The Canton City Council discussed some remodeling options for the now empty liquor store building on Main Street during its regular meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13. The city plans to transform the building into its city hall.

A proposed plan was explained by City Clerk Lolly Melander and Public Works Director Jon Nordsving. The front portion of the building would serve as a conference area; the middle would be separated into the clerk's office and a unisex, handicapped-accessible bathroom; and the back would be used for storage.

It is likely a new, space-saving furnace would be installed, as well as air conditioning. Council member Carl Ernst suggested wall mount units for each room, however Nordsving pointed out that a small furnace would be adequate to heat the small building.

The council also felt a need to create a new entrance, which would also be handicap accessible. A ramp and an awning to cover it would ensure safe entrance for all city patrons. This part of the project could also include removing the large plate-glass window in the front and installing smaller, more energy-efficient models.

The roof was also a matter of discussion with some suggesting a new, peaked roof, and others finding difficulty with that option due to the slope of the roof from a high point in front to a lower point in back. While the flat roof of the building has been known to leak, the peaked roof would be difficult as each truss would have to be a different size. The council discussed patching or adding steel to the roof, which some felt would help facilitate snow removal.

The council also discussed the possibility of siding the building, but all agreed they wanted to maintain the original look as much as possible to fit in with the other buildings on Main Street.

All agreed that the first step, however, was to get the interior demolished. Nordsving noted he and some other local men could easily "gut" the building and start on the project this winter. Once the building's inside was demolished, the city would have a better knowledge about it's plumbing and duct work and any needed improvements in those areas.

Melander explained the city does not need to put the project through "competitive bidding" as long as it remains under $100,000. She added that the city could obtain quotes and work with local contractors through direct negotiations as long as the project costs remained under that limit.

"We have to know what we are doing before we can get costs," said Councilor Cindy Shanks.

The council will revisit the plans during next month's meeting.

Apartment flooding

Nordsving updated the council on some water drainage problems at the Canton Apartments. He explained that the lower set of apartments, nearest to Highway 52, are frequently flooding. He feels it is due to a storm drain the Department of Transportation installed, not a city drain. "It flows fine," he said. "The pipe is just not large enough."

Because the water drains from the upper set of apartments, as well as the parking lot from the former Canton Coffee Shop, Nordsving suggested the property owner add some rock into the drainage area, which will help disperse the water.

Mayor Donivee Johnson, agreeing with Nordsving's assessment that the problematic drain is the state's, suggested that some additional landscaping in the area would also reduce the water flow into the apartments.

Santa and lighting contest

Shanks updated the council on this year's Santa Day, which will be held on Saturday, Dec. 14. Rather than arriving in the late morning and enjoying lunch, Santa will be arriving later this year. He and Mrs. Claus will be arriving at the town hall at 3 p.m. and will visit with area children until 5 p.m. The later arrival accommodates a lighted evening parade which is set to begin at 6 p.m.

The event will still offer a free lunch, prizes, treat bags and wagon rides, as is the community's tradition.

In addition to Santa's visit and the lighted parade, a holiday lighting contest will also be held throughout the community. The council set prizes at $150 for first place, $75 for second place and $25 for third place. The winners will be chosen by objective judges who live in another community. Judging will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 11, so those participating are urged to have their displays completed by that time and lit up that evening.

The winners of the lighting contest will be announced at the parade.

Enjoy hot chocolate on the Canton Pub corner and bring lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the lighted parade.

Other business

• Clarifying a statement made at the October meeting, Johnson noted the $15 a week rent for the community center was for a specific group, Alcoholics Anonymous, not a new fee for general public use.

• Members of the council were given a letter from Tri-County Electric regarding a load management program for a period of time from May 2014 through April of 2015. The city is currently participating in the Tri-County program, which includes a special peak alert rate. The city must have a generator that complies with the federal air emission regulations, which the city is currently determining. The council tabled the matter until its December or January meeting so more information can be obtained on the city's generator, if it meets the required standards and if it doesn't what the city can do as a result.

• It was noted that due to the closing of the liquor store, bags for garbage removal can now be purchased at the First Southeast Bank in Canton as well as the clerk's office and TJ's Café.

• The council approved liquor license renewals for the Canton Pub and ZZ Tap.

• The council discussed several street lights that are becoming dim. Nordsving noted he could order some new bulbs and get them replaced. The council approved replacing all the bulbs and then to put them on a rotation to replace as needed.

• City maintenance costs were assessed to three property owners taxes for work the city did to maintain lawns and weeds throughout the summer.

• Johnson noted that several collectible liquor signs had been on display at the liquor store. Now that the store has closed, those signs have been put into storage and the city will have them appraised before offering them for sale in the future.