Area News

Dec. 6, 2019

Complaint filed regarding Monticello contract issue

Monticello City Administrator Brian Stumpf came under fire recently after a Twin Cities newspaper alleged that a whistleblower filed a conflict of interest complaint against him, the Monticello Times reported.

The issue allegedly stemmed from a situation in which Mayor Jeff O’Neill directed Stumpf to pursue an outright contract with WSB & Associates, a longtime provider of engineering services for the city, rather than seeking bids from other engineering firms for a street project.

The city continues to stand by the decision to use the WSB, noting its longtime relationship with the company.

NYA Holiday Extravaganza taking place in Willkommen

This year, Norwood Young America’s Holiday Extravaganza will not only be in a new location, but also feature more fun sights for the community to get out and enjoy, the Waconia Patriot reported.

This will be the fifth-annual Holiday Extravaganza for NYA, and each year the party has grown. This year it ended up having to move to the Willkommen Memorial Park and Pavilion to accommodate all the guests who attend.

“We outgrew the old spot, which is awesome!” said Jamie Smith, one of the Economic Development Commission members. “We can offer more at Willkommen and it helps out with some safety concerns, too.”

The previous location was at the five-way stop near the schools, which was shut down for safety reasons. Now, at Willkommen Park, there’s not only more space, but also the option of being indoors.

Waconia’s new outdoor rink is ready for ice

This winter marks the first year Waconia will have an official outdoor ice facility, the Waconia Patriot reported.

The rink is a feature of the new outdoor sports complex that was developed this summer between the high school and middle school.

The Waconia Hockey Association (WHA) worked through School District 110 to get a site established for the boards, glass, benches, penalty box, and scorer’s table that the association purchased through Becker Arena Products.

The WHA has 280 skaters, and participation has been growing by 5 to 10 percent per year.

Litchfield approves budget and levy for 2020

Litchfield City Council approved resolutions Monday, setting the city’s budget and levy for 2020, the Litchfield Independent Review reported.

The budget calls for a total property tax levy of $2,832,500; a 5.7 percent increase over 2019.

The city council previously approved a preliminary 6 percent levy increase. However, residential property values increased more than anticipated, meaning the tax rate would not need to increase as much.

The average home in Litchfield, with a $130,000 value, would see less than a $2 increase in taxes for 2020 given the tax rate. However, because most residential property values increased in 2019, most will pay more in tax.

Hutchinson residence damaged by fire

Crews were called to a house fire in Hutchinson Tuesday, KDUZ reported.

Authorities said the call came in at 6:41 a.m. for a fire at a residence in the 700 Block of California Street Northwest.

Police said that when they arrived, there was smoke coming from the front door.

Hutchinson Fire Chief Mike Schumann said details are not yet available, but he noted there appears to be moderate damage to the home and there were no injuries.

The cause remains under investigation.

Raider Room in NYA helps students in need

In an effort to support students, no matter what, the staff at Central Elementary School has been working hard on a new project – The Raider Room. The Raider Room is a school-based charity, allowing residents to donate items for less fortunate students for snack time, recess, and more, the Waconia Patriot reported.

“We’ve been working on it for about a month, and looking into spaces and how it would work,” said Brittany Schmidt, school counselor. “I’ve always had winter clothes in my room for kids, and this seemed like a better use.”

The Room has only been open since Nov. 12, and the concept is fairly simple. Schmidt keeps winter clothes and snacks available for students from struggling families. The items are donated by staff and residents aware of the help students need. Schmidt and staff decided to make more space available for the donated items, which is what eventually became the Raider Room.

Archer family opens Santa’s St. Boni workshop one last time

Santa’s workshop will be open in St. Bonifacius Sunday, but Santa won’t be there, the Waconia Patriot reported.

Kelley Archer, who played Santa Claus for more than 30 years, passed away in July and his family is opening his workshop one last time to honor his memory. Workshop hours are 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.

This will be a chance for visitors to take some final photos, get a final gift from Santa, and share their own memories of times visiting Santa at his workshop.

“When dad passed away, so many people shared a comment or a photo – people who had brought their kids to visit Santa since they were babies – that we felt like we had to open his workshop one last time,” said Kelley Archer’s daughter, Kathryn. She, sister Colleen Stanley, Kelley’s wife Linda, and other family members will help stage the event.

For Kathryn Archer and many others, her dad was Christmas. Father Kelley Archer dressed up as Santa Claus for the first time Christmas Eve 1973, to humor his first niece, and for decades was the face and voice of Santa Claus for his kids, grandkids, children around the community, and their parents.

Waconia recognized for stormwater management

The city of Waconia and its public services director are getting recognition for their leadership in stormwater management, the Waconia Patriot reported.

The Carver Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) has selected Craig Eldred, Waconia’s head of public services, as its 2019 Outstanding Conservationist. That makes Eldred and the city one of eight finalists for the Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation District’s state award for 2019. That award will be announced in December.

In making the nomination, the local SWCD indicated that under Eldred’s direction “the Waconia Public Services Division has been a leader in the metro area for municipal stormwater management.”

The city recently partnered with the SWCD, the Carver County Water Management Organization, and Bayview Elementary School to create a stormwater reuse system to irrigate the ball fields at the school. After a rainfall, stormwater is collected and treated, and later used to irrigate the fields, lessening the need to rely on groundwater. This project is estimated to save 22,000 gallons of water, translated into a cost savings of about $200 a day during the summer, according to the SWCD.