Harris hires public works man, as pending road work begins

The Harris City Council on Aug. 12 hired a Grandy man as the city’s new, full-time public works employee.

Matt Fehrman, father of three with a wedding planned, has worked at his present position in building maintenance at a Cambridge manufacturing firm for the last six years. He has experience on projects both small and large, which also appear to fit into the job requirements with the city.

The hiring had been delayed due to a number of different factors, such as whether to fill the position on a part- or full-time basis. When it was finally advertised as a full-time position, sufficient and qualified applicants became available to meet the requirements.

For Fehrman, who enjoys hunting and fishing in his free time, this is the time he has worked for a government entity. When asked why the switch, he said he wanted the equipment operating background.

In addition, he did exceptionally well at operating the grader for the first time, noted Councilman Randy Carlson. After much discussion and additional questions of Fehrman, Councilman David Maack said, “Let’s make a motion and hire this guy.” Maack’s motion was quickly seconded and unanimously approved.

Fehrman will start his new position quickly as the pending road work that has been put off for so long is finally starting to begin.

Meantime, the city reviewed the bids for the gravel that is to go on the road. Approved as the low bidder was Bjorklund Companies, out of Isanti, which will use the site of its local operation to supply the gravel to cut down on the shipping.

Harder Avenue Project

In light of the Harder Avenue Project, bids from Jensen Backhoe and Ramberg Excavating were presented.

Don Ramburg, in going over how the road would be fixed, wants to take elevations to make sure there is sufficient water drainage from the road and ditch once the road is improved. And in cutting the ditch, he added, there could be a problem with existing utilities and culverts.

It was decided that Carlson, who has put the most hours into the road project, would work with Ramburg to help give oversight and assure the total cost does not exceed the amount budgeted. Ramburg pointed out that his family still has a farm within the boundaries of the city of Harris, so it will benefit his family if Ramburg can keep the cost down.

Ordinance updates

A sign ordinance that the planning commission had worked on, and reviewed with the council at a prior meeting, was forwarded to city attorney Peter Grundhoefer.

Though little had been changed from the original ordinance, such as clarification of some issues and wording to make sure specific restrictions were added, Grundhoefer’s review produced many changes that either were ambiguous to those present or removed some of the objectives of the changes in the ordinance.

Since Councilman John Rossini is on the planning commission, it was decided that he would contact Grundhoefer to go over his changes to see if a final revision could accomplish what the planning commission had wanted to do with the new ordinance.

The gambling ordinance also was present for action. After having been back and forth between the planning commission, city council and city attorney, the ordinance was finally in a form that could be accepted, and it was passed.

Land available

The county notified the city of three parcels of land that were available, due to tax forfeiture, to the city for disposition. The first is a landlocked parcel south of and contiguous to Fireman’s Park. As the appraised value of this parcel is nominal, the parcel will be purchased by the city for use with the existing park.

The other two parcels are of limited value except to neighbors. The first is a 5-foot wide stretch of land that is small and of no use to anyone but the neighbors. It was suggested that this parcel be auctioned off to the neighbors.

The other parcel is a larger area bordering Interstate 35.  Unfortunately this parcel is also landlocked and has no access.  This parcel will also be auctioned off to the adjoining neighbors.

In other news:

• Fire Chief Trevor Williams indicated the time has come for testing the department’s air bottle equipment, the Self Contained Breathing Apparatus that is used by firefighters.  Williams expects this year to be more costly than past years because of the condition of the equipment. But the additional cost is in the fire department budget.

• The probationary period for city clerk Dargay has expired.  A suggestion was made to extend the probationary period for an additional 90 days. This was quickly changed and a unanimous vote was passed to make Dargay a permanent employee.

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