By Jennifer Von Ohlen
COKATO, MN Liana Rasset of Cokato approached the Cokato City Council Monday evening with the desire to install a memorial bench for Levi Wuollet, a 2017 Dassel-Cokato High School graduate who passed away last summer.
Rasset bounced a few ideas off the council in terms of location, such as out in the country along the bike trail. She said the Wuollet family originally wanted it to be at DCHS, but there is no room for it.
One place suggested by the council was the northwest corner of Peterson Park, where the parks commission has already discussed replacing the flowerbed with flower pots and a community bench.
Rasset agreed the bench would look “very nice” there, and Boger made the comment that it would get a lot of traffic at that location.
“I’ll talk to the family and see what they’d prefer,” Rasset concluded.
Museum lighting short-circuited
“I wish I had better news to give you,” stated Cokato Museum director, Mike Worcester, as he approached the council podium. After receiving approval from the council last month to acquire bids for updating the lights in the museum gallery and other areas, Worcester connected with the two closest contractors and received their estimates.
Museum staff anticipated the project would be around $20,735, and received a grant for the same amount. The bids received were $48,125 and $51, 275; more than double what they were expecting.
“In the 20-plus years I’ve been managing grants for the museum, I’ve never had a [difference] this high,” shared Worcester.
While the numbers have caused sticker-shock, Worcester said he is not ready to scrap the project yet. He said his first step of action will be to request an itemization from both vendors.
“We didn’t ask for an itemization; we only asked for a bulk number,” Worcester explained. From there, he would like to see what was missed when the staff put its estimate together, such as labor costs, product costs, etc.
His hope is to have a solution to propose at next month’s meeting, though he warned the council, “we may not get that amount down to the estimated amount. [In which case] we would have to consider additional funding [options.]”
Public library annual report
Head librarian Sheila Rieke was excited to share some of the figures and happenings at the Cokato Public Library over the past year. There was a total of 48,386 items checked out in 2017, which, ratio-wise, means every Cokato resident (2,731) checked out approximately 17 items last year.
The library also had a summer reading program, which had 255 people participating last year. The theme was Reading by Design. Other opportunities/activities the library offers include storytime, Friends Of the Cokato Area Library (FOCAL) book club, holiday-themed classes (i.e. making gift boxes and holiday treats), guest speakers, and art/sculpture classes.
In approaching the new year, Rieke also announced the library set a goal to locally raise $500 in order to purchase items specific to the Cokato branch. Some of the items on its wish list include Hardy Boys and Louis L’Amour audio books, “Llama, Llama” picture books, Ken Burns “Vietnam” PBS television series, “The Selection” series by Kiera Cass, and classic books for children, teenagers, and adults.
Odds and ends
In other news, the council:
• accepted a private citizen’s $10 donation to the ambulance service;
• authorized a cleaning contract with Hutchfield Cleaners for the new fire and ambulance station at $428 a month (tax included);
• renewed the city’s animal control contract with Associated Veterinary Clinic Inc.;
• approved the Cokato fire department’s proposed 2019 budget, $222,250 (a 2 percent increase from last year);
• accepted change order #4 for the fire and ambulance station, which includes installing wood trim along the top mezzanine ($967), window shades in the office area ($3,741), aluminum sill flashing in the exercise room ($306), a mezzanine wall to conceal utility lines ($1,032); using spray foam and plywood as an added sealant to roof cavity; and deleting a mechanical room ceiling (-$552). With this change order, the contracted price is $2,034,691. The project is budgeted at $2.9 million;
• scheduled a work session meeting for Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. to discuss various goal setting and planning items for the future (i.e. fate of old fire barn);
• authorized purchase of a lawn mower for $8,749;
• authorized the designing process to begin for the fire and ambulance station electronic sign along Highway 12;
• authorized advertising for bids on the 2018 slip-lining project along Lee Avenue and Mooers Avenue, and 7th Street and 4th Street; and
• approved claims of $304,578.