Old elementary school gets four-year permit
By Clay Schuldt
The Caledonia City Council held a public hearing Feb. 25 to discuss an Interim Use Permit (IUP) on the old elementary school building. The building is currently used for cold storage by Mike Rogich.
The IUP has historically been reviewed and renewed each year, but Rogich requested a five-year permit this time around.
Council member Dewayne Schroeder agreed the IUP should be longer than a year, saying that it would be difficult for Rogich to make improvements on the property if he doesn’t know from one year to the next what will happen.
Mayor Robert Burns was in favor of a three-year permit and said he was reluctant to set a five-year precedent for this type of permit. In addition, he expressed concerns about possible asbestos inside the building. Rogich said state inspectors had no issue with the asbestos, but if it did become a problem he was educated in asbestos abatement.
Burns agreed to split the difference and made a motion to set IUP term at four years, which the council approved.
During its last meeting the council discussed alternatives to capture uncollected revenue from Caledonia Township, which is refusing to pay its ambulance subsidy. If Caledonia is unable to collect the annual fee, the council is considering adding an extra $75 to each ambulance call in Caledonia Township until the missing revenue is collected.
At that meeting the council also said it would be willing to reimburse townships if extra revenue was left over. The $4 per capita charge goes to paying ambulance overhead and equipment needs. Any funds leftover are sent back to the townships.
At the latest city council meeting, Burns said if the surplus is big enough, he and the council are in favor of giving a complete reimbursement of $4 per capita back to the townships, but would not reimburse townships over the $4 charge.
2013 electrical project
City Electrician Matt Blocker recommended the council accept bids for the 2013 electrical projects from Karian Peterson, Bell Lumber & Pole Company and Resco. The total bid for the project – with material and design – comes to $691,936, which was significantly lower than the council’s original estimate. The council approved the recommendation.
Funding to promote wild turkey
Burns suggested to the council that Caledonia attempt to receive funding to promote the city’s status as the Wild Turkey Capital of Minnesota.
“Wabasha got a bunch of money for that Eagle Center. Preston is getting money for the National Trout Center. Houston received money for their Owl Nature Center. If we’re the Wild Turkey Capital of Minnesota, why can’t we get something?” Burns asked. “If we’re looking for tourism and economic draws, I’d be curious to see what kind of money is available.”
City Administrator Ted Schoonover agreed to look into potential funding sources.
• The council approved hiring Joyce Knutson as an additional first responder/EMT.
• The council agreed to partner with Houston County on the 2013 fluorescent/HID bulb recycling exchange.
• The council agreed to let Ryan Skilling from the water department attend annual water/waste water training in St. Cloud.
• On a recommendation made by Schroeder, the council gave an official thanks to the employees responsible for snow removal. Several councilmembers said they are impressed with the speed and efficiency of the plow crews during the latest snowfalls.