the council on a regular basis to improve communication between the council and the NTC. Maust said if the total budgeted for the NTC was cut in half, the $15,000 that would still go to the NTC would cover rent and utilities, giving the Center a home. He insisted the NTC should raise funds for their programs.
It was noted that Dairy and Farm has received permission to clean up the their former site. Mayor Kurt Reicks said it is time to make a decision about the Riverside Center. He has heard on the street that some don’t want to put that much money into an old building. Maust agreed they need to make some decisions. The city has signaled that they plan to purchase the property with the utility debt.
A motion to remove $15,000 from the NTC’s budget was defeated 2 to 3. Maust and Collett were in favor.
• No decision was made on advertising for the Tourism Director position. The Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the city to pay for the position, which in the past has been part-time with no benefits. There has been interest in combining the position with an EMT position to provide for a full-time position. Some members have questioned how the two differing duties could fit into one position and how advertising for a combined position would limit applicants. Hoffman said Ambulance Director Ryan Throckmorton was not comfortable with the combined position.
• Recommendations by Throckmorton, to extend the $3 per hour on-call stipend for an entire holiday weekend to encourage coverage of these holiday weekends and to make the salaried director subject to the volunteer hourly and per call stipends for hours he covers during weekend shifts and holiday weekends, were approved.
• Two part-time police officers were approved for hire, Cody Frick and Casey McCready, as recommended by Chief Schultz.
• Approval was given to advertise for a summer helper for general maintenance work. About $5,000 is budgeted for this position.