By Jordan Gerard

Editor, The Caledonia Argus

Brownsville City Council kicked off 2021 with swearing in two new council members and the mayor at its regular meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 6. 

Tim Klug and Jacob Danielson were welcomed to the council, while re-elected Mayor Al Whitesitt was also sworn in. The council also welcomed Jenna Knight, as the city’s new treasurer. 

New city website

Continuing the discussion from the December meeting, Bill Katula from Vision Design Group (Winona, MN) talked to the council about re-designing the city’s website. The topic was brought up by then-council member Chelsey Leis, who has worked with Vision Design Group before and also offered to volunteer her time gathering information from various city departments. 

The website would have enhanced, easier to find content, an updated community calendar and optimized for mobile devices. Kotula mentioned about 40 to 50% of the website’s traffic is on a mobile phone. 

The fee would be $2,500 to set up the website and then $50 per month for the hosting fee, license fees and software fees. The city would not be locked into a contract with the company. City employees would be trained on how to update the site. 

The cities of Caledonia and La Crescent also use Vision Design Group for their websites. 

The council currently has one person updating their website for about $59 a month. 

After some discussion, the council agreed to ask the current website manager about updating the site and ask other cities on their opinion of Vision Design Group. It was tabled until the February meeting. 

Streets and Maintenance

Maintenance Department Head Casey Holzwarth said he and Whitesitt talked about the city’s maintenance outlook for the next two years. A few top priorities were discussed.

The first was replacing the blacktop parking lot with concrete at the community center building and adding 206 ft. of curb and gutter. The city had gathered estimates last spring, but expected the price of materials to increase. The council agreed to get new bids for the project. 

Second on the list was the consideration of guard rails on North 2nd St.The current posts are rotted out and either need to be taken down or fixed, Holzwarth said. The council agreed to ask for bids on those as well. 

Finally, the last project discussed was replacing handicap tubs in the manor. Holzwarth said his department was working on that process. 

Fire Department report

Training officer Brandon Frank said EMS personnel started receiving their first COVID vaccinations and would get the booster within four weeks. The department was able to get enough personal protective equipment for fire and EMS calls. They also purchased an industrial grade washing machine for fire suits that will also protect firefighters. 

The total number of calls for the department was 44, which Frank said that was about average. 

The department also changed its pay scale, as personnel is paid per call, not as a volunteer fire department. The council later approved the change. 

Currently, wages for calls are set at $13 for every member. Members who hold positions such as chief, assistant chief, and training officers have additional salaries. 

Other news

The council approved Richard’s Sanitation for the garbage and recycling contract. The city will stay with garbage bags. 

The council approved wages for council members, including $50 for the mayor and $40 for council members, per meeting. 

Appointments, committee liaisons and official depositories were named with no change from the previous year. The city named the Caledonia Argus as the official newspaper. 

Next meeting

The next meeting will be held Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. at the community center. 

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