Tricounty News

Watkins council prepares to repair Village Hall, community pool

In its Aug. 8 meeting, the Watkins City Council moved quickly through mostly old business and a few items of new business.

Sheriff’s report indicated 42 calls during July. (See crime blotter on page 20.)

Public Works director Steve Geislinger reported that the city had successfully traded the road grader for a Caterpillar. It should serve the city well for a long time.

Pool manager Nora Rohrbeck reported that 78 people signed up for the mayor’s free swim day; there probably were more who attended but didn’t register. The next free swim will be from noon-
7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, sponsored by Farmers State Bank of Watkins. The teen night will follow at 7 p.m. The pool will be open through Labor Day, then close for the season to have repairs done on it.

Les and Tina Loff have purchased the former MT Plates restaurant on Hwy. 55. They sought the council’s okay to put in an off-sale liquor store, Watkins Liquor Warehouse, in the portion of the building that used to be the bar. The other two-thirds of the building is up for rent; it has a fully-equipped kitchen.

Fire Chief Walter Kramer reported on a change in the Fire Apportionment Agreement; The Watkins portion of Luxemburg Township will decrease by 2 percent, similar to Eden Valley. The change is based on population and market value within each jurisdiction. There’s nothing the city can do. As mayor Dennis Loch said, “They mandate it, we live with it.” It was approved.

The council will not pursue an SCDP grant for renovating homes within the city citing excessive restrictions that would be placed on the city if they did.

Work will begin toward the end of August/beginning of September on the Village Hall. All work by various contractors is being coordinated so it all will be finished this season, and in the best order to not disturb other work. The roof will be replaced with steel, the exterior walls will be tuckpointed, new concrete will be poured making the building water-tight, and a new handicap ramp will be built and installed on the south side of the building.

The council will pursue an ag district for Walter Donnay’s land, with a minimum of 25 acres to be designated agricultural for tax purposes. There needs to be a public hearing before this can be set into action, and it won’t take effect until the 2014 tax year. The next step is to have the city’s auditor specify limits on such a district, then to hold a public hearing.

There are two abandoned houses in Watkins that have been inspected for the city; someone may buy one, and the other poses no serious problems (except mowing the grass) according to the inspector.

As soon as the Watkins Pool closes (after Sept. 2), work will begin on the south wall. No one knows yet what work will need to be done to reinforce the wall and stop the 800 gallons/day leak. It is hoped that all work will be finished and cured in time to fill it for the winter freeze.

The city will have a water meter installed at Watkins Elementary school; the school district declined to share in that expense.

Ambulance chief Ben Aho discussed security of the Fire Hall with the council, and the security of the Village Hall which is open during storm emergencies for residents without basements or adequate storm shelter. He will bring this up at the next Ambulance meeting. They also discussed again obtaining a gas card for the Ambulance for times when they have several calls in a day and return after hours.

The city has been requested to remove (or pay for removal of) two dead trees on a resident’s property. It was determined that the trees are on the owner’s property, not the city’s, and therefore it is the property owner’s responsibility.

The skating rink will be painted a light color so ice can freeze more quickly in winter. The Lions will pay half the paint cost (at cost), and the city will pay the other half; the total cost is $850 with the Lions doing all the preparation and painting work.

The city will pay $25/year to be part of the Resource Training & Solutions cooperative that will allow the city to purchase park equipment for the new Veterans Park for much less than retail.

The League of Minnesota Cities regional meeting is Aug. 24.

Bud’s Bar got the okay to block off the street Sept. 7 for a benefit.

Everything is proceeding for Mies Outland to expand their showroom (for Indian Motorcycles) and to obtain tax abatement. The county and city are in agreement, and a public meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday,
Sept. 12, about this.

Glenshire Estates would like one or two “children at play” signs installed. The city may have some extras they can install.

The council approved a 3 percent per year raise for city employees for a two-year contract period. Virl Liebrenz can earn $.50/hour more when he obtains his water license. Nora Rohrbeck will receive a $.75/hour raise for next year. A budget and pool meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27.