Tricounty News

Watkins fills vacant council seat, considers Public Works cooperation with Kimball

As its first order of business for 2013, the Watkins city council resolved to create a council vacancy (the seat held by Dennis Loch who was elected mayor in November). The next order of business was to fill that vacancy. Having held interviews of the three candidates (Jerre Hesse, David Hokanson, and Tootz Tschumperlin), the council appointed Hesse to the vacant seat. The mayor and three new council members were sworn in.

Dennis Loch presented a plaque to Tschumperlin, delayed because of an error made on the plaque last year.

The Sheriff’s report indicated 51 calls during December. All eight ordinance violations were for winter parking; all were given warnings, and there were no repeat offenders. 

The council agreed not to discount the Barrier Int’l water bill (after several months of erroneous automated meter-reading and billing) and give them 90 days to pay the corrected bill. They will take the average Oct./Nov. sewer bill and take that as an average for the months that were billed incorrectly.

They tabled a decision on whether to order “City of Watkins” letters or a sign for the front of city hall. They also tabled a decision on upgrading internet and wi-fi in city hall until they have more information on what is needed.

The council voted unanimously against National Flood Insurance for the city. The potential cost savings on eight properties affected did not balance with the regulatory restrictions and requirements that would be imposed on the city. (The issue will come up each year for discussion and decision.)

The council approved a new land use permit application, at current rates that can be changed at any time. 

The approved sale of the city bond (from 2007 construction) has been delayed because of increasing rates. The council approved setting a sale date in February or March.

At this its first meeting of the year, appointments were made that include: Acting Mayor Hesse, Street Commissioner Hesse, Water Commissioner, Gertken, Sewer Commissioner Piccerillo, Police Commissioner Unterberger, Shade Tree Commissioner Piccerillo, Weed Inspector Loch. Farmers State Bank of Watkins is the depository bank, and Tri-County News is the official newspaper.

The Watkins Fire Dept. is in need of a new pumper truck and is $350,000 short of funds to replace the current 12-year-old truck. On its third attempt, Watkins was given a FEMA grant of just over $42,000 for turnout gear. Jack’s of Watkins obtained a BP Fueling Communities grant of $3,000 for the Watkins Ambulance. Bruce Schmitz is a new member of the Fire Dept., and Adam Dockendorf is new to the Watkins Ambulance.

The city of Kimball, represented by mayor Tammy Konz, councilman Nate Osmundson, and clerk Nicole Pilarski, started dialogue regarding sharing a licensed water/sewer professional as Kimball’s has quit and Watkins’ will soon retire. Steve Geislinger was named Public Works Director in Watkins. Dialogue will continue about the possibility of sharing staff and duties with Kimball.

Watkins mayor Dennis Loch presented Tootz Tschumperlin with a plaque Jan. 10 in appreciation of her many years of service on the council. Staff photos by Jean Doran Matua.

New members of the Watkins city council are, from left, Jerry Hesse (appointed at the Jan. 10 meeting), Sue Unterberger, mayor Dennis Loch, and Melody Gertken who were elected in November. Not pictured is incumbent Scott “Jersey” Piccerillo.