September 23, 2021

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Council reviews sites for new elementary school

In a marathon session that lasted over two hours, the Hoffman City Council, last week, addressed issues such as the location of a new elementary school for the West Central Area District, weed control concerns at Elk Lake Beach,  allowing a mobile home within the city limits, an explanation of water bill charges (requested by council member Mike Krusemark), and the cost of the new sound panels in the Community Center. 

All four council members: Scott Anderson, Mike Krusemark, Pat McGrath, and Mike McLaughlin, city clerk Janee Strunk, Dianne Johnson of HEDA, and Maintenance Supervisor Rodger Smith attended. West Central Area school board representatives Michelle Nessman and Darin Grosz and Hoffman homeowner Vickie Johnson all made presentations to the group from what was jokingly called the “hot seat” at the head of the table.

After the quick approval of the previous meeting’s minutes and agenda items, WCA school board representative Michelle Nessman, filling in for Dale Hogie who was called away on a family emergency,  spoke about the potential Hoffman or Kensington site for a new school building.  “We’re looking at the pros and cons of each city, and comparing them, and being extremely thorough in the options that we’re looking at,” she said. She spoke of Minnesota Department of Education guidelines determining whether a new school proposal is rated favorable, unfavorable, or denied.  

“Someone down in the Cities who may or may not understand what it’s like to live in rural Minnesota, is going to be making the decision,” she explained.

Of the seven potential locations in Hoffman, several were removed due to property owners not wanting to sell their land. The remaining possibilities were considered somewhat feasible but not ideal due to most of them being west of Highway 55 where traffic would be an issue. Smith stated that while he supported a new school in Hoffman, he would have concerns about getting the needed maintenance done on the water wells during the busy summer season. As this was only a presentation, no decisions were required.

Homeowner Vicki Johnson asked the board about the possibility of having the $3500 uncapping fee on a long unoccupied property she recently purchased waived. While the board had sympathy and the process would be relatively simple, there was concern about the fairness to other homeowners not receiving a waiver. Strunk stated that the capping/uncapping fee was designed as a deterrent to prevent residents who go south for the Winter from shutting off their water. Since Johnson bought the home already capped, there could be some malleability. Since occupying the property was two months off, the board tabled the decision.

Another discussion involved the weed issue at Elk Lake Beach. Rodger Smith informed the board that for $5650, a company named Aquatic Weed Harvest out of Starbuck would dredge a large area around the beach of nuisance vegetation using a combine-like device. This  process pulls the weeds out by the roots, greatly diminishing regrowth. After much discussion, the board decided on more research before potentially green lighting the project.

Before adjournment, the board approved a liquor license (beer and wine only) for the fire department at Harvest Festival and replacing the community center sound boards at a cost of $2700. The meeting ended at just after 9:00 p.m.