The Rushford Village Council ended the year with a quick 26-minute meeting, getting some details on items for the Public Works Department. Public Works Supervisor Travis Scheck was in attendance to discuss the items. Councilor Dennis Overland was absent.
Last November, the council put the finishing touches on its modified Snow Removal Policy. In it, the council specified that it will not clear snow for property owners unless an emergency, such as emergency responder access, warrants it. At the time, the council noted it was not in the business of snow removal and that by doing so, it may both take business from local snow removal companies and open itself up to liability and/or public perception problems.
In light of the forecast storm and incoming snow season, the council reviewed the policy again at the meeting, making sure it was consistent and that all contact information was current.
Scheck and Clerk Mary Miner also presented the city with estimates regarding speed control devices after complaints of excessive speeding in south Rushford was brought forward last month. Options presented ranged from $100-600 variations on rubber speed bumps to signed items. The signed items included a solar-power, LED-lighted, blinking speed limit sign, an estimated $1,716, or a 29-inch by 23-inch, LED-lighted, flashing radar speed sign, estimated at $3,253.
The area in question has a recommended speed of 20 miles per hour. Scheck was skeptical about whether or not additional speed signs would minimize speeding. “In all honesty, I don’t think it’ll make a difference,” he said. “They’ll see it the first time and then that’s it.”
The city intends to check into cost-sharing units that may be owned by Fillmore County or the Department of Transportation before making any decisions.
Also presented was a request by Scheck for new tires for the city’s freightliner truck. The council considered replacing them in 2016, but opted to let them go for another year. This time, that’s not an option. The tires on the 2007 are original and will not make it another season.
“The sooner the better,” noted Councilor Mike Ebner.
Two estimates for tires were discussed. The first was from Goodyear, of Winona, in the amount of $2,866, not including mounting or old tire disposal. The second estimate, from local company Brown’s Tire & Battery, Inc. was roughly $400 more at $3,210. Mayor Gordon Johnson indicated that the rear tires are the same as MiEnergy trucks. “Don’t drive with your windows down,” he joked. “They’re loud and very aggressive tires.” In was also noted that the tires may not have as much potential mileage as the current tires did. “Mileage isn’t the biggest thing though. We’re looking for traction,” added Johnson.
After some discussion, it was determined that the both state fair price bids were fair, but that it would serve the city better to use a local company. The council voted unanimously to approve the purchase through Brown’s.
In other news, the city was recently made aware of a fee reduction from Gopher State One-Call. While it was noted that the service fee was never high, the city will be receiving credit to its account at a rate of $.15 per notification ticket until the credit is used up. Additionally, the fee will be reduced from $100 per call to $50.
Mayor Johnson suggested the reduction may be in effort to encourage more users to call in prior to digging. However, Clerk Miner indicated that the reduction is coming because Gopher One-Call is doing well financially. Councilor Ebner noted that the company changed contracts in 2016 and the fee reduction may also be due to the new provider.
Other maintenance items that were discussed included the purchase of 1-2 new safety chaps for the Public Works Department for use during any chainsaw use and the potential need for the rental of a chipper to use during roadside maintenance.
Mayor Johnson stressed the importance of keeping the crew out as long as the weather holds to keep caught up on clearing brush. Norby Tree Service has been hired in the past, with impressive work results, but the city is attempting to keep ahead of issues on its miles of roadways. Sentenced to Serve (STS) is expected to be utilized in 2018, but hasn’t been scheduled yet. It was also noted that for liability and safety reasons, STS workers are not using power equipment, but providing manual labor picking up brush.
The council thought both Winona Rental and Vermeer may have chippers for rent, but questioned whether or not there was a need. Scheck felt it would keep the roadsides cleaner, as currently brush is stacked in roadside ditches or brought back to the Village Hall compost site.
“Can we give Travis the latitude, if justified, to do it for a couple of days if he thinks he needs it,” asked Johnson. While, no official council action was taken on the issue, it was determined that if rented, it should be done during a scheduled STS time, so Public Works’ Scheck and Hamilton Peterson can run the equipment with a crew working alongside, minimizing wasted work hours.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Tuesday, January 16, at 7 p.m., at the Village Hall. The public is encouraged to attend. Please note, this will serve as the annual organizational meeting for the city and will be the only council meeting for the month of January.