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Relocating Little Lukes Daycare Center dominates BE Council work sessions

By Staff | Jan 14, 2008

If a proposed timeline works out, the Little Lukes Daycare/Early Childhood Development Center could be in a new location by July of this year.

The proposed relocation and expansion of Little Lukes dominated discussion at a work session of the Blue Earth City Council. It was held Jan. 7 before the regular council meeting.

Little Lukes is currently housed next to the St. Lukes facility. The proposal is to move it to a 10,200 square foot space in the Ag Center complex on Highway 169.

That building is currently owned by a sub-corporation of Bevcomm, Inc. who would be donating it to the city. The city would in turn lease it to the school, which operates Little Lukes.

City Administrator Ben Martig presented the timeline of the project at the work session. In it, the lease and bids for the new facility would be worked on by the city and school in January and February. Then construction would take place in April, May and June. Relocation would happen in July.

The city has applied for a grant/loan from the USDA for $150,000 for the remodeling costs that are involved in the project. That grant/loan approval could come in the next few months, Martig said, now that the federal ag bill has been passed. The funds would be authorized by the ag bill. The money applied for is a $50,000 grant and a $100,000 loan that could be at 4.5% interest and paid back over 10 or 15 years.

Martig also presented a proposed lease agreement between the city and the school for the building. The school is the one operating the Little Lukes facility as part of their Community Ed/Early Childhood Development activity. The terms and amounts in the lease were blank at this time. Martig said they would be filled in later, when costs were known.

“Usually the lease agreement amount can be adjusted down if there is a loss in the operations of the daycare, then brought back up the next year,” Martig said.

Little Lukes Director Lynn Anderson said they are covering all of their costs now, and added that they have a waiting list of families wanting day care. “I had two or three more calls last Friday,” she said. Especially needed is infant care.

She called this a great opportunity. “It is very much needed,” she said, “It will triple our space, give us extra room for a sleep area, lunch area and muscle development area.”

She said that the pre-school teachers are excited about it, as is her parents board and the families who use the facility.

The new building would allow them to have 21 more children at the center. Currently they charge $22.80 per day for childcare regardless of the age of the child. They also have flexible scheduling she said, where parents don’t have to bring their children everyday.

Anderson said she had talked to the school board and they were very supportive of the plan as well.

Enger asks for funds

Mike Enger of the Blue Earth Celebration committee was at the regular council meeting requesting some funding.

Enger told the council about the State of Minnesota Sesquicentennial coming up in 2008. They are requesting celebrations in towns across the state help celebrate the event.

“We would like to upgrade Giant Days again this year, like we did in 2006 for Blue Earth’s own Sesquicentennial,” Enger said. “We are booking the same band for a street dance in Juba’s parking lot again.”

Enger also said that the plan is for the committee to bring a special program to Blue Earth called “A Musical History of Minnesota.” It is about two hours long and includes a 20′ by 20′ screen that shows pictures of Minnesota from the turn of the century.

Mayor Rob Hammond asked Enger how much money the committee was asking for. Enger said they are going to need around $20,000 but would ask the council for as much as they could give towards the project.

Mayor Hammond suggested that Enger and City Administrator Martig meet and discuss the proposal further, and bring a proposal to the council.

New city attorney contract

The council okayed a new contract for city attorney services.

City Attorney David Frundt of Frundt & Johnson presented the new contract for 2008, which included a four percent increase in retainer fees.

That increase put the retainer at $39,960 per year, or $3,300 per month. That fee includes all meetings, 10 hours of prosecution per month, and other items. Additional work is charged at $130 per hour, up from $125 last year, but still less than the standard rate of $150 per hour.

Other city business

In other business, the council:

– Terminated the 2005 South Central Drug Task Force Joint Powers Agreement and adopted a new 2008 agreement, without Rice County in the new one.

– Approved appointing Les Pearson and Gail Pearson to the Parks Subcommittee.

– Approved a plan by the Planning Commission for Alltel to build a new wireless communication tower in Blue Earth. Their current equipment is on the old water tower that will be torn down later this year.

– Approved Blue Earth’s participation in a law enforcement mutual aid agreement. In the past it was a verbal agreement, but now will be a written document.