Caledonia bids farewell to temporary administrator

By Clay Schuldt
Caledonia Argus

The Sept. 24 Caledonia City Council meeting marked the last meeting for Interim City Administrator Paul Sparks, who has filled the position since the departure of Jennifer Feely July 13.

The council thanked Sparks for his service to Caledonia over the last few months, saying he had been a great help to the community.

“You have some very good employees and they have been very helpful to me,” Sparks said. “I cannot tell you how much of a pleasure it has been to work with them.”

Ted Schoonover will take over as the permanent administrator Oct. 1.

With that, it was business as usual for the council.


Water main extension

At the last Caledonia City Council meeting on Sept. 10 Bob Klug, Allen Meyer and James Jennings attended and discussed a waterline issue that has affected their properties. The waterline has been leaking for some time due to age, and the property owners want the waterline replaced or moved.

Adding to the problem is the fact that the leaking waterline is a private line located in a private easement. It was installed over 40 years ago under verbal agreements made by the previous owners.

City Zoning Administrator Mike Gerardy conferred with Davy Engineering about alternatives and ways to convert the line. The cost for running a replacement line in the right-of-way would be around $110,000. The cost would be eligible for assessment, but would be expensive for the few owners that need the line.

A cheaper alternative was suggested in which a waterline would be installed through Chuck Gavin’s property and allow the other property owners to connect.

Caledonia Mayor Robert Burns admitted it is a temporary fix, but pointed out the last temporary fix lasted 40 years.

No decision was reached, and Meyer said he intended to have a well installed on his property rather than face assessment of a new waterline. Jennings wanted to wait until the next council meeting to consider alternatives.


Animal control

Marcie Jenson spoke with the council about the recent hire of Nick Raske as the animal control officer. Jenson wanted clarification as to why she was not selected. Prior to Rask’s hire, Jenson had been serving as Caledonia’s interim animal control officer. Jenson specifically wanted to know what qualification she was lacking.

Mayor Burns said her qualifications were excellent, as were Rask’s. The final decision came down to cost and availability, Burns said. Because  Jenson is the animal control officer for both Spring Grove and Hokah, the council hoped that Rask would have more availability – and his monthly costs were lower.

Jenson commented that during her interview she had stated her prices were negotiable and wanted to know why no negotiation had taken place. In addition, she said she has no full-time job so her availability would not be an issue.

And finally, she emphasized that she already had licensed kennels, insurance and the experience to perform the duties of an animal control officer.

The council assured Jenson that should the position become open in the future, she was free to apply.


2012 electrical update

Head Electrician Matt Blocker updated the council on the 2012 electrical project. Blocker said the only real issue is Mediacom, who refuses to move lines off city utility poles.

The city has a contract with Mediacom that allows them to use the utility poles to hang wires. Blocker explained there has been an effort to push Mediacom to take action. Our contractor offered to pull back an empty pipe for 75 cents a foot,” Blocker explained, “Mediacom denied it.”

“It’s an industry wide problem,” Sparks said. “[Cable Companies] ignore cities all over the place.”  Sparks suggested looking into the terms of the original contract. “They do need to cooperate with us when they are hanging our lines.”

Mayor Burns suggested figuring out the cost of the hold up and charging Mediacom for the extra expense of waiting.  Blocker and Sparks continue to look into options to resolve the issue.

On separate issue, Blocker informed the council of a plan to change a utility pole while it remains energized. Blocker said that it would be a quicker task since it could be done in daylight hours. Shutting off the power would need to be done at night and require four hours to complete.

Burns expressed concern over the safety of the workers, but Blocker said he would not be suggesting the plan if it were physically unsafe. According to Blocker, the only danger is the risk of a power failure during business hours.  The power outage would affect Merchant’s Bank, the Courthouse, Danielson Insurance and other businesses and residents in that area of town.

The council agreed with the plan.



Two change orders from Dakota Supply Group for the water meter project were approved by the council totaling a little over $9,000. The expense covers equipment and parts.



• The council authorized the purchase of an 11-foot mow board plow for the snow plow at a cost of $3,050.

• Two construction projects were approved for Mathy Construction Company. The first is for the milling and removal of the butt joints on Old Highway Drive. An asphalt overlay will be added to the road. The total cost will be $15,259.

The second project paves the apron around a salt shed near the town shop at a cost of $6,514. The item passed three to two with Tom Murphy and Burns against.

• Council member Murphy announced that at this point he is the only member of the council to file for the election in November, meaning two positions on the council are open.

• The next Caledonia City Council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.