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Water main breaks in Harmony

Fri, Feb 14th, 2014
Posted in Harmony Government

On Monday, February 10, employees of the city of Harmony were busy working in the below-zero temperatures as a water main broke on Center Street.

City Maintenance Employee Chris Johnson described the situation at the city council meeting the next night. He explained the fracture that occurred in the pipe, which is an old, four-inch cast iron pipe. He said the ground moved and the pipe snapped.

According to Johnson, they knew there was a problem somewhere during the weekend because the water usage went up considerably. It wasn’t until Monday that it was clear where the problem was located. Water was running down 1st Avenue SW for a few hours.

Johnson said they had to go through 4.5 feet of frost to get to the pipe, and it took them all morning to get the break isolated. He said it was fortunate they had Al Torgerson’s large equipment to excavate the area.

Johnson asked for permission to look for a mini-steamer to use in situations like this. A steamer would melt right through the frost and make it much easier and faster to get to the problem. The council agreed.

Wellhead Protection Plan

There was a public hearing regarding the Wellhead Protection Plan. Pat Bailey from the Minnesota Department of Health explained the plan, which included identifying potential contaminate sources and the plan of action to manage those sources.

States are required to have a protection program in place. Bailey represents the drinking water protection area of the Department of Health.

Bailey said they have reason to believe there was once a well near the Scandinavian Blomma that was abandoned and not sealed. She said they looked through old records, going back to the early 20th century, and found there was once a well there. When Mayor Steve Donney asked if it could just be the existing well, she said the dimensions are different.

If there is an old well there, it probably wasn’t sealed in the way a well would be sealed today, and it needs to be taken care of. Bailey said it was the largest issue due to the close proximity with well #1.

Bailey said there are grants available to the city if they decide to act on this. The council approved the plan.

1st Ave. project

Brett Grabau from Bonestroo asked for the council’s blessings to advertise for bids on the 1st Ave. street project. He showed the council the large stack of papers that is the plans and specifications for the project, which Illg has looked over. The council approved the plans and specs and moving forward with the project.

The council also approved a resolution to restrict parking on 1st Avenue from 5th Street to 8th Street to one side of the street due to the narrow road.

There will be two painted and striped pedestrian crossing areas on 1st Ave. One will be by Harmony Foods, and the other by the school.

Illg mentioned the idea of placing conduit under the sidewalks in case the city eventually wants to eliminate the electric poles on that street and go with wiring underground.

Grabau informed the council that the city received a DEED grant for $250,000 for the new well at the Industrial Park. The city needs to come up with plans and specs for the project and get approval before they receive the funding.

Housing Incentives

Illg explained the building incentives that the EDA (Economic Development Authority) came up with during recent meetings. The idea is to give people an incentive to build new homes in Harmony, and is only for new home construction.

Illg showed the council a chart that estimates the city abatement payback estimate, which is based on the home’s assessed market value, and shows the amount that the resident would receive from the city over a five-year period. For example, a new home that has an assessed market value of $150,000, the five-year payback would be $6,260. The assessed market value is not the same as the cost to build the home.

Mayor Steve Donney commented that the hope is for this to be a self-funding program eventually.

Illg said the city could use the money they are receiving from TIF district #1 to start the program, and then replenish those funds. He added that it’s fortunate there are many empty lots in Harmony that already have infrastructure in place for new homes.

Councilor Jim Bakken asked if they ever considered bringing back the housing incentive for purchasing or remodeling existing homes in Harmony. Illg said it’s something that could be considered, but one reason to go ahead with this program is the payback this will have for the city. The council approved the program.

Attorney Fees

City Attorney Richard Nethercut informed the council that he was increasing his fees. He is the city attorney for other communities as well, and he has been charging $110 an hour for many years. He is increasing his fee to $145 an hour.

Illg said there is currently about $6,500 a year in the budget for attorney fees.

Harmony Community


The Harmony Community Foundation is going to discuss donating the amount of money needed to finish paying for the playground equipment at Selvig Park, which comes to about $8,750. Illg said the house sold that the Community Foundation was selling, which brought around $36,000 back into the community.

Illg also mentioned that Jim Peters requested money to help pay for backboards on the basketball hoops in the Community Center gym. The estimated cost is $2,100, and $1,000 has already been raised. He has requested the remaining amount from the Community Foundation.

Other business

The library will be closed for two weeks starting May 19 in order to install new carpet.

There is now a Chrome Book at the library that patrons can use anywhere in the library.

The council approved a liquor license for Kwik Trip. They also approved a donation of $100 to the Fillmore Central post-prom party and the use of the fire hall.

A Fillmore County Ambulance subsidy for $4,500 was approved.

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