Cologne City Council mulls applications for open spot

Jill Skaaland

Jill Skaaland

by ADAM GRUENEWALD
NYA Times

A three week search for a replacement to the Cologne City Council yielded just two people who submitted questionnaires.
Jackie Hamre and Kyle Evenski, both not present at the meeting on Monday, are both vying for the position vacated by Jill Skaaland, who announced her resignation in May.
After considerable discussion mulling over the qualities of both candidates and the future of Cologne, council members tabled their discussion and vote.
Hamre, a six month resident of Cologne, works as an employee relations business partner for Carver County, while Evenski, a five year resident, is a first grade teacher at Central Elementary School.
Council members weighed the a variety of factors in their discussion, including that over a year remains on the term before the next election as well as the future of the council and the role the new member may fill.
“We’re not hiring a position,” said council member Scott Williams. “We’re hiring an overall view of everything. That’s the way we have to kind of look at this. It’s an overall view, but not who fits into this category or who fits into this category.”
While the council has some time to make their decision, Skaaland’s last meeting was Monday and the original timeline called for a new member by mid-July.
“We’ll bring it up at the next meeting,” said Mayor Matt Lein. “Just take some time to read these over in depth and we’ll look at them next meeting and break down some good points and bad points of each and we’ll discuss it.”
In regular business, council members began a discussion on the inflow and infiltration reduction plan for the wastewater treatment facility.
As required, the written plan examines the existing wastewater system, sources of infiltration and the compliance schedule and plan of implementation.
City Administrator John Hendel explained that after it rains, the amount of water in the wastewater treatment plant “spikes dramatically” compared to other cities.
“Part of it has to do that some of our infrastructure in the ground is very old,” he said. “Clay and other absorbent materials just kind of seeps through and that water goes into the wastewater treatment plant, gets cleaned up, filtered which we don’t need it to do.”
While some measures would be costly, the infiltration and implementation plan calls for some type of progress in the future, including ongoing maintenance and a five-year sewer capital improvement plan. Each step would require both funds in the budget and separate council approval.
“We are making the effort and we understand our community has some inflow and infiltration issues that we need to deal with and address,” said Hendel. “But, like any city, you can’t address it unless you have the budget or ability to do that.”
In addition to a consulting firm, the City of Watertown will be used as a resource in the coming weeks as the plan is examined.
Also, council members heard a brief update from the GLAD Days committee for the annual event set for July 25 to 27 as well as accepted a donation of $1,500 from the Cologne Fire Department Relief Association to be used for two projects – $890 for two Biffs toilets for the VFW Park and Marion Field for the season and the remainder to build concrete steps in Hans Hagen Park where the annual Firehouse Drive-In takes place. The Cologne City Council will next meet on July 1.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at adam.gruenewald@ecm-inc.com.

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