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Clinic update

Wells council receives report from UHD’s CEO

February 19, 2017
Katie Mullaly - Register Staff Writer ( , Faribault County Register

United Hospital District CEO Rick Ash attended the Wells City Council meeting with the intention of bringing reassurance about the Wells UHD Clinic during the public comment portion of the meeting.

With rumors rampant that the Winnebago clinic was closing due to a broken HVAC system, Ash wanted to not only set the record straight, but inform Wells of some upcoming changes to the clinic, as well.

"No, the Winnebago clinic is not closing," Ash said. "On an unrelated note, we did want to inform the city of Wells that there will be some scheduling changes as new doctors continue to join our staff."

Ash mentioned a number of new staff doctors who have joined the UHD?team, including their new psychologist Dr. Carol Follingstad, new physicians assistant Mandy Warmka, new OB/GYN Dr. Joseph Montanaro, and the return of family physician Dr. Deb McCarty.

"There will be an adjustment to Wells' clinic hours because of these changes in staff, but you won't be losing too much time with your care providers. Wells will be losing just a half day in their entire schedule," Ash informed the council. "But the clinic will still be open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to accommodate any needs of the community. It's good news; more providers means more improvement at all of our UHD?clinics including the clinics in Winnebago, Fairmont and Blue Earth."

Also during public comment, Tracy Muhlenbeck of the Five Sisters Project in Wells discussed plans for temporary or transitional housing for the project. Muhlenbeck said a conditional use permit for the temporary housing has substantial fees attached to it and was concerned about the ability to pay the fees.

City administrator Robin Leslie informed the council that the city would be able to waive city fees for the non-profit group, though they would be unable to waive any state fees.

"These fees are pretty substantial for our budget," said Muhlenbeck. "I am not in this business to make money, I am in this business to make a difference."

"I think you have a phenomenal program going with success stories already," said city councilwoman Whitney Harig. "I move to approve the conditional use permit and move to approve eliminating the city fees attached to it."

Harig's motion was quickly seconded and approved by the council.

And while Muhlenbeck moves forward with her building project, members of the Wells VFW Donny Klocek, Gary Uppedahl and Jedd Dulas came to council for some advice on one for them.

The first building that the VFW was in for many years quickly became a concern for the group when the building itself became a hazard for its patrons. The group then moved its establishment to the Wildcats Bar's "Lil Cats" to set up its organization to continue serving veterans in the Wells area.

"We're quickly finding out that this space does not fulfill the needs for the VFW program. We think we will need more room to accomplish the tasks and programs the VFW wants to accomplish," Uppedahl explained to the council members.

A few ideas the VFW?members brought to the council on their potential new location included building onto an already standing garage owned by the VFW.

Leslie had some concerns with that proposal stating in order to accomplish that, the area where the garage is would have to be zoned commercial and not residential property, which would affect the other residential properties that share the same block.

Another idea that was kicked around was the possibility of building a brand new VFW?on the lot of land where the Frank Brothers elevator used to be, but there was a catch to that suggestion, as well.

"Before we act on that idea, we want to make sure the ground is okay to build on," Uppedahl said to the council. "Was the soil tested for that lot?"

"That parcel of land was not tested for soil contamination," said Leslie. "And the city does not plan on doing anything about that."

Leslie went on to say if there was contamination, she assumed it would be fuel or oil and because the elevator's demolition waste was taken off site and not buried in the ground, she said the contamination has the chance of being minimal.

"You would probably only need to test to the frost level," suggested Leslie, though the cost of having soil tested could be anywhere from $8-10,000.

It was the council's suggestion that the VFW talk with environmental consultants to see what it would cost to get the soil tested.

At their regular meeting, the Wells City Council also:

Heard reports from the city foreman, city engineer, city attorney and chief of police Tim Brenegan, who reports there will be a Citizen's Academy beginning at the end of March.

"We will be accepting applications for up to eight people to attend our Citizens Academy which will run for four consecutive weeks. Interested parties should contact the police department for more information on how to apply," said Brenegan.

Passed resolution 2017-02, which acknowledges and accepts a donation of $5,000 for the Wells Fire Department. Leslie reports the dollars will be used for more turnout gear for the fire department.

Went over and approved the council's 2017 goals and priorities with councilwoman Brenda Weber, who was not at the first goals and priorities discussion.

Authorized the Street Department's budget with an amendment to allow for the Third Street SE/CSAH?32 Project.

"We have an opportunity to repair Third Street SE/County State-Aid Highway 32 from Highway 109 across the railroad tracks to the alley between Fifth Avenue SE?and Fourth Avenue SE," said Leslie. "Then, we are also going to do a mill and overlay to one block of Third Avenue SE?and one block of Fifth Avenue NW."

Met with city attorney David Frundt in a closed session to get an update regarding a pending litigation with a non-employee. No action was taken in the closed session.

The next regular Wells City Council meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 27, at 5 p.m. in the Wells Community Center.



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