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Striving to get a better handle on how best to fund and fix city roads into the future, the Nisswa City Council met Wednesday, Nov. 8, to hear ideas. All council members and the mayor attended a city public works committee meeting where Heather Casperson, from PFM Financial, presented information. Jenny Max, city administrator, and Tom Blomer, city public works supervisor, also gave information to the council. Also present were Peter Mann and Bob Bureau, who indicated interest in serving on the city's newly formed public works committee.
Little did Miriam Olson know that a blind date would lead to a 26-year career at Nisswa Elementary School. Olson retired Oct. 31, having spent the majority of her years at Nisswa School as an educational assistant in kindergarten classrooms. She worked with early childhood students this fall, and with special education students for the past three years.
Improving and maintaining roads was one topic of discussion at the Tuesday, Nov. 7, Pequot Lakes City Council meeting. The council discussed a request from residents on Wildlife Trail, a private road, to remove snow in the winter, ultimately deciding the city won't plow private roads at this time. The city has 24 private roads, and council members indicated they didn't want to offer snow removal service on one road and not the others, and they didn't think the city could handle all of the roads.
Three Nisswa City Council members met Monday, Nov. 6, to continue discussion on the 2018 budget with City Administrator Jenny Max. Council members Don Jacobson and Gary Johnson were absent. Discussion centered around planning for future capital needs, including vehicles, buildings and maintenance, and parks. The council has also targeted development of a long-range road project plan. Council members were to talk about that Wednesday, Nov. 8, with a representative from PFM Financial, which helps the city with long-range financial planning for sewer and road projects.
Work on County State Aid Highway 77 in Lake Shore will wrap up for the year this week, but will resume next spring. The 3.9-mile, $5.58 million CSAH 77 improvement project extends from the southern city limits of Lake Shore to the intersection of CSAH 78 at the north end of Gull Lake, near Bar Harbor restaurant. The overall project goal is "to improve the safety for all users of CSAH 77, while preserving the character and visual attractiveness of the corridor."
After discussing whether to keep or rescind the city's road assessment policy adopted in 2016, the Nisswa City Council on Wednesday, Oct. 18, decided 3-2 to table discussion until November to allow time to gather more information and numbers. The council adopted a roads assessment policy in September 2016 on a split vote, after several heated discussions. The adopted policy would assess residents up to 30 percent of the cost to improve their road, with all city taxpayers paying the remaining 70 percent.
The Lake Shore City Council on Monday, Oct. 23, talked about the speed limit on Jacobs Road after council member Wayne Anderson asked how to lower the speed. Police Chief Steve Sundstrom said the speed limit on Jacobs Road is an unposted 55 mph. He said the speed limit on the northern half of the road could coincide with Loon Lake Township's rural residential speed of 35 mph. Council members indicated they favored a lower speed limit because of residences on the road. The topic will go to the city's road committee.
Plans for a connected trail around the west side of Gull Lake continue to move forward. Fairview Township and Lake Shore are working on their portions of the trail, and the Nisswa City Council agreed Wednesday, Oct. 18, to create a steering committee to help develop its part. The Gull Lake Trail is a regional trail being done in partnership with Lake Shore, East Gull Lake and Fairview Township. The Nisswa portion will connect the Gull Lake Trail to the Paul Bunyan Trail downtown and to Nisswa Lake Park.
A steering committee for the groups that are looking ahead to Pequot Lakes' future talked about its future role Wednesday, Oct. 18, at a meeting at city hall. The Pequot Lakes Thriving Communities Initiative resulted in a steering committee and three task forces that formed about a year ago to prepare for changes the city will see as a result of the Highway 371 four-lane expansion east of downtown. The Initiative Foundation's TCI program helps communities identify their unique assets, challenges and goals.
After being talked about for at least two decades, a completed four-lane Highway 371 from Nisswa to Jenkins was officially dedicated and celebrated Wednesday, Oct. 18. The celebration and ribbon-cutting - which Pequot Lakes Mayor Nancy Adams performed with Paul Bunyan-sized scissors - took place outside Pequot Lakes Supervalu along what is now called Patriot Avenue (the former two-lane Highway 371).