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Winsted council member watches city’s pennies

July 6, 2009

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – One of the reasons Winsted City Council Member Dave Mochinski ran for city council was to share his ideas on how to cut city spending. It isn’t the waste of dollars, but the pennies that have to be watched, according to Mochinski.

“I said months ago that I believe the LGA (local government aid) cuts could be the best thing for a lot of communities,” Mochinski said.

“Because they don’t have the money, they are going to have to understand we might not need this or need that.”

Mochinski is proud of the Winsted city staff and how they have been trimming back on expenses, bargaining with vendors, and cutting back on utilities.

For his part in reducing city spending, Mochinski questions even the smallest item needing the council’s approval.

The most recent mini-item Mochinski questioned for usefulness was the brochure holder on signage the city is looking into for its new trail project “Gateway to the West.”

When he began the discussion regarding the brochure holder at the June 16 council meeting, he acknowledged it was a minor point, but could not understand why the city would want to spend even a small amount of money on an item that probably will not be used into the future.

According to Mochinski, the brochure holder is used for a short time and then abandoned.

It isn’t that Mochinski is against spending money, he just believes in saving money whenever possible.

“I will take a $2 item that might be broken and instead of buying a new one, I will fix it,” Mochinski said.

“It is small stuff, but I do a lot of it on my own. That was the way I was brought up – fixing things, not hiring. Doing it all myself.”

This past winter, Mochinski, who was appointed to the airport commission by Mayor Steve Stotko, decided to take on a project for the city’s airport.

The successful project known as the Mochin-Skis, was needed by the maintenance crew to improve snowplowing for the Winsted Airport runway.

The ski design, done by Mochinski, and the skis made by Millerbernd Manufacturing, raises the truck plow to the right height so the grass runway can be plowed without damaging the grass strip.

At first the maintenance crew was skeptical it would work, Mochinski said.

Later, Winsted’s maintenance lead Dave Meyer praised the Mochin-Skis at a city council meeting, telling the council how much easier it made plowing on the runway.

Besides saving the city money, Mochinski is not afraid to speak up when city engineers and contractors fail to do a quality job.

At the city council meeting March 17, Mochinski talked about the lake bank erosion caused by contractor Greystone Construction not following the original specifications when landscaping the lake bank as part of the lakefront promenade project.

The council was to decide if Greystone should correct the erosion problem or if the city should assess Greystone for the repairs and hire someone else to do it.

“Who is going to be responsible for watching to see if this is done correctly this time?” Mochinski said. “I don’t have a lot of confidence working with Greystone.”

“We spent a lot of money on this lake bank,” Mochinski said. “This is just one spot, although it is the biggest spot, but I just don’t feel we got our money’s worth on this bank when it looks like it does today.”

The council eventually agreed to assess Greystone for the repairs of the lake bank and hire someone else for the landscaping.

Winsted Lake and its shores are a passion of Mochinski’s.

He monitors the lake, walks the shores every spring checking out fish kill, taking his own notes for future reference.

“If somebody asks me a question about the lake, or what I think about something on the lake, I might have the right answer for them,” he said.

Mochinski is responsible for taking care of the aerators in the lake and making sure they are operating correctly.

“Aeration does not just put oxygen in the water. I believe it can create a whole different eco-system,” Mochinski said.

The recent spread of curly leaf pond weed throughout Winsted Lake is a concern of Mochinski’s.

Because he does not like to use chemicals to rid the lake of the weed, Mochinski would like to design some kind of drag to trail along the bottom of the lake, cutting the weed off.

“It would do the same thing as the chemical, but all it would cost is the gas to run the boat motor,” Mochinski said.

Mochinski’s term will end 2010, and he has not decided if he will run for a second term.

“I am not in this for a lifelong thing,” Mochinski said. “Sometimes, I think not (run for a second term). I think I could create more problems than help, because of the way I think.”

“A determining factor in what I decide will be who runs,” Mochinski said. “There are a lot of younger people who are active. I think they would do a better job than I would do. Let them run.”

If he doesn’t run, Mochinski has said he will miss the people who stop him in town and want to talk about the city’s activities.

“One thing I really enjoy is when people within the community ask me, ‘why don’t you do things this way or what are you doing this for?’ I really enjoy when people are asking me questions on why or why not.”

“I will miss that part if I don’t run again.”

Mochinski grew up in Winsted

Mochinski is the son of Phyllis Kasper. He grew up in a home just a few houses down from where he lives today.

He is one of six children. His two brothers and three sisters all live in the area – the farthest away is Waconia.

Mochinski and his brothers did a lot of hunting, fishing, and trapping when they were younger.

That experience gave the brothers the knowledge they needed to start an archery and sport shop in 1986, called Santee Archery. It was located in the basement of the old movie theater building.

While running the sport shop, Mochinski was making fishing tackle on the side and selling it.

Through a local guy, Mochinski learned about a business called Maynard’s that began selling tackle in 1958, but had been bankrupt for several years.

It had a lot of unfinished product Mochinski could use for his tackle, so he contacted the owner and eventually purchased the business.

“I never planned on turning it into a business. It was just that I was going to finish the product and sell it in my store,” Mochinski said.

When sport shops learned that Maynard’s had been purchased by a new owner, they asked Mochinski to start manufacturing some of the items they had gotten from Maynard’s in the past.

The business grew, and in 1998 Mochinski and his brothers closed Santee, and Maynards became a full-time business.

Besides Mochinski, there are six other people who work for the shop parttime making lures that are cast and painted – all different shapes, sizes and colors.

One employee works in the shop with Mochinski, and the rest work at home doing piece-work.

About 99 percent of the product is sold directly to sport shops.

Mochinski has three children: Ryan who is married to Holly (Remer), Jacob, and Adam. Adam has two children: Mason, 3, and Ava, 1.


 

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