Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Cokato is looking for a new swimming pool manager

April 20, 2009

By Lynda Jensen

Ever since 1993, the Cokato community swimming pool has been under the capable hands of Beth (Remme) Flick, who gave the Cokato Council her resignation, which was reluctantly accepted last Monday.

“As my life has changed in the past couple of years I’ve come to a point where I am choosing to step down and resign my position as pool manager,” Flick wrote in her resignation letter.

This leaves a hole that won’t be easy to fill, observed Mayor Bruce Johnson. The city will begin to advertise the position. It requires state certification.

The council decided to send a letter of appreciation to Flick as well.

Bike Path discussion

Council Member Butch Amundsen broached the subject of the Bike Path between Dassel and Cokato in relation to a meeting recently conducted by a joint consortium of city, school and township officials.

He noted that the article in the newspaper, based on minutes written by Supt. Jeff Powers, stated that Cokato supported maintenance of the path via a five-way split of expenses. “I don’t remember doing that,” Amundsen said, pointing out that the council didn’t vote on anything.

Amundsen noted that some entities noted they were low on funds. “We’re all low on funds,” Mayor Bruce Johnson said. He further went on record saying he was in favor of the path. “Otherwise, we can throw (the path) away in the garbage,” he said.

Council Member Wayne Murphy also went on record saying he was in favor of the five-way split. Council Member Gordy Erickson said he will attend the next meeting.

Coordinated emergency agreement

The council also heard from Ken Bakke of Public Works, who persuaded the council to take advantage of the Minnesota Water Agency Response Network, which is a free mutual aid agreement in disaster or flood that helps coordinates emergency response.

“During the tornado (15 years ago), I had 12 different communities here,” Bakke said. Bakke noted the importance of making a concerted effort when responding to disasters, such as knowing what equipment the other communities have that might be needed. Cokato didn’t always know what other communities had, he added.

More awards for wastewater operation

The City of Cokato has been awarded yet another award for operation of its wastewater treatment plant, this numbering 17 awards in the 22 years that Bakke has operated the plant. He started with Cokato in 1988.

This time around, the city was surprisingly tagged for a “secondary violation” pertaining to inflow and infiltration, potentially from sump pumps; but apparently not enough to interfere with its award from the EPA. Murphy said the city should focus on this problem. “It’s cheaper to build a pond than correct it,” Bakke said.

Abuse of tennis courts

It was noted that people have been using rollerblades and even a motorcycle on the tennis courts. The council spoke with a visiting deputy from the sheriff’s office about correcting this. There is a sign plainly stating none of this activity should be taking place there.

Utility rates adopted

Previous discussion about utility rates continued, with the council adopting the schedule as it was previously reported; but not before spirited discussion took place.

Council Member Wayne Murphy objected to how the rates were configured, saying it was a “one-size-fits all” situation and unfairly penalized multi-unit apartment owners.

He also said that the amendment in place referred back to a resolution that was enacted in 1997, which spelled out specific rates for specific entities, down to the number of students in the school.

Clerk Peg Carlson said that succeeding ordinances superseded the 1997 resolution, including one approved in 2007.

“I’m definitely not going to support this resolution,” Murphy said, and did just that, by voting against the motion to approve utility rates and the subsequent schedule of rates for 2009. The vote was 4-1, with Murphy against, and Erickson, Johnson, Amundsen and Council Member Carl Harju in favor.

As a result, the rates will likely go down for most residential users, but will increase for higher end users; in part due to a mandate from the DNR that requires the city to prompt users to be more frugal with water.

Cokato is looking to fill seats on park board, EDA, Police Advisory Commission

The City of Cokato is looking at filling vacant seats on the park board, EDA, and Police Advisory Commission.

Applicants for the park board and Police Advisory Commission must reside within the corporate limits of Cokato. Interested volunteer candidates willing to serve are requested to contact the city offices for an application for submission by 3 p.m., Wednesday, May 6. Those with questions may contact Administrator Don Levens at (320) 286-5505.

Details about each entity are below:

Park Board

This five-member advisory group is responsible for recommendations for park improvements, development and/or maintenance of the city park system. The members also provide improvement recommendations to the municipal budget to implement activities as well as short/long range planning efforts. Meetings are monthly at city hall. Knowledge of parks and recreational activities are desirable, but not required.

Economic Development Authority (EDA)

This advisory group consists of seven members that include two council representatives. The group is charged with the responsibilities to encourage, retain, attract, promote business expansion and employment opportunities within the city. Meetings are conducted on the first Monday of each month. Applicants shall be residents and/or employed in the city but may reside outside of the city limits.

Police Advisory Commission

This entity is a five-member advisory group, which along with council representation, is charged with various duties and functions including municipal budget, hours of coverage, intergovernmental cooperation, and public information programs. The commission also advises the city council on all matters concerning public safety issues within the city. Meetings take place on a “quarterly” basis at city hall. Special meetings may be scheduled as needed.

Odds and ends:

In other business, the council:

• approved $22,316 in pool maintenance and upgrades to address heaters and drains that comply with new federal laws (which were prompted by a problem with a private pool, noted Ken Bakke), amongst other miscellaneous repairs. The work will take about four days to do, and includes replastering the kiddie pool. The money will come from the revolving construction fund.

• were given notice that the firms of Bonestroo & Associates and Northern Environmental will be merging, effective May 1. Northern is an environmental consulting firm.

• renewed the annual contract for animal control with Associated Vet Clinic, which reflected increases as follows: large dog from $16.50 to $18, medium dog from $15.50 to $16.50, small dog from $14 to $15, cats from $13 to $14, wild cats from $22 to $24, and wild dogs will be the same, which is between $20 to $45. Kirkpatrick estimated about 20 percent of animals are euthanized, 50 percent are claimed by the owner, and some adopted out. Euthanization costs between $70 and $120 for a dog, and $60 to $80 for a cat.

• decided to apply for youth employment through the Litchfield Workforce Center again this year. This funding opportunity is available through the Recovery Act of 2009. Last year, the City of Cokato obtained this grant and received help with staining, painting and pulling weeds, it was noted.

• approved an identity theft prevention program mandated by the Federal Reserve System, and other federal agencies, even though the city doesn’t retain or accept credit cards and the like.

• adopted the 2009 utility rates, permits and fee schedule for 2009, with a split vote; Murphy against, and Erickson, Johnson, Amundsen and Council Member Carl Harju in favor. Murphy objected to the way the new utility rate was configured.


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