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Wells holds hearing on liquor store

By Staff | Dec 16, 2018

Wells held a public hearing regarding the Wells Municipal Liquor Store at 5 p.m. last Monday, Dec. 10.

Because Wells’ liquor store has seen sale decreases the last two years, a public hearing is required of the city’s liquor store manager, Scott Berg, and city administrator, CJ Holl. Both men stated they are working hard at bringing numbers up from years prior, including looking at a new store location all together.

Berg stated there are several things both he and Holl are looking at, including making sure their pricing is accurate by using the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association’s pricing model, using a new point of sale tracker which, according to Berg, has been one of the biggest pluses to moving forward. He and Holl also stated that keeping inventory new, creating beer and wine pop-up events, increasing social media and advertising on city pages has been beneficial, as well.

“Sunday sales have been steady, customers know that is available, which helps, and we have such a loyal customer base,” says Berg. “It is important to note to citizens of Wells that they have to realize their dollars stay in the city when they shop at the Wells Municipal Liquor Store. We are not trying to keep up with the prices of big chains in the larger cities, we are trying to keep our dollars local and create as convenient an atmosphere as we can for the citizens here.”

The liquor store manager also stated that working with Holl has been very beneficial and he has confidence things will look up next year for sales.

City councilwoman Crystal Dulas asked if there would be any profits for the 2018 year, and according to Berg, they would have to have a momentous December to break even before the end of the year.

“You have changed by leaps and bounds to get to where you are now,” said Dulas.?”Don’t beat yourself up too much. There is a lot ahead of us.”

“I appreciate that and all of the council’s help,” replied Berg. “We did start receiving rent from the VFW in October, so that will certainly start helping with our bottom line as well.”

There will be another public hearing on the store on Dec. 27, at 5 p.m. at the Wells Municipal Center.

During their regular meeting, after the public hearing, the council had a fairly decent agenda to get through before discussing their Truth in Taxation hearing.

From their city staff, street foreman Mike Pyzick shared the first snow event of the season went fairly smooth, and the old Pentagon Bank building will be getting its roof repairs finished quite soon.

City attorney David Frundt also informed the Wells City Council briefly he had heard back from the Nordaas family with regards to their conditional use permit (CUP). Frundt stated he would report back when he knew more, but had an inkling there ‘may be a bigger scope’ to the Nordaas’ project than what they originally requested of the council. City administrator Holl stated the city may have to create a small group between council members and Wells Public Utilities to come up with a plan for the CUP.

The council then moved onto a pay request for the Wells Business Park for $94,982.73, presented by city engineer Travis Winter. He stated the business park had some soil work that was incomplete, but after councilwoman Brenda Weber brought up liquidated damages, he stated he was unsure if there would be enough of an issue to warrant pursuing those damages. The Wells Council approved pay request number eight, with the exception of Councilwoman Dulas, who voted no.

The council also discussed at length their plans for improving the sidewalks of Wells within the coming years. In 2017, the council passed a resolution to create a new project fund for sidewalks in the city. That fund has been collecting $2 per month from every Wells citizen for the past year and has created a decent sum of $45,000. However, the city has to figure out what they want to do with those dollars.

Holl and Pyzick stated they walked all of the sidewalks of Wells, noting the dates they were last replaced, some dating back to the 1930s, and what condition they are in currently. They took photos of each area of sidewalk in need of replacing and created a priority list of the 3,301 feet, or 9.2 city blocks, of sidewalk in the city’s limits.

Their priority list for 2019 includes 795 feet of Wells Downtown sidewalks, 190 feet of First Street Southwest, and 479 feet of different streets and avenues on the Southeast side of Wells including Third Avenue SE, Second Street SE, Seventh Street SE, First Avenue SE, Second Avenue SE and Third Street SE.

The list would be maintained on an annual basis, with portions of town which do not have sidewalks, or gaps in sidewalks, being omitted for the priority list until the city knows whether or not its citizens would want sidewalks in those areas.

“We are being very proactive with this project,” said Holl to the council. “If we keep up with the priority list, all of the improvements we noted could be completed within about 10 years. That’s approximately 70 or 80 years of damage taken care of.”

“I think this looks great,” said Mayor David Braun. With that positive promotion, the mayor looked for a motion with regards to the sidewalk plan for Wells. That motion came from John Herman and was seconded by Whitney Harig.

The council also:

Approved two new hires at the Wells Public Library. Betsy Bushlack will be taking over as the library’s coordinator, while Jillian Kurashima was accepted as a part-time library clerk.

Adopted Resolution 2018-26, allowing a lawful gambling exempt permit for St. Casimir Church, and Resolution 2018-27, adopting and certifying 2018 unpaid bills.

Heard from Whitney Harig, whose term is completed on the Wells City Council.

“I just want to thank the council and our staff for all of the work they do,” said Harig. “I am so proud of this community and everything we’ve accomplished.”

Mayor Braun thanked Harig for her service to the city and its council and reflected on her time on the council. Councilman Herman also thanked Harig for her service to the city.

Went into closed session for an annual review of the Wells City Administrator.

The next regular Wells City Council meeting will be held Jan. 14, 2019, at 5 p.m.