In December, the Menahga City Council approved a motion ordering the Menahga School District to remove a temporary, gravel road that was used during construction of the new high school. Citing concern about city utilities underneath it, the motion gave an effective date of Dec. 16.

At their Jan. 14 meeting, City Administrator Curt Kreklau reported that the school district wished to have that order in a formal letter from the city.

Council member Robyn Keranen said she would like to invite Menahga Superintendent Kevin Wellen to a council meeting. She noted that the school “went above and beyond” to protect the area, referencing an email exchange she had with Wellen following the Dec. 10 meeting. In the email, Wellen stated there was no written agreement, but the city required the school to insulate above the water main. He was not aware of any other utilities at that location, and was evaluating whether it might be a safer place to load and unload students.

Mayor Joan Liimatta pointed out that Public Works Supervisor Ron Yliniemi was “very specific about what could happen if there was continued use of that road. … After Ron’s warnings, I would never consider changing my stand on that.”

(At the Dec. 10 meeting, Yliniemi said any damage to that portion of the sewer would shut down the whole city.)

Council member Tim Ellingson reiterated that the road was meant to be temporary, not permanent.

Keranen said that construction wasn’t finished.

“What construction isn’t finished? Does it pertain to that area? They are not using it for anything else other than having the buses go. There are no other vehicles, of any kind, using that road,” Ellingson said.

Keranen said she would still like to hear from Wellen.

“Feel free to do that, but we are going to enforce what we passed and what the agreement said,” Ellingson said.

Council member Art Huebner said it made sense to give the school district a chance to talk.

Liimatta said, “(Wellen) told me he was going to come in and speak with us, and that was about three months ago. … You can invite him, but I really want us to follow through.”

Huebner made a motion to draft a letter inviting Wellen to a council meeting.

Liimatta said the school still must discontinue use of the road.

Keranen seconded the motion. “I’m not saying that a decision has to be changed one way or the other, but I think we should all be informed of what their future plans are,” she said.

“It’s a good consideration, working together,” Council member Karol Andreasen replied.

Andreasen also said the school “has had several opportunities to come and address us. … I agree the city infrastructure is much more important at this point. We don’t want to have that bill.”

The motion passed 4-0, with Liimatta abstaining.

In other business, the council did as follows:

  • Tabled approval of 2020 criminal and civic legal counsel for the city.

  • Adopted the 2020 city fee schedule, with the exception of increased monthly water rates, which will be reviewed in six months’ time.

Keranen objected to raising water rates when there are six to eight broken water meters. “I think we should still give it more time,” she said. “I don’t think we’re in any financial crisis where we’ve got to raise them.”

City Administrator Curt Kreklau noted that the new water rates are in the 2020 budget, “but that doesn’t mean we have to do what we budgeted for. It’s a projection.”

The motion passed unanimously.

  • Learned from Greenwood Connections Administrator Laura Ahlf that the facility was “deficiency free” following a state inspection. “It’s really a morale booster,” she reported.

  • Adopted the 2019 city staff pay plan for 2020. Due to a status quo order while negotiating with labor unions, no changes may be made.

  • Approved payment to the mayor and council members for meetings they attended in 2019. The total amount paid was $11,610.

  • Appointed Community First Bank of Menahga and Sebeka, TruStar Federal Credit Union, Ehlers Investments and the League of Minnesota Cities’ 4-M Fun as the city’s official depositories.

  • Named the Review Messenger the official newspaper, as it is the only one located within Wadena County.

The council recessed the meeting until 6 p.m. Jan. 21 at city hall.