At the April 24 meeting, the Rushford Council approved entering a PFAS ( Perfluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) Cost Recovery Program. The National Rural Water Association and Minnesota Rural Water Association recommend the step. While there is no current PFAS issue, the city opted to register for the program in advance to recover any expenses that the city may incur related to testing, treatment, or remediation.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS are “widely used, long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.” In addition, the EPA says their widespread use, persistence in the environment, and potentially harmful effect on humans and animals from exposure are “challenging to study and assess.”
The Minnesota Department of Health tested the city in 2020. According to City Clerk Kathy Zacher, results remained relatively the same from the previous testing in 2008.
“It’s everywhere, and we know it is,” added Zacher. “Right now, our area isn’t in a danger zone, but it would be good to sign up for it.”
The council also approved the 2022 annual public library report. Of note were 22,800 visits, 19,492 items checked out, and 5,741 items loaned to other libraries utilizing the Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (SELCO) program. The library will cease reporting on contactless visits and virtual programming but will still offer them. In all, library finances are trending upward.
Much like last year, the library is planning several events for the community, some in partnership with the Rushford Area Historical Society, utilizing Legacy Funding. The library will host a live painting event on May 25 as part of the library’s 100th anniversary. That night, as part of the rededication, the artist will donate the painting of the library building to the library, and the library will hold a community celebration.
Fundraising for the Susan Hart memorial gazebo is also underway. The project includes the construction of a gazebo behind the library and city hall, honoring the city’s longtime librarian who served the community for 25 years. The board has met $55,000 of the $70,000 goal. In addition, a book celebrating the library’s 100 years was published, with all proceeds going towards the gazebo.
Lastly, the council also received a recommendation from Public Works Director Roger Knutson for hiring a seasonal, part-time employee. The department budgeted funding for the 25-hour-per-week position. After talking with school staff, Knutson recommended the hiring of Jonah Buchanan. The council approved unanimously.
During reports, Mayor Terri Benson spoke of plans to update the entrance signs to the city on Highway 43 North this year. The city installed new signs at the location and Highway 43 South and Highway 16 West in 2002. A new, more prominent sign will correct difficulties with visibility and effect. Public Works will move the old to the Highway 30 entrance.
The city has been preparing concepts since 2019, and the Public Works Department created a mock-up design. It features a bluff and river design, the city’s name, and the valley’s Take Root tagline and image. The sign will feature embedded lighting, and large boulders will surround the support poles for effect. The city has been working with La Crosse Sign Company. The sign cost estimate is $25,000.
The main challenge at the time is the gas line location which hinders the sign location. The city is looking at two alternative sites. Once complete, the city will add landscaping, including perennial grasses and a tree for a native look. The city is putting together grant proposals for funding. Project funding recommends a contribution from the city using $2,000 from lodging tax revenues and $7,000 from land lease revenues.
The city also received a new lighting system layout for the Creekside Park basketball and tennis courts after a push to scale back the project when the original estimate came in at $60,369. The new Viking Electric estimate is $42,577. The city is hoping to do the project next year.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m. at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.