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Kiester council explores grocery options

By Staff | Jul 15, 2012

At least one Kiester council member wasn’t happy with what he was hearing during discussion of the closed grocery store.

So, he excused himself before the end of Monday night’s meeting.

“I had had enough. There were two choices; I either blow up in front of people or go home and think about it,” says Councilman Dean Johnson.

For more than 30 minutes, the City Council and Blue Earth attorney David Frundt met behind closed doors to discuss the recent closing of Jamboree Foods.

Following the closed-session, Frundt offered a brief explanation of what was said.

He says preliminary talks at this time are dealing with the city’s legal rights under a lease agreement and promissory note with store manager Brad Gohla.

The council took no action. But, it wasn’t that or what Frundt had said that upset Johnson.

The councilman says he became frustrated listening to a banker’s comments to the council that lasted some 10 minutes.

“I think he mentioned the city twice, at the end. Everything was ‘we,’ the bank’s interest,” says Johnson. “We aren’t here to stand up for the banker, it should be the residents.”

Kent Christian of First State Bank of Kiester told the council he wanted to clear up some misinformation.

“It’s always been the bank’s intention to cooperate and work with the City Council and find a solution that is best for all of us,” he says.

At an emergency council meeting held July 2, Christian said his bank and one in Elysian have “security interests” ahead of the city.

Because of confidentiality reasons Christian would not say how much his bank is owed.

Gohla still owes the city about $33,000 of the $46,000 he borrowed to purchase inventory when he took over the business. He was leasing the building with an option to buy it by 2015.

Mayor Jeanne Brooks agrees with Christian that finding a buyer for the store or someone to operate it would be the best solution.

“All parties are interested in getting the store open again,” she says. “Like the bank, we have feelers out there. We want to do something as quickly as possible.”

Christian says the bank obtained a license to sell perishable items and most of them were sold in the 3 1/2 days the store was open.

“The community came and helped us out … we appreciate that support,” he says.

“We couldn’t have done that sale without the help of Chris and Marly Albers. I’d like to publicly thank them for their efforts. They were essential to the success of that sale,” he adds.

Brooks says Frundt will be retained until he is no longer needed.

In other business, Michelle Wigern of Faribault County Soil & Water Conservation District gave an update on a Well Head Protection Plan for the city.

The program’s goal is to protect the quality of drinking water, especially from contamination by unsealed wells.

Wigern says any costs associated with developing the plan are paid by the state and county, and grants to implement any items.