Mabel’s city council meeting on September 14 was shrouded in sorrow due to the recent death of Mayor Jim Westby. The council observed a moment of silence, followed by a statement read aloud by council member Kirsten Wyffels, who stated, “We would like to take a moment to memorialize and pay tribute to our mayor James R. Westby. Jim was a strong leader and fierce advocate for the City of Mabel. He spent over 25 years serving our EDA board, eight years as a city council member and over 20 years as our mayor. We are indebted to him for his endless contributions, his vision, his leadership and his commitment to the City of Mabel. He will be greatly missed.”
Council member Adam Wilder was appointed to fill the remainder of Westby’s term as mayor, and Tina Bakke was appointed to fill the council vacancy created by Wilder’s promotion. Both terms expire December 31, 2022. The council also voted to add Wilder as an authorized signer on all city accounts.
The council discussed a suggestion to create two 15-minute parking spots in front of the post office. The council voted to approve the idea. Jeff Rein said he and Kirsten Wyffels had viewed the spots to determine how best to mark them as 15-minute spots. He said they decided upon painting the curb (“John Deere green”) and stenciling in lettering to indicate the special designation at those two parking spots. The new time limits are expected to be in effect by September 16.
Regarding the city’s new digital electronic sign, which will be used to promote upcoming events and notices, Rein said the sign has been received at LetterWerks, and will soon be ready to install in Mabel. The council voted to allow non-profit groups/events to submit notices for the signage for free, while individuals (such as birthday announcements) and for-profit groups will be charged $10 per day.
Karen Larson brought up the request to hold a joint meeting of Mabel and Canton’s city councils with the Mabel-Canton school board, as has been done in recent years. The meeting is set for September 21 at 6 p.m. at the school. Larson suggested that no more than two members attend, to avoid a quorum.
Larson brought up the proposed contract renewal from MMUA (Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association) for Mabel’s Safety Management Program. She said the annual cost unexpectedly jumped from $5,900 to $11,078. She said she spoke with MMUA’s director, but didn’t get a clear understanding of why the cost would jump so drastically. There was discussion about the possibility of splitting the cost with Lanesboro, which might entail staff having to travel to Lanesboro for some trainings. No action was taken at this time, so that the council can check to see what options are available to avoid incurring a large increase in cost.
Rein informed the council of his suggestion regarding the possibility of blacktopping the area where the charging station for EVs (electric vehicles) will be. He said based on costs, he suggests not blacktopping at this time. Wyffels agreed, saying, “We can always do it later.” The consensus was to leave the area as a gravel surface.
Rein updated the council on options for the water drainage concern that was brought to the council recently by Kelly Sand. Rein suggested the best cost-effective solution appears to be, “We think we can go in there and scrape off, and then fill in so it’ll be nice and level for the grass to grow for them to mow on, and then just go along the curb.” He said this would create a new path for drainage on city property to get the water to the drain. Wyffels agreed this would be a good first attempt, and if not effective, other options could be considered later.
Zoning permits were approved for three households (Rod Johnson, Will Persons, and Diane Wilder). The next meeting of the Mabel council will be October 12 at 6 p.m. The public is welcome.