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City loses $21,000; televised meetings soon

By Staff | Dec 5, 2014

The Rugby City Council met in regular session Monday evening. During discussion of safe routes to school and sidewalk repair, Ward 4 Council Member Terry Wentz said a grant application for such improvements was not sent last December.

The city spent $21,000 in design engineering, in order to seek the grant, but a communication issue prevented the application from being sent on time.

Wentz said it would cost about $20,000 more to resubmit and he doesn’t believe the city has “much of a chance for the match.”

“I think the odds are against us,” Wentz said. “We made a mistake. We lost 21,000, guys.”

Wentz said the application was done early and held to send in December 2013.

“I thought the deadline was in January,” he said. “It was just an oversight.”

The council discussed a program Devils Lake does for its sidewalk repair, in which the city and homeowners share the costs. Public Safety Committee Chairman Dave Bednarz (Ward 2) is researching the issue and the committee will have an update on the potential plan at January’s meeting.

Televised meetings discussed

Ward 3 Council Member Joel Berg said Merchants Bank agreed to broadcast the city council meetings on the public access channel it sponsors.

Berg said costs will be limited to purchasing a camera and Midcontinent Communications will run the fiber into the council chambers.

“I like the idea,” said Bruce Rheault, Ward 1 council member. “This room is not very handicap friendly. It would give more people an opportunity to see what goes on.”

Ward 4 Council Member Craig Zachmeier supported the idea, but requested exact costs. The channel is 5 on NDTC and 19 on Midcontinent.

Trains blocking main Avenue

Zachmeier expressed concern over emergency services being blocked on Main Avenue by trains. Zachmeier said a train recently blocked Main for about 48 hours.

Ward 1 Council Member Neil Lotvedt said he has been in communication with Amy MacBeth of Burlington Northern Sante Fe. Lotvedt said MacBeth assured him that issue will be resolved as soon as the second rail is placed in the area.

Splitting trains that will be immobile for extended periods of time was discussed. Lotvedt suggested the mayor get in touch with MacBeth to further address the issue.

Police vehicles approved

The purchase of two new police vehicles in 2015 was approved. Local financing will be applied.

Wentz, who voted against the motion, questioned whether purchasing two vehicles in one year was the best option, noting that staggering such purchases in the past has prevented payment of interest.

Zachmeier requested more accountability from police officers on how they treat vehicles.

Committee reports

During the Public Safety committee report, the council reviewed the snow removal policy. Wentz emphasized the section on snow gates, which reads: “Each motor grader is equipped with snow gates. The snow gate is used to limit the amount of snow discharge in driveways and around mailboxes. The snow gates are only effective for low to moderate snow accumulations. Heavy snow accumulations will go over the top of the snow gate. Wet snow will put too much pressure on the snow gate and will eventually break it. Using snow gates will narrow the street eventually throughout the snow season.”

The policy will be published in the Tribune.

The Public Works Committee interviewed five applicants for an opening. Interviews were conducted by chairman Wentz, committee members Lotvedt and Zachmeier, Mayor Arland Geiszler, Public Works Supervisor Rick Larson and Public Works employee Troy Munyer. An offer is to be made next week and if accepted, the new employee is expected to begin work by mid-month.

Geiszler and Larson met with Swanberg Construction, Inc., of Valley City, the company that will make improvements to the water plant’s filtration system. Swanberg is expected to start after Christmas and the city hopes to have the project completed by mid-March.

Lotvedt, Finance Committee chairman, said he expects the concrete at the new fire hall to fail, as it was done during poor conditions. He said there is a bond, but the surface can’t be replaced until if fails. He added that freezing has prevented the start of infrastructure construction for Gooseneck Implement on U.S. 2.

Other meeting news

The council approved the November minutes, bills and financial statements. The municipal judge’s report was approved. The Job Development Authority did not meet in November. Fire department financials for the first six months of 2014 were approved.

An application for a local charity permit was approved for Barton Sportsman’s Club for a Feb. 28 fundraiser at the American Legion Hall. Raffle money will be $350. A beer/wine license was approved for Rancho Grande, a Mexican restaurant expected to open this month. The council also approved renewal applications for alcohol licenses at 3rd Street Station, Gryphon Liquors, Coffee Cottage, Lee’s Bar, Cobblestone Inn and Suites, Dakota Farms, Crooks Lounge, I.C. Dubbles, American Legion and Pizza Hut.

Abatement applications were approved for Donald and Marjorie Olson and Bernie Howard. Tax director Kelsey Siegler joined the meeting to explain the abatement process. Homestead credit applications are for senior citizens with incomes not exceeding $40,000 and other conditions.

The council approved three 2015 fuel bids, accepting offers from Envision, Harper Oil and Highway 2 Tesoro. Envision bid a 3-cent discount from pump price on gasoline and diesel from pumps at the C-Store along U.S. 2 and the north station. Envision also bid a 12-cent discount from daily price for gasoline and diesel from bulk truck, and a 10-cent discount from daily price for propane.

Harper Oil bid a 10-cent discount from daily price for gasoline and diesel at pumps.

Highway 2 Tesoro bid a 10-cent discount from daily price for gasoline and diesel for vehicles and equipment.

Ward 3 Council Member Jim Hoffert, the Finance Committee chairman, said interviews for the city auditor vacancy are complete and a final decision and offer are to be made soon.

Neil Lotvedt asked if the acting auditors are being reimbursed for their added responsibilities. Hoffert said the auditors will be compensated and a recommendation from the committee will be made at the January council meeting.

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