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New council member chosen
Jan. 25, 2016

BY STARRLA CRAY
Associate Editor

WINSTED, MN – Winsted’s newest city council representative is Patricia “Patty” Fitzgerald.

She was appointed the evening of Jan. 21, after a round of interviews. Two other candidates – Jeff Albers and Steven Hauer – were also interviewed.

“I was impressed with each of the candidates and thankful for their interest in serving on the council,” Mayor Steve Stotko commented. “Personally, I really liked Patty’s enthusiasm, the importance she placed on teamwork, and her vision for the community. She will be a great addition to the council.”

Fitzgerald’s term will expire at the end of 2016. She was appointed to replace Max Fasching, who resigned from the council in December 2015.

Police help needed
At the Jan. 19 council meeting, after accepting the resignation of part-time police officer Brenda Conzet, effective Jan. 1, council members asked Police Chief Justin Heldt the status of part-time police help.

Heldt said they currently have six part-time officers on the list, and they are looking for more applicants. Winsted’s part-time officers work sporadically, and most have full-time positions with other law enforcement agencies.

Police vehicle purchase
At the Jan. 19 work session, the council discussed the potential purchase of a 2016 Ford Interceptor SUV for the police department. The item will be on the agenda for approval at the next regular council meeting.

Currently, the police department has a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria with about 104,000 miles, a 2013 Ford Interceptor SUV with about 84,000 miles, and a 2014 Ford Interceptor SUV with about 31,000 miles.

City staff is negotiating a trade-in for the 2010 Crown Victoria. The department prefers the SUVs due to increased viewing ability, better clearance for response in the winter months, and comfort for drivers.

The cost of the 2016 Ford Interceptor SUV is estimated at $31,276, plus about $21,665 in equipment.

Document storage
At its next regular meeting, the council plans to award a bid to Century Fence Company for $3,587 to install a steel fencing system in the lower level of city hall. The floor-to-ceiling fence with a gated entry would be designed to secure sensitive city documents.

Accessory buildings
In other matters Jan. 19, the council amended an ordinance concerning regulations for accessory buildings.

The change stemmed from a resident with an asphalt roof on her house who wanted to put a steel roof on her garage last fall. The way the ordinance was previously stated, roofing for accessory structures needed to be made from same or similar materials as the primary structure. The ordinance has now been clarified to allow roofing of same or similar quality.

Several other items in the ordinance were also clarified, such as requirements for ice fishing houses, animal enclosures, and sizing of accessory structures.

“The planning commission should be commended for their discussion and thoughtfulness; they did a good job,” Council Member Tom Ollig said.

Odds and ends
In other business, the council:

• discussed ongoing blight concerns at 161 McLeod Ave.

“The city is doing its best to work with the property owner,” City Administrator Dan Tienter said.

• heard that the audit has officially begun for the year, and city staff plan to develop a more thorough way to budget for capital projects, so that revenues and expenditures are detailed for each item.

• noted that there will be a quorum of council members in the Vollmer Room Thursday, Jan. 28 for a day-long goal-setting session.

• discussed a proposed one-year farm lease agreement with Otto Farm Operations, Inc. Under the agreement, the farm does not pay rent on about 40 acres of land the city owns for expansion of the industrial park, in exchange for the service of removing the grass and/or hay as maintenance. Before the city acquired the land, Otto farms had a similar agreement with the previous owners. The city plans to provide written notice if the property is sold for industrial park expansion.

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