Things are getting busy for Rushford this summer. Rushford Peterson Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Jen Hengel detailed two specific upcoming events for the council at the Monday, March 13 council meeting.
First up was the Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour. Put on by HaveFunBiking.com, the event is slated for Friday, July 7 through Sunday July 9. In its second year, the endurance riding tour will bring an estimated 100-150 cyclists into the community July 7. The group will camp in Creekside Park that evening and the group will dine at downtown establishments. Hengel requested use of the park for primitive camping, access to electricity and water. The group may be bringing a shower trailer. The Lions Club is organizing a breakfast for the group.
The second event, the Great River Rumble, is slated to begin Saturday, July 29. The group is planning to kayak 92 miles from the Rush Creek to its merger into the Root River and on to the Mississippi River. The evening before, the group will come into the city and camp in Creekside Park and visit downtown dining establishments for dinner. They will launch from the southeast part of Creekside Park into the Rush Creek. Volunteers are being organized to help assist kayakers in navigating the shallow sections as they make their way to the Root River.
The council praised the events in the community and approved usage of Creekside Park for camping, electrical usage, and water.
Hengel has also been working on securing new wayfinding signage for the city of Rushford. Funding donations from the Rushford Economic Development Authority and the Rushford Community Foundation have put the new signage within reach, but Minnesota Department of Transportation sign regulations are making it increasingly difficult find a workable solution to signing needs.
Three highways converge in Rushford; Highway 16 and 30 from the west, and Highway 43 from the north and south. Because of this, MnDOT guidelines require signage on state right of way to meet specific criteria. This includes color, pictograph size and content, a minimum six-inch font, a seven-foot ground to sign clearance, distance from existing signs, and reflectivity. The current designs are larger than either Hengel or most on the council would like to see. “With the regulations, it’s not quite the little signs you see in other towns,” said Hengel.
Hengel detailed several locations where the signs are to be located, including north and south of the turn off Highway 43 to the new school and Creekside Park, north and south of Magelssen Bluff Hiking Trails, along Highway 16 prior to the current canoe launch and near the intersection of Elm and 16, along Highway 30 before the turn for Magelssen Bluff Park, and near the clinic parking lot.
“We want to be aesthetically pleasing,” cautioned Hengel. Signage cannot be put on existing streetlights, recently installed by the city. They were designed for banners, but even the option of banners isn’t feasible for the city as MnDOT prohibits wayfinding on banners.
The signs, as currently designed, range to 69 inches in length.“I can see if you’re going down the highway at 55 miles an hour. You want to see it. But, this isn’t.” MnDOT requires the large six-inch lettering signs for anything on their right of way over 25 miles per hour. Hengel wasn’t sure what size was allowed under that speed. Councilor Mark Honsey suggested the council install signs at the locations at the edges of town, where they aren’t infringing on any property or landscape, and allow public feedback on their design before ordering and placing any other signs. “It’s bigger than a sheet of plywood,” said Honsey.
“It’s a billboard,” echoed Councilor Terri Benson.
Hengel will revisit with MnDOT to see if further modifications can be made to reduce the sign size and whether perforated or indented to allow wind passage. The signs, once ordered, would arrive within two weeks, and can be installed by Public Works. The council thanked Hengel for her work.
Police Chief Adam Eide was also present at the meeting to provide an update on department activities, review significant trends, and discuss police service agreements with the cities of Peterson and Rushford Village. Eide was at the March 8 Peterson Council meeting, along with Fillmore County Sheriff Tom Kaase.
The city of Rushford sent the cities of Peterson and Rushford Village formal letters in January notifying both that a current response arrangement will end December 31, 2017. Both the Sheriff’s Department and Rushford Police Department have indicated a contemporary agreement would need to be in place for policing the two municipalities.
“The ball is rolling in the right direction,” said Eide. “We’re looking to find something fair and equitable for everyone. I think it’ll open up people’s eyes that we have these services; up to this point. We have everybody’s best efforts in mind. We just need to start the conversation.”
Councilor O’Donnell questioned whether a similar meeting with the Village has taken place and Eide indicated he’d reached out to them. “One thing Sheriff Kaase said, to the best of my recollection, was that he’d like to get small groups together [two council representatives, Kaase, and Eide]. If they’re game, we’d like to have those conversations,” said Eide.
Councilor Bunke noted he’d been interested in Kaase’s recent comments about the work county deputies are doing with community outreach. “We need people backing you,” said Bunke. “There’s an undercurrent of distrust. It would be nice to put it to bed.”
Eide indicated the Rushford Department is very active in the community. “It’s being out in the public; approachable. That’s what I’m going for,” added Eide.
Councilor Terri Benson suggested the department highlight positive stories and information on the department’s social media to further bridge any gap.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.