City billed for meth lab mitigation
By Clay Schuldt
Special to The Caledonia Argus
The methamphetamine lab bust of July 5 carries a hefty price for the City of Caledonia.
Bay West submitted an invoice for $2,488 for cleaning up the decommissioned lab and for removing chemicals from the site.
The Caledonia City Council discussed methods of paying the bill at their Aug. 13 meeting and considered putting a lean on the property. The city can also apply for a Drug Enforcement Grant or have the prosecutor add restitution to the sentence of those arrested.
However, Interim City Administrator Paul Sparks admitted that it was sometimes difficult to collect restitution funds. He suggested taking advantage of forfeiture funds from items seized. No formal decision was made on the topic.
Ramps not steps
The council entertained a request from Joe Kampschroer for more handicap accessibility in town. Kampschroer specifically addressed a stairway at the end of a sidewalk on the corner of Washington and Ramsey. The steps on the corner make it impossible for individuals in wheelchairs to use the sidewalk.
Those in wheel chairs are forced to travel in the street. The sidewalk on the other side of Washington Street poses a similar obstacle as the sidewalk at the corner of Washington and Hokah Street also ends with steps.
Kampschroer requested that these stairs be eliminated and replaced with a ramp. The council was receptive.
Councilman Robert Lemke pointed out that since ABC Woodland Industries had buildings near East Washington Street, it was a walkway frequented by wheelchair traffic. He said installing a ramp made sense.
The council thanked Kampschroer for bringing the issue to their attention and encouraged him to bring other sidewalks and locations to their attention.
City electrician Matt Blocker received three quotes for three upcoming projects. The first is for an electric project on Jim Hoscheit’s property. The second is for installing a utility unit on County Road 5. The third is a cleanup project near north Decorah Street due to issues with trees falling on power lines.
The cost on the first project is considered a pass through because Hoscheit will pay the cost.
The other two electrical projects fall to the city with the County Road 5 project costing $3,720.85. The North Decorah improvement will cost $3,274. All three projects were approved.
Two months ago Steve Bauer spoke with Blocker and requested the city temporarily shut off power to allow him to remove two large pine trees near the power line at 214 South Fifth Street. The tree would be felled while the power was shut off and would affect eight other properties for five to six hours.
Bauer said his intention is to trim the trees down below the power lines before dropping them.
Bauer said he is flexible on the timeline in consideration of his neighbors and the city. The city agreed to schedule the power shut off for Aug. 24 at 8 a.m.
And finally, Blocker informed the council that a minor incident on the highway resulted in damage to a live wire that connects pathway lights. Blocker said repairing the wire might not be necessary as the new highway lights should be enough to illuminate the walkway. However, if the council prefers to have the pathway lights repaired the cost would come from the contractors responsible for the damage.
Tom Danielson of Danielson Insurance Agency gave the report on July insurance renewals. Caledonia’s insurance coverage renewed on July 1, and the council was given a comparison of the premiums for the past several years.
Overall premiums have increased by $900 over last year. Property values in the State of Minnesota have increased by 3.1 percent, bringing the total property value in Caledonia from $16,668,495 to $17,179,066. Liability premium has decreased significantly over last year as the claims history has been favorable.
A request from the Highway 44 Contractors was made to use North Kingston Street as a haul road. Administrative Coordinating Officer Mike Gerardy explained that it would be easier for the trucks to travel in a loop than turn around on the road.
The council was reluctant to allow truck traffic on a road that was already under construction for road damage. “I would not be opposed to it while they are paving from Main Street to Kingston Street,” said Mayor Burns, adding, “If it’s just the beltline, that’s fine.”
As a compromise the council agreed to allow only empty trucks on Kingston.
• The council voted to hire Tony Klug as a part time waste water inspector at $45 hour for a six-hour week. Klug has agreed to come out of retirement to fill the position. A motion was made to notify the current Class A licensed inspector that the city is giving a 30-day notice of termination. A contract will be written up for Klug to fill this position. Klug will take over the position on Sept. 15.
• Animal control officer Mike Gavin retired mid August, and the city is currently looking for a replacement. Marcie Jenson is serving as the interim animal control officer until a permanent replacement is found. The deadline for application is Aug. 24.
• Councilwoman Randi Vick wished to thank Quillin’s grocery store for providing lunch for the MN Dot crew working on the Highway 44 construction project. Vick explained that the workers on the highway have a limited lunch break, and Quillin’s was able step in to ensure the workers had something to eat.
• Caledonia resident Ross Meyer requested a 10 foot variance from his north property line at 1018 E. Main Street in order to build a 20 by 10 foot deck on the front of his house. The council approved the request.
• The next regular city council meeting is set for Monday, Aug. 27 at 6 p.m.