Rushford Village Council discusses recent high water issues, spring cleanup

By : 
Scott Bestul
Tri-County Record

Like many area towns, the City of Rushford Village has dealt with a recent combination of thawing snow and falling rain. That double-punch struck particularly hard the weekend of March 14-15, when crews of volunteers worked tirelessly to stem potential flooding and keep roadways clear. Those efforts were praised by council members during their March 19 meeting of the City of Rushford Village City Council.

High water issues

During the Roads/Water/Sewer portion of the meeting, Mayor Gordon Johnson praised the efforts of the many volunteers who helped with recent high water levels in the village. Record snowfall in February had left ditches filled with snow, which began to melt as temps warmed. That snowmelt combined with steady rains that quickly ran over roads and pooled in low areas, thanks in part to the many culverts that were plugged with ice, debris and snow. “I just wanted to say thanks to the many people who helped pump water from the ditches,” said Mayor Johnson. “Things multiplied quickly and it took a lot of people to deal with the problems. It brought the word ‘teamwork’ to a completely different level.”

Johnson and council members thanked Johnson’s Rolling Acres for loaning a high-capacity manure pump that was used to pump water from ditches to fields across the roads. They also acknowledged the efforts and equipment use of members of the Rushford Volunteer Fire Department, area resident Steve Oian, and Generation X Construction, as well as many volunteers who helped with not only physical labor, but supplying workers with food and drink.

Public Works Supervisor Scheck noted that there was still cleanup to do in the aftermath of the rough weekend, and that there will be ongoing issues. “I don’t think there was a road around here that was unaffected,” he said. “And we’ll probably be facing more issues as frost comes out of the ground.”

Scheck also used the current event as motivation for better planning in the future. “At the minimum, it would be a good idea to mark the ends of every culvert each fall, before the snow comes,” he said, noting that simply finding culvert ends was often a larger challenge than actually unplugging them so that water could flow and drain. Mayor Johnson agreed and suggested, “Maybe the next time we have Derek [Olinger] down here, he could identify some potential problem areas and suggest ways to handle it in the future. “

Equipment matters

Discussions of flooding were a good segue into equipment issues for the council. Mayor Johnson noted that he’d been shopping for a high-volume pump for the village. “There’s a variety of pumps for sale out there,” Johnson said. “Prices range from $500 to $1,500. I’d like to consider one that’s PTO (power take off) driven, since we already have the tractor, and we could transport the pump to wherever we need it easily.” The council took no official action, and Johnson said he would keep researching the matter.

In another equipment discussion, Councilor Dennis Overland and Brenda Johnson, Director of the SouthEastern Minnesota League of Municipalities (SEMLM), had discussed the compilation of a database of equipment owned by SEMLM member cities that could be shared. Mayor Johnson noted, “Plainview has a 6” pump that we could have used for this latest event, and there are plenty of examples of equipment that could be shared; snow blowers, graders, etc.” Overland said that Johnson was particularly excited about this idea and he would keep working with her on the matter.

Other business

The upcoming Spring Cleanup day, scheduled for May 11, was discussed briefly, and a chart detailing the costs from last year’s effort was examined. With attention on cleanup matters, it was noted that village residents continue to try to dispose of non-flushable items. Scheck noted that village catch baskets become plugged with these items and motors short out. While these problems are ongoing, the council agreed that rates for water/sewer service would have to be raised to alleviate maintenance costs if the problem persists.

During his Planning and Zoning Committee report, Jon Pettit recommended the placement of Rick Ruberg to the Planning and Zoning Committee, and the council approved this appointment. Pettit will also be attending flood training in Albert Lea on March 20. Pettit reported that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) flood maps will be available soon; the last DNR flood maps were published in 1987.

The council briefly discussed their possible support for Resolution 2019-3-19, which requests Comprehensive Funding for Roads and Transit. Action on this resolution was tabled for a future meeting.

The CRV council acted on the recommendation of Attorney Manion to approve Ordinance 19, which provides for Regulation of Small Cell Wireless Telecommunication Facilities within a public right-of-way.

After musing about the current condition of roads in the village, the CRV council set the date for the Spring Road Tour for May 7 at 5:30 p.m. This annual tour will occur before the council’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Schedule

The next meeting of the Rushford Village City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, at 5:30 p.m. All members of the public are encouraged to attend.