Tuesday, April 1, 2014

City of Kasson says "no thanks" to ice arena offer, partnership to continue


By Randy Carlsen

Dodge County Board of Commissioners met in closed session Tuesday and agreed to offer the Dodge County Ice Arena to the city of Kasson. Following the regular Kasson City Council meeting Wednesday evening they too went into closed session and determined they wanted to continue the joint venture operation of the arena with Dodge County.

City administrator Randy Lenth issued a statement saying, "The City of Kasson believes the current management agreement with Dodge County benefits the entire area and recognizes the hard work and dedication of the many individuals and businesses that constructed the facility. We look forward to a continued partnership with Dodge County to promote and enhance the Dodge County Ice Arena."
Lenth said the arena is as close to breaking even as they have ever been. In 2013 the arena lost only $3,000.  However, the facility is in need of a new roof and new cooling system. Due to the ban on Freon R-22, ice arenas statewide will  have to replace/update the flooring cooling system by 2020.

Tim Tjosaas served as mayor and now sits on the other side of the fence as county commissioner. He said there were general discussions of how best to move forward when the ice arena committee of two commissioners and two council members met. He said the issue has always been brought up by the county.

In exchange for turning over the arena to the city the council was asking for free utilities (water, sewer and electricity) for the next 10 years at the fairgrounds. This would include all buildings on the grounds owned by the county.

The original partners of the arena were Kasson, Mantorville, Dodge Center and Dodge County. The school districts were also partners, but did not have a financial stake in the arena. Dodge Center and Mantorville dropped out and January 1, 2010 Kasson and Dodge County became co-owners of the arena. What triggered construction of the arena was a $600,000 Mighty Ducks grant the Dodge County Youth Hockey Association was awarded.
In other matters:

• The city granted a conditional use permit for Oppidan to install a digital sign near Mantorville Avenue for the Shopko Home Store and for the drive-up window for the pharmacy. A timer will be installed so the lighted sign goes off between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The sign will be lighted on both sides.
• The council had a brief discussion on water bills and how to deal with those residents who have excessive water bills as the result of broken pipes. "There are a few who have legitimate concerns and we are working with them," said the city administrator. Lines running through driveways have been more of a problem than those across lawns. One unoccupied property where a broken water main was discovered had a monthly water bill in excess of $4,000.
• The city was seeking proposals for qualified firms interested in delivering a two megawatt solar photovoltaic generating system on approximately 20 acres of land owned by the city north of the wastewater treatment plant.
The city administrator said the future is with solar since Kasson continues to deal with peak loads in June, July and August. There are also tax credit incentives.

The city has received eight proposals. The electric committee and electric department supervisor Todd Kispert will take the month of April to look over the proposals. Randy Lenth said there was a wide range of responses.

Dodge County and the City of Kasson will continue to operate the Dodge County Ice Arena as co-owners. When the arena was constructed Dodge County, Kasson, Mantorville and Dodge Center partners. January 1, 2010 the city of Kassona nd Dodge County took over ownership. Photo by Randy Carlsen.





Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mantorville council discusses new hire, sheriff candidate pays a visit

By Gretta Becay

At their meeting March 10, 2014, Mantorville City council members scheduled three meetings for 6:30 p.m. March 18, 19, and 20 at city hall to interview separately the three candidates selected as finalists for assistant city clerk.

Mayor Chuck Bradford and City Clerk/Finance Director Cami Reber said all the candidates had appropriate computer skills and all had worked with the public.

Dodge County Sheriff’s Investigator Scott Rose visited the council and talked about his background and his decision to run for sheriff in this year’s election. Rose said he has been in law enforcement since 1996. During this time he served in the Kasson Police Depart-ment and in the sheriff’s department as a dispatcher, a patrol officer and now as an investigator. Rose said running for sheriff is a goal he’s had since he started his law enforcement career.  He said one of the projects he is most proud of was the installation of computers in the patrol cars about 10 years ago.

Council member Barbara Ballard asked Rose if using a computer while driving was safer than texting. Rose said sometimes officers need information about the call they are responding to that would affect their safety so they need a way to communicate with dispatch that is more secure than the radio.

Swenke Ims Contracting, LLC will be placing riprap below the dam as soon as possible. The weather has prohibited the work up until now.

Council members also discussed briefly:
• What civic group should pay for tourism advertising?
• Location options for the Kasson-Mantorville sports-team congratulatory sign.
• The new 8-foot tall fence at Dennison Field.
• Needed repairs for the south shelter in the park.
• Can the city really afford a new grader and the Seventh Street project this year?
The next regular meeting for the council is 6:30 p.m. March 24 at city hall.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Semcac public transportation buses adopt new logo and name- Rolling Hills Transit


The Semcac public transportation bus system has been renamed, Rolling Hills Transit. A new logo will also begin to be dispersed in the area and displayed on the transit buses within the next few months.

The transportation department received a grant award contract from MnDOT and will be expanding their curb-to-curb bus services into the city of Stewartville, in addition to a new Semcac Dispatch Center housed in Kasson. Semcac’s Rolling Hills Transit system is currently in Dodge, Houston, Fillmore and rural Winona Counties. There also is a bus for seniors in Blooming Prairie.

Rolling Hills Transit Dispatch Center operates M-F, 8:00am – 4:30pm.  Call 1-800-528-7622 to schedule your curb-to-curb ride. 24 hour advance reservation requested. All buses are accessible for individuals with disabilities. Visit   www.semcac.org/services/transportation/ for additional information and regularly scheduled drop off locations. This transit system is available to anyone.

In addition to the new Rolling Hills Transit branding, there will also be a new, consistent fee schedule, making Rolling Hills Transit a very affordable way for anyone to ride! The following are the associated fare-based fees:

$1.50 per ride, one way
$3.00 per ride, one way- outside of city limits
$5.00 per ride, one way to Rochester
$1.75 Round Trip to Senior Dining

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Temporary injunction once again halts school demolition

A temporary injunction filed by Griselda Cuomo and Linda Jervis has for a second time this year, third time overall, temporarily stopped the city from demolition of the former 1918 Kasson school. The injunction was filed in Dodge County District Court Friday, January 7.

Earlier this year Griselda Cuomo, Linda Jervis and Marlyn Schroeder filed a temporary injunction. Schroeder's name was not on the most recent injunction.

Two weeks ago Judge Joseph Wieners ruled in favor of the city of Kasson. In early May the plaintiffs filed a restraining order to block the city's plan for demolition. The city and plaintiffs also met in court to present their side to the judge.

According to the court document ruling in favor of the city the case was dismissed "for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The temporary injunction is hereby vacated."

Attorney for the plaintiffs, Anthony Moosbrugger, filed the second restraining order. Representing the city is Shelley Ryan from the firm of Hoff, Barry & Kozar in Eden Prairie. The firm represented the city back in 2007 and when the restraining order was filed in May.

At the city council meeting last Wednesday city administrator Randy Lenth announced they are moving forward with demolition pending the most recent restraining order that was filed. Remediation of hazardous materials is set to begin soon.

Lenth noted that an inspection of the building Thursday, June 6 showed the south roof and wall continue to deteriorate significantly. A rafter has failed and the weight of the roof appears to be a problem, according to the city administrator's report. There will be an engineering inspection to determine if the street needs to be barricaded to protect...TO READ THE FULL STORY PURCHASE THE DCI TODAY!!!!! MULTIPLE LOCATIONS, SUBSCRIPTION, ONLINE EDITION.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Letter to the editor: O'Brien Berge

Letter to the editor:

We the citizens and taxpayers of Kasson do not have to be faced with litigation over the Historic Old Kasson Public School building. All you have to do is call, write, or email your Mayor, City Council, City Administrator and City Planner and tell them you've had enough. No more of your tax money spent on this issue-including demolition costs, no more tax money spent toward any exorbitant library plans, no more tax money spent on ridiculous "storm shelter" structures and tell them to sell the property.

Today we as taxpayers will benefit financially from the sale, we will increase our tax base by thousands of dollars to have an entire city block paying property taxes and once the building is redesigned and is a functioning commercial entity, the neighborhood and community will be asking themselves, "Why was this so difficult?"

Kasson does not need a bigger library. "Story time" for tots, book clubs and free internet access are not where I want my dollars spent. I prefer my money being used to improve our streets & drainage system, used to incentivize new businesses, improvements to fire and police departments... Toddlers, babies and preschoolers are beautiful creatures, but we don't need a new library to accommodate them. As for K-M's teens and tweens, they hardly use their school libraries. If they desire to "hang out" that place better sell burgers and fries or play music.

KARE did not reject all architectural drawings, pians or studies designed to consider reuse of the school. KARE actually helped to fund the studies and agreed with most of the adaptive reuses recommended by the architects and historians involved.

As for using a FEMA grant to construct a library-that almost sounds criminal. And proposing a "domed" structure? ... One that might resemble the Pantheon or Monticello, or to "even suggest that in 2013 you could construct a columnar entry facade" "just like the current building has," well that is ludicrous. And regarding "energy efficiency" in construction, the "greenest" building is the one that's already built. The previous mentioned studies make this point rather clearly.

If the City feels it needs a "storm shelter structure" the city (we the tax payers) owns many other properties, all suitable for such a structure.

KARE did not fail to find a reuse for the school. KARE's recommendations over the years include: putting the library and city offices in the building-the city council disapproved. KARE recommended selling the building for a reasonable price-the city council disapproved. KARE recommended a joint public/private project using a local developer-the city council disapproved. KARE has never offered to buy the school, KARE has no ownership in the building, which leaves the onus on the city.
Time has not caused any significant structural deterioration of the building. The interior damage caused by the copper thieves is unimportant because the majority of the inside of the building will be deconstructed to accommodate a retrofitted project, what makes this building unique in its structural integrity, lay-out design, outstanding craftsmanship overall, with emphasis on the exterior brick work specifically.

The reason to save this building has nothing to do with "emotional attachments." The reasons to reuse this building have yet again been explained.

The best reason to sell the old school to a private developer is that it will contribute a huge amount of commercial property taxes to our country, city & schools.

It the city keeps the property, demolishes the building, builds a new building, hires staff for the new building, heats the new building, and has running water and electricity in the new building - you will pay for all that and more. Do the math....

            Former president of KARE &
            Commercial taxpayer,
            Diane O'Brien Berge

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mayors Memo May 2013

What a roller coaster ride this spring has been!  We go from cleaning up a foot and a half of snow in early May to an almost a 100 degree record breaking day less than two weeks later.  Living in Minnesota certainly gives you the chance to see all seasons -- sometimes even in the same month!
As we continue to hope that spring is here to stay and summer is right around the corner, talk turns from weather to construction season!  We will be seeing a lot of activity which is going to be good for our community.  We will be finishing 16th Street and the Bridge.  Work will start on a Park & Ride facility on the south side of Highway 14.  We will also be putting down the second lift of blacktop out in the far northwest part of town along with fixing a few stretches of road south of Main Street. 

Work is scheduled to begin soon on the site of the old Folkestad’s Garage.  Plans are for the building to be gutted, cleaned up and renovated for use as a business incubator.  Interest has already been expressed in that building, so getting it cleaned up and re-used will be great for our community and the downtown area. 

Have you driven by the pool lately? Obviously, work has continued!  With the challenges of a long, wet winter/spring there are some delays with the pool work.  Please note that the contractors are doing everything they can to meet the open date.  The building is coming along nicely, and we are hoping for a nice stretch of dry weather enabling them to finish the pool and deck work.  The opening of the pool will be a great day!

Lastly, come on out for another “Meet the Mayor” meeting at Erdman’s deli from 8AM to 9AM on Saturday, June 1st.  I’ll look forward to hearing about what’s on your mind!

In your service,
Mayor Tim Tjosaas
mayor@cityofkasson.com


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Time to Move On

I  sure do not want to beat a dead horse, but it's time to move on. I was excited and optimistic when Sherman Associates was pursuing the possibility of purchasing the former Kasson school and turning the building into senior housing units. They have the expertise for this and have done projects for millions more than what would have been spent here. Renovation is also one of their specialties.
In order for the project to work financially  they were counting on Section 42 housing credits to help fund the project. They requested $396,740 per year for 10 years for the Minnesota Housing tax Credit. They were not awarded the tax credits so the deal was canceled and the purchase agreement terminated.

To me, if a company as reputable as Sherman Associates is unable to make a project profitable without financial backing, I doubt there is another business/individual out there who can. It's time to move on.

This injunction is costing the taxpayers of Kasson. City attorney fees will  add up and the city will be right back to where they were in 2007 when the first injunction was filed.

The old school controversy has been a an emotional roller coaster. I was at an all time high for reuse when Sherman Associates was involved. When they terminated the agreement my emotions went the opposite direction. It's becoming tiresome writing about the subject. Bite the bullet and let's move on.