Rushford City Council discusses Highway 43 crossing, plans for Johnson memorial services

By : 
Kathleen Lynn
Tri-County Record

Mayor Chris Hallum, the full Rushford City Council, City Administrator Tony Chladek, and City Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Zacher were present to go over the City’s Agenda

The night’s agenda consisted primarily of reviewing and acknowledging various letters regarding the status of various grants. There was a guest speaker on the agenda. At the end of the meeting, there was a brief status update on the funeral and honorary memorial arrangements for WWII Veteran Joseph M. Johnson, who had died on the USS Oklahoma during the Pearl Harbor Attack on December 7, 1941. 

Fillmore County Auditor/Treasurer Candidate Heidi “Bly” Jones had requested time on the Agenda to introduce herself to the City Council during tonight’s meeting. As a former City Council Member for Ostrander, she had previously had some dealings with some of Rushford’s Council members, but had not personally met them. After listening to her brief introduction and description of her qualifications for the Fillmore Auditor/Treasurer post in the upcoming election, the council thanked her for taking the unusual step of approaching them to introduce herself. No other members of the Public were either present or came forward to speak tonight.

The council acknowledged the receipt of a donation of $1,000 from DuPont Pioneer Giving Program to be put towards the purchase of air lifting bags by the Rushford Fire Department. They also received $500 from the Rushford-Peterson Booster Club for the Rushford Public Library for the children’s summer reading program. Council Terri Benson made special acknowledgment of the Booster Club’s hard work every year, as it is “very nice and adds up.” City Clerk Kathy Zacher and helpers have been clearing out the library’s basement now that RinTek has moved out to allow space for kids to watch tv, play the Wii, and read during the summer. The library and city hall are re-doing their spaces.

Councilor Terri Benson announced that Rushford Days Committee had picked not one person, but the Dorothy O’Donnell family, as their Grand Marshall. The council agreed that this was a good choice.

The council discussed MNDOT’s possible involvement with the improvement of the pedestrian sidewalk area along Hwy 43. MNDOT is also gathering facts and data regarding the area near the Hwy 43/Pine Meadows Lane intersection. The Rushford-Peterson Schools are also involved in attempting to not only get MN State funding to assist in the costs for this intersection, but are getting quotes, and have various ideas in the works, such as adding crossing guards, to try to increase safety. Some of the things that will also have to be taken into consideration are the buried gas lines, adding more lights, and the area’s neighbors’ being affected by changes. At this point, the council has to wait and see what develops in talks between MNDOT and the schools regarding potential funding for this project. No further action or motions were needed at tonight’s meeting.

The council acknowledged the donation from Jessica Miller of $200 for the 2018 planting of an oak tree on Magelssen Bluff Park as a memorial for M. Richard Hall. The Miller family will be furnishing a plaque for the tree, not the city. The city expressed appreciation for this nice addition, and will send photos of the planted tree to the family once completed.

MNDOT Agreement for Rushford Landscape Project, “Phase 3”, was approved by the council. This will add some trees and possibly shrubs to areas by Hwy 43/16 by the Kwik Trip to improve the area. Some funds were already received in previous “Phases1-2”. Future phases will add more permanent beautification projects to downtown Rushford.

A brief status update was given on the upcoming funeral and ceremonies concerning WWII Pearl Harbor Vet, Joseph M. Johnson. Extra arrangements are being made to handle traffic control, emergency services, crowd control, and parking matters due to the special significance of this event. A meeting for final arrangements was being held at the American Legion at the same time this Council Meeting. More information will follow in upcoming days.

What is known to this point is as follows: Mr. Johnson’s body is being escorted during its journey back to Rushford on July 6th by a patriot (honor) guard procession of 100 motorcycles for his July 7 funeral and internment. The Navy will be sending an Honor Guard to take part in the memorial ceremonies. Local veterans from the American Legion will also be participating. The funeral is July 7 at 1 PM at Rushford Lutheran Church. Interment will be at the Rushford Lutheran Cemetery with full military honors, then a gathering at Creekside Park in Rushford for coffee and cookies.

Joseph M. Johnson had died upon the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was buried at the time in a mass grave with other sailors. Recently, due to advancements in technology, his remains were identified and are being returned home to Rushford. His nephew, Dr. Rislove, lives in the Rushford area.

The next Rushford City Council Regular Meeting will be July 10 at 6:30 p.m .