Caledonia will use county deputies for early morning police protection

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

In an effort to save approximately $3,500 a year, the Caledonia City Council agreed to request Houston County Sheriff’s Department coverage during early morning hours.

At the March 12 meeting, the council discussed being able to realize a sizable savings by utilizing Sheriff’s Department personnel during the three hours of “off time” in the Caledonia Police Department’s work schedule.

Currently, officers are on call and paid $4.25 per hour during the off time. When an emergency arises, persons call 911 and get the Houston County Dispatch. Dispatch then contacts the officer on call and that city police officer is called to duty.

With the new system, city officers won’t be on call during the three-hour period and won’t be contacted by county dispatch. Instead, a county officer will be called in.

If there is a major emergency, Caledonia Police Chief Kurt Zehnder will be called into duty. If Zehnder is out of town, Sgt. Jim Stemper will be contacted.

There will be no additional costs to the city, it was pointed out at the meeting, as other cities in Houston County already utilize this working arrangement.

In other council action:

Variance requests approved

The council approved two variance requests.

The first was for a setback variance for Alan Meyer to construct a 22 by 52 foot addition on the east side of his existing greenhouse. The addition will be stick-built with poly glass roof and sides. The estimated cost of the addition was $20,000.

City Zoning Coordinator Mike Gerardy told the council there are no utility easement issues and he contacted Mn/DOT and they didn’t have any problems with the proposed plans. Gerardy recommended the request be approved.

A motion by Mayor Bob Burns and seconded by Councilman Bob Lemke to approve the request was unanimously approved.

The second request was made by Caledonia Lumber to construct an 8 by 8 foot internally illuminated sign. To bring the sign into compliance with city ordinance, a 104 foot setback from the east property line was needed.

Gerardy stated that he contacted Mn/DOT and they had no issues. There were no issues with utility easements.

A motion made by Councilman Paul Fisch and seconded by Councilwoman Randi Vick to approve the request was unanimously approved.

American Legion donations

The council accepted two donations from the local American Legion Post.

The first was a $250 donation to the city’s summer music series, Music in the Park.

The second was to the Caledonia Police Reserves to help purchase a portable sign that can be used to promote events happening within the city. City staff and Reserve members are looking at various options and hope to find a used sign that can be utilized to promote various activities and events.

County environmental services

Houston County Environmental Services Director Rick Frank reviewed the revenue and expenditures for the county’s landfill/recycling center located on the west edge of town.

During the past year landfill and incinerator costs incurred by the county have remained the same. The only increase as been transportation costs to deliver the waste from the Caledonia site to La Crosse County.

Frank also discussed the 2012 fluorescent bulb collection, which will be held in Caledonia on Saturday, April 14 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The collection day will be held at all four county drop-off sites in Caledonia, Hokah, La Crescent and Spring Grove. There is a limit of 10 bulbs per household.

City precincts

With the redrawing of the lines of many state House and Senate districts, all cities and counties in the state are required to either reestablish their current precinct lines or redraw them.

The council agree to keep the two precinct districts the same. Precinct One is everything north of Main Street and Precenct Two is everything south of Main Street.

You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]