Nov. 20, 2006

Cokato council honors Irvin

By Lynda Jensen

Retired Cokato resident Russ Irvin was honored by the Cokato City Council for being recognized by the McKnight Foundation in the area of human services Thursday.

The council honored the wishes of McKnight by not specifically announcing Irvin’s name on-air, but took time out of the meeting to make mention of it corresponding to an agenda item, since Irvin wasn’t notified until Thursday and the council meeting was last Monday.

Irvin was honored by McKnight Foundation Thursday in the Twin Cities.

Library used more than ever, could use more Internet

The Cokato Library is attracting more users than ever, but could use more Internet stations, commented Librarian May Ackerman during her annual report.

“We turn down six people per day for Internet,” she said.

Circulation and usage wise, Cokato is a heavily used library. “Cokato is seen as a busy library, according to the numbers,” Ackerman said.

Wright County has the second highest number of registered borrowers in the six county area covered by the Great River Regional Library system: Wright, Sherburne, Stearns, Benton, Morrison, and Todd.

However, the total number of borrowers have declined over the past five years.

Wright County has 33,178 borrowers compared to 34,323 in Stearns, which is where the St. Cloud Library is located. The next highest number of borrowers is in Sherburne with 21,987.

She noted that a new director has taken over for GRRL.

The library is funded so that the materials and salary of the librarian and staff are paid for by GRRL. The City of Cokato contributes use of the building as well as utility expenses.

This means that Ackerman is not a city employee, since her salary comes from the GRRL library system.

The library will observe 80 years of existence in the Cokato community in 2007.

Council moves cautiously forward on liquor issue

At the prompting of Council Member Gordy Erickson, the council discussed a timetable to incorporate the strong liquor approved by voters recently.

The next step would be to establish guidelines for an ordinance, although it was evident that some were not enthusiastic about the subject.

“With the population voting in favor, the attorney suggests for us to set parameters during a workshop in the future,” Administrator Don Leven said.

“I think we should ‘future’ it soon,” Erickson said to Levens.

Council Member Jan Severson suggested taking up the issue in January.

Phil Haataja agreed, noting it would be a new council at that time.

Mayor Bruce Johnson wondered aloud about the time frame, saying “Are we going to lose a couple of hotels (in the meantime)?”

They agreed that more information was needed.

It was decided to obtain information from the League of Minnesota Cities.

A meeting will likely be set in December to discuss the issue.

Concrete ‘goobers’ to be replaced in spring

Haataja voiced unhappiness about messy concrete footings along Wright County Road 3.

“It just doesn’t look good,” he said.

Don Broberg of Bonestroo and Associates noted that sections of the concrete work will be replaced in the spring, along with putting down the final layer of asphalt.

“It was at my request that we wait until spring (to correct the concrete work) because I wanted to make sure pieces underneath wouldn’t cause problems,” he said.

Odds and ends

In other matters, the council:

• adjusted its fee schedule, increasing fees related to developments. This included bumping up the subdivision deposit for developers from $4,000 to $5,000.

The liquor license fee will be added at a later date, when that issue is sorted out further.

• noted that there are 28 outstanding utility accounts owed to the city, and therefore the city will certify these amounts for collection at the end of the month.

Levens noted that the actual number should be less if people pay by the end of the month. “We hope the number will be zero by the end of the month,” he said.

• renewed a contract with Mid Minnesota Development Commission for building inspection services with a decrease in monthly retainer fees from $60 to $50, and an increase of 5 percent in plan review fees.

• approved cleanup of legal descriptions that pertain to a preliminary, final plat and lot split for the Gordon Anderson for phase three of the North Industrial Park expansion. The requesting parties will return with layout of the outlot in the future.

• ordered the purchase of replacement chairs for the Centennial Room next to the library. Over the last 10 years, the number of chairs has dwindled from 80 to 50.

The cost for 32 chairs is $1,243. It is being purchased through the Historical Society to obtain a break in pricing and taxes.

• approved an increase of employee contribution toward health insurance for family coverage to be from $500 to $525. The council also amended the policy for accrued vacation time usage form 240 hours to 360 hours or 45 days to be carried over the to next year.

• renewed the land rental agreement with Larry Davis for residual land (eight acres) on South Johnson adjacent to the detention pond. The three year agreement ended and the council renewed this for another three years for $550 per season, which is an increase of $50 before.

• noted that the municipal wastewater treatment plant passed inspection by the MPCA.

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