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Dassel City Council struggles with park name change; will ask for citizen input at January public hearing
Oct. 20, 2017

by Nan Royce
Staff Writer

DASSEL, MN – Although Dassel’s city attorney Kurt Greenley told the council at Monday evening’s meeting that he had found no legal naming restrictions in regards to Breeds Park, council members wanted to proceed with caution.

Greenley noted Breeds Park had originally been named via ordinance, and a public hearing would need to take place to address any potential name change.

Councilor Andrew Carlson didn’t think the hearing was necessary. “I’m not in favor of renaming the park,” he stated. “Mr. Breed was one of our founding fathers.”

Councilor Tom Weseloh said he’d heard quite a bit of citizen input. “There’s a lot of talk in the community,” he said. “Opinions are all over the board.”

The council discussed the best time to schedule a public hearing on the matter, and a motion and second were on the table to do so. Councilors Justin Bemenderfer, Weseloh, James Hallquist, and Mayor Ron Hungerford voted in favor of holding the public hearing. Councilor Carlson voted against it.

The public hearing will take place at the council’s January meeting, slated for Tuesday, Jan. 16, due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day falling on the regular Monday meeting time.

Three full-time city office staff needed?

The council also addressed the proposed job description for a deputy clerk/treasurer-economic development administrative assistant.

The full-time position would be split in half: 50 percent of the time would be spent working for the city itself; and 50 percent would be spent working for the Economic Development Authority (EDA).

The job description for the combined full-time position is nearly three single-spaced pages in length.

Hungerford stated a position of this type had been in the works for 18 months, originally as a part-time EDA administrative assistant position.

He also said that a new city website will soon be in the works, and someone would be needed to manage and maintain it.

City Clerk/Treasurer Terri Boese said there were many jobs with which a new staff member could assist. “There are lots of projects we’d like to do: digitizing records, etc., she said.”

Carlson was not convinced. “It’s hard to wrap my head around needing three full-time people in the office,” he commented. “Two deputy clerks seems redundant.”

Weseloh noted concern about the lengthy job description.

Bemenderfer said the full-time position had come about due to some similar needs between the positions.

“In various conversations, we noticed skill overlaps,” he indicated, also pointing out that a full-time position would be more attractive to job-seekers since it would offer benefits, and give the person in the position more incentive to stay.

Bemenderfer said the position would allow time for the person hired to connect with community businesses and Meeker County representatives. “We are expecting a lot of this person,” he said.

Boese indicated the money for the position had been planned for in the 2018 budget: 50 percent paid from the city’s general fund, and 50 percent paid from the EDA fund.

Carlson inquired if any residents had expressed concerns about city projects not being completed.

Weseloh felt the position had “a couple of red flags.” He said he would like to look at it again.

The council eventually took no action other than to table the job description.

Open forum brings pleas for financial help

Discover Dassel representative Julie Schuman addressed the council to ask for a city contribution for curbscaping and two planters for placement around the City of Dassel welcome sign under the water tower at the Highway 12 and 15 intersection.

The council was in agreement regarding the positive impact Discover Dassel’s volunteers had in beautifying the city with planters and plantings.

Schuman was asked to keep the council advised prior to Discover Dassel’s February to March spring deadline for ordering supplies. The request for funding was tabled until the council’s budget meeting, scheduled Thursday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m.

Bruce Driscoll, president of the Spring Lake Association, spoke regarding a request by the organization for $500.The amount is historically budgeted by the city, but has not been requested for several years. The request for funding was tabled until the council’s budget meeting.

Larry Oberg spoke on behalf of the Red Rooster Days and Grande Day Parade committees. He noted that the events are still growing each year, and an additional $1,500 and more volunteers would be needed to keep pace with this growth. The request for funding was tabled until the council’s budget meeting.

Odds and ends:

In other business, the council:

• approved the expenditure of $5,000 from the city’s unallocated budget to pay for approximately 25 percent of the new city website. Bemenderfer indicated the EDA and the history center had each authorized $5,000 toward the project.

• reviewed a proposed ordinance that would regulate small cell wireless facilities within the city’s public rights of ways.

• listened as Fire Chief Dale Grochow reported his department had responded to a total of 236 calls, year-to-date. He also indicated the rescue truck would be sent to Lester Prairie for repairs.

Grochow said his department has yet to hear results regarding a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for which it had applied. He explained the grant funding would pay for self-contained-breathing-apparatuses (SCBAs) for firefighters, so it should be given a higher priority.

He also indicated the department had experienced a good turnout for its pork chop dinner; noting that at the end of the event, there were only 30 pork chops remaining, out of the 800 prepared.

Grochow noted the fire department welcomed Bemenderfer and some volunteers to be present at the pork chop dinner to discuss the Heart Safe initiative, and to demonstrate basic CPR skills. Bemenderfer thanked the department for allowing the group to attend, and said the Heart Safe volunteers had trained approximately 31 people during the event.

• listened to Public Works Director Troy Zwilling report the city has discharged 50 million gallons of water to the spray field from a yearly allotment of 59.5 million gallons. “We’re in good shape there,” he said.

Zwilling said he had inspected the spray field nozzles and sent three or four to be rebuilt.

Zwilling also asked for authorization to hire a part-time, on-call snow plow driver for the winter season. He said the ideal candidate would have a Class B license. The council approved the request.

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