Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, Dec. 9, 2002

Sonstegard's promises sweeter smells with plans

By Lynda Jensen

Sweeter smells are the promise from Sonstegard Foods related to a planned expansion there, as discussed at the Howard Lake City Council meeting Tuesday.

The council approved a two-year agreement that will allow Sonstegard Foods to increase its sewer discharge, which was recommended by the city engineer.

However, the expansion will be different than what the business did in the past ­ with a different product and better relations planned with the public, said Plant Manager Geoff Smith.

"It is our intent to change things," Smith said of its relationship with the public.

Smith is known for his successful experience as plant manager of Classic Egg, previously located in Cokato. Classic Egg was purchased and then relocated to Nebraska, Smith said.

In fact, Sonstegard's has been operating for nearly a year since the fire, producing powdered egg, with no complaints about its smell registered to the city.

The fire that occurred there destroyed two driers, but half the plant was still intact, and this allowed them to pursue the edible division, Smith said after the meeting.

The expansion involves exclusive production of edible products, which do not have the smell associated with its counterpart, inedible products.

Before now, Sonstegard's produced inedible egg products, which caused complaints from the smell.

"Talk to anyone in Cokato," Smith said. "We didn't pollute their town with toxic fumes."

The expansion of its edible line will increase its staff from six to 10 in two or three months, and eventually add 25 to 30 people. Near Easter, extra employees will number between 15 and 20, Smith said.

There are several stipulations to the sewer agreement, including:

· a pH level was set, which would help the city keep track of what exactly was being discharged, such as the possibility of caustic chemicals.

· a new water meter must be installed to replace the existing one.

· the weekly tests that are being conducted by the city will be paid for by Sonstegards.

· Sonstegard's must pay a surcharge for the higher discharge.

· there is a clause for a heavy rain event that would allow the city to shut down the business in case of emergency.

The council asked several questions about the venture before approving it, since several members were apprehensive about the extra weight the sewer discharge would make to the city's wastewater treatment plant, at the expense of residential development.

City engineer Brad DeWolf assured Mayor Gerry Smith that even if the city would obtain large residential development projects, it would take 18 months minimum to get it through the steps for platting and planning.

Wolf indicated that if Howard Lake receives the growth that cities eastward are experiencing, it would probably need a treatment plant upgrade in the next several years.

In two years, the city can re-evaluate the agreement with Sonstegard's and decide where to go from there.

"I am satisfied," commented Council Member Shelly Reddemann, saying he was glad that the old problems would be gone and that the Sonstegard's site would be used for a purpose that would please the public and offer jobs.

Picking up the tab for snow removal

The city once again discussed problems with snow removal on sidewalks along Highway 12.

The first problem is that the state will no longer pay for snow removal on the sidewalks, as it did in the past.

During the Highway 12 re-construction last year, the state informed the city that it will no longer pay for snow removal on sidewalks, which is located on right-of-way owned by the state.

It was a new interpretation on an existing contract, Administrator Kelly Bahn said.

"They'll only go curb-to-curb," Bahn said.

The city has toyed with the idea of passing some or all of the cost to businesses along the Highway 12 strip for the snow removal, although no decisions have been made.

First the city needs to find someone willing to do it in the first place, since it has experienced problems with this.

Just recently, the only bite on a bid that was advertised for several weeks backed out of the arrangement.

This leaves the city to do the removal with existing staff.

City parking lot is partly owned by Broll

DeWolf also distributed a survey that clearly showed the eastern portion of the municipal liquor store parking lot in their property lines.

Clem Crowley and his partner Duane Miller indicated that they were open to suggestions about the situation.

Reddemann suggested that the issue should be taken care of right away.

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