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Dassel City Council divided over pier donation and street sweeper status
Feb. 23, 2018

By Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

DASSEL, MN – Dassel City Council members found themselves in the midst of two touchy subjects at their meeting Tuesday.

Progress on the pier

Meeker County Commissioner Mike Housman told the council that donations made toward the installation of a handicapped-accessible fishing pier on Spring Lake had reached $18,000. He also indicated the county parks department was in process with cleaning the area where the pier is to be installed, Additionally, based upon the approval of the Meeker County Board of Commissioners, the pier has been ordered.

“We’re moving ahead,” Housman told the council. “We would welcome a contribution from the city.”

(The pier project was introduced to the council by long- time resident David Backes, who asked the city for a donation in autumn 2017. The council turned him down at the time, but agreed to revisit the concept if significant interest and donations were raised.)

City Attorney Kurt Greenley presented a letter in which he indicated the city was legally free to make such a donation, but advised any donation should be designated for the pier itself.

Councilor Justin Bemenderfer said he was in favor of the city making a contribution, based upon residents’ and service organizations’ positive responses to the project.

“The passion we’ve heard about this project in our meetings has been substantial,” he added.

Councilor Tom Weseloh suggested a donation of $5,000 would be appropriate.

City Clerk/Treasurer Terri Boese indicated the donation could be made from the city’s $68,000 unallocated fund balance.

Councilor Andrew Carlson said he would prefer that city funds be spent within the city limits.

Mayor Ron Hungerford noted the pier project showcased what citizens, the county, and the city could accomplish when they worked together.

Weseloh made a motion to donate $5,000 toward the pier project. The motion was seconded by Hungerford. The motion passed with Bemenderfer, Weseloh, and Hungerford in favor, and Carlson opposed. (Councilor James Hallquist was absent.)

The lifespan of the street sweeper

Public Works Director Troy Zwilling told the council the city’s 1997 street sweeper had been picked up by Macqueen Equipment.

Council members appeared concerned about the estimated $12,832 repair and tune-up. Bemenderfer asked about the validity of spending the estimated amount for repairs, instead of purchasing a newer model.

“I’m not opposed to looking into a replacement,” he said. “This is an essential asset for the community.”

Zwilling commented, a new street sweeper would cost approximately $120,000, while a used model may be in the $25,000 range.

Hungerford was in favor of dividing the cost of a newer model street sweeper into the next several years’ capital budget. He had looked at the condition of the street sweeper, and felt it had a couple of useful years left in its lifespan.

“I think we could take it and maintain it until parts become obsolete,” he said.

The council did approve the bid for Macqueen Equipment for approximately $12,832. Weseloh, Hungerford, and Carlson voted in favor, while Bemenderfer was opposed.

Grant received for museum windows

Dassel History Center & Ergot Museum Director Carolyn Holje told the council the Minnesota Historical Society had granted $38,790 for work on the museum’s windows.

She also mentioned many rental applications for the building continued to flow in, and that volunteers were working diligently archiving photos, three-dimensional items, and documents.

To conclude her report, Holje dramatically announced that Hungerford had been cast as the “star” of the next Fungus Amongus Players production, “Foxfire,” which will take place in March at the History Center.

DC strategic planning update

Weseloh, who serves as the city’s representative on the Dassel-Cokato School District’s strategic planning committee, presented a thorough report about the district’s progress. He indicated the committee would be tasked with the creation of a district vision statement. He also outlined the entire strategic planning process. Weseloh reiterated that it was obvious that school staff really loved and cared about their students.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• passed a resolution acknowledging a donation of land from Larry Huhn.

• heard an update on Dassel Elementary pedestrian improvements from city engineer Chuck DeWolf. He and Boese recently presented a proposal to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for numerous improvements near the school.

• approved a temporary on-sale liquor license for Cokato- Dassel Lions Club for an event slated for Saturday, March 10 at the Dassel Event Center, and also approved a raffle permit for the Cokato-Dassel Lions Club scheduled Saturday, Oct. 20 at Thirsty’s Tavern.

• reviewed a report from Municipal Liquor Store Manager Marv Vetsch, which showed gross profits for January of $16,286, a 9-percent growth in sales over last year.

• listened as Discover Dassel volunteer Julie Schuman presented updates on grant funding, and proposed spring and summer plantings around the city.

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