Lanesboro committees report to City Council

By : 
Bretta Grabau
News Leader

In a rather light meeting, on Monday, Aug. 6, the Lanesboro City Council was updated on the activities of many of the committees in the city instead of needing to make more major decisions or discuss a heavy topic around town.

The Preston Police Department added an officer to its force about a month ago, introducing the officer to the council. This summer, the police have been rather busy with an average of 110 calls in Lanesboro alone. Some searching has uncovered some meth and other unidentifiable drugs, and Buffalo Bill Days did have a few minor disturbances and other calls, but no arrests were made.

The fire department has been having a quiet year, having only made seven calls total. The department purchased a closed trailer for the UTV. Fire Chief Jared Wagner informed the council he had been contacted by the State Fire Marshall’s office and the department will need to be doing longer drills. The department’s dance went well. The biggest concern for the department is something went wrong with the budget, being significantly short of funding from 2017 to 2018 and the shortage will only continue to grow. With training being increased, the pay for the training will also increase.

The ambulance has two new EMTs undergoing training and will be ready in September. So far the department has answered 61 calls, which is about average. The EMTs had been asked about pushing out their schedules to six-week increments. Ambulance Director Deane Benson noted it is already hard for them to be able to get the schedules with the current setup, so his recommendation was to leave this as is.

In the EDA, the committee and the council will be looking to possibly downgrade the number of members to be on the board. This is the one committee where the city has not been able to get anyone to fill a vacancy.

Lanesboro Public Utilities has received the announcement from Jim Peterson of his retirement. He has been a city employee for several decades. The commission is looking into removing the diesel engine in its building. It is no longer running and, according to City Administrator Michele Peterson, will never run again. LPU did receive a bid for removing it, which was rather expensive, but the engine is taking up a large space, which could be well used in other ways. Any action for this was tabled until numbers could be confirmed.

Keith Eckstrom resigned from the library board, and Kathy Rogers volunteered to step into his term. The council approved both.

Other business

Fillmore County Captain John DeGeorge introduced himself to the Lanesboro City Council as a candidate for the position of Sheriff in the Nov. 6 election. He gave a brief background of himself and his experience and answered a few questions from the council regarding drugs, K9s and involvement in schools.

The council also heard an update from a Southeastern Minnesota Initiative Foundation representative on work being done in the community. It also agreed to donate another $250 to SMIF to use within the Lanesboro community.

Peterson received several sealed bids for the park board’s truck it has been looking to sell. It approved the bid of $1,852.

There was a public works maintenance position open and several applicants were reviewed. Peterson said there were many qualified to fill the position, but in the end, it was offered to David Haugen.

Over the past year, several businesses have been bringing some merchandise outside onto the sidewalks, which could also serve as decorations. This has been an experiment, which met with positive feedback and was determined to improve the aesthetic of the downtown area. Thus, Council Member Jason Resseman stated some edits were made to the city’s sidewalk ordinance and asked the council to approve the edits. The editing would allow it so businesses would not have to come to the council to ask for several permits to have certain items, such as sandwich boards, on the sidewalk. Instead, business owners would be able to apply for a package, which would cover all the smaller items that previously have needed individual permits. The council approved these changes.

At the next council meeting, the 2019 preliminary budget will need to be presented to the council. The council members will be conversing with separate departments to work through the budget. Councilmember Bridget Harvey will work with the library, Mayor Autumn Johnson will work with Councilmember Tom Smith on fire and ambulance departments, Resseman will work with the street department and Councilmember Marge Drake will work with the park board.