Tricounty News

Watkins gets first new mayor in decades

When current mayor Jim Loch decided not to run again, after about 27 years, few would have guessed that four individuals would file to replace him. Current council member Dennis Loch won last week's election as the new mayor; also running were council members Tootz Tschumperlin and Jersey Piccerillo, and former administrator Larry Hokanson.

Melody Gertken and Sue Unterberger were elected council members from among the four candidates for those two positions; also running were incumbent Jerry Hesse and Leroy Holthaus.

The council Nov. 8 unanimously passed a resolution refinancing their USDA loan for water/sewer and street infrastructure work begun in 2007, re-selling the bond of $4,700,000 and saving more than $2 million over the remaining life of the loan (40 years); the loan could be paid off nine years early.

The Watkins Pool continues to lose money each summer, $30-35,000 a year. It is agreed that it is a community asset, and that fundraisers must be scheduled to save the pool

The council tabled any decision on enrolling in FEMA-recommended flood insurance. It is estimated that 30 people and 11 structures within the city are affected, but they are unclear what benefit the program would have.

The railroad crossing in town will receive some repairs now, but is scheduled for an overhaul next year.

The snow ordinance is now in effect (since Nov. 1). Maximum penalty is $100 plus being towed away.