Walking trail on County 5 gets the nod

By Kelley Stanage

Caledonia Argus


After much discussion, the Caledonia City Council approved a walking trail on the east side of County 5 (S. Winnebago Street) during their Feb. 10 meeting.

Mayor Robert Burns had talked with a resident who lives on the corner of Adams and Winnebago. Burns said he had shared with her the council’s consensus that the walking trail should be on the east side of the road. Council member Tom Murphy suggested a review of the comprehensive plan.

Council member Randi Vick pulled out the plan and confirmed the plan indicated placement of the walking trail on the east side of the road. Burns was careful to distinguish the term “walking trail,” saying, “The path we’re talking about is a widening of County 5. It is a walking trail, not a path, not a sidewalk.”

Burns also suggested the council should consider the original intent of the walking trails in the comprehensive plan. The paths, which include a loop around the community, as well as “criss-cross” paths through town, were designed for the benefit of the entire community.

He asked, “Was the original intent that property owners be assessed?” Or, should the cost be spread throughout the entire community? If property owners are assessed, they “will also be responsible for maintenance – that’s where the concern is.”

One resident requested a letter saying she would not be billed for a sidewalk later. The council approved a letter stating the walking trail will be placed on the east side of the street, and if a future developer wants to put in a sidewalk on the other side of the street, they will do it at their own expense.

The council also approved and accepted the amended Houston County Right of Way Plat to make improvements to County Road 5 and to replace the water line.


Collective bargaining agreement

A couple of points were clarified in the 2014 collective bargaining agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 49.

• Part-time workers are not entitled to health insurance.

• The probationary period requires six months of consecutive active work. When an employee goes on an authorized family medical leave during a six-month probationary period, the probationary period will be extended for the length of the unpaid leave.

After clarifying these issues, the council unanimously approved the agreement by roll call vote.

The agreement gives union members a $0.20 increase as of Jan. 1, 2014, and  $0.25 on July 1, 2014.


Other items approved

Several other items met the council’s approval, including:

• A state grant for ADA upgrade of the auditorium in the amount of $4,390 was accepted. This will result in push button entrances on elevators and exterior side doors.

• A search for two additional part-time employees for the liquor store was approved.

• Support was extended on Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities legislative policy positions.

• The purchase of two additional computers at a cost of $2,161 was approved.

• The council agreed to hire new fireman, Wesley Burroughs, as recommended by Chief Gavin.

The council entered into closed session for the performance evaluation of the city administrator, Ted Schoonover. After about an hour in closed session, the council reconvened in open session and adjourned.