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Wells makes staff, hours changes

By Staff | May 17, 2020

Making adjustments.

That’s what the Wells City Council focused on during their regular meeting on Monday, May 11. City Hall staffing issues and summer recreation were just a few of the adjustments council members discussed at length.

With two vacancies in the city’s motor vehicle department, city administrative associate Tiffany Schrader has taken on the duties of the deputy registrar for the city. The council discussed a temporary compensation adjustment for Schrader taking on the additional work until a second person is on board and trained. This temporary compensation adjustment has been done in past practices. A recent example of this was when deputy city clerk Jennie Kloos and chief of police Tim Brenegan temporarily assisted with the city administrator position prior to CJ Holl’s hire.

The motion to accept Schrader’s temporary compensation adjustment, which was set at $2 more per hour for 30 days until a second person is trained, was made by council member Crystal Dulas and seconded by Jessica Mortenson, and carried unanimously.

Another adjustment to the City Hall staff will be their summer office hours. In an effort to assist more customers, Holl suggested the City Hall hours be changed and given a trial run over the summer.

Council was given two options, and of the two, they chose and carried a motion to have city hall hours be 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Fridays.

If the city does not see an increase in customers, they would return to their normal hours the day after Labor Day. The new schedule is set to begin the day after Memorial Day.

A big adjustment for the entire city comes from the city’s Park Board and their recommendations on the city’s swimming pool and other summer recreation programs.

The council was informed baseball leagues from the South Central Youth Baseball League, grades Pre-K to grade 1, as well as boys baseball for grades 4, 5, and 6 have been canceled. The decision on the remaining age groups and other summer recreation activities will be made in the near future and updated on the city’s Facebook page and city website.

“Can’t we do our own thing?” asked Dulas. “I bet if we ask parents, they will figure out a way to get a league together.”

Chief Brenegan interjected by saying the current Stay at Home order prohibits organized team sports from gathering, while deputy city clerk Kloos mentioned there was only enough signed up for two teams. She shared with council the sign up sheets for baseball league were sent out at the United South Central School before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

As for the opening of the pool, it was heavily discussed, but council chose not to make any decisions until they heard from Governor Tim Walz later in the week with regard to any pending Stay at Home orders.

“The health department will be advising the state on what protocol will be for public swimming pools,” shared street foreman Mike Pyzick, who also prepares the pool each year before the season opener. “And I just want to say there have been a lot of talks about how chlorine will ‘kill the bacteria,’ that is false. Chlorine doesn’t kill everything, so we do need to be cautious about our options when we decide what to do for the pool.”

Wells’ golf course is open to the public with a drop box available for daily fees and memberships, but the clubhouse at the golf course is still closed. However, there is seasonal help already hired in case the clubhouse were to be able to be opened yet this summer. Council approved hiring Pam Baird and Lily Holl as clubhouse staff, but not before hearing from a member of the public.

Darren Magnuson, whose son, Nolan Magnuson, applied for the job but did not get hired, had a few questions for the council.

“I’m just wondering how the city administrator’s daughter got hired for the job on the same day as it came out in the newspaper? How many people were interviewed before the Park Board for this position? How many applications did you get for this job?”

Holl admitted that due to the city staff getting a new email system, there were three applications that the Park Board missed.

“There was an issue with the application process due to the city’s email not working, but Bevcomm has fixed that error,” shared Holl. “I apologize for that ball being dropped. The good news is that if we are able to open the clubhouse, it seems we will probably need more than two people on staff. The clubhouse hours are from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, so we would certainly need more staff. First thing is first, we have to see if we can open.”

Holl then shared that he steps away from any and all interviews for youth and temporary staff.

“I take ethics very seriously, and I apologize for missing that application,” said Holl. “And there is no law prohibiting a City Hall staff member’s relative from applying for a job. We are a small town, and we have many staff members in the city with family members in other city positions.”

“I think what we need to do is, in the future, we should have an end date for job applications,” said Dulas. “When we put an advertisement out there that says, ‘open until filled,’ that doesn’t give the applicant much of a timeline. Do they have a day, do they have a week? Our language should have a hard date.”

During their meeting the Wells City Council also:

Had Layne Kockelman of Abdo, Eick & Meyers present the city’s 2019 audit, which had no outstanding issues for the city. Kockelman and Holl both commended Kloos for her efforts of getting all of the proper financial information together for the audit.

Were notified of the City Hall roof being repaired. There was some discussion on getting the roof done, even though it was recently completed a few years ago. Foreman Pyzick said it was work that was poorly done in the first place.

Passed Resolution 2020-11, establishing ordinance 2020-01 which declares certain lands in Clark Township, including city ponds, was annexed into the city of Wells.