Tricounty News

EV council considers fence fight, will fill two council vacancies

The Eden Valley city council met Wednesday, Aug. 7, for its regular meeting, but the council was two short of its usual four members. Eric Reetz had resigned in April because he was moving out of state. Cheryl Thielen resigned by e-mail in July, effective Aug. 1; she also may have moved out of town.

A special election had already been scheduled for Sept. 10 to fill Reetz’ council spot. Three candidates (Robert Bischof, Jeff Bradshaw, and Daniel Schmitt) have filed for that election. A new special election must be scheduled to fill Thielen’s spot; that will be in January 2014.

The largest portion of time at this meeting was taken up discussing two neighbors fighting over a small portion of fence and a property line. It’s come to putting up a string line, demanding lawn be mowed (but refusing access to that part of the lawn), arguing about who has the “right” and “wrong” side of the fence facing them, and turning to the city’s planning and zoning committee for resolution.

The council agreed that the location of the fence is grandfathered in because it was an existing fence, so the fence owner does not need to move it 3 feet inside the property line, as demanded by the neighbor. In fact, the neighbor could lose a few inches since the property line was determined to be further into his property than he had thought. Mayor Pete Korman compared the feud to “Grumpy Old Men,” adding that one is a former mayor and the other is a former council member, with the implication being that they should know and behave better.

At a special meeting Aug. 1, the city officially awarded the bid for Highway 22 construction work to Kuechle Underground of Kimball. Theirs was the low bid, at $3,078,483.77, of six bids received July 16; the highest bid was $4,419,108.70. The next step is a pre-construction meeting. CP Rail work will be done in coordination with Kuechle.

Jack Kuechle spoke on behalf of the Fire Relief Association to request more money for their pensions. Retired firefighters now receive $3,500 per year, and they would like an increase of $1,500 to $5,000 per year. They request a $10 per member per monthly meeting payment be put into their retirement fund. There are 25 active members eligible. This was approved, with councilman Dan Thielen abstaining.

A group representing the Church Street neighborhood presented a petition to the council to have access to the city/school ballfield re-routed so that the volume of speeding and careless traffic avoids their neighborhood. They said that those who live on the street obey the 20 m.p.h. speed limit, but athletes and fans “come whipping around the corner,” even as school buses are offloading children. The issue will be revisited before school starts. Baseball season is over, and there are only four home football games each season.

“Compared to baseball, football, yeah, kids are much more important,” said mayor Korman.

Allen Foss, new owner of the SpeakEasy bar/restaurant, was asked by police chief Junker to remove two tables and six chairs that he had put on the sidewalk as a smoking area for customers. Foss does not want smokers to huddle around the front door, and measured the distance from the center of the street. The sidewalk there may be the widest in the city, and there should be room. But there is a city ordinance against “sidewalk cafés;” it was unclear to Junker what the purpose of the tables and chairs was. One option is to relocate the tables and chairs to the parking area to the west of the building. The city will check with their attorney about what kind of indemnification would be needed, and Foss will comply with whatever the city needs.

In the midst of preparing for a special election, state election laws changed Aug. 1, and the city must now comply with the new laws. Absentee ballots must be processed by the city with at least two trained judges; city hall must be open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, for absentee voting. The cost of printing ballots and programming will be higher than anticipated, but the city only has to program one Automark voting machine.

The Chain of Lakes Fire District presented the city with new apportionment agreements. The Luxemburg Township portion will send 2 percent more to Chain of Lakes from what had gone to Eden Valley Fire Dept. (from 11 percent to 9 percent); a similar decrease was presented to the City of Watkins.

The city was notified that LGA (Local Government Aid) for 2014 went up substantially, to $276,647, an increase of $48,548 over 2013.

Because of the bad storm on the night of June 23, Valley Daze could not have their fireworks and pedal tractor pull. These have been rescheduled to Friday evening,
Aug. 30. Registration for the pedal pull is at 6:30, next to the Event Center (unless construction interferes with the location), with the pull starting at 7. Fireworks will be that evening.

There will be a workshop meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26, for the council to work on the budget.

Chief Junker reported that the computer is now in the new police vehicle, and everything works fine.

Public Works director Jim Rademacher reported that the city received a 50:50 matching grant for water tower safety from the MN Dept. of Labor & Industry. The city’s portion is $3,790 to purchase a harness cable and clasps for safely accessing the water tower.

The former SSR storage building and Eden Valley Implement site have been purchased. The new owner is asking for city water/sewer hook-ups, at his expense.

The Eden Valley water tower was being repainted as the Aug. 7 meeting started. It is on a schedule for cleaning every two years, and painting every 10 years. There are some additional repairs needed, including patching a hole that may have been caused by the lightning strike last June. All necessary repairs will be made at this time.

Eden Valley water tower gets a new coat of (silver) paint. A few re-welds and patching a hole, possibly caused by June’s lightning strike, and she’s good to go. Staff photo by Jean Doran Matua.