The Tuesday, October 3 Ostrander City Council meeting opened with a public statement made by an Ostrander man regarding an allegedly unfulfilled subcontractor payment and financial roadblock in his house construction. This past spring of 2023, Terry Fetterly was granted a building permit to construct a home on Minnesota Street in Ostrander, Minn., and he began the building process. Fetterly, of T.D. Fetterly Building Company, completed work as a subcontractor for General Construction on a 2021-2022 project in which General Construction was hired by City of Ostrander. Fetterly claims, and the Ostrander City Council does not dispute, that he was not paid for the work completed in the construction project, being shorted in the amount of $26,000. “I anticipated to be paid from General Construction Services the $26,000 they still owe me, that the city paid them, and now they won’t pay me,” Fetterly stated. “Because I’m short the $26,000, which was half of the down payment on my mortgage, construction has stopped.”
Mr Fetterly stated that he hired an attorney who has forwarded evidence to the American Civil Liberties Union; “Because I’m over 65 years old…because of the evidence I submitted, they tend to think I’m being defrauded because I’m an elderly person.” At this point, Wendy Brinks confirmed that to her knowledge, Fetterly is the only one unpaid on General Construction’s contract. Due to the structure of City of Ostrander’s contract with General Construction, the city is not liable to pay Fetterly the $26,000 in question, regardless of whether he has been paid by General Construction.
The building permit Fetterly obtained to build a house in Ostrander expires in the spring of 2024; he was asked to come back to the council in the spring and give an update. Following the meeting, Brinks explained further; “He will come back to the council in the spring of 2024 and give us an update. Has he been able to get the loan to continue building? What has happened? And then we will either extend his permit or deny an extension to his permit. So… he will have to give us an update to continue his permit because it’s only good for one year.”
Following up on the ongoing discourse between Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office, City of Ostrander, and the residents of Ostrander, a few council members commented on the marked change in police presence and quality of sheriff’s office service over the past month. Because the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office’s yearly fee to City of Ostrander will nearly double next year, council members and town residents began to question whether the city’s contract with county police should continue at its current service level, if at all. On two separate occasions, Sheriff DeGeorge attended Ostrander City Council meetings to explain the increased cost of doing business and to listen to the council’s concerns.
Last month the council recounted the sentiments of residents who, to paraphrase, gave written statements that police visibility was low and their presence generally unfelt. This month, the sheriff’s office report included a statement of 62 total hours of deputy time logged in Ostrander; total hours logged were not previously included in their reports to the city. The general sentiment among the council was that police presence has increased in Ostrander over the last month, but one council member still took issue with the way they are conducting their services.
Councilwoman Lynn Mills recounted the observations of one resident who “sees them every morning during church, just sitting in the park,” and continued that “they should be sitting on Main Street at midnight on Friday, not sitting in the park on a Sunday morning.” Wendy Brinks responded, “Right, but our biggest complaint was that nobody was seeing them, so they’re making an effort to be there during the day… they’re making their presence known.” She continued to recount her own observations that she has, in fact, recently seen sheriff’s deputies in the area past midnight hours. “They’ve been very vigilant; they’re here every single morning… we see them in multiple places around town; we’re seeing them every evening… they’re doing a very good job… Since our last conversation with [Sheriff DeGeorge], he has done a much better job of making sure they are patrolling town and that the residents are feeling safe.”
Towards the meeting’s close, Treasurer Brinks also mentioned applying for a DNR grant with $98,000 potentially available to remove Ostrander’s dead ash trees and replace each with a living one. Should the funding become available, residents could apply on an individual basis to participate in the program. “It’s a great grant, and hopefully we will receive it.” The council will learn of the grant’s approval or denial in late October, and if approved, funding would become available January 2024.
Ostrander City Council meetings are held 6:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month in the Ostrander Community Cen ter at 410 N Main St. The next meeting will be held November 7.