City Council Highlights: Squier appointed to vacant council seat

 

Jason Squier will serve on the council until this November, but said he plans to seek election to the seat thereafter. EJ Photo/Alex Schmidt

The Council opened the meeting by unanimously approving the appointment Jason Squier to fill the vacant seat on the Council caused by the resignation of Michael Esdohr last month.

This is the second time Squier has accepted an appointment to the Council; he was previosuly appointed to serve the remainder of a term in January 2012, when Dave Tollefson succeeded as Mayor upon the death of Marvin Kofoot.

Squier was elected in his own right and served on the Council until January 1, 2016, saying that he stepped down before committing to another full term in order to spend time with his family. Squier is a Business Ed/Social Studies teacher and coach at St. Ansgar High School, and his wife Rachel is a physical therapist at Athletico PT in St. Ansgar; and they share three young children: Gavin, Raine and Natalie.

The appointment was confirmed unanimously and Squier was sworn in by City Clerk Tami Woods. The appointment will last until the term expires in November, when his seat, along with that currently held by Paul Groth (who also serves as Mayor Pro-Tem), will be up for re-election. Squier told the EJ that he, as of now, plans to run for the full term. “I enjoyed my time on the Council before..”said Squier, “I love St. Ansgar, and I didn’t have an agenda when I was on before, (I) just wanted to do whatever I could to help out.”

Council members Michael Juhl, Paul Groth and Mayor Norm Johnson. EJ Photo/Alex Schmidt

 

Lagoon, water updates

Water/Wastewater Operator Lonnie Hillman submitted a request to the Council to put out bids for sewer-liner cleaning, saying an area of twelve city blocks are in need of maintaining, which can be done at a cost estimated around $1000/block, according to Hillman. Hillman also updated on the Council on progress in updating the city’s municipal maps, giving a timeline of “hopefully early June or July” for the GIS and GPS software to be up and running for the City, allowing city workers access to all possible information in the city’s map database, greatly improving efficiency from the outdated paper maps currently used. Updated maps of zoning and property lines, water and power mains/utilities like manholes and hydrants will be accessible to city employees via phone or tablet and updated in real time through the cloud. The Council approved $6,665 towards the final costs of licensing and updating software, and for the tablet. Hillman reported that he was still working and cooperating with the Iowa DNR and the EPA in taking corrective actions to bring the town’s wastewater lagoon back into compliance after being cited last month for high levels of E Coli bacteria. 

Deputy Clerk hired 

The Council approved (with Squier and Krahenbuhl abstaining) the hiring committee’s recommendation to offer Robin (Mayer) Knowlton to the position of St. Ansgar Deputy City Clerk. The Mayor thanked those on the committee for conducting interviews, and for the “tough job of narrowing it down to one” and thanked all the applicants, noting that there were twenty-eight who applied for the position. Knowlton will begin training at City Hall and will fill the void contingent upon the retirement of Donna Rachut in late May of this year. 

Housing plans take shape 

With a motion from Walk, the Council approved to engage the engineering firm Jones, Haugen & Smith to begin civil engineering for the upcoming housing project in the planning stages between the Council and the St. Ansgar Economic Development Committee (EDC). Groth, Juhl, Walk and Krahenbuhl all voted in favor of the resolution, with Squier abstaining. The Council agreed earlier this year to partner with the EDC in the project; the planned subdivision would include up to 15 homes, slated on land developed in the north-east corner of St. Ansgar, east of the Good Samaritan Society. Walk, Juhl and Groth are the Council’s representatives on the task force, working with the EDC. In a separate but related action, the Council moved to declare the City’s eligibility for Iowa Workforce Housing Tax Credit programs from the Iowa EDC. The St. Ansgar EDC will hold their annual meeting (held along with the St. Ansgar Community Chamber) Monday, April 16 at 6:00 PM at the First Lutheran Parish Center in St. Ansgar. 

Clean Up Week

The Council designated April 30-May 4th as Spring Clean-Up week. Jendro Sanitation will provide top-loading dumpsters for the public to dump sorted trash. The Council set the locations for the dumpsters: one each at Clausen City Park, Angel Park, the city’s shed, and at South Square. 

Weight limit request 

The Council tabled a request for a one-time exemption of the vehicle weight limit ordinance from Van Dyke Bros Hauling of LuVerne, MN. Mitchell County Engineer Rich Brumm informed the Council of the details regarding the request for parts of Red Ball Rd and Eighth Street to be used on the route transporting construction materials for the Turtle Creek wind farm project by way of extra-heavy grade trailers up to 18 axles that would be carrying loads up to half a million pounds. The application did not give an exact date for when Van Dyke planned to transport the materials through St. Ansgar, citing the starting dates being at the mercy of the climate. Councilman Groth and others expressed their opinion to safeguard the City from liability by bonding the agreement beforehand and the item was tabled until City Attorney Pat Rourick could provide counsel. 

In other business…

South Square’s request for a variance allowing diagonal parking on their north and east side of the street was denied, members heard discussion and approved the purchase a new riding lawnmower for the City from Libertsky & Sons, and the Council expressed thanks to municipal supervisors Gooder and Hillman for their leadership of the street department this winter, and commended all the hard work put in by the crew of both full-time and part-time city workers who assisted with removing the snow from city streets.

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