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Winsted takes steps to keep staff safe while continuing operations
March 27, 2020

Ivan Raconteur
Editor

WINSTED, MN – Winsted has implemented procedures to ensure that the city can continue essential operations while keeping staff safe during the COVID-19 crisis.

During the city council work session March 24, which was moved to the Vollmer Room to allow the recommended social distance between participants, City Administrator Adam Birkholz presented an update on some of the steps the city has taken.

An emergency response team, consisting of Birkholz, Mayor Steve Stotko, Police Chief Justin Heldt, and Fire Chief Troy Scherping, has been meeting every few days to assess the current situation and determine what action may be necessary.

All city buildings are currently closed to the public, but the city is still fully operational, Birkholz said. Options for making payments for utility bills or permit fees include a drop box at city hall, mail payments, and online payments via the city website.

March 23, Stotko declared a local emergency. During Tuesday’s meeting, the city council adopted a resolution extending the local emergency until further action is taken by the council.

Millerbernd expansion

Birkholz noted that throughout 2019, city staff has engaged in discussions with Millerbernd Manufacturing regarding the business’ need for expansion through the renovation and expansion of its current facilities.

This has been identified as Millerbernd’s Redevelopment Project. As part of the efforts, city staff proposed partnering with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to leverage state funding programs to gain the capital investments within Winsted.

Millerbernd Manufacturing, with the support of the City of Winsted, intends to apply for an award and/or rebate from the Job Creation Fund, which is sponsored by DEED. The redevelopment project is projected to retain at least 355 full-time jobs, and create an additional 73 full-time jobs over its first three years of operation.

The council adopted a resolution of support of the company applying for the Job Creation Fund.

Millerbernd Manufacturing is also working with the city to initiate an application to DEED for the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF), which provides financing to help add new workers and retain high-quality jobs on a statewide basis. The program focus is on industrial; manufacturing; and technology-related industries to increase the local and state tax base, and improve economic vitality statewide.

Funds are awarded to local units of government which provide loans to assist expanding businesses. All projects must meet minimum criteria for private investment, number of jobs created or retained, and wages paid.

At least 50 percent of total project costs must be privately financed through owner equity and other lending sources.

A public hearing is required to approve a resolution to submit a Minnesota Investment Fund application.

Following the public hearing, the city council will be asked to act on a resolution, authorizing the mayor and city administrator to make an application to the program, and sign necessary documents associated with implementation of the proposed funding request.

The council scheduled a public hearing Tuesday, April 7 at 6 p.m. in the city council chambers at Winsted City Hall to consider the submittal of an application to DEED on behalf of Millerbernd Manufacturing to request financing from the MIF.

Promenade improvements

At the March 9 park commission meeting, Park Commission Member Evelyn Fowler presented a project scope for the Winsted Lake Promenade rain garden and helipad improvements. The proposal includes the following:

• plantings in the rain garden at a cost of $4,700;

• plantings for the helipad at a cost of $1,200; and

• plantings on the east side of city hall at a cost of $300.

The Winsted Garden Club would assist with ordering and installation of the plants, but would need additional help from city staff and other community groups or volunteers.

The park commission recommended approval of the project at a cost not to exceed $6,300.

The council approved the request.

Lake association

George Schulenberg, president of the Winsted Lake Association, presented an organization report.

He reviewed some of the things the organization has done to improve the water quality of Winsted Lake.

Schulenberg said the organization currently has about 100 members, and would like to add more. The annual membership cost is $25, and anyone interested in joining or who would like more information may contact Schulenberg at 320-485-4730.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• discussed a Phase II Environmental Assessment for the property at 231 Main Avenue West. The council will revisit this at a later date.

• authorized Birkholz to approve a proposal and execute a maintenance contract with Liquid Engineering, for cleaning and inspecting the water tower in 2020, 2021, and 2022; for a cost not to exceed $9,405.

• approved a conditional offer of employment for Jonathan Robbin for the position of part-time police officer with the Winsted Police Department, contingent upon passing a criminal background check, psychological examination, and a drug and alcohol test.

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