June 5, 2020

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

City tries to deal with shutdown

The Elbow Lake City Council is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and state shutdown at every meeting now, and in nearly every department. For instance, last Monday evening, in his report to the council, Tipsinah Mounds Campground manager Miah Ulrich said the campground opened to seasonal campers on May 1, but will rent no spaces to overnight campers until, and if, the Governor lifts his shut- down. That is mainly because the public restrooms have to remain closed at this point. The 60 seasonal campers have their own facilities in their campers.

The beach, and store at the campground are also closed at this time, as is the beach changing rooms and port-a-potties at Fairhaven Beach, and all city parks.

The soonest that could change would be May 19, if Governor Walz lifts his shutdown order.

Ulrich said crews will be installing docks this coming weekend.

Thorson Memorial Library Director Lucy Anderson said the public library also remains closed with modified hours for curbside pickup, Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Anderson admitted circulation numbers are way down for April, to 318, however use of the online Overdrive was at 318 for April, and the use of Hoopla doubled.

Children’s Programming Director Susan Frykman installed an innovative Story Time Windows feature where children can read a story through the windows of the Goetzinger Room. 

Elbow Lake Chamber of Commerce Director Sue Kulbeik reported that all C&C activities are on hold, including the Farmer’s Market, at this time.

“Both Hoffman and Herman have also suspended their farmer’s markets for now,” she said.

Kulbeik said the chamber, however, has started a new program, in conjunction with Star Bank, designed to help people support their local businesses. Anyone can visit the drive-up window at Star Bank and purchase Elbow Lake Chamber Bucks. Then, they can use those bucks to shop at local merchants. The merchant then redeems the Chamber Bucks for cash at Star Bank.

Mayor Deb Hengel reported that the Arts Advisory Committee received another $10,000 grant for summer arts programming, but the reality is the arts camp may not happen because of the shut down. The Committee will know more on May 18, ,and depending on what the schools do about summer recreation.

Also, the annual City Spring Cleanup has been cancelled for now, but the city hopes to offer something in the fall.

Water Treatment Plant

City Superintendent Jacobson said the survey work for the new water treatment plant has been completed. The city plans to purchase land from Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services to build a new water treatment plant. 

“We just have some paperwork to complete,” he said, adding that Prairie Ridge must use the money for a capital improvement project, and will likely build an ambulance garage on hospital grounds. He said the city will also try to save some of the property it is buying for future projects, such as storage for city maintenance.

The council talked about waiting on a resolution  to open bidding,º because the Minnesota Legislature is having an argument on bonding. Then they agreed they could advertise for bidding, but do not have to accept any bids.

Other business

Mayor Hengel  reported she met with Grant County Sheriff Mark Haberer for his monthly report and found that things are fairly quiet. She said, however, people are concerned about child welfare in some cases when families are forced to be together more than they want to.

“If anyone has concerns, please call the Grant County Social Services,” she added.

City Clerk Jeff Holsen reported that the new single sort recycling system seems to be working well and should save the county some money, and increase recycling tonnage. Mayor Hengel asked that signage be installed at the recycling site telling people they can mix recyclable, and not to use bags or boxes.

Elbow Lake Fire Chief Nathan Porter reported that there had been four medical calls and two vehicle accidents calls in April. Also the fire department was able to purchase and install new batteries in their air packs.

Superintendent Greg Jacobson reported his department will wait to hire summer help this year, but the calcium chloride is coming this week, so the city will be starting to spray it on dusty gravel streets.

“We plan to do street crack filling on 34 blocks this summer, using Midwest Asphalt Maintenance at a cost of $14,560. The last time our street cracks were filled was in 2010,” he said.

Planning Commission member Darryl Larson reported that they approved a building permit for Grant County Lumber to build an addition to their facility to sell hardware items.

Council member Julie Larson reported that the trees planted in Kube Park last fall made it through the winter, and seem to be doing well.