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"After all these years, still doing a great job!!" -Ron Hermanson
Civic Auditorium receives some grace
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
The St. Croix Falls City Council held a three-hour meeting via zoom, which was streamed live on Facebook, on Monday night.
Two items regarding the Civic Auditorium were held over from previous meetings. It is fair to say that former mayor, Arnie Carlson was not a supporter of the project, and had been battling against it. In particular he did not want to see the project completed with the use of TIF funds.
Members who were openly hostile to the project were appointed to the Community Development Authority, who oversees expenditures from the TIF. At their first meeting, members of the CDA were asking how they could procure outside legal opinion regarding the use of TIF funds, rather than learn their duties as members, the original purpose of the meeting.
Months later the former mayor called together the joint review board, which is populated by the tax entities that the TIF District is located within (the school district, WITC, Polk County, city). Carlson argued that because the project no longer included the proposed hotel portion of the project and because of that it would no longer expand the tax base and therefore did not qualify as a TIF project.
The board voted to remove their approval for the project, with the school district representative abstaining, stating that the matter had not been brought before the school board for consideration and therefore they could not make an educated decision on the matter.
No formal action was taken on the two agenda items until Monday night. Alderman Jeff Virchow gave new council members Joe Snyder and Craig Lien an abridged version of what happened to get them up to speed.
“By way of a recap, the CDA was terminated in December (2019) for operating outside the scope of their authority and violating the cooperative agreement with the city for their attempts to scuttle the project,” noted Virchow, adding the recommendation of the now defunct CDA was irrelevant.
Alderman Warren White made the clarification that the volunteers who served on the CDA were not irrelevant, only the actions they took on the matter.
The council voted unanimously not to accept the recommendation of the CDA due to the fact that the situation has changed and their recommendation is no longer applicable.
The situation has changed because a private investor has been found that is interested in the Civic Auditorium as well as the lot next door.
The council also voted to disregard the decision of the Joint Review Board for the same reason. The information that they based their decision on is no longer valid because the situation has changed.
It was also pointed out that WITC based their decision on a legal opinion that they had received at the time.
For now, for the first time in many months, if not years, the Civic Auditorium project is not in immediate jeopardy and isn’t currently on the chopping block, though it is not for lack of trying on the part of some of the powers that were.
It is hard to say what will happen with the Civic Auditorium project. While it has had staunch supporters of the past decade, it has also had some very vocal opposition. The idea that those who have spoke so loudly against it will suddenly go quiet, even though opponents of the project were so soundly defeated in this spring’s election, seems unlikely.
April 30, 2020
Students share what they are thankful for
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
There is little doubt that students, especially seniors feel that they got shafted. Prom has been canceled. Schools are trying to figure out how to do virtual commencements and awards ceremonies.
During this time there is fear and uncertainty for many, students and adults included. For some kids, school is an escape for an unhappy home life. It is a social place that may help them feel less isolated.
This time in history which is being experienced is putting pressure on individuals and families as a whole, but there are some students in the St. Croix Falls School District that have still found something to be grateful for.
What follows are excerpts of letters from freshman Saints sharing what they are grateful for.
“Dear Government Leaders,
“Thank you for keeping everything in line and on track, especially during this time.
“Because of you, America is going to fight this virus and overcome it, and be on top in the end.
“I know that being a government leader is not an easy job and that it takes a lot of work and effort to keep everything right. It is a lot of pressure to make some hard decisions on certain topics, and you try to do your best to do the right thing. Thank you for handling the pressure through the time of COVID-19, and working hard to help move America along.
“Your decisions allow US citizens to have many privileges like the right to vote, run for office, have freedom, etc.
“Thank you for keeping us safe and handling the current situation so well. I would not want to have anyone else in your position than you…”
The next letter was addressed to the voters in the recent school district referendum:
“I am grateful for everyone that took the time to vote for the school referendum. As you all know, it passed! I feel blessed to live in a community and a nation that so strongly supports its students and places a high value on offering much-needed equipment, supplies, and space.
“It takes a lot these days to support students and it can come at a high price. I will never forget the generosity it took from the community for me to be able to go to a school with a new weight room. I love lifting weights and believe it helps kids have the opportunity to burn off energy.
Another student expressed their gratitude for poll workers and many others:
“Even though I am not of the legal age to vote, I thank polling workers for helping to ensure that our government stays strong.
“Thank you to the school’s referendum on giving us an opinion in our school, and for giving us more power.
“To the lawmakers in not just Wisconsin, everywhere, thank you for keeping us safe in our day to day lives.
“Thank you to our government leaders for taking this situation seriously, and for keeping us safe and healthy…
“Thank you to anyone who has checked up on their friends and asked how they are doing, mentally and physically.”
Another student expressed her gratitude regarding the passage of the referendum:
“I would like to thank the voters of the SCF referendum. Now student athletes will actually be able to have a nice weight room. I have long awaited this. My brothers are also super grateful.
“Also, the fact that we are getting an actual auditorium is thrilling. Students of the performing arts will finally have a stage to do a wonderful performance, not that we do not already. Think of an actual stage to perform on. It’s going to be lovely.
“It is not just the students and teachers who are happy. The bus drivers as well. They can clean the buses inside a garage. Now some will not to have to park outside in the gravel parking lot.
“Thank you so much.”
Another student also directed their gratitude towards political leadership:
“Dear Government Leader,
Thank you for all your hard work and for trying your best to keep each citizen as safe as possible.
“I’m sure it is very stressful for you with everyone’s opinion being forced on you. I am so thankful that you are trying your best to keep us healthy. It is incredible that throughout all of this we can still have freedoms that other countries no longer have.
“Thank you for representing the people and fighting for our interests. It means a lot to me that you continue to help our country maintain our freedoms. So again, thank you…”
As is apparent, many students were aware of the referendum and what it meant for the student body:
“To the voters in the recent SCF school referendum,
First of all, I want to thank you for voting for the referendum because this will benefit our school in many ways. This could really be a great addition to our school. I know that many kids could utilize the weight room and auditorium. Our sports athletes can train with the new equipment and a bigger weight room. They will benefit from this by getting stronger and improving in the sport.
“Our drama program may also become bigger in our school. Not only will the auditorium benefit kids in theater, it will also benefit teachers who would like to do a class discussion there.
“The juniors could also use the auditorium for their junior seminar so they aren’t all crowded in a small room.
“So overall, I would like to say thank you, because you really are helping our school become better.”
The final letter is again directed to leadership:
“Dear Government Leader,
I would like to personally thank you for keeping our state safe from the COVID-19 outbreak. I know that you are doing all you can to keep us safe.
“I respect that you have canceled school and spring sports. I know that you are doing it to keep us healthy.
“Also, I have heard that we might be opening up our country some time in the near future. That would be nice…I miss my friends and I cannot wait to see them again.
“I understand that you guys are doing all you can to slow the rate of the virus and I support you and your decisions. All in all, I would just like to say thank you for all you have done for us during this pandemic.”
It just goes to show you, that there are still things to be grateful for. And while it is very disappointing for the many students that they will be missing out on rites of passage, in the grand scheme of things, while 2020 has been, and will no doubt continue to be a hellacious year, missing some things will seem a small matter in the grand scheme of things.
May 7, 2020
St. Croix Falls schools boast some of the best
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
The St. Croix Falls School District has a lot of things going for it. A talented student body, both academically and athletically, their referendum just passed, and a dedicated and creative staff. Everything was going great for students and staff alike, until COVID-19 abruptly closed the doors.
There are, however, some bright spots that shine through the gloom. Three teachers and one principal from the district were recognized for all their hard work by the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation.
The Herb Kohl Teacher Fellowship recognizes teachers who have demonstrated superior ability to inspire love of learning in their students, have motivated others, and have provided meritorious service both inside and outside the classroom.
The Herb Kohl Educational Foundation has been recognizing educational excellence annually since 1990, awarding fellowships to 100 Wisconsin teachers and matching grants to each teacher's school.
Gudmunsen is a vocal/music teacher for both the middle and high school as well as an alumni of the district.
A $6000 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation 2020 Teacher Fellowship has been awarded to Shawn Gudmunsen. The school will receive a matching $6,000 grant.
Wondra is a language arts teacher at St. Croix Falls Middle School. He also earned a fellowship award.
A $6000 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation 2020 Teacher Fellowship has been awarded to Chris Wondra, teacher at St. Croix Falls Middle School. The school will receive a matching $6,000 grant.
Sinclear-Todd has been with the district for many years serving as a physical education teacher and gymnastics coach in the past.
Sinclear-Todd currently serves the district as a guidance counselor and is a familiar face at school functions of every kind.
Sinclear-Todd also received a $6,000 fellowship award. The school will also receive a $6,000 matching grant.
Elementary Principal Rita Platt
Last, but not least, is Elementary School Principal Rita Platt. Platt is known for her love of the kids in her school and her unquenchable zest for life. She has even published a book on education aimed at helping other educators.
A $6,000 Herb Kohl 2020 Principal Leadership Award has been given to St. Croix Falls Elementary School principal Rita Platt. Leadership Award recipients are school principals who are being recognized for setting high standards for instruction, achievement and character, and creating a climate to best serve students, families, staff and community.
It likely has to be some sort of a record for a school district have three teachers and a principal earn these fellowship/leadership awards. Not only did they earn money for their own classroom, they earned just as much for their districts.
Currently in its 30th year of recognizing educational excellence, the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation has awarded $21.2 million to Wisconsin students, teachers, principals and schools.
May 14, 2020
Mayor makes statement regarding opening back up
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
St. Croix Falls Mayor Kirk Anderson is entering his term under some unique and unforeseen circumstances.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw the country and the state shutdown. Non-essential businesses were ordered closed, schools were closed, and life as it was known was turned on its head as everyone was instructed to avoid each other in hopes of slowing down the disease’s progression through the population.
Because cases were still on the rise, the Safer at Home order was extended. Republicans in the legislature cried foul, and the conservative Supreme Court at the state level agreed. Wisconsinites have been turned loose with seemly little guidance and no cogent plan in place. As the governor stated in an interview, it’s the wild west.
Mayor Anderson released a statement via his Facebook page, shortly after the 4-3 Supreme Court decision was announced:
“As mayor, I understand that there are a variety of concerns about what this means for our businesses and you personally. You may be excited, nervous, nervous or angry about this court decision.
“I am hopeful. I am hopeful that businesses can reopen and operate effectively and profitably, without compromising public or personal safety.
“The court’s decision ruled the DHS Emergency Order 28 ‘unlawful’ and ‘unenforceable,’ ending it effective immediately.
“(Note: the Court declined the Legislature’s request to stay any enforcement of an injunction for six days, noting that two weeks have passed since they began considering the case and ‘…therefore, we trust that the Legislature and Palm [Secretary designee] have placed the interests of the people of Wisconsin first and have been working together in good faith to establish a lawful tule that addresses COVID-19…’
“I believe that everyone is striving to do what is best to protect the health and economic well being of Wisconsin residents and this latest decision highlights the need of everyone to work together to make our way through the situation.
“The court’s decision confirms that we are currently able to open for business, but also suggests that the court trusts that the DHS and legislature should already be working together in good fait to establish a lawful order to deal COVID-19, so be prepared for that too.
“Keep in mind that on May 1, the Polk County Board voted on and passed a resolution urging Governor Evers to ‘allow regions within the State to determine for themselves the best and safest way to allow businesses to slowly reopen’ and ‘encourages local officials to exercise their discretion on enforcement of the Governor’s Orders in a manner that is reasonable, especially when businesses are following physical distancing and other recommended safety measures.’
“Also, on April 21, Polk County Sheriff Brent Waak made it very clear that his agency would not be using its resources to enforce the DHS Order #28, leaving that to the discretion of the health department and local law enforcement agencies.
“Wednesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision immediately ended the DHS Order #28, opening up Wisconsin businesses, but it does not eliminate the need for Wisconsinites to be vigilant moving forward.
“Businesses and individuals should understand that COVID-19 is still a significant health threat and should take preventative actions to protect their customers and themselves from the COVID-19 virus.
“Businesses are encouraged to pay close attention to state and local health department recommendations regarding the Supreme Court decision and watch for possible new rules enacted through the legislature and the governor.
“Before Wednesday’s court decision the WEDC [Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation] had already issued detailed reopening guidelines to be followed under the emergency order. I urge you to read through these guidelines as soon as possible,” Anderson concluded.
Guidelines can be found at wedc.org/reopen-guidelines.
Anderson also included an update from the Polk County Health Department released on May 14. As of this time, the local county health department is recommending the following:
-Businesses should still check with their insurance provider and legal counsel (if applicable).
-Businesses should follow the WEDC business-specific guidance (each business sector has a toolkit).
-Businesses should implement physical distancing and public health recommendations to the fullest extent possible (a physical distancing guideline is four people per 1,000 square feet, or operating at 25 percent capacity).
-Businesses can call the health department for technical assistance. They will try to educate to get businesses to operate safely.
-If something “egregious” is occurring, people are asked to contact the health department so that they can work collaboratively to address the issue.
There is the potential for future action from the State, so it is uncertain where things may go.
May 21, 2020
Ninety days extension for Civic consideration
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
The St. Croix Falls City Council came together for a meeting via Zoom on Monday, which was live streamed on the city's Facebook page.
One item of note was the consideration of extending the joint contingency period with SCF Renaissance LLC for purchase of the Civic Auditorium.
Mayor Kirk Anderson noted that with the COVID-19 pandemic it is taking longer to pull things together and after speaking with the developer it was decided that it was in the best interest of the city and the investor to extend that contingency period out for another 90 days. The move passed unanimously.
Alderman Warren White questioned whether or not the developer would have some conceptual designs to present to the board regarding his plans for design and usages.
“He (the developer), is very enthusiastic and is looking forward to sharing his vision,” noted Anderson.
Anderson went on to note that there have been some strides made towards technology that would address the spread of COVID-19 in public places.
Anderson noted that lights (in the UV spectrum) were being developed and some places like schools were finding ways to incorporate them into their HVAC systems to treat the air.
In other business, it was noted that the City of St. Croix Falls was the recipient of the federal COPS grant. There has been an effort with the school and the city to establish a liaison officer at the school.
Police Chief Erin Murphy was not present for the meeting so details are scant at this time. A formal announcement is expected to be made after Murphy meets with the school to iron out the details.
Fire Chief Mike Dorsey was also present to give his monthly report. On May 15, the St. Croix Falls Fire Department gave mutual aid to Taylors Falls for an high angle rescue at Interstate Park. Seven members of the SCF department were there to help.
The department has also dealt with a handful of grass/brush fires. The fire danger is considered low (by the DNR) for Polk County, but other areas have had their levels raised to moderate. The risk has gone up in Burnett County as well as several counties in southern Wisconsin. Hopefully, with the deluge that was forecast for the state from the remnants of tropical storm Cristobal, that risk will again be lowered.
Another item touched upon was the ongoing equipment needs of the fire department. Dorsey noted that he had already shared the estimates and cost breakdown of the requested equipment.
Interim City Administrator Joel West noted that those items were likely included within the Capital Replacement Plan that the city was working on developing. Department needs will be reviewed one more time to make sure everyone had a chance to weigh in. In the meantime, West will send Dorsey the current plan for input.
June 11, 2020
Local tobacco business linked to THC sales
Two individuals, Zachary Briese, 22, and Damion Scherer, 20, both of St. Croix Falls, were arrested in connection with THC (marijuana) sales at the St. Croix Falls Tobacco and Vape shop on Highway 8.
According to the criminal complaint filed with the Circuit Court in Polk County, the incident dates back to the last week of February and the first week of March when an investigator had a conversation with a confidential informant (CI) regarding the St. Croix Falls Tobacco and Vape Shop and the activities related to the sale of THC cartridges.
The investigator stated that the CI said they had spoken in the past to a person believed to be the owner of the business about purchasing THC cartridges.
In another incident, the CI stated that they had inquired with an employee at the store about buying THC cartridges. After inquiring about the cartridges, the store employee communicated with someone on the phone, and a short time later, an adult male responded to the business and sold the CI a THC cartridge for $35. The person the CI was referring to was later identified to be Laith Ali Mohammad Alseid, who works at the St. Croix Tobacco and Vape Shop.
On March 4, the CI agreed to conduct a controlled purchase of THC cartridges from the St. Croix Falls Tobacco and Vape Shop. The CI was provided with $60 and fitted with a recording device designed to capture audio. One investigator sat outside the store while the CI and another investigator went inside. After a short time in the store, the CI and investigator were seen exiting the store and getting into the CI’s vehicle. Shortly thereafter, a gold-colored vehicle entered the parking lot and pulled up next to the CI’s car, which was when an adult male exited the vehicle and identified himself via Snapchat as Damion Scherer.
The criminal complaint states that the CI was provided with two THC cartridges for a purchase price of $70. The liquid tested positive for THC via field test.
The CI and investigator entered the store and made contact with a worker who appeared to be Middle Eastern and had a strong foreign accent, the man identified himself as Laith.
When asked about the THC cartridges, Laith called an unknown person on his cell phone. The CI and investigator went outside to the parking lot which was when a vehicle arrived and approached the driver’s side of the CI’s vehicle. The male suspect stated that the cartridges contained 78 percent THC and that they would “cost $35 each and when asked about a better price, he stated they would be $30 if 10 more were purchased,” according to the criminal complaint.
Upon reviewing the audio from the CI’s device, they noted that they could hear the voice of an adult male speaking with a heavy Middle Eastern accent who was believed to be Laith.
The investigator states that officers identified the subject who sold the THC cartridges as Scherer and the driver of the suspect vehicle was identified as Briese.
On March 16, officers executed a search warrant at the shared residence of Briese and Scherer where the officers found items related to the consumption of marijuana.
In addition to that, Scherer said that officers would find THC wax, bongs and THC cartridge boxes. He acknowledged knowing the subjects who owned and work at the St. Croix Falls Tobacco and Vape business – including Laith.
When asked about the aforementioned March 4 incident, Scherer stated that he remembered the incident and admitted he was contacted by Laith through text message regarding someone waiting to purchase THC cartridges and recalled going to the parking lot and selling two THC cartridges.
Scherer stated that he had done the same thing before and that he would be contacted by Laith regarding the purchase. Scherer would then go and sell the cartridges “as a favor to Laith.”
The report states that Briese was also interviewed and he confirmed that in the past Scherer would be messaged and then tell Briese that he needed a ride to the St. Croix Falls Tobacco and Vape Store. Briese said that he knew Scherer sold THC cartridges during that meeting.
Once officers had located Laith, he was confirmed to be Laith Ali Mohammad Alseid.
He denied any employees selling THC cartridges, denied ever being a middle man in any exchanges of THC cartridges or marijuana from the store. He also denied knowing Scherer.
Anan Barbarawi, the owner of St. Croix Falls Tobacco and Vape Shop (as well as 13 other tobacco stores), made an appearance at the St. Croix Falls City Council meeting on Monday night to speak on behalf of his business and their request for a tobacco license.
Barbarawi acknowledged the law enforcement intervention in March.
“We did have an incident where the cops in St. Croix Falls did bust a drug dealer. When they asked him where he got the drugs from, he gave the wrong information which is ‘we got it from St. Croix Tobacco,’ they raided the store at that time searching for drugs,” Barbarawi said.
According to Barbarawi, the officers didn’t find anything, and they will be fighting it in court. The Department of Revenue did seize some of the store’s tobacco products claiming that it was not taxed properly.
They have hired lawyers to try and get their tobacco product back because they provided documents showing that it had been properly taxed, according to Barbarawi.
“We shouldn’t have any problem; we didn’t do anything wrong. We’ve been in business for over 15 years and we do everything right. What happened was false information was given to the police department,” Barbarawi said.
The aforementioned criminal complaint – which was filed on June 15 – was not discussed at the St. Croix Falls City Council meeting.
After Barbarawi’s statement, the council voted and unanimously approved the tobacco license for the store. The St. Croix Falls Tobacco and Vape Shop is still in the process of getting their product back from the Department of Revenue.
July 2, 2020
SCF changes 2020 class schedule amid global pandemic
The St. Croix Falls middle and high schools are making changes to course schedules before the start of the school year to keep students and staff as safe as possible when the school reopens this fall.
High school principal, Peggy Ryan, created a proposal plan that will alleviate stress, both on staff and students, regardless of how St. Croix Falls is delivering its education during the upcoming school year.
Her plan, in its most basic form, is to return to a block schedule to reduce the number of students and staff seeing each other each day. In doing so, there will be less contact between people in the school meaning less opportunity for potential transmission of the coronavirus.
Essentially, the block schedule takes half of the classes out of each school day and makes the ones that remain, a bit longer. For example, a typical day right now has eight class periods of approximately 50 minutes each.
Under the block schedule, there would be four class periods, each lasting 90 minutes.
Instead of being in a class for 50 minutes every day all year long, students would be in class for 90 minutes every day for half a year. It’s the same amount of overall instructional time but it’s being concentrated.
“The good thing about the block schedule is that it pretty much cuts the exposure in half. Instead of passing through the hall six times, you’re passing through the halls three times. By using a block schedule, I can be more creative with lunch periods and I can get three lunch periods into my day instead of two and that’s significant,” Ryan said about the block schedule.
Students will be in classes that are 90 minutes long compared to the standard 50-minute class which has been at St. Croix Falls for at least four years.
“This allows us to clip through that day with a lot less exposure for kids and staff, and that’s the goal. The goal is safety first. We want kids in school, but we want them safe,” Ryan said.
The block schedule will also work well in the event of an outbreak and a temporary shutdown just like in March. Students will essentially have to keep track of half as many classes as they did before. Instead of having seven classes to work through and figure out, students would have four.
In addition to students no longer having to process more classes, teachers will also have more peace of mind with a reduction in overall students. They will essentially be able to give more individualized attention to each student and provide a quality educational experience in the event of a temporary shutdown.
“It seems to me from a numbers, exposure and concentration standpoint, we really need to move to a block schedule for this year and this year alone,” Ryan said.
According to Ryan, the purpose of this change is not to sneak in a quick schedule change that the staff likes better. The purpose is to give students as much of an opportunity to stay in school, but in the case of a shutdown, make sure that students have as much of a chance to be successful as possible.
“If this is the best thing for kids and for staff in any scenario that we go with, then it’s work that we put in and we will do. We can get it done,” Ryan said.
In addition to Ryan, Joe Connors, the middle school principal, has been working to get the middle school prepared for the transition to the schedule.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes to the block schedule would be junior seminar, a program that has a variety of classes that are essentially taught within one another to give students a more comprehensive educational experience.
Under Ryan’s plan, junior seminar will be one and a half blocks. In the seminar, the first period would be standard, as well as the first half of the second period. After that, the second half of the second period would be a full-year skinny class which would fill that half period void.
A skinny is a 45-minute period that runs all year long for classes such as study hall, choir, band, etc. As of now, the school will likely offer it so that the schedule can remain as flexible as possible for students and staff.
“If we could guarantee a normal school year like we’ve done for 50 years before COVID-19, it probably isn’t as urgent. But if we go off-site, or if we have to do a hybrid where we’re only here two days a week with each group of kids and off a day, this gives the kids less things to worry about when they’re at home, it gives our staff less prep classes to worry about. Several of the superintendents said this alleviates some concerns for educating our kids this year,” St. Croix Falls Superintendent Mark Burandt said.
As of now, the plan is not permanent. If everything goes according to plan and students and staff like the transition, there can be a discussion in the future regarding the schedule. Right now, the school district is focused on keeping students as faculty safe for the upcoming school year.
While addressing the St. Croix Falls School Board with her proposal, Ryan provided examples from her days as an English teacher regarding the block schedule.
“If I have 90 minutes with a group of 25 kids. That means every day I can really sink my teeth into some stuff with kids that might not get it and I have time to get to all of them because I have 90 minutes every day,” Ryan said.
The high school staff has been giving Ryan feedback about the block schedule so that they can go into the upcoming school year as prepared as possible for anything that might happen in the ever-changing pandemic landscape.
The school board has approved Ryan’s plan and if all goes according to plan, students will have the block schedule for the duration of 2020-21 school year.
July 23, 2020
Water tower project underway, remaining money allocated
The Village of Dresser has begun the water tower painting project as well as weekly meetings to provide updates on the progress to the village.
At the Monday night Dresser Village Board meeting, Village Board President Bryan “Fatboy” Raddatz praised the efforts of KLM on the project thus far.
“It's a well-oiled machine up there, it's impressive. The weather has been perfect. They've only lost one-half day so far, so that has been awesome, ” Raddatz said.
According to Raddatz's report, the loud noises coming from the water tower improvement project will only last about another week or so.
At the first weekly water tower meeting, there were already change orders being discussed. The governing body of the project decided that they didn't need to change the safety capability of the handrails near the top of the water tower. They did so because there has never been any up there before and because when workers are up there, they are already tied off and secured to prevent any chance of falling. Any new addition would just require more unnecessary maintenance moving forward.
One of the companies working on the project is KLM, a company based out of Woodbury, Minn., that provides water tower services throughout the Midwest.
On their initial inspection, they missed the interior plates that should have been seal welded or caulked. That should have been caught, according to what was said at the weekly water tower meeting.
Due to that being missed on the initial inspection, KLM pledged to weld them up at no additional cost to the village.
“We hired the right company because they said, 'We didn't catch it, that's on us, we'll get them welded up.' KLM is top-notch, they are going to stand behind it and they are going to take care of it. I can't say enough good stuff so far,” Raddatz said.
Because of the renovations to the water tower, the Village of Dresser submitted a Public Service Commission (PSC) rate case application to raise the price of water in the village. The application was submitted to the PSC on July 31. The process can take several months to go through so a final decision will likely not be made until later this year. In terms of rate increases, nothing has been set in stone. If anything, the expected increase is only a few percent on the cost of water in Dresser.
At the Monday night meeting, the Dresser Village Board also discussed several options regarding the $150,000 that was originally borrowed in a resolution for water system improvements.
According to an email from the Village of Dresser, in 2018 the village received the Go Bond for the Horsmann/Peterson Drive Project. That total was $1,425,000 which included $150,000 for water tower repairs.
However, the village found out that the project for the water tower was going to cost more than the allocated $150,000 so the village took out a State Trust Fund Loan for $650,000 to cover the project.
As of Aug. 3, there is $150,000 currently unused which is sitting in the village's investment account. Four options were submitted to the board for consideration regarding the future of that $150,000.
Ultimately, the board unanimously approved the fourth option which is to draw down $100,000 for the current water tower project and then reserve the remaining $50,000 for well number three upgrades or other future water capital projects.
For example, a broken water line, what would be an emergency project, the remaining $50,000 would not be able to be used to fix the break. It has to be used for capital improvement such as replacing the main water line to improve the village's infrastructure.
In approving the motion, the village is creating a safety cushion for future water improvement plans that can be drawn on at any time for capital projects.