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Council hears public works report, tours department’s tight quarters
April 20, 2018

By Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE – Tom Goepfert, longtime Howard Lake public works director, detailed the work accomplished by his department throughout 2017 at the city council’s meeting April 17.

Goepfert told the council the number of gallons of water pumped by the city increased 11,906,998 gallons from 2016.

The number of sewer gallons pumped went up 1,770,000 gallons from 2016.

Infiltration and inflow showed a decrease of 10,137,000 gallons over 2016.

Goepfert also reported about specific maintenance tasks completed throughout the year at the water treatment plant, lift stations, and city parks.

He detailed that public works put significant time into city streets. The public works department shoveled 12,000 pounds of asphalt, and used 1,000 pounds of cold mix patching city streets.

Street-sweeping was completed every week throughout spring, and every other week during the summer and fall. The department plowed snow and salted and sanded streets, cleared snow from sidewalks and cleaned Highway 12 behind the fog line as needed when snow piled up in that location.

Goepfert further detailed maintenance projects completed in city parks, and on the city’s payloader, snow plows, street sweeper, tractor, mowers, snowblower and pickups.

He concluded his report by noting 2017 had “a record set of 16 bridge strikes.

Working together on the lot on the corner

City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller presented a joint construction, maintenance, and easement agreement between the City of Howard Lake and the Howard Lake American Legion Post #145.

The two entities were in official agreement that they would jointly develop the parking lot and other improvements to the city and Legion property.

The Legion agreed to a special voluntary assessment of $75,000 toward the cost of the project, which is payable over a 10-year period at an annual 2.5 percent rate of interest.

Haggenmiller detailed that neither the city nor the Legion would consider the parking lot their own property, for their own use. “It’s just an open parking lot,” he said.

The total project cost estimate came in at $281,487, meaning the Legion would pay 26 percent of the project cost with the special voluntary assessment.

The council elected to accept the agreement.

“It’s nice to work with a local business and have it be so easy-going,” Mayor Pete Zimmerman said. “This project will be nice when it is done.”

Farmers market setting up for big growing season

Haggenmiller and Assistant City Administrator Aurora Yager presented a request from the Howard Lake Farmers Market Committee for a change of venue.

The committee’s report asked the council to consider allowing the market to move from Memorial Park to Lions Park. “They’re looking to be a bit more visible,” Haggenmiller said.

The Farmers Market Committee also detailed plans to move the market to Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m., and to be open from Thursday, June 7 to Thursday, Oct. 25. The council approved the request.

City asked to assume responsibility of Howard Lake City Hall Restoration Society

Haggenmiller shared a letter from society secretery/treasurer Marilyn J. Ringold, the sole remaining active member of the group, asking to donate the Society’s remaining funds of $2,614 to the city, designated for “the best interests of the restoration of city hall.”

Haggenmiller said it was not uncommon to have a non-profit under a city umbrella. “We have the organizational capacity to do this.”

The council adopted a resolution assuming the roles and responsibilities and related funds from the Howard Lake City Hall Restoration Society, and a resolution approving city insurance coverage would apply to the non-profit.

Solving the childcare shortage

Haggenmiller presented information about the Rural Childcare Innovation Program (RCCIP), administered by First Children’s Finance, to assist rural communities in need of more options for childcare.

A small ad-hoc committee with representatives from Wright County, Wright County Community Action, Dura-Supreme, Good Samaritan Society, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) Schools, and the City of Howard Lake have been meeting to discuss the area’s shortage of childcare options for more than a year.

The RCCIP program is a competitive one – last year, 20 communities applied for funding, and eight grants were awarded. The RCCIP provides consultants, not funding.

The council adopted a resolution supporting the application to the RCCIP program.

Odds and ends

In other business the council:

• approved a Special Vehicle Ordinance and related approvals, which allows, with certain parameters, for people to legally drive golf carts, ATVs and other small vehicles within city limits. The ordinance does not include snowmobiles.

• approved the 2018 summer recreation program contract with HLWW Schools. The program will remain almost identical to last year’s program.

• approved Change Order #1 to the 2018 Paving Project Contract, to add up to $15,000 for a streetlight for the far east edge of the upcoming city/American Legion parking lot, and funding for electrical outlets to the fence surrounding the parking lot.

• agreed to allow interim city finance and administrative assistant Shari Zander to work a part-time schedule of approximately 25 to 30 hours per week.

• discussed Howard Lake’s citywide cleanup day, slated for Saturday, May 5 from 8 to 11 a.m., noting that prohibited items, including excessive construction materials, would be rejected.

• toured the city’s old waste- water treatment plant, which does not have enough space to house the city’s equipment and tools, or provide enough area for staff to work.

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