Harmony Council approves artist’s commission for firemen memorial

By : 
Melissa Vander Plas

The Harmony City Council approved a commission agreement for the artist who will create a 74-inch bronze statue for the firemen’s memorial during its December council meeting. Appearing before the council was fireman Chris Skaalen, who has been working on developing the memorial.

The concept and fundraising for a firemen’s memorial had been reviewed and approved in May of 2017. The memorial will be located to the north of the current flagpoles at the department, in front of the meeting room at the fire hall. The memorial will include the bronze statue, surrounded by a brick patio with benches and shrubs. Bronze plaques with the names of former firemen will be included in the memorial.

Skaalen explained that while the council had given its support for the memorial and fundraising has been very successful for the project, he was seeking formal approval to have the statue created. “We need to have a commission agreement approved before the statue creation can begin,” he added.

The bronze statue of a firefighter, in Harmony Fire Department gear, will cost $40,000. The artist is asking for $10,000 down, an additional $20,000 at the time of casting and the final $10,000 upon installation.

“We do have $52,000 raised,” Skaalen said. “We have the statue covered. The local people have been very generous.”

The fire department has been working with Brodin Studios, Inc., of Kimball, Minn. Skaalen said its employees are “good people to deal with. They come with high regard.”

The entire statue will be cast to look like a Harmony firefighter, he reiterated. The department sent over 100 photos of the equipment and turnout gear; every little detail will be included on the statue.

The total project cost for the memorial is expected to be around $80,000, which includes costs for labor. “We hope to do work as firemen and hope to get some donated materials,” he added.

Some of the sidewalk and parking lot work, needed to accommodate the memorial, could also possibly be done by the city’s maintenance crew.

Skaalen stated the department hopes the statue and the memorial can be completed by the Fourth of July.

The council approved the commission agreement for the project as well as the initial down payment of $10,000.

Swing Into Spring

Umbelina Cremer attended the Council meeting on behalf of the Harmony Area Community Foundation. She explained that the foundation’s annual fundraiser, Swing Into Spring, will be held this year on April 6. She said she would like to use the community center for the event, but would like permission to have alcoholic beverages served at the event, from a local establishment.

“We are looking for another option from where we’ve had the event,” she said. “The parking lot is great, you have done a lot of improvements. We just thought this would be a good opportunity to feature the community center and what you have done.”

Because the community center is a public space, alcohol is not usually allowed, but Cremer and the foundation board members feel Swing Into Spring has been a successful event in the past and they feel, to continue that success, some alcohol should be included in the festivities.

Mayor Steve Donney said additional event insurance might be needed and a local establishment would need to have an off-site license to make it work. Once those two things are obtained, final approval would have to come from the City Council.

He also voiced some concern that allowing liquor at this event may open up requests from other event planners to serve alcohol at the community center for other parties — graduations, reunions or weddings.

While Cremer acknowledged that, she said the size of the facility is perfect for the 175 to 200 people who attend the event and the parking is easier than other venues in the community. “I think it would be a good place to try,” she added. “This is an event we work hard on so we can turn around and serve our community.”

Donney also cautioned that the city is looking at renovating the rest rooms and those improvements could be taking place at the same time.

“This is a great place if we can make it work,” Cremer responded. “We don’t stay late and party. We were out of Wheelers by 10:30 last year.”

Donney told Cremer to talk to local establishments about obtaining an off-site license and the liability insurance and asked her then to return to the city for approval.

Bathroom repairs

In regards to the aforementioned renovations, it was noted that the women’s bathroom would be upgraded with two handicapped stalls and one regular stall. It would consist of taking out a back wall and putting in floor mounted toilets. City Administrator Jerome Illg noted the city staff would be handling the removal of the floor and wall before a plumber would come in and set up the new fixtures. A new floor and wall would then be constructed.

Costs would come from plumbing, partitions and new flooring, Illg said. The hope is to do the women’s restroom for under the original estimate of $13,000.

The Council agreed to proceed with the women’s bathroom renovation project.

EDA report

During the report from the Economic Development Authority, the Council approved an engineering agreement with Dairyland Power Cooperative. The EDA is working with the company to construct a building in the north industrial park, in the phase one portion, with it extending into the phase two portion.

The company hopes to build in 2020. The city would have costs in designing the project and if Dairyland does not move forward, the company would pay the city back for the design costs and engineering.

The Council approved the agreement, based on the EDA’s recommendation. Councilman Kyle Morem abstained from the vote due to being an employee of Dairyland Power.

Park board report

The instrument park, which is being proposed for the Trailhead Park, is making great progress. Over $21,000 has been raised to fund the purchase of six large interactive musical installations.

The Park Board is requesting funds from the Don Wilken estate to help pay for the installation and concrete pad for the pieces.

Morem explained the concrete will be stamped and stained and will look very nice.

The Council approved a motion to order the equipment by the end of 2018 and to earmark funds from the Wilken estate, up to $5,000, to pay for the concrete and installation.

In another park matter, Councilmember Lynn Mensink noted the Park Board is also working on upgrading the basketball courts. The old concrete has been removed and money has been raised for everything from hoops to lighting to some of the concrete. The total cost estimate is about $14,000. “We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback about what is going on up there,” she said.

Illg also mentioned he had been contacted by Fillmore Central about restrooms at the football field. The school will be building restrooms within a fenced in area and the city and school would have some sort of maintenance agreement for those facilities. During football games, access to the restrooms would be from inside the fenced in area only, and during off-times, access would be from the park area, with access to the field being locked.

Illg said the existing city facilities would be used as storm shelters or showers for the campground.

No action was taken on the matter.