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Rushford moves lighting project, in-city hunting forward

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Aug 15th, 2014
Posted in Rushford Government

Taking advantage of timing and funding, the Rushford Municipal Electric Commission and the city are moving forward with a project to update all lighting along the Highway 43 corridor. With lighting being temporarily removed for the Highway 43 Project, the commission will seize the chance to complete the upgrades while the roadway is disrupted.

Following community input and working with engineer Tom Nigon, of STAR Engineering, the commission has opted to replace the current mix of steel and wood poles with black aluminum and copper poles with a tear-drop shaped lighting surface, complete with LED lights. According to City Administrator Steve Sarvi, the poles were chosen due to the composition of metals and their rust-inhibiting qualities. Additionally, the base of each pole will be a black-dyed concrete to create a seemless and appealing aesthetic, as well as measures to keep the base of the pole elevated off the ground, reducing salt exposure.

Bids for the project were split to allow maximum savings to the city. Bids were opened August 7 and awarded August 11, at the council meeting. Norman’s Electric, of Rushford, was selected for labor, wire and conduit installation, in the amount of $120,641. Werner Electric was selected for street light poles and fixtures in the amount of $185,612.

The concept of bow hunting within city limits was also discussed at the August 11 meeting. After further review of similar policies in other municipalities, Administrator Sarvi detailed several key points to the council, including potential hunt sites, landowner permission requirements, and changes needed to current city ordinances prohibiting the firing of weapons within city limits.

According to Sarvi, if hunting measures are approved, several guidelines will be set. Included are limitations on hunting the top or north side of Magelssen Bluff, due to walking trails that have been recently developed. On the levee system, hunters will be required to discharge bows away from the city, towards the water, only. Additionally, they will be required to hunt from stands and carry them in and out each day. A fee for the hunt will be put in place to cover administrative costs only.

If the city moves the hunt plan forward, it will likely limit the in-city season from November 15 to December 30, within the normal bow season. Restricted by length, the city believes it will get a taste for how the project could go, without committing itself to a long season and the potential problems that could go with it.

Another change in the conversation has been the allowance of hunters to take bucks, not just does as originally discussed. “We won’t affect the population a lick by shooting bucks,” stressed Councilor Vern Bunke. It was noted that DNR Conservation Officer Mitch Boyum had previously noted the city would struggle to find hunters if the in-city season was limited to does. “It’s a moral test that the trophy hunter faces,” added Bunke noting limitations in certain areas. “They’re not going to abide by a law or rule if they can slip by. They have antlers on their mind. I don’t want to encourage people to break the law. Why they hell would we do that? It just doesn’t make any sense.

“If they know it going in [does only], they won’t do it. It will have an effect. The DNR wants bucks because it brings in license money, but they always worry about managing does,” added Bunke suggesting does-only hunting. I appreciate the effort you put into this, but I’m not in favor of this.”

The sentiment was echoed by the city administrator. “I’m not either. You have my recommendation.”

“Well, I am,” echoed back Councilor Roger Colbenson, the lead proponent of the measure, citing damage to vegetation.

“I’m personally against it within the city, but I will vote to pursue it because I believe the public wants it,” added Mayor Chris Hallum.

The city council, in a 4:1 vote, has authorized attorney Terry Chiglo to work on amended ordinance language to present for council approval at a future date. Should the city continue on this path, a public hearing will be required prior to adopting any ordinance change.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, August 25, at 6:30 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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