Kirsten Wyffels, a member of the Mabel EDA, told her fellow city council members that Don Gjere has signed the title of the former Mabel Record building over to the EDA in support of developing a grocery store.

She said members of the committee toured the building with city clerk Jim Narum and have asked area carpenters to also take a look inside to see if it is feasible to renovate the building or if it would be necessary to demolish it and build from the ground up.

"It looks to be in tough shape," Wyffels added. "There is definitely a lot of damage from the fire."

The building in question is located on Main Street and a portion of it has not been utilized since a fire in the early 1990s.

It would provide 6,000 square feet of space, Narum noted.

"We'd like to hire a structural engineer to see if it's sound and if it would pay to renovate," Wyffels added. "Don gave the building with no stipulations that it be used for the coop. Even he said it may be better to tear it down and build new on the lot."

Wyffels also explained the EDA would be sending out a survey to the community regarding the proposed grocery coop and she urged residents to fill them out and return them.

The purpose of the survey is to determine the level of support a grocery coop would elicit from the community. "We have to know if people are really going to support a grocery store," Wyffels said. "We really have to commit to buying the majority of our groceries in town every week. Buying a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk there every once in awhile isn't going to help us much."

"Buying locally supports the town in more ways than just that initial purchase," added council member Sue Amunrud.

Narum said he is concerned that residents will say they are supportive, and they will be for the first year or two. "But will they still be there a year or two from now?" he added.

Amunrud agreed and said she hoped the residents realized how important their support is to the small businesses in Mabel and that their patronage has to be an ongoing thing.

"The prices are likely going to be higher," said Narum, "but if we want to get (and keep) a grocery in town, we have to make it viable."

"When you consider the price of gas and the time it takes to go somewhere else, the prices don't seem so bad," added Wyffels. "People have to understand the costs of starting the grocery store, the costs of the coolers and display cases, utilities and employees."

She added that the EDA and the grocery store committee will continue to provide information regarding those costs and the progress that is being made toward bringing a grocery back to Mabel. "It is going to be a long process, but we are making progress," Wyffels added.

Finally, she thanked the Mabel Business Association for paying the postage costs to mail out the surveys to the community.

City clerk position

The council discussed the possibility of promoting current deputy city clerk Karen Larson to the city clerk's position when Jim Narum retires in March.

"She is well qualified," Narum explained. "She has a four-year degree in finance, she learns fast, is computer literate and is doing a great job as the deputy clerk. But she is interested in moving up. We could promote her to my job and put out applications for the deputy clerk."

He also noted that they could simply look back to the pool of applicants that applied for that position in July.

Narum told the council that he would contact the League of Minnesota regarding the correct process to pursue for filling these positions.

Bob Mierau, the city maintenance director, updated the council on a few issues that have come up in the past month. First, he reported that the Christmas decorations are about ready to go up and that he has been noticing some wear on the Christmas banners. As the city looks to replace some of the older light poles in the community, he thought they may wish to look at new banners for next year as well.

He also noted that he would like to do a smoke test on the city's sewer lines as the treatment plant gets overloaded after the slightest of rains. "The pumps just can't keep up," he said, "and it seems to be getting worse."

Mierau suspects there may be just one big leak and a smoke test would help find it. "It's fairly inexpensive," he added.

He also told the council that the DOT plans to resurface Highway 44 from Spring Grove to Prosper next year and it would be beneficial to the city of Mabel if it could coordinate its upcoming projects with the state to benefit both entities.

Finally, he reported that the city may need to update the heater at the fire department as it has not been working well in the past few weeks.

In other business, the council handled the following small items.

• The council canvassed the local election results and passed resolutions declaring the winners to be Brian Johnson for mayor, Kirsten Wyffels and Laura St. Mary for council seats.

• The council approved a one-year contract for 2013 for CEDA's community development services. The cost is $21,810, which is a $500 increase over last year. This contract includes the services of Community Development coordinator Sherry Hines and the resources of the CEDA corporation.

• It was noted that Santa will be visiting Mabel on Sunday, Dec. 2, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the community center. There will be a small lunch as well as many activities for the children.