Tricounty News

Watkins approves new playground

At its Oct. 10 meeting, the Watkins city council approved the purchase and installation of playground equipment for a portion of the new V.F.W. Park in Glenshire Estates on the west side of town. The playground area is 33 x 89 feet, and the equipment, installation, and finishing will cost $19,636; the vendor is Midwest Playscapes in Chaska. The Parks committee has the funds to pay this, and the purchase will be made after Jan. 1, through the City. 

Sheriff’s report

Deputy Josh Case reported that there were 47 calls in September including 11 traffic stops. There has been one more theft by check (after a number of them last month in the area). There was a suicide in town Tuesday afternoon, and he wanted to clarify that there was no danger to anyone else (after rumors were flying over text messages and the like). Because Meeker County is identified as one of the 13 deadliest counties in the state, the Sheriff’s Office will participate in Safe & Sober patrols for seatbelt use over the next month.

CentraSota CUP

A Conditional Use Permit was approved by the zoning board and was scheduled for approval at the Oct. 10 meeting. One council member was missing, however, so no action could be taken (full council vote was required). This issue was recessed for a short meeting Tuesday evening, Oct. 15, for full board approval.

CentraSota plans to add two million-gallon tanks on its property in Watkins. The new tanks will be the safer tank-within-a-tank design.

Ambulance report

The new oxygen tanks are installed and working well. There are only two paid employees for Watkins Ambulance: a clerk/treasurer, and the state data entry person; all others are volunteers. 

Pool report

Needed repairs have been made to the south wall of the pool, and it is believed that the costly leak has been stopped. The pool is now filled to the proper level of water for the winter.

With the addition of $12,761 in donations this year (over $500 last year), and with increased usage, the pool took in $37,817 in 2013. There was a lot of overtime this year which ate into revenues (and the council will look into preventing that for next year). Net loss to the city this year was $36,131, slightly less than last year’s $36,839 loss. All in all, it was felt to be a very good year for the city swimming pool this year.

There was $216 in concessions (candy, bottled water, and pop) leftover from this season. They were split between the Watkins Ambulance and the Watkins Lions.

Meeting time change (not)

The council usually changes its meeting time to 6 p.m. during the fall and winter months, and was scheduled to begin with November’s meeting. Instead, the council unanimously decided to keep the meeting time at 7 p.m. throughout the year.

Other business

In other business, the council approved appointment of Fire Chief Walter Kramer and Assistant Chief Bruce Walz. There are four delinquent water bills; they were approved to be certified to the property owners’ 2014 property taxes, the same for lawn care charges not paid.

Mark Wirz was added to the Board of Adjustments, and Mike Grunewald to the Planning Commission.

Finalization of the 2014 proposed budget and levy was tabled as they only recently received important data from the county. Cuts still need to be made, but not as drastically as they thought. This will be discussed at the next regular meeting which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14. Meetings are open to the public, and the council in October changed “open forum” to the beginning of the meeting; no action can be taken, but the council will hear any issues from the public at that time.