Rushford Council hears citizen concerns, acknowledges success of Root River Jams

By : 
SCOTT BESTUL
TRI-COUNTY RECORD

While the “appearance of interested citizens” portion of the Rushford City Council meeting is often a no-show affair, that wasn’t the case at the Monday, Sept 10 meeting. Five residents of the Rushford Manor Apartments (301 River St.) showed up to address the city council. “We’re here be- cause we heard you were thinking of shutting down [our] building,” said Dave Merchlewitz, renter at the building. “We’ve called the police numerous times to report suspicious behavior.”

Mayor Chris Hallum and the council were clearly unaware of these concerns, and Hallum informed Merchlewitz that the city had no plans to take any actions and the Rushford Manor was not an agenda item. “But you are residents here and you have the right to address the council with your concerns,” Hallum said.

Other tenants at Rushford Manor, which is owned by Life- styles Inc., of Owatonna, voiced concerns about possible drug use, vandalism, and guests of tenants

over-staying the two-week limit that is part of the lease agreement. “Is there a manager on site that can handle these problems?” asked Councilor Benson. “No,” said tenant Tracy Lingbeck. “There’s supposed to be a security code that only [renters] can access, but other people obviously have it.” After voicing their concerns and realizing that no action would be taken at this meeting, the Manor residents left. Discussing the issue at the close of the meeting, coun- cilors agreed that they’d like to hear from Rushford Police Chief

Adam Eide about his experience with the building.

Library Funding

In the General Business portion of the meeting, the council ad- opted Resolution 2018-054, which supports increased spending by the county to support municipal libraries. Several recent meetings have addressed this ongoing concern, and City Administrator Chladek attended a meeting Sept. 11 to further discuss the issue. The resolution noted the disparity between municipal and county spending on local libraries and called for the county to reach a level of 40 percent by 2024.

Councilor Ryman, who made the motion to adopt the resolu- tion, noted, “It gives them six years to catch up,” she said.

City Lot Sales

Rod Darr of Darr Auctions and Realty, updated the council on sales of real estate owned by the city. The city has nine lots avail- able for sale and has contracted with Darr to advertise, show and sell the properties. Darr said that he had closed on and has a third sale pending. “I thank the council for the opportunity over the last year, and am here to ask for an extension,” he said. Chladek told the council, “Prior to bringing Rod in to help us, we were relying on drive-through traffic, which is not the most effective way to sell [real estate],” he said. “He’s brought in a marketing component that we didn’t have before.”

Darr updated the council on the townhouse project, located on the two lots recently north end of town. Darr noted that the project was nearing completion. “People are hesitant until they are completed and can actually see and walk through them,” Darr said. “At this point it’s difficult to get good photos, or even a video. When we have one completed, we’ll host an open house, which should help generate interest.” Councilor Benson voiced her support for Darr’s efforts, saying, “It relieves us of some responsibility, and creates some business for you. I’d want you to keep going with it.” The council voted to extend their agreement with Darr for another year. Donations

The council adopted resolutions to accept several recent monetary donations. Among these donations was:

• $2,600.00 from Mound Prairie Mutual Insurance Co. from the Milo Runningen Memorial Golf Tournament on behalf of the Rushford Fire Department toward the purchase of equipment.

• $3,250.00 in donations for the Root River Jams event from the following organizations: American Legion Post 94 ($250), Rushford Lions ($500), R-P Booster Club ($250), Valley Crest Riders Snow mobile Club ($250) and SMIF/ Rushford Community Foundation ($2,000).

• $1,000 in donations for the Root River Jams event from the following businesses: IL Luigi Restaurant ($200), Jessie Street Java ($200), Nordic Lanes ($200), Shawnee’s Bar & Grill ($200) and Stumpy’s Restaurant ($200).

The council briefly discussed the just-completed Root River Jams music event. “The success of the event speaks to the craving our community has for this type of entertainment,” said Benson. “There were many unfamiliar faces at the concert,” said Ryman, “which proves it was a valuable outreach and marketing tool for our community. People who came to Rushford for the music will hopefully come back for other reasons now.”

Underground electric service for R-P athletic fields

The R-P school district has inquired about the installation of underground electric service that would light practice and soccer fields, as well as a press box. The city’s Electrical Commission consulted with its engineering firm about the project and is recommending a $1,500.00 allowance/ contribution by the city, with the remainder of installation costs to be covered by the school district. This project is still in consideration and required no immediate action by the council.

Proposed 2019 Tax Levy

City Clerk Kathy Zacher presented a draft of the 2019 pro- posed tax levy for the council’s review. Zacher highlighted a few areas of the draft, which, though it included an increase in financial support for the library, did not result in significant tax increases for the upcoming year. “I’m OK with not raising the levy, as long as it doesn’t affect future planning,” Benson said. “I don’t want to see us go backward.”

Zacher spent some time going over portions of the draft with the council, and members thanked her for her hard work on the document. Zacher will have a finalized document for the council to adopt before October 1. At this time, the council will set date(s) for a Truth in Taxation Public Meeting in December.

Schedule

The next meeting of the Rushford City Council is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 24, at 6:30 p.m.