By Lori Newman
The Deer Creek City Council held its regular monthly meeting on April 26.
A Public Hearing on the Wellhead Protection Plan was held prior to the meeting. Dan Disrud, of the MN Department of Health, explained that this plan is a ten year process involving management of land use, continued research on the location and disposition of potential sources of contamination and ongoing collection of data to ensure that the city continues to have a safe drinking water supply.
Disrud said the city is fortunate to have its source water aquifer protected by a thick layer of clay. However, the city’s drinking water has been assigned a “moderate vulnerability” for contamination risk because the clay is “leaking” in places.
The main sources of potential contamination to the aquifer are other wells that reach it, shallow disposal-type wells, and underground storage tanks.
The council approved adoption of the Wellhead Protection Plan, which is available for public view at the Deer Creek city office. Otter Tail County, the MN Department of Natural Resources, and the MN Pollution Control Agency are also involved in the process and members of the community will be provided with more information and educational materials as the plan progresses.
New York Mills Police Officer Keith Friedsam gave the police report for March. Mayor Troy Beiswenger requested that the NY Mills Police Department be available for this year’s Deer Trails Day event, which is scheduled for July 24.
Lake Region Energy Services representatives Tim Thompson and Dylan Aafedt attended the meeting and updated the council on the Deer Creek Natural Gas Commission rate book amendments. The changes include the addition of another rate class, which will benefit commercial customers in the form of lower costs and will also provide LRES with more accurate data. The council approved the new rate book.
Aefedt also said that recent surveys have shown high customer satisfaction with natural gas services in Deer Creek.
City Clerk/Treasurer Tom Parish reported that he had met with the city attorney about the condemnation process for the house at 107 Clark St. An appraisal of the property is needed and a petition must be filed with the county. The owner(s) will then have 60 days to respond and a judge will make a ruling on the matter after that.
Parish also said the potential conflict of interest issues with members of the city council who are also members of the fire department are being reviewed by the city attorney.
Water/Wastewater Operator Dan Kovar reported that a leaking gate valve has been discovered in the area of the standing water on Soule Ave.
However Kovar said the circumstances are “strange” and it isn’t clear if the pipe involved is part of the main line or just for the hydrant in that location. Kovar said he had “exercised” the valve in an effort to stop the leak and will monitor the situation. The spot has been marked with posts.
Kovar also said hydrant flushing is planned for May 20-21.
Councilor Dan Hendershot led a discussion about the upcoming water tower maintenance project. Hendershot said he had heard of a local company that had done similar water tower work in another town and it was considerably less expensive than current estimates for the project in Deer Creek.
However, Kovar cautioned that all of the work on the water tower needs to be coordinated with the MN Department of Health, including the bidding process.
A discussion was held about the maintenance and repair that needs to done at the well house. The council agreed to begin planning for that project. All of that work must be done according to state regulations, and engineers will need to be consulted. The city must follow state requirements on that bidding process as well.
Fire Chief Travis Collins reported that a State Fire Marshall Grant for a washer and dryer for turnout gear has been received. Collins also asked for the city’s approval to apply for a MN DNR grant, and the council agreed to the request.
Wayne Perkins attended the meeting on behalf of the Deer Creek Lions Club to ask what COVID-19 guidelines would need to be in place for the Lions’ Pancake Breakfast at the community center. The council said that because attendance at the event at any one time would likely be well below the capacity of the space, nothing further would be required.
The council approved the Deer Creek Lions’ non-intoxication malt liquor license.
Parish reported that a company that installs solar panels had inquired about city guidelines on setting up solar panels in Deer Creek. Parish said he had not been able to find much published information on state codes regarding this matter. The council decided homeowners would need to apply for building permits to have solar panels installed.
Parish also reported complaints had been received about improper disposal of items in a yard container, and about street parking issues at another location in town. Both matters were referred to the police department.
Councilor Bob Lund informed the council that the American Legion would like to have the small flag pole at the front of the community center replaced with a taller pole. Lund said there are broken boards on the structure at the city park that need to be replaced also. The council agreed to go ahead with both projects.
Beiswenger indicated that arrangements need to be made for trash pickup at the city park.
Hendershot reported that a group that does gun safety training had inquired about use of a room in the community center for classes, and the council gave their approval for that.
Beiswenger informed the council that a church group that wants to plant a community garden in town will be doing so at a location near the water tower.
Yard and garden compost material will be picked up from properties in town on May 8 and May 15, beginning at 10 a.m. each day. Residents are asked to leave the materials that are to be hauled away in an easily accessible location.