Menahga buys ‘sewer chewer’ for rag issue

Menahga City Council agrees to purchase a $36,536 “sewer chewer” from Minnesota Pump Works of Dundas, Minn.

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Menahga Public Works Supervisor Ron Yliniemi recommended purchasing a grinder to handle an ongoing “rag” issue in the lift stations.

So-called “flushable” wipes don’t break down after flushing. Instead, they clog sewer pipes and pumps, resulting in damage and maintenance costs.

At the Menahga City Council’s Nov. 12 meeting, Yliniemi pointed out the city has tried multiple ways to tell Menahga residents not to flush “disposable” wipes, towels, diapers, etc. because they get snarled in the city’s sewer system. “It still hasn’t fixed our rag issues,” he said. “It’s happening everywhere.”

The city council agreed to purchase a $36,536 “sewer chewer” from Minnesota Pump Works of Dundas, Minn., plus $1,900 for electrical hookup. The 2019 model is presently on sale, Yliniemi said. If they wait until 2020, the grinder will cost closer to $50,000.

Mayor Joan Liimatta and council member Robyn Keranen agreed that the grinder is a large expense, but likely small compared to repairs over time.


“Get it chewed up and done,” Keranen said.

Right-of-way issue

Jensine Kurtti asked the council to look into the width of 2nd Street SW.

“The reason I’m asking is because it does make a difference to where our property line is. It was platted as an 80-foot street,” she said. Her family owns property on the south side of that street, and she had a professional survey done in 2003.

She shared her Oct. 8 email to Wadena County Engineer Ryan Odden, where she asks for documentation that it is a 60-foot street, as city council member Art Huebner is saying.

Odden replied that he spoke with Huebner about the difference between a highway easement and dedicated road plats, but did not get into detail about 2nd Street.

City Administrator Curt Kreklau said he spoke with Odden, who recommended that Kreklau speak with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

MnDOT “doesn’t have anything documented as far as platting along Hwy. 71,” Kreklau said. “That’s as far as I could go with it to determine what that right-of-way is.”

Kurtti suggested that “any surveyor should be able to locate the stakes.”


“If you’re contending it’s a 60-feet street, I’ll be looking for a quick claim deed for 10 feet. And because we’re in the central business district, we can build from lot line to lot line, so that 10 feet is buildable,” she continued.

Kurtti also clarified with Wadena County Assessor Lee Brekke that a property does not pay taxes on their property to the middle of the street. Brekke said if the land is platted, the lot normally goes to the ROW, but does not include any road, so no taxes are paid on the road.

Liimatta promised to get to the bottom of the issue.

Greenwood project delays

Greenwood Administrator Laura Ahlf reported that little construction has been completed in the past two weeks.

BCI Construction proposed splitting the north hall remodel into two phases, with the first half to be completed by Dec. 20 and the second half by Feb. 2020.

According to a letter by architectural firm Helenske Design Group, the split is “driven by the economic impact to the operating budget of the nursing home. The ability to have the first half completed before the end of the year allows the completed rooms to be occupied and generate income.”

Ahlf expressed frustration, noting there’s been difficulty getting subcontractors onsite.

The letter continues, “The past performance of BCI and subcontractors has had numerous gaps in men on site and an aggressive effort to maintain the original schedule.” Helenske Design Group recommended that the change order include a penalty clause for not meeting the agreed timelines.


In other business, the council did as follows:

  • Approved a $55,000 request from Police Chief Adam Gunderson for a new squad car. Gunderson noted there was $202,466 unused in the police department’s 2019 budget.

  • Approved the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s improvement plan for County State Aid Highway 17, between Fern Ave. and 155 feet east of Ironwood Ave. S., within city limits. The plan calls for reclamation, grading and bituminous paving.

  • Paid a $982 invoice from Spirit Lake Lumber for the disc golf course, but sought more information for a $150 invoice.

  • Approved the final plat for expanding the veterans portion of the cemetery with 188 traditional burial plots. Road improvements were completed in August, reported Jon Olson of Apex Engineering. Monuments were put in the ground and it is ready for use, he said, once the plat is recorded.

  • Declined joining the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.

The next regular meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10 at city hall.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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