Ostrander Council discusses feedlot rules, police coverage

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Ostrander City Councilors Stephanie Start, Dan Hellerud and DJ Start listen to information about the city's civil defense siren.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Rick Whitney of PeopleService gives a report to the Ostrander City Council about the city's well and wastewater treatment plant.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Ostrander’s City Council convened last Tuesday evening, April 2, with a full agenda that included discussion on a feedlot ordinance and a change in police coverage for the city.

The city has been reviewing a proposed ordinance to limit feedlot activity within city limits, especially with regards to the Dan Miller farm, which Miller contended at the March meeting is not in the city’s boundaries. 

Residents have expressed opposing viewpoints on the matter, with some complaining of the smell of manure drifting into town on hot summer afternoons and one expressing that if the ordinance were to constrain the number of animal units to 99 from the 168 he is permitted, it would not make any difference, unless it is decreasing the number allowable from 500 down to 99.  Furthermore, it was maintained that if the ordinance were specifically meant to limit the Miller farm’s animal count, certain residents would not support the ordinance. 

No action on zoning was taken, but the city is in the process of reading and rereading its ordinance proposal. 

Police coverage

In police and emergency management news, city clerk Wendy Brincks cited that the city is in the process of ironing out its contract for a Fillmore County deputy to be shared with Spring Valley, as police service in town changed a little over a year ago with the retirement of Ostrander’s police chief, Tom Mosher. 

The squad car remains an issue because the city isn’t certain how to proceed with stripping it down for auction or sealed bids, and whether the emergency equipment belongs to the city or the county.  The clerk will present disassembly and sale options at the May meeting. 

Also, the Fire Department and city are still examining options for a new fire truck. 

Additionally, the city’s civil defense siren needs to be fixed, as Brincks stated that it has to be sounded manually because the system is broken.  “Most people in town who know anything about it can’t do anything with it,” she said. “Also, we’ll be having tornado drills on April 11 at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.  If the weather is bad, we won’t have a drill.” 

Wastewater, water issues

Rick Whitney of PeopleService, which operates Ostrander’s city well and wastewater treatment plant, stood to give his report, and he stated that repairs to the wells and pumps have been necessary, as have considerations for water safety standards. 

“We’ve been sampling the wells, and one came back from well number three that had xylene and benzene in it.  It was a very low amount, but Wendy (Brincks) told me that the water tastes like paint thinner.  There have been men working in there, using caulk and solvent, so we’re going to clear out the city building and make sure that it’s not in the well,” he told the council.

Mayor Pam Kunert inquired, “What if it is?” 

Whitney replied, “We will see if it was introduced by a contractor.  We don’t want you caught flat-footed.” 

Maintenance issues

City maintenance news from Jeff Tart involved the city’s sander being close to the end of its usefulness.  He related that he had put it away, but that it is “on its last leg. It won’t run a full load, and there are three to four bearings that need to be replaced.  It’ll be about $4,500 to get it up to top running condition.” 

He also asked the council whether he should begin work on the city’s concession stand, doing various repairs, but even more importantly, replacing plumbing in the park’s restrooms, as the option is available to repair the toilets instead of renting portable toilets for the summer or Uffda Days. 

Brincks pointed out that no matter whether the council chooses to repair the permanent toilets, there will need to be a handicapped-accessible portable toilet brought in. 

Motions were made and passed to repair the concession stand.  Conversation turned toward needing to fill potholes on Ostrander’s streets, and the council voted to allow Tart to purchase more mix. 

Other business

New business encompassed granting payment of a pay estimate to Wapasha Construction for $72,106.66, and $81,700 and $47,655 respectively to Bolton and Menk for infrastructure improvements. 

Brincks related that she had no construction updates to share, but that the city office would be torn up to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).     

The council also adopted the 2019 Minnesota Basic Code, or governing ordinances and attempted to nail down when this year’s Uffda Days celebration will be held because of street construction that has disrupted summertime traffic on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 1, which runs concurrent with Ostrander’s main street. 

Calendar items included League of Minnesota Cities training taking place this past Monday, April 8, a work session to discuss the potential purchase of a skid loader on April 16, a zoning work session this Thursday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m., and the citywide cleanup, which will be held on Saturday, May 4.