Vacancy declared on Cokato council

October 15, 2007

Jan Severson is moving out of town; she will serve her term until end of year

By Lynda Jensen

With regrets, the Cokato City Council accepted the resignation of Jan Severson because she plans to relocate outside of city limits.

She will serve through Dec. 31, and from there the council will appoint her successor for a one-year term. The seat will then be added to the 2008 ballot.

Severson’s service was noted, along with her lengthy service on planning and zoning.

The council is looking to fill the position. Those interested should stop at city hall and pick up an application.

It was noted that if there is a deadlock with the remaining four members over a candidate, the mayor will make the appointment.

Looking for a new fire hall

The council also talked about different locations for a future fire hall because the old fire barn is too small.

Currently, there are four potential locations around town, with the main location of interest being the former old John Deere dealership in town (the empty lot and old building across the street from Lyle and Jan Severson’s house on Seventh St.).

The city signed a non-binding letter of intent for the old John Deere dealership. It was not signed by the current owners yet.

Two of the four locations, the city has first right for refusal if either property goes up for sale.

Ken Bakke of the fire department, who also is the head of public works, suggested the city ask residents if anyone is interested in offering their property for a new fire hall.

Corn Carnival went well, but some bills popped up

The council heard a report about the Corn Carnival from Dorene Erickson.

“We sold 4,800 buttons,” she said, which brought in some revenue. They have sold as many as 5,100 and as few as 4,400.

“We don’t have extra money,” she cautioned, naming a number of expenses that took place:

• the information booth stand required repair, which was done by the public works employees. In previous years, they did a fine job, and even installed carpeted.

• the bingo tent accidentally came down and then was put up by the Lions again. It got ripped, and was then repaired by Billy Carlen, who took it to a placemade available by Art Hagen for quick repair.

The tent is old, but in good shape for the number of years that it has been used, she noted.

Erickson noted that many Cokato residents and businesses won in the Corn Carnival drawings. “It was fun to deliver checks to block after block (of people and businesses) in Cokato,” she said.

• the boiler to cook corn was switched from high to low pressure steam, which was an expensive transition, but will save money in the long run.

In addition, Erickson noted that volunteers are not showing up like they used to husk corn, and there is a concern that it might not get done. Next year, the Village Ranch has offered to husk corn (this will be done at the Village Ranch).

The committee would like to buy a husker for future husking duties.

ATV ordinance discussed

The council discussed the first version of an ordinance for ATVs, restricting the movement of ATV traffic in city limits.

The draft banned ATV travel outright. “I can’t support this ordinance as written,” Council Member Wayne Murphy said. If the ATV travel is legal, he didn’t see a reason to ban it outright.

According to the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, if an ATV is properly licensed, and the driver is properly licensed, it is legal to travel on right-of-way unless local ordinances prohibit otherwise.

It was decided to add the words “street legal,” to the verbiage and see if the draft would work that way.

A second reading of the ordinance will be made at November’s meeting. It will then be adopted as official city ordinance.

Broadway nearly done

Council Member Butch Amundsen also gave an update on Broadway Avenue road work, saying that some loose ends still exist.

• Wright County is pressing the city to restripe the road in front of the bank entrances.

• The manholes need to be raised as well. This will be paid for by the contractor.

• Reseeding the sod went well, helped by wet weather.

• There are some areas behind the curb that need backfilling because the area is sinking a bit. This will be taken care of.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• listened to a lengthy presentation by Waste Management about its single sort recycling program. The council nearly opted to go with the program that night, but then decided against this since its existing hauler, Mumford Sanitation, wouldn’t receive proper notice. It was decided to follow up at the next meeting in November. The decision needs to be made by mid November to order bins in time for the new year. Waste Management asked for a five-year contract to spread its costs for bins over time.

• allowed the Dassel-Cokato FFA to conduct a drill where the team practiced parliamentary procedure in its council chambers, while the videotape rolled. Afterward, Mayor Bruce Johnson quizzed each member on procedures.

• heard a presentation from lobbyist Nancy Larson about the Coalition for Greater Minnesota Cities.

• approved the purchase of a pickup truck and topper from Holt Motors for $26,180.

• discussed all the extra time that is invested by council members as they represent the city on task-oriented items – anything from attending park board meetings to working with engineers on road work for city business.

Nearly every member recounted extra time spent taking part on projects for city matters, and Johnson said that retired council members are called upon frequently because of their accessability.

Johnson noted that some items aren’t candidates for compensation because they would be done anyway, but other things that are clearly furthering the city’s interests should be considered.

The council will be listing specific meetings and other eligible work-related items that would qualify for council members to be paid $50 for four hours of work.

• heard from Museum Director Mike Worcester that the grant application for Gust Akerlund Studio repairs appears to be going well.

“The professional staff recommended that we be fully funded,” he said, noting that only half of the funds applied for across the board are available, making it a very competitive process.