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Paynesville Press - November 22, 2006

City council holds special meetings

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville City Council held a brief special council meeting on Monday, Nov. 13, and a two-hour meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 15, to discuss the budget and Highway 23.

*On Monday, Nov. 13, the board met for five minutes and approved the bills, the election results, and accepted the low bid for a new fire truck. Four bids for the fire truck were received, with the council approving the low bid of $146,975 from Forstner Fire Apparatus out of Madelia, Minn. This new fire truck, which should arrive in about ten months, was rebid by the city after 2006 chassis were no longer available. The fire department tightened the specifications for the project, firefighter Roger Torborg told the council, and were pleased that Forstner will now use a chassis supplier from Willmar, who helped develop the bids for the truck.

*On Wednesday, Nov. 15, the council meeting centered on the upcoming 2007 budget, to be presented at the truth-in-taxation hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 6 p.m.

The council also discussed Highway 23 for 15 minutes following a meeting the week before with MnDOT District 8 (highway) and MnDOT aeronautics. The MnDOT branches expressed a need to move two highway ramps out of the clear zone for the airport and pledged to work together to make the west route for proposed Highway 23 improvements work.

Local businessman Stan Yarmon, representing a group of local businesses, asked the city council to support moving those ramps east (closer to town) rather than west (farther from town) if needed.

Councilor Jeff Bertram agreed that MnDOT would show that it was listening to local concerns if it found a way to design these ramps on the revised Cemetery Road. (Cemetery Road is scheduled to be rerouted to the south during this project, terminating on the current Highway 23 right across from the north exit of the PAHS parking lot.)

"The real proof in the pudding for me," said Bertram, "is if they come back with that intersection on Cemetery Road (instead of by the golf course hill)."

The council also discussed rumblings that they had heard following the meeting, including some indications from MnDOT District 8 would not want to move that intersection closer to town.

The council agreed that MnDOT District 8 wants to submit a plan for municipal consent that the city will approve and discussed ways to add input to the project, including having the city engineer discuss city concerns with MnDOT, prior to the formal submission of the highway plans. The council was pessimistic about altering or stopping the project by refusing to give municipal consent to MnDOT.

They asked Yarmon if local businesses could live with a revised plan - with ramps in the current locations - if MnDOT's highway and aeronautics branches could agree to lighting for the ramps and airport safety, and Yarmon said that this would be tolerable, that the current design was an improvement over the original design.

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