Police Chief announces summer retirement

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By Shelia Tomkins

Guttenberg Police Chief George Morteo announced plans to retire this summer when he spoke to the city council at the regular monthly meeting on Monday, April 12. "I think it is time that I retire," said the Chief, who has served the community for 29 years. "Effective July 23 I will be done."  The council made plans to advertise for the position with an application deadline of May 17 in order to allow time for hiring and training prior to the Chief's retirement.

Mayor Bill Frommelt led the council through the 35-item agenda. Councilmembers present were Mick Pierce, Austin Greve, Fred Schaub, Virginia Saeugling and Jane Parker. City Manager Denise Schneider and City Attorney Michael Schuster were also on hand.

Schiller Street work set to begin

The Schiller Street project is expected to begin the week of May 3, according to Jeff Rouse from Veenstra & Kim, the engineering firm overseeing the project. He told the council that they hope the project will be completed by July Fourth. He sought council input on how to proceed with the portion of Schiller Street that lies west of Highway 52.

In other project updates, the city manager reported that the riverbank repair project behind the public restroom in the downtown area is "pretty much done," with grass seed being planted as a final step. 

The city manager also said she expected the wastewater project to be finished by May, and that grouting issues seem to have been resolved.

Chamber requests

Brandie Tomkins, director of the Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce, presented several requests to the council, all of which were approved, including: Stars and Stripes celebration for fireworks, parade route, parade prizes and use of park; permission for parking restrictions for the farmers market in the downtown district; and permission to use some blocks and streets for German Fest.  

Police Dept. requests

Officer Derek Chambers of the Guttenberg Police Department addressed the council about his preliminary research on the cost of a new police vehicle. He said delivery dates are projected to be delayed longer than usual due to supply chain issues. The council asked him to return to next month's meeting with a comparison sheet of models and costs. 

Chambers also discussed the need to update police radios, saying that county law enforcement is slowly moving to a new system that runs on a different bandwidth. The council okayed the purchase of two radios through the county at a cost of $5,325 each plus cables and set-up.  

Property requests

The council approved a zoning change request from Brandon and Rich Kann and Amy Vonderhaar in order to develop an RV campground along North Fifth Street south of the Imagine the Possibilities office building. Brandon Kann also asked the council about purchasing two small parcels of adjacent city property. The council decided to move forward with his request with an appraisal and survey.

At last month's council meeting Matt McLane spoke about plans to develop property behind Casey's next to the railroad track for storage units. He requested that the city open and gravel South Fourth Street in the 400 block at Rotteck Street to allow for the development. Discussion continued at this month's meeting after the cost of the gravel was determined to be $5500. After noting that the city would benefit from increased property tax revenue if the property was developed, the council approved the request.

Other business

Community Vitality Director Emily Yaddof spoke to the council about business incentives and grants. The council was agreeable to the idea of offering incentives such as waiving some fees — on a case by case basis — to encourage new business and new development. The council also approved a proposal to establish a local Business Accelerator Fund to help new businesses get started or current businesses to expand, and the council okayed a Rural Innovation Grant application regarding the same.

Robert Johnson was hired as the manager of the city marina for the coming season, a part-time position.

Mayor Frommelt spoke about concerns regarding post office policy on fees for post office boxes, delivery options, and the policy on establishing cluster boxes. He said he believes everybody is entitled to no-fee mail delivery, and said he plans to further investigate the matter.   

The council gave the okay for the city manager to pursue grant money for water system improvements and also for demolition of empty buildings owned by the city south of the municipal building. The council also okayed a community funding request to Congresswoman Ashley Hinson for transportation needs.

The council decided to advertise for bids on the lot left vacant following the demolition of the former Palmer house property on South Second Street, setting a minimum bid of $20,000. 

By order of the city council, the city manager will proceed with the official legal process to deal with nuisance properties that have already received a courtesy notice. 

Chuck Pierce asked for a perpetual easement for a driveway to his property in the Miners Creek area; the council okayed the start of the legal process required to do so.

Taylor and Lori Ludovissy received permission to raise chickens in the city limits with no more than six chickens allowed and no roosters.

A public hearing was set for May 13 on an amendment to the budget for the current fiscal year.

A bid of $169,750 from Truck Country  was accepted for a dump truck. Midland Overhead Doors was the low bidder at $18,406 on new doors for the city shop.

Mike Randall was the low bidder for mowing city recreation areas this season. Bids to spray for weeds and fertilizer were awarded two bidders, Rich Kann and Dustin White.

The council okayed the wage scale for the city pool staff.

The council took no action on a request from Soo Green Project for a franchise for underground transmission lines. 

A grant application will be submitted to AARP for amenities for biking and walking areas.

Amendments to the employee handbook were approved as discussed as last month’s meeting.

The council okayed approximately $24,000 in utility bad debt adjustments, with attempts to collect to continue.         

Kluesner Construction had the low bid on asphalt for street work this season. 

The mayor proclaimed Volunteer Week and also issued a Fair Housing Proclamation.

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