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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • Butterfield City Council works toward resolving issues

  • Up first on the agenda was the Maintenance Report from Keith Pankratz. Pankratz told council members that he had made the decision to hire Tom Meyer at $8.50 an hour in order to mow city property.
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  • Butterfield City Council met Tuesday, June 10 at their regularly scheduled meeting and invited City Attorney Steve Sunde to partake in the meeting.
    The minutes from previous meetings were approved as written along with an amended agenda and April/May financials.
    Up first on the agenda was the Maintenance Report from Keith Pankratz. Pankratz told council members that he had made the decision to hire Tom Meyer at $8.50 an hour in order to mow city property.
    Pankratz then spoke about Bolton and Menk and their plans to stake out the new venture piping Wednesday. The piping will be laid out and planned and the cost of the venture piping should be covered under the warranty of the project.
    Bolton and Menk also got pricing for the installation of a forcemain cleanout at the main lift station. They priced the project at about $4,600. The forcemain cleanout project doesn’t need to be completed immediately, but is something the city will need to clean the forcemain regularly. Pankratz reported that because of the new piping, the forcemain won’t need to be cleaned as often, but will still need to be done.
    “My feeling is we need to sit down with Bolton and Menk to find out why that wasn’t in the original bid, why that cleanout wasn’t there,” said Council Member Howard Madson. “That should have been part of that installation – if it was in the old one I don’t know why in the world it wouldn’t have been put in now.”
    The council decided to ask Bolton and Menk to the next meeting, but to table the decision for the installation of a forcemain until a later meeting.
    After completing the maintenance report, Pankratz made a personal inquiry about how to move forward with a business he has built with his brother.
    Pankratz wanted to know whether there were any special requirements for starting a small business in Butterfield. The business is called Tip-Top Auto Service and Detailing and is located in the former Pankratz Trucking building.
    Because the building is located in a residential area, Pankratz will have to submit an application for approval from the council. Letters will be sent out to adjoining properties then a public hearing will be held. The application will be up for approval at next month’s meeting.
    The elevator that was brought up at the last meeting made another appearance at the June meeting. Council Member Jim Warwick and Mayor Ken Pankratz met with Bob Cunningham to discuss the project. Some concerns were raised publicly about the noise of the elevators – specifically the dryer unit. The building will be constructed to cut down on the noise of the elevator considerably, but there may still be some issues with noise from the project.
    Page 2 of 3 - The city would like to draw up an agreement to limit the noise, but would like to get some decibel readings from the equipment and decide upon what is an acceptable amount of noise emitted from the elevator. The city is hoping Cunningham can make a meeting soon to discuss the project further.
    A request came from the community to use golf carts on trails around the lake in Butterfield.
    According to Roger Risser of Watonwan County, “it is a specific condition of the grant received from the state of Minnesota, that the trail be used only for walking, bicycling, three wheeled mobility carts for individuals who legitimately need the use of the same. The consequences for the city of Butterfield allowing motorized vehicles, such as golf carts, scooters or other such items on the trail, may well be the city being disqualified from further funding from the state of Minnesota.”
    With that statement, the city decided to keep the rules as they stand and not allow golf carts on the path.
    The Butterfield City Council received notice of vacation of a second apartment in their senior living complex Tuesday. They have been struggling to fill the apartments and are open to suggestions about how to fix that issue.
    The rent for these apartments is between $525 and $625 plus utilities. There were a few suggestions from the audience about using social media to advertise the apartments and contacting Southwest Minnesota about the apartments. No council action was taken at the meeting.
    Blane Braaten of the Butterfield Fire Department met with council members at the Tuesday meeting to discuss fire department issues.
    Braaten reported there was a small staff turnover with one new member joining the crew and another retiring on good terms. The council accepted both the resignation and hiring unanimously.
    Scott Pankratz of the fire department has made it known he is interested in taking the EMT course this fall. The total cost of the course will be about $1,300 – which may not include books. The city has agreed to pay for the class in return for years of service.
    The fire department would like the city to look into the purchase of new jackets for the squad. Jackets will cost the city about $70 a piece, however money has been donated for the project so there should be funds available. The council was open to the idea of purchasing jackets and approved the request unanimously.
    Fire trucks were also discussed at the meeting. The topic first arose with the discussion of receiving dyed fuel from the county. The fire department has inquired about the use of dyed fuel in the past and is hoping to get more answers about its availability in the future. The trucks will also be going through their annual ISO pump testing in September. Documentation about testing was handed out to council members.
    Page 3 of 3 - City Attorney Steve Sunde was present at the meeting for the final agenda item in which Council Member Nick Mathistad expressed his discontent for Sunde’s guidance through the pay equity issues the city had the last two months.
    Sunde told the council his job was to guide them about the law and his advice to the council was that they solve the issue or they would have to pay a fine of $43,000.
    Mathistad then stated that he was mislead by Sunde’s advice, which lead to him voting in a direction he would not have otherwise to solve the pay equity issue.
    Sunde replied by saying, “if you are dissatisfied with me, there are a lot of different lawyers out there.”
    Mayor Pankratz told the council he has been more than satisfied with the job Sunde has done for the city. No action was taken before the end of the meeting to remove Sunde as city attorney and he left promptly after the discussion.
    At the end of the regular city council meeting there was a citizen open forum. This was the first time a citizen open forum was added to the agenda at the Butterfield City Council meeting and was a clear response to the number of visitors the council has been getting lately.
    Issues with the maintenance worker losing his temper in the May meeting and resigning council members came up in a heated discussion between council members and the city, but an overall feeling of moving foward was palpable following the meeting. There were 15 members of the community attending the meeting.
    Other Business:
    Applications for liquor license approved unanimously for Caseys and Buckshots.
    Winters and Junker field roads are scheduled to be re-graded and have more gravel added this summer.
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