By MaryHelen Swanson—
Fifth District County Commissioner Mike Robinson visited the Harris City Council Monday night, Jan. 9, and told the councilors to let him know of any issues with the trucks hauling sand.
They are big trucks, lots of them and a lot of sand and are part of the Tiller Corporation’s upcoming operation in North Branch.
Councilor Rodney Larson had two issues, jake braking and speeding. He asked Robinson if the county could put up signs regarding the noise and Robinson said he’d bring it up at the next highway meeting.
Mayor Diane Miller asked if safety arms would be put up at the two railroad crossings due to the anticipated increase in train traffic because of the operation.
Robinson said it is often difficult working with the railroad, but he would see if the county could try.
Councilor John Rossini asked about county board meetings, when and where they are held. Robinson said the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 6:30 p.m and at 7 p.m. at each meeting there is a public comment period.
Any word on the power plant, Rossini asked? Robinson said he hadn’t heard anything lately.
Any roads in the area to be fixed soon? Robinson said County Road 8 (the Hogsback road) is due for a bridge replacement and some road improvement at the same time.
Robinson talked about a sign project to memorialize old Highway 61 (now Forest Blvd. or Co Rd 30). The county purchased 40 signs at $2,000. It is the goal of the group organizing the memorial to have it signed all the way to the Canadian border. Hwy. 61 ran from the Canadian border to Louisiana. Minnesota state tourism is getting involved. It is possible that interest in the road could spark tourism and the economy of small towns along the highway, much like Route 66.
Although we haven’t had much snow, it appears some residents of Harris have been plowing it across the road in front of their homes and this is not allowed by city policy. The council agreed, by motion, to send a letter to these homeowners reminding them of the policy, with a note that if it continues the city would turn them over to the county sheriff for prosecution.
City Clerk Donna Heidelberger said the city might buy a camera to take photos to use as evidence.
She also noted that public notice of the policy has been published and posted.
There was some discussion during annual appointments about again going with Chuck Schwartz for city engineer. Councilor Judy Hammerstrom asked if the city can’t just hire an engineer as needed. She noted that the city has no specific project on deck right now.
But the mayor said continuity was important, and that Schwartz had knowledge about the city’s past projects. A new engineer, Miller said, would have to be brought up to speed on issues.
It was noted by two councilors that there were many people in Harris who were not pleased with Schwartz and his firm Bonestroo because of alleged past mistakes.
Building inspector Steve Thorp requested increases in permit fees. The council approved an increase from $175 to $225 for septic system permits, and any fee that was $29.50 increased to $35, and any fee of $49.50 increased to $55. There will also be a $100 deposit (refundable) for the use of City Hall along with the $100 rental fee.
In other business:
• Trevor Williams was reappointed as fire chief for another three years. Councilor Hammerstrom was opposed.
• The Post Review was reappointed as official legal newspaper.
• Issues of easements, set backs and septic system surround the D & S property sale. Two banks are now involved in the process.
• Legislators Sean Nienow and Kurt Daubt have been invited to the February council meeting to address such issues as unfunded mandates and changes in state tax laws. Residents are encouraged to come early to visit with them.
• The Planning Commission continues to plan the Feb. 4 Groundhog Ice Fishing event. People can pre-register at Kaffee Stuga and Grampa Joe’s. Interested citizens can also attend meetings at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23 and Tuesday Jan. 31. There are numerous volunteer opportunities to help make this family friendly event a success.