McGregor mayor resigns

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By Rachel Mergen, North Iowa Times

On June 20, McGregor City Council met to discuss their agenda for the June month, which featured big decisions that would affect the community greatly. The meeting did not truly become surprising, though, until mayor Harold Brooks announced his unexpected resignation at its conclusion. 

Sullivan Opera House

The public hearing about the Sullivan Opera House was welcomed by a full room. No comments were made though, with councilwoman Rogeta Halvorson representing the entire community with her statement that “this town is 100 percent behind [the new owner.]”

The city approved conveying the property, which it owns, to developer Dominic Sparrgrove and also entered into a development agreement with him.

Sparrgrove’s goal is to salvage as much of what’s currently in the building as he can. On the ground level, he plans on constructing three retail stores, two apartments, and space for the McGregor Historical Museum to store items and use as they please. Upstairs, there will be six apartments remodeled. 

Sparrgrove noted he is “excited to hopefully get something going.”

Abandoned Sewer Main

One of Craig and LeAnn Watson’s plans on their new land in the Ohmer Subdivision was to build a garage. The plans were in place and the first steps were completed in construction. The task came to a screeching halt, though, when a manhole was discovered where the garage was supposed to be placed. 

The city was contacted, and discovered an abandoned sewer main was located on the property, along with the lots near it. The city had no knowledge of this line when they sold the lot, so it was a shock to the council as much as it was the Watsons. 

The engineer recommended a simple capping of the sewer line, but city code requires that the structure be filled so that it will not collapse. 

It was an emergency decision that the council had to make to continue the construction of the garage and to please the Watsons. 

It was decided that $4,000 would be given to the Watsons to have the manhole removed and the pipes dealt with, while also contributing some to the funds that were lost due to the unexpected complications. 

The city plans on figuring out how to deal with the rest of the sewer main in the near future, so that the other lots affected by the ordeal will be able to be built on in the future.

Sixth Street Bridge

The Iowa Department of Transportation decided that the Sixth Street over Drainage was high enough on the city bridge candidate list for the city to receive funding for replacement.  The city council gladly accepted the funding.

Watering Trees Employment

Currently, volunteers are leading the way with watering McGregor’s many trees, which is a task that takes a couple of hours almost every day. Due to the consistent scheduling, though, the city council decided they may also need the help of part-time employees specifically assigned to the chore. 

The city suspects that volunteers will continue helping half of the week, while seasonal employees could cover the rest of the time. The employees would likely be asked to work 15 hours each week, with a wage of $8 per hour.

Sharing of Tree Clearing Costs

The city plans on having McGregor Municipal Utilities pay for half of what McGregor will be charged for the tree clearing that will be taking place soon along Highway 76, between Marquette and McGregor. Only the percentage that would be charged to them could be determined at this time, as the exact amount for the tree clearings has not been decided due to bids not being in yet.

Brooks Resigns

As the almost two-hour meeting came to a conclusion, the council and attendees seemed to be ready to head home for the night. There was a delay, though, as mayor Harold Brooks removed a letter from his belongings. 

From it, he read a statement that he wished to resign from his position, effective Friday, June 22, a shock to everyone in the room. 

“The demands of this job have grown with each passing year, to the extent it’s taken away too much time with family and my full-time job,” Brooks said.

He noted he is highly appreciative of the opportunity to work with his fellow council members, along with the entire city.

Brooks also stated he would like the council to make time for a job evaluation of city administrator Lynette Sander. He added that “complications with the McGregor Municipal Utilities are out of hand and need to be addressed, as well as the handling of issues with the city crew as they come up.”

The council was left stunned for a moment before the question of what comes next began to be discussed. Halvorson later explained that the city will have to consult with the state, along with the policies set up for this type of situation, to discover what will be the future of the city and its mayor position.

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