By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN With plans to add new fencing, improve the dugout roof, create a walkway, and more, Winsted may be able to host regional baseball tournaments at Denis M. Campbell Field next summer.
The construction cost of the project is estimated at $102,000, which will be split between the City of Winsted and the Winsted Baseball Association.
“It will be nice to move forward,” Winsted City Council Member Tom Ollig said when the project was approved at Tuesday’s council meeting.
City Administrator Dan Tienter noted that the original project, which included more drainage work, would have cost about $265,000. Those improvements would not have completely solved heavy rain issues on the field, however.
The project has been released for quotes, and city engineer Jake Saulsbury said the goal is to begin construction this fall. Work will likely continue into the spring.
Wastewater plans slog ahead
At Tuesday evening’s work session, the council heard an update on the wastewater treatment facility improvement project, which has been delayed several months due to state government legal issues. (The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued Winsted a permit for the project in April, but the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy submitted an appeal to the Minnesota Office of the Attorney General appealing the decision of the MPCA to issue the permit. The case is now in the court of appeals and is pending that decision.)
The council’s current plan is to have Di-Mar Construction start the project, since parts of it need to be completed due to the age of the facility. The contract award will note that items impacted by the appeal process (tertiary treatment building, lift station, and effluent forcemain) would be contingent upon the appeal, with a timeline of one year from the date of the award.
The council also plans to make that part of the project contingent upon receiving a $2.5 million grant from the government to help with the cost of the mandated improvements.
Tienter said the grant will likely still be available when the appeal process is complete, but “stranger things have happened.”
Mayor Steve Stotko asked what would happen if the city doesn’t get the grant, and decides not to do that part of the project.
Tienter responded that “we could refuse to go along with the project, but we would be subject to regulatory action most likely fines.”
He noted that the one “silver lining” in all the delays is that interest rates have gone down, and the city will be able to borrow money for the project at a lower cost.
At a closed session Aug. 16, the council conducted Tienter’s annual performance review. A 3-percent raise was unanimously approved as well as a $300 monthly allowance for use of Tienter’s personal vehicle for official duties, which will replace his mileage reimbursement. Tienter’s new salary is $38.82 per hour, or approximately $80,746 per year, assuming 2,080 hours of work.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• authorized waiving a $300 industrial park land lease fee in the 2016 Winstock Country Music Festival agreement with Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
• authorized paying the Winsted Ambassadors an annual sum not to exceed $2,000.
• accepted Tienter’s report for emergency cleanup costs in an amount not to exceed $10,000, relating to the severe thunderstorm in Winsted Aug. 4.
• heard an update of recent administrative activities from clerk/treasurer Raquel Kirkhoff. Since the last report from that department in March, many staff changes have taken place, including the hiring of Sandy Fleischman as a part-time administrative assistant, the resignation of clerk/treasurer Deb Boelter, the appointment of Kirkhoff to the clerk/treasurer position, and the appointment of Amanda Zeidler as deputy clerk.
Zeidler’s previous role as utility billing and payroll clerk is currently vacant, but the city plans to fill it soon. The job description is likely to change, as staff works to efficiently reorganize the department.
In the meantime, temporary employee Ethel Wolff has been assisting with the extra duties.