By Jordan Gerard
Editor, The Caledonia Argus
A year and three months after the City of Hokah started poking the Minnesota Department of Transportation to do something about the speed on State Highway 16, they finally have a few answers.
Police Chief Bob Schuldt said the most recent correspondence from MnDOT’s Director of Public Engagement and Communications Mike Dougherty was rumble strips slated for bids this spring. A project website should also be set up soon with information. Striping has also been set with wider marks this year and chevrons were also installed around the curves.
While that is good news, there’s one part of the project that has not gotten any movement, and that’s reducing the speed limit upon entering the area. Traffic Engineer Mike Schweyen said a reduced speed limit will not likely have a positive effect on actual safety, Dougherty relayed. The conditions and road character do not strongly support the need for a change and the speed limit is not expected to change, the email stated.
However, with two fatalities and one crash that could have been a fatality, Schuldt disagrees that the speed limit can’t be reduced. The highway is also slated for an increase to 60 mph, as other highways in the county and state have been increased.
Schuldt has also kept an eye on the speeds from vehicles traveling through the area and the number of walkers on the highway.
Pool managers hired
The council approved hiring Zach Petrie as manager and Harley Furlong as assistant manager for the pool this summer. The personnel committee liked both applicant’s leadership skills and experience. They felt having two managers would not burn out a single person, with the pool being open seven days a week.
The goal is also to have the manager teach the assistant manager, then in the future, the pool would have a manager.
A clean up day has been scheduled for April 17 and extra cleaning is planned daily to keep kids safe. Kids will likely need to wear a mask inside the pool house, but guidance is subject to change.
Bond refinance application
The council approved a motion to refinance a bond in the hopes a lower interest rate will be gained.
Financial advisor Mike Bubany said the city would be able to get a locked-in rate and the city does not need a credit rating. It would also lower the bond payments for the city, and could potentially save up to $55,201.56. Present value savings is $46,345.86.
The council approved the resignation of council member Don Bissen and thanked him for his years of service on the council.
Library Director Kirsten Plummer said the Dr. Seuss books that made recent news about allegations of racism in the story content would remain on the shelves. The library has just two of the six books.
The library also approved new bylaws, consisting of a few small changes. They also found a new wireless scanner, thanks to Judy Lonkoskiand the Friends of the Library, who reimbursed her. Summer reading programs are also in the planning stages.
Public Works Head Matt Vetsch reported the city received its new Bobcat machine, and would be getting ready to start lawn mowing.
The council approved the personnel committee positions assigned to two council members, city clerk and a department head if needed.
The next meeting of the Hokah City Council will be held May 4, at 6 p.m. in the community room at the fire station with masks and social distancing in mind.