By Jennifer Kotila
After serving as clerk of the City of Cokato for more than 33 years, Peggy Carlson has decided to retire. The Cokato City Council approved her Dec. 31 retirement at Tuesday’s meeting.
“It’s going to be tough to replace her,” said Mayor Gordy Erickson, noting she has been responsible for the city’s budget for at least 28 years.
“You have been an asset to the city,” Erickson said to Carlson. “A lot of people know you, and you will be missed.”
Carlson plans a phased retirement, in which she will assist the new city administrator and clerk as they become accustomed to Cokato.
Process and timeline for city administrator search approved
The council approved the position profile, job description, and interview process for the city administrator search as presented by David Drown Associates (DDA).
Candidate recruitment will take place from Wednesday, Oct. 15 through Wednesday, Nov. 12, and the hiring committee will conduct an initial interview of eight to 10 pre-screened candidates Friday, Nov. 21.
Three to four finalists will be selected from those candidates. DDA will then conduct extensive background checks, contact candidates’ references, and administer a personality index for the final candidates.
Final interviews will be conducted Tuesday, Dec. 16, and then DDA will negotiate an agreement with the finalist selected.
The projected start date for the new city administrator is expected to be Monday, Jan. 19.
This process comes following the resignation of former administrator Don Levens, which was announced last month.
Replacement of city hall’s ‘lemon’ stove
The Cokato City Council agreed Tuesday night to replace the six-burner Vulcan cook stove at city hall and to have the exhaust fan above the stove looked at for possible repairs or cleaning.
The stove has been causing problems and expenses since about a year after it was installed. “I think we got a lemon,” said Council Member Butch Amundsen.
He is working with a representative from Vulcan in order to receive money back for the stove, which is less than five years old, he noted.
Since its purchase in December 2009, the stove has been repaired, or attempted to be repaired, five times.
At this point, the cost of repairs ($1,676 plus the cost of an attempted repair Sept. 16) has exceeded the original cost of the stove ($1,745), noted City Clerk Peggy Carlson in a letter to the council.
The problems with the stove began in January 2011, when the pilot lights would go out for no reason and release gas into the air.
After replacing the pilot assemblies for the burners many times, the pilot lights now stay lit. Despite that, there is a gas leak somewhere inside the stove that cannot be found.
The leak releases gas into the air, and the odor is so strong in the offices at city hall that the staff go home with headaches, Carlson noted.
In order to keep the gas odor at bay, the stove’s hood fan must run constantly. However, the fan is so loud that groups using the facility often turn it off and forget to turn it back on, which is a safety concern for both renters and staff at city hall.
City seeks volunteers for beautification
Amundsen proposed the idea of arranging planters throughout the city to beautify the streets, and suggested that organizations or volunteers be sought to help with the project.
Any organizations or individuals that would like to assist the city in a beautification project, contact city hall at (320) 286-5505.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved recruiting attendants and maintenance for the skating rink for the 2014-15 season.
• approved the yearly animal control contract with the Associated Veterinary Clinic of Cokato.
• approved a payment request for Mid Minnesota Hot Mix for the Seventh Street project.
• approved the quarterly reports for the library and the museum.
• heard that there were three new volunteers training with the Cokato Ambulance, and that there will be upcoming emergency medical technician training in Howard Lake and Maple Lake for those interested.