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Preston City Council: Farmer's Market starting in May

Fri, Mar 21st, 2008
Posted in Government

Preston will have a Farmer's Market beginning this May. The Preston City Council gave the go ahead to a group of organizers at their Monday, March 17, meeting.

The market will be located on the grass near the Preston trail head and be held on Fridays, from 11:00 to 2:00 beginning in May and going through October.

An alternative site on city property near the ice rink was approved in the event the trail head doesn't work out. The group was also allowed to place removable signs advertising the market throughout the city on Fridays.

Sandy Benson, representing the Farmer's Market, told the council that vendors will be required to have liability insurance, which most home policies provide. There are 11 members signed up who plan on selling locally grown produce and handmade crafts. Vendors must reside in Fillmore, Houston or Winneshiek counties and follow all rules from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

There is a $20 membership fee for vendors, which must be paid by the end of May. Those wanting more information about the Farmers Market can contact Benson or Frank Riehl.

Fountain Treatment Plant

Fountain Mayor, Richard Kujath came before the council to discuss his city's plans to upgrade their wastewater treatment plant. The city of Preston presently owns and operates a pre-treatment plant in Fountain, where treated wastewater is discharged into a drain field.

Kujath said that the city has outgrown this system, which has been in place for 19 years.

"We are treating 27,000 gallons a day, sometimes up to 30,000 gallons, which violates our permit," Kujath said.

He said the city is working with the MPCA and would like to locate their new facility on the site of the pre-treatment plant. Because the land, building and equipment were paid through a grant, Kujath asked if the city of Preston would gift the property and building to the city of Fountain. He said that Fountain hopes to have the plant operational by November.

Preston City Attorney Dwight Luehmann told the council that he would like some time to check with the League of Minnesota Cities to see if the city faces any liability if it gifts a city-owned asset to another governmental entity.

City Administrator Joe Hoffman said that it might be helpful if city staff were to evaluate whether any equipment at the site, such as blowers, could be retained for city use. Hoffman said that knowing the value of the equipment versus the cost of cleaning up the site might help determine the value of the asset.

No council member voiced opposition to gifting the site to the city of Fountain, but wanted time to allow Luehmann and city staff to research the issue.

A special city council meeting will be held on Monday, March 24, to act on the matter as the city of Fountain hopes to go out for bids in the next 30 to 60 days.

EDA/Tourism Director

The council voted to approve the creation of a part-time EDA/Tourism Director.

According to Hoffman, the position would be 24 hours per week, with 16 hours assigned to economic development and 8 hours to tourism promotion.

Hoffman said that the creation of the post was the recommendation of the Economic Development Authority after the Southeast Minnesota Development Corporation reassigned Cris Gastner who had been EDA coordinator in Preston.

The position, which is not eligible for benefits, will promote and coordinate economic development tourism activities in the city.

Calculating Overtime

City Administrator Joe Hoffman told the council that it appears that the city has been incorrectly calculating overtime compensation in the past, mainly with on-call hours on weekends.

Hoffman said that he has gone back two-years-three-months and found that the city underpaid street staff $1340 and police personnel $1683.

While Hoffman said that the city must use the new calculations in the future, it is not under obligation to compensate staff who were underpaid. But Hoffman recommended that the city pay staff for the overtime earned, rather than expose the city to possible litigation.

When asked by Council member Heath Mensink why he chose to calculate back two-years-three-months, Hoffman said it was the time line the Department of Labor would hold an employer accountable for.

The council approved the back payments.

Other Business

• The council agreed to a two year Charitable Gambling agreement with Community Charities, a non-profit, to carry out gambling activities at B&B Bowl. The agreement also allows for a local charitable organization to take over the agreement in six months time if a local charitable organization is created.

• The city will solicit bids for a street sweeper. Public Works Director Bill Cox estimated the cost of a used, new model sweeper at more than $50,000.

• The council agreed to let bids for a pumper truck for the Fire Department. Half of the costs will be paid by townships using the service.

• The council granted the Preston Fire Department a permit for fireworks during the Trout Days celebration.

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