Council discusses Preston veterans home as it clears one hurdle, awaits nod from Gov. Dayton

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City Administrator Joe Hoffman updated the council on the progress of the veterans home during the Preston City Council meeting on Monday, May 21, meeting.

“Funding for the three veterans homes was included in the final capital investment bill passed by the House and Senate late last night,” Hoffman said. “The governor now has 14 days to sign the bill.”

The bill has $10.2 million dedicated for a new veterans home in Preston.

“Obviously, that is fantastic news getting through the process the way that we have,” Hoffman expressed.

If the bill is signed, the next step would involve the project entering the federal queue. While this would be a critical point for the project, it could be several years before it reaches the top of the queue and receives funding.

“Even if the funding is in place it can be quite a lengthy process for design, build and staffing it out,” Hoffman said. “It is great news and certainly a lot of credit goes out to Rep. Greg Davids and Sen. Jeremy Miller.”

Park board update

The council learned of some recent changes made by the park board for the summer.

“It became pretty clear staffing the pool this year would be a real challenge,” Hoffman said. “We were three or four guards behind where we normally were a couple of weeks ago. I think everyone who has employees understands it is becoming a real challenge to find workers, especially at the lower wage positions. We've been one or two dollars behind the other pools in the area, but we've been able to make it work. It became clear this was going to be the year it wasn't going to work.”

With this in mind, park board members decided to switch to the city pay scale pay grade 1, which has a starting pay at $9.55. It is estimated this will add approximately $4,000 to the budget this year.

“We would have hardly been open,” Councilmember Charles Sparks said of the staffing shortage. “It looks like now we'll have enough to cover all of our lessons and everything else.”

Since implementing the change, three additional hires have been made for the pool staff.

Hoffman stated the board is also looking at adding a basketball court across the north section of the tennis courts.

The board hopes the change would bring more action to the courts.

The cost of the modification is estimated at $6,000. The Preston Community Foundation has pledged $3,000 in grants to help fund the project.

According to Sparks, the tennis court will have first priority at play.

Lot change request

The council received a request from Bob Doherty to split off a .89-acre lot on his property.

The lot is zoned R-2 and the lot would continue to follow the guidelines for the zoning.

“Normally, in situations like this, when lots are developed, the council would want to see platting procedure take place where development is looked at from maybe a higher elevation, so to speak, and future development such as utilities, access and all of those issues. The Council determined that wasn't necessary in this case because the road or driveway existed and utilities, also, already exist on the site,” Hoffman explained.

The Council approved the request.

Other business

• It was another successful Preston Trout Days in the eyes of council members with positive comments shared, ranging from the impressive fireworks to the activities for children.

• After considering the recommendation of the Preston Tourism Committee, the Council approved a letter of support for the addition of a loop to include Fountain and Wykoff in the Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway.

• The Council approved the hiring of Ilene Edwards for the Tourism Center for the summer season.

• The next meeting will be held on Monday, June 4, at 6 p.m.