Menahga city council delays payments
The Menahga City Council decided, once again, to postpone payments to Di-Mar Construction, Inc. and Ulteig for work on the water treatment plant rehabiliation. The amounts due are $58,344 and $24,094, respectively.
When straight-line winds hit Menahga Aug. 4, the plant had to shut down from 2:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. because the emergency back-up generator didn’t fit the plant’s receptacle, Mayor Pat Foss explained at Monday’s council meeting.
“We’re far away from what I think should be a finished product,” he said. “I don’t feel we’ve gotten satisfaction. This was supposed to be completed in June and it’s mid-August.”
Brian Hiles, senior engineer for Ulteig, submitted a “punch list” documenting work not conforming to contract specifications. In an email, Hiles stated Di-Mar completed all of the warranty work, with the exception of three items.
Utilities Supervisor Frank Thelin said he wasn’t present when the final inspection was made and items were crossed off the punch list. He recommended the council allow a two- to three-month timeframe to ensure the water plant is running smoothly.
Proper hook-up to the back-up generator isn’t even on the punch list, noted Henstorf.
“If we have a fire in town, we can’t support the fire department,” Foss said.
An electrician still needs to correctly label the circuit breaker panel in the presence of the owner, Foss said, yet this item was crossed off as though completed.
“I’d like to see it all done and paid for, too, but we’re not there yet,” he said. “I don’t think we have any other choice but to withhold [payment].”
“It’s the only leverage we’ve got,” agreed council member Roger Henstorf.
Payment was tabled until the Sept. 12 council meeting by unanimous vote.
The council did approve a $15,565 payment to Feldt Plumbing LP for their work on the main lift station replacement.
Emergency situations, like the Aug. 4 storm and a drowning July 31 at the city beach, show the city’s strengths and weaknesses, said the mayor. “Our personnel are our strength,” he said.
The Menahga Police Department and city lifeguards were commended for their emergency response when Rach Mani Carlson, 54, of Menahga attempted to swim toward a raft while apparently intoxicated.
According to the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office report, Carlson was fully clothed and refused to leave the beach. He went under the water a couple times and didn’t came back up a third time.
Lifeguards immediately rescued Carlson and began CPR until the ambulance arrived. Carlson was airlifted to Essentia Health in Fargo, where later in the day, he was pronounced deceased.
Following the incident, City Administrator Janette Bower said there a debriefing with everyone involved. The lifeguards decided not to come back this year, Bower told the council, but they hope to return next summer.
“Everything was through no fault of their own. They did a fabulous job,” Bower said.
Bower placed the lifeguards on paid administrative leave for the remainder of the summer. Three lifeguards will each receive 72 hours of paid leave, totaling $2,268. The council approved the action.
Tri-County Health Care Emergency Medical Services staff attended Monday’s council meeting.
Mike Ittner, EMS manager, said all the agencies’ efforts “were nothing less than heroic.”
The outcome was not favorable, Ittner said, but the emergency response was great.
The Menahga Police Department and Wadena County Sheriff’s Office was assisted on scene by the Menahga First Responders, Tri-County Ambulance and North Air Care.
The council discussed adding buoys to indicate where the sand bar drops off at the city beach. No action was taken at this time.
The park/beach/street liaison group has obtained preliminary quotes to create eight seasonal sites at the city campground.
Henstorf said seasonal sites are in high demand throughout Minnesota.
“Every place we’ve researched, these seasonal sites are full,” he reported. “I’m looking at making this park a money-making operation for the city and contributing to the general fund every year.”
Proposed amenities for each campsite would be a gravel pad; full electric, water and septic hook-up; cable TV and wireless internet. The proposed fee would be $2,500 per site, per year.
If all the sites were full, city revenue would be $20,000 per year.
Preliminary quotes indicate it would cost about $80,000 to complete the project.
He asked the council to consider including the construction cost in the next budget.
In a letter to the council, Bower wrote that the 2015 audit shows the unassigned fund balance in a “very healthy position with a 2015 ending balance of $522,177.” She suggested a direct appropriation from the general fund to complete the project.
In other business, the council did the following:
— The city council accepted Henstorf’s resignation, effective July 25, then immediately re-appointed him to the council to fill the vacancy until the November election. The formality served to avoid a special election for Henstorf’s successor.
— Opted to purchase and install trail cameras for both the campground bathrooms and city beach to curb vandalism.
Henstorf calculated that security cameras would cost about $10,000 over five years.
“I don’t know we’ve got that much vandalism to warrant that kind of money,” Henstorf argued, adding that trail cameras are a much cheaper option at $200 to $300.
The council also recommended increased police patrols to ward off repeat vandalism.
“If this works, it’ll save us a whole bunch of money,” said Foss.
— Learned that the Greenwood Connections director of nursing gave her notice. She is expecting a baby and hopes to work weekends as an RN, if possible. Greenwood Connections Adminstrator Laura Ahlf said there have been several applications for the director position.
— Approved an ordinance granting Minnesota Energy Resources permission to operate within Menahga’s city limits. The original franchise agreement will expire Aug. 28. The new ordinance renews the agreement for another 25 years