Cold weather damage repaired at Pine Island wastewater plant

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By Alice Duschanek-Myers

PINE ISLAND – At the Pine Island City Council meeting on April 15, Steve Oelkers of the Public Works Department said, “The damage caused by the cold has been put to rest at the waste-water treatment plant.” He reported that the digester cover is repaired and working, and the final digester at the plant is up and running. The department hopes to pump out sludge to haul next week.

Oelkers reported that lightning struck the lift station by the golf course and destroyed the equip-ment. New air conditioners for Evergreen Place were delivered and will soon be installed. And a new chlorinator pump was ordered for the swimming pool.

Public Works will soon be striping the streets before the Cheese Festival. They are currently working with the Cheese Festival Committee on the placement of the additional electrical outlets in the Douglas Trail Park area. There are two bids to review to shingle the Van Horn Public Library.

The city streets were swept. Potholes have been patched on County Road 5 and County Road 11. Oelkers said that some areas, like Pine Crest, need more major repairs. The brush dump is now open and that area is drying up.

During public input, Steve Murray asked the council if it was the city’s or his responsibility to pay the cost of thawing the water pipes in the street at his home on Elmwood Drive. The council agreed that it was at least partially the city’s responsibility. Mayor Rod Steele told Murray to leave the bill in his name. Murray will meet with the city when he receives a bill.

Jim Arens told the council that his water bill increased by 50% from running water to avoid frozen pipes. The city is allowing a 15% reduction of bills to account for residents running water in the cold weather. The city will evaluate the charges using his bill from the same time last year. 

American Legion dance

Cathy Murphy presented a request to relocate the American Legion Dance on June 6 to the creamery. The Legion also reques-ted a two-day liquor permit for the creamery and Center Street NE on June 6, and for just the creamery on June 8. 

Councilor Randy Bates said he was not in favor of moving the Cheese Fest down to the area of the Douglas Trail Park, creamery, and flood buyout properties. He said, “I am concerned with the traffic flow…The kids will be there. I’d rather see it (the Legion events) segregated.”

Mayor Rod Steele said there will be a semi-stage facing the door of the creamery. 

Murphy said the area will be fenced off and identifications will be checked. Wristbands will be issued. She said, “The Cheese Fest Committee approached us to do it…The Legion will staff it with one paid staff and volunteers.” 

Councilor Erik Diskerud ex-pressed concern about noise. Murphy said the dance is from 6-10 p.m. The area will be cleared by 11 p.m. The Legion has not planned for security for the events. The Goodhue County Sheriff’s Posse and deputies will be in the area for Cheese Fest. 

Bates said he has heard a lot of concerns from people who are skeptical about moving the Cheese Festival to an undeveloped area.

The council approved relocating the Legion Dance, closing Center Street NE on the June 6, and the two-day liquor permit, with Randy Bates voting nay.

Other business

City Engineer Neil Britton said that there has already been some interest in development on the East Frontage Road.

The council approved a minor subdivision combining the residual lots from the Herman E. and Evon E. Bushman property purchase that will be left over from the East Frontage Road construction. Jon Eickhoff said the minor subdivision will create a usable parcel of land.

City Attorney Bob Vose reported that there has been progress on the Land O’Lakes sewer discharge permit.

City Clerk/Fire Chief Jon Eickhoff reported that the Pine Island Fire Department will rent a pumper truck that is for sale in another city for $200 per month while the damaged pumper is repaired. Insurance will not pay for replacement apparatus. The costs will come from the department’s operating budget.

The council approved a 5% increase in fees at the cemetery that was planned in 2012 and recommended by the Cemetery Board of Directors. The increase is to cover expenses at the cemetery. Eickhoff said the rates are still below those in the surrounding area. Erik Diskerud complimented the cemetery board by saying, “These guys do a really nice job. They are doing all they can to keep the costs down.”

The Board of Equalization hearing with county assessors was scheduled for Monday, April 21.

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