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W’bago street project still on

By Staff | Jun 19, 2016

In discussing Winnebago’s Northwest Area Street and Utility project on Tuesday, the City Council encountered more than just an update from engineer Travis Winter.

Plans for the project, with a target date of February 2017 for the receiving of construction bids, were presented and reviewed. But it was Cliff Marx, a Winnebago resident who voiced concerns during a session of public comment, that really got the City Council talking.

“I’ve heard from neighbors the street project must’ve been dropped,”?Marx said, claiming that Winnebago’s website has sparsely posted updates on the 25-block project.

“About six months ago,”?he continued, “I?requested that all of you be more communicative with the public, and I?haven’t seen any evidence of that. Some others have said, ‘What are they trying to hide from us?'”

Reminding Marx of the council’s presence in local media, city administrator Chris Ziegler first made it a point to clarify the council’s duty to serve the community.

“I can assure you that we’re not hiding anything,”?he said. “I’m always available … (and)?we could do more, but we also want to have better figures for people to look at before we release them to the public, too.”

The council members then proceeded to engage Marx, emphasizing their own pursuit of project updates and thanking the Winnebago man for raising awareness of its progress.

“It kind of bothers me that people, like Cliff said, are hearing this thing has been dropped,”?said council member Scott Robertson.

Marx’s willingness to share his concerns, then, were as important as project planning itself, according to council member Dean Johnson.

“We can’t become better if we don’t listen,” he said, thanking Marx.

Mayor Jeremiah Schutt agreed, though he admitted the Northwest Area project’s development also calls for patience from all parties.

“We’ve kind of been in limbo on the street project,”?Schutt said, noting complications in proposed funding as a result of state legislature issues.

Winter, who was present to review a phased design schedule for the Northwest Area work, reiterated hurdles caused by “too many politics”?in the state government. But he also laid the framework for a potential step forward in infrastructure designing, giving both Marx and the council a look at hopeful future progress.

“I?realize it’s hard to please everyone,”?Marx said, “and I’d be happy to volunteer and provide ideas for projects, too.”

With a busy agenda Tuesday, the City Council also:

Approved the assignment of garbage and recycling contracts to Chris Cyphers, who will purchase B & B?Sanitation from?Dale Foster as of July 1.

Motioned to permit police chief Eric Olson to pursue the hiring of three to six part-time police officers, as well as approve a two-step wage increase for Olson retroactive to his anniversary date.

“He’s been very proactive,”?council member Jean Anderson said of Olson. “He’s keeping a small town moving forward, and he’s done more for Winnebago over these last two years than anybody I’ve seen.”

Johnson echoed praise for the chief.

“He makes that old saying, ‘The police officer is your friend,’ true,” he said.

Approved drainage repair plans for Muir Library, as well as a proposed October trip by library director Heidi Schutt to the Association for Rural and Small Library Conference in Fargo, North Dakota.

Accepted Lorrie Davis’s resignation as janitor of Muir Library and the Municipal Center and passed a motion to pursue a contracted replacement.

Moved to pass a resolution declaring old fire department material and other items as excess property, which could be sold or transferred to other departments.

Approved the hiring of two part-time lifeguards for the 2016 pool season.

Accepted a $3,000 donation to the Winnebago Ambulance Department, made by William Rennpferd in memory of Bonnie Rennpferd.

Motioned to move administrative and accounting assistant Judy Staloch to the next step in the union salary schedule, effective June 13.