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DMC tourist ideas welcomed from Whalan residents

Fri, Feb 14th, 2014
Posted in Whalan Government

The temperature was still firmly stuck below zero, where it seems to have stubbornly been for weeks, last Monday night, February 10, when the Whalan City Council gathered for its monthly meeting, but no water problems or frozen pipes were on the agenda. “Knock on wood,” said Mayor Larry Johnson. “We hope that continues as we move towards spring.”

The Trail Towns Committee reported that the Destination Medical Center (DMC) project—an initiative of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.—is moving ahead. Mayo officials are currently in the process of soliciting input from the towns of southeast Minnesota, including Whalan and the eight other towns that comprise the Trail Town partnership.

What do they want to know? How to encourage Mayo clients to visit Bluff Country when they find themselves in Rochester for Mayo Clinic appointments.

“They want us to give them ideas,” explained Trail Town Committee member Char Johnson. “They will not be coming up with the ideas themselves, necessarily. It might be ideas like running a bus for tourists from Rochester to our area on a regular basis, or for special events, but they really do want our creative ideas.”

The next Trail Town Committee is on March 10, so Whalan residents are encouraged to pass along ideas through them to the DMC planners.

Discussion was held concerning Whalan’s lodging establishments, and specifically if any changes are needed to local lodging ordinances. “We can regulate lodging in our city,” said Mayor Johnson. “For example, should lodging be limited? We can discuss that as needed. Current ordinances can be evaluated and changed if that is what Whalan wants to do.”

It was explained that lodging taxes now collected go to Lanesboro’s Chamber of Commerce to be used in partnership with other chamber lodging businesses for area promotion and advertising. That partnership developed in the early ‘90s when local businesses banded together to share advertising costs. (The 3 percent lodging tax is payable by the 10th of every month). Two new lodging facilities are currently under construction in Whalan. The two houses—which will eventually be sold—will initially be daily rental properties when they are completed this year.

Whalan had representatives attend the Lanesboro Volunteer Fire Department meeting on February 10 that was scheduled to include discussion on a possible four-wheel drive ambulance project.

A letter from Richard Nethercut, Whalan’s city attorney, was read to the council. Nethercut said that after a number of years of his fees remaining the same, he is raising his hourly fee from $110 to $145 for city services as needed. That change will bring his fees closer to current market rate, the letter explained. A motion was made, seconded, and approved to accept that rate when legal work is needed for the city.

Discussion was held concerning the town’s propane tank and whether or not the tank should be filled at this time given the recent fluctuation of propane prices. The consensus was that the tank will probably need to be re-filled by the end of February, but further research will be done to see what options exist for the future use of the tank and the fuel that is in it.

In other news…

Whalan’s Annual Candlelight Ski was held on Saturday, February 2, and everything came together to make it a pleasant and fun evening. The weather was good, there was plenty of snow, the trails were well-groomed, and candles and bonfires made for a great skiing (and snow shoeing) opportunity for the many people who came out. Food was also served in the Town Hall. Whalan’s Candlelight Ski is an annual event held the first Saturday in February.

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