Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Nov. 15, 1999

LP council raises wages

By Luis Puga

Lester Prairie City Council addressed its employees' wages by giving an across the board 6.8 percent wage increase to almost every employee last Monday.

Mayor Eric Angvall said that he was tired of the city being a training ground for certain occupations, and cited that the recent court case involving former police officer Andrew Galles might have been avoided had the city paid that position a little more.

He added that the raises should reflect that the council considers the employees to be some of the city's most valuable assets. Lastly, he said that the raise would be cheaper than constant retraining.

City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk said the council had to retain some perspective on the raises. She said it was important to raise some wages, such as a custodian's, to be close to someone who would plow snow for the city.

Those two positions are coincidentally two that the city is seeking to fill: a cleaning person for the city hall and a part-time winter maintenance person to help with snow removal.

The part-time snow removal position will be advertised between $9.50 to $10 per hour. As such, the city's long-time maintenance person will also get a raise to reflect seniority.

The council also sought to raise the wage amount for the custodial position. Council members questioned whether the previous wage was enough to attract and keep a qualified person, citing that $8 an hour could be matched at any fast food restaurant and would not attract persons with previous experience.

The council also noted the need to get someone for that position soon, as the winter season will have a high number of events at the city hall, as well as the weather contributing to messier floors.

The council authorized Council Member Galen Hochstein to find a temporary individual at $9 per hour until the city could properly advertise for the position. It also empowered Hochstein to turn to a cleaning service if that wage could not attract a temporary individual.

Stop sign

Linda Bondhus presented the council with a request for a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Juniper Street and Central Avenue. Currently, there are stop signs for traffic on Juniper, but none for Central.

Bondhus said she has brought the matter to previous councils that have rejected it due to legal issues, but added that she had checked into the legality of the sign, and wonders why the previous council did not approve her request. She added that an average sign would cost $100.

Bondhus also said she has had two separate incidents where traffic on Central has swerved around her as she walked across the pedestrian crossing.

"Last time I checked, I thought pedestrians had the right of way," she said.

She also said that many school children cross that area and she was concerned for their safety.

Bondhus also cited the diagonal parking on Central as a line of sight problem and wondered whether parking there could be changed to parallel or if the council could open up a nearby railroad lot for parking.

Council Member Rollie Bruckschen was directed to look into the matter. He observed that the lot could not be used because it is railroad property, and the city would have to pay rent for its use.

Currently, the city is negotiating with the railroad company about a bill the city was sent to pay for utilities that pass under the railroad tracks.

Bruckschen added that the incidents, which Bondhus believed were from the same driver, could have been reported had she taken down the license plate. He added that more enforcement in that area might be better than placing a new sign. He also said he felt that Lester Prairie had too many stop signs. The matter was tabled for the December meeting.

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