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Rushford council accepts resignations


Fri, Mar 14th, 2008
Posted in Government

A pair of resignations bookended last Monday's city council meeting.

Christina Friederichs, Vice-Chair of the Rushford EDA, resigned her post, effective April 9.

Friederichs, Business Manager for Winona Health, had asked for time at the beginning of the council meeting, during which she presented the council with her resignation letter.

Writing that she's "been honored to serve this community in the area of Business Development...", Friederichs explained that she has recently come to find herself "at a rather constant state of odds with our City Administrator Mr. Block."

Her letter referred to what she sees as Block's "disregard for citizens and business people in this community," and while speaking to the council, she mentioned specifically "snide remarks" and "rude behavior."

"Mr. Block's behavior has seriously damaged what previously was a strong and trusting relationship between the business community and the City government in Rushford," her letter states. "I am deeply concerned that if this continues the mistrust will not simply exist with him personally but the entire council."

At the end of Friederich's presentation, Mayor Ladewig asked for the council to take some kind of action regarding her presentation, i.e. make a motion to accept her resignation. The council was silent.

Council person Laura Deering asked if she might be allowed to comment. Deering said that in the early days of flood recovery, she'd been told by FEMA employees that "down the road" there would be lots of resignations because flood recovery would continue to be difficult for a long time to come.

Deering asked whether Friederichs would be patient with the council until April 9 and then perhaps reconsider her resignation.

Friederichs pointed out that her letter stated she would be happy to continue "service on the EDA but not in conjunction with our current City Administrator."

Deering turned to the council and recommended a closed door meeting in the future to discuss Friederich's concerns because "this isn't the first time we've heard this."

Ladewig said it could be put on the agenda for the next meeting and a motion could be made then.

Ladewig said, "We can discuss whether we need to do a..."

"Performance review?" suggested Larry Mierau from the audience.

"Yes," said the mayor.

The last item on the agenda was the official resignation letter from city attorney Terry Chiglo. Block has also clashed with Chiglo at recent meetings regarding flood relief fund allocation.

Chiglo has also cited a problem with "conflict of interest" in that he represents a number of the businesses that are applying for funds, and is a Rushford businessman himself.

His letter simply stated that he is "comfortable that the City through your efforts has a good working relationship with another attorney (Scott Springer of Preston)" and that Chiglo can now withdraw "without material adverse effect on the interests of the City." Chiglo also vowed to assist his successor."

After Chiglo's resignation was officially accepted, Scott Springer was hired as the new City Attorney. Springer was present to make a short presentation and accept the position.

The council finalized approval on thirteen more flood relief loans to local businesses, after deciding to reduce the amount requested on three of the loans to remove relocation costs.

• Wilkemeyer Family Daycare: $31,309 (Category I)

• Terry Boyum Construction: $6,103. (Category I)

• River Trail Inn: $100,269 (Category I)

• Masonic Lodge: $44,750 (Category I)

• Reliable Pest Management: $5,426 (Category I)

• Variety Plus (Marlene Bellock): $12,000 (Category I-A-new business; requires equity injection of $8,000 from borrower)

• Shawnee's Bar & Grill (Rushford Bakery building): $39,269 (Category I)

• Shawnee's Bar & Grill: $152,651 (Category I-A-new business; requires equity injection of $101,767 from borrower)

• Rushford State Bank: $501,580 (Category I-amount was reduced $54,541, the cost of relocation)

• Rushford Drug Co.-Witt Real Estate: $539,434 (Category I-amount was reduced by $19,939, the cost of relocation)

• Witt Real Estate-former Dollar Store: $68,415 (Category I)

Witt Real Estate-former SEMDC office: $26,765 (Category I)

• Rushford Drug-Witt Long-Term Care Pharmacy: $187,577 (Category I-amount was reduced $20,800, the cost of relocating)

• Rushford Drug Company-office relocation: $14,500 (Category I)

The council was also updated on the city's application to the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority for construction of a water treatment plant. The application was accepted, but the particulars must wait, along with a number of other grants and programs (such as Habitat for Humanity), for the eagerly anticipated housing study results to be released on March 15.

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