Optimist upgrade

The backstop and screening has been removed from the Optimist Park in preparation for construction of a canopy to cover the seating area at the baseball field.

Optimist Park canopy bid approved

Litchfield City Council approved, during its Sept. 7 meeting, a bid from Systems West Inc. for construction of a new grandstand canopy at Optimist Park.

Price for materials and labor was set at $134,022, an increase of $5,000 over the original budget, according to City Administrator Dave Cziok. The increase was primarily due, he said, to the rising cost of materials.

The grandstand canopy is part of a larger improvement at the baseball complex that carries an approximate cost of $225,000.

The improvements were part of the Litchfield Baseball Association’s bid to play host to the 2023 Minnesota Baseball Association state amateur tournament – a bid the association won, along with co-hosts Delano and Dassel.

Bids for upgrades to the backstop, screening and press box at the field will come later, Cziok said.

Wellness center committee members approved

Mayor Keith Johnson, Council members John Carlson and Darlene Kotelnicki, along with City Administrator Dave Cziok were appointed to serve as the city’s team to meet with representatives of the Litchfield School District regarding the wellness-recreation center.

The district’s team was expected to include Litchfield School Board chairman Darrin Anderson, board member Greg Mathews, Superintendent Beckie Simenson and Activities Director Justin Brown.

The two groups were scheduled for a first meeting Sept. 8.

The City Council also reviewed a proposed letter written by Kotelnicki that could be sent to other potential partners in a wellness-center, including Meeker County and Meeker Memorial Hospital & Clinics. The letter received support, though the Council agreed to wait on sending it until city and school officials met to discuss its contents.

Anna Euerle accepts proclamation

Anna Euerle, right, smiles after accepting a copy of the resolution proclaiming Anna Euerle Day in Litchfield from Mayor Keith Johnson, left.

Princess Kay Anna Euerle honored

Mayor Keith Johnson proclaimed Sept. 7 as Anna Euerle Day in Litchfield at the start the the City Council meeting that day.

Euerle, 19, a rural Litchfield resident and Litchfield High School graduate was crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way on Aug. 25 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and will serve as the official ambassador of the Minnesota dairy community for the next year. She was selected from an original field of 100 princesses representing Minnesota’s 87 counties.

Euerle is the first Meeker County woman chosen Princess Kay of the Milky Way in the program’s 68-year history.

Ehlers will help with financial management plan

The City Council approved spending $17,500 to contract with Ehlers and Associates to create a financial management plan for the city.

In a memo to the Council, Administrator Dave Cziok wrote that the financial management plan “is a crucial piece to understanding what the impact to taxes will be in moving forward with the CIP (capital improvement plan).”

Ehlers included additional elements in its bid for City Council consideration, including water and sewer rate studies and a debt study. Cziok recommended going with only the financial management plan for now, however.

In her bid, Shelly Eldridge, senior municipal advisor for Ehlers, said she expected representatives of the company would meet three times with city staff and twice with the City Council to “discuss policy issues in order to prepare a baseline model of the city’s financial condition that incorporates existing operations plus all proposed capital expenditures.”

The city had an open house in late July at which it shared 33 projects in its proposed five-year Capital Improvement Plan, which carried a total price tag of $43 million. The CIP includes a wide range of projects, from sewer and street upgrades to the proposed wellness-recreation center.

Other action

  • City Council approved a purchase price of $130,000 for property on North Austin Avenue. The original price for the property had been $125,000, but the owner recently found a property that was more costly than anticipated, which led to a request for a higher sale price for the North Austin site, Cziok said.
  • Approval of a new Bobcat skid loader and attachments from Farm-Rite Equipment in Dassel received approval. The new unit will cost $29,900 after trade-in of the city’s current skid loader. The current S770 Bobcat has more than 2,000 hours of operation on it, with 2,000 hours the usual time the city looks to trade.
  • Following the regular meeting, the City Council met in workshop to discuss plans for the $754,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds the city is destined to receive. The first allocation is expected soon, Cziok said, with another coming in 2022.
  • Council members Eric Mathwig and Ron Dingmann, along with Administrator Cziok were approved by unanimous vote to meet with county representatives on the possibility of sharing a building inspector in the future.

— Brent Schacherer, general manager