By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN “It’s been a long time coming,” city engineer Jock Eckstein of Bolton & Menk commented Tuesday, after the Winsted City Council approved the Denis M. Campbell Field improvement project.
According to a memo from City Administrator Dan Tienter, the project has undergone nearly two years of architectural design review and several changes before it got to this point.
“At its most expensive, the project was proposed to be $265,000, and at its least, it was $81,000, as certain items were added, excluded, and revised,” Tienter said.
The final project includes $136,500 worth of improvements, which will be paid by the city ($94,500) and the Winsted Amateur Baseball Club ($42,000).
The low bidder was RAM General Contracting in Winsted, at a construction cost of $108,480. The total amount reflects a 10 percent contingency ($10,848), plus $16,272 for project management and oversight.
Eckstein said work should be able to start in three to four weeks, and be complete by mid-May if weather conditions are ideal. Tienter said the city will be coordinating with the Winsted Wildcats to determine a schedule so they can continue to use the field as much as possible during construction.
Following is an overview of the improvements:
• bull pen improvements,
• fence modifications/additions throughout the field,
• dugout modifications,
• large retaining wall addition,
• bleacher improvements,
• general grading and drainage improvements.
The city also authorized an updated lease agreement with the baseball association for Campbell Field’s maintenance and grounds keeping. The agreement originated in 2008, and although it had expired, the arrangement had been ongoing.
At the work session, the council authorized an agreement with Sand Creek Group to provide services for the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Generally, EAPs provide free and confidential professional counseling services for a wide variety of personal and professional challenges, such as anxiety/depression, chemical dependency, conflict resolution, grief/loss issues, work/career guidance, and more.
Originally, city staff planned to review EAP possibilities later this spring, but recent incidents the police and fire departments responded to have resulted in requests for this service sooner.
The annual fee is $500, plus $160 for each one-hour session.
The council approved up to four sessions per staff member. If all 42 employees who are eligible (including volunteer firefighters) used the full amount of service, it would cost the city $26,240.
However, Tienter noted in a memo that data shows that less than 4 percent of eligible employees typically take advantage of EAP services per year.
Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School seniors Sam Gatz, Emily Roufs, and Kayla Hooser gave an update to the council on the school’s recent activities.
As student council members, all three of them help plan events for the school throughout the year. Prom is set for Saturday, May 6, and graduation will take place Sunday, June 4.
Hooser said the student council is raising money for a classmate whose sibling is struggling with seizures.
Gatz shared that HLWW is currently working with Millerbernd Manufacturing in Winsted, in hopes of teaming up to offer welding opportunities.
Roufs noted that HLWW was recognized as one of the top 11 percent of high schools in the nation in 2016.
Next fall, Roufs will be attending Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU) for biology, and Hooser will be attending MSU for nursing. Gatz plans to go to Bemidji State University for business and marketing, with plans to come back and help his father with the family business.
Fountain coming soon
The city accepted donations toward a lighted water fountain for Winsted Lake, which will likely be installed this spring.
Council Member Tom Ollig said about $19,000 has been raised from individuals and organizations in the community to support the fountain’s purchase, installation, and maintenance.
“It’s been very well received, and I think it will be an asset to the community,” Ollig said.
Holiday decorations donated
The council approved donating its old holiday decorations to the City of Wood Lake and the City of Echo (except for two Christmas tree decorations, which will be donated to the McLeod County Historical Society).
Due to state law, the council had to approve a “surplus equipment donation policy” to allow for this action.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• appointed Josiah Rehmann to the position of reserve officer with the Winsted Police Department, contingent upon passing a background check and drug/alcohol tests.
• appointed Max Fasching as a member of the planning commission.
• adopted the employee personnel policy and procedures manual, with an effective date of March 18.
• adopted a resolution delegating authority to the city administrator and/or mayor for the hiring, disciplining, and terminating of seasonal and temporary staff members.
• adopted an ordinance amending the 2017 fee schedule, reducing the $350 club liquor license fee (for less than 200 members) to $300, as per state statute. A public hearing took place before the amendment was voted on, and no comments were received.
• discussed a request to no longer require an annual forum for liquor license holders. The forums, which are hosted by the police department and city administration, have been in place since 2010, and last less than 20 minutes. According to a memo from Winsted Police Chief Justin Heldt, four of the liquor license holders indicated they do not feel an annual forum should be required, one indicated they would prefer to have the forum, and one said they are fine either way. Heldt said he would prefer to keep the forums in place, since they are short and it is an opportunity to ask questions and stay connected. Council consensus was in agreement with Heldt.
• heard that 27 applications were received for the assistant to the city administrator position. Nine people were interviewed, and five finalists were chosen. A final hiring recommendation will likely be brought to the Tuesday, March 7 council meeting.
• heard that the wastewater treatment facility agreement with PeopleService will need to be modified in the future, due to more frequent testing requirements under the new permit.