The Phase 2B detour route went into effect June 10, since the Fire Department has relocated to the City Shop. Underground work will begin at the intersection of Highway 44 and 1st Ave. SW.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Despite a week of mostly rainy days, MnDOT reports that <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->contractors were able to <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->accomplish quite a bit last week:<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->• Milled asphalt surface on Main Street from 1st Ave. South SW to Division Avenue including removal of concrete pavement under the asphalt and contaminated material, hauling it offsite.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->• Began installing temporary water services to downtown residents/businesses.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->MnDOT officials report that this week the following tasks are scheduled:<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->• Hook up temporary water services<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->• Begin water main and sanitary sewer replacement between 1st Avenue SW and Division Avenue<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The roadwork on Highway 44 between Spring Grove to Highway 52 (to Prosper/Iowa state line) is scheduled to begin on June 24.
The Phase 2B detour route went into effect June 10, since the Fire Department has relocated to the City Shop. Underground work will begin at the intersection of Highway 44 and 1st Ave. SW.

Despite a week of mostly rainy days, MnDOT reports that

contractors were able to

accomplish quite a bit last week:

• Milled asphalt surface on Main Street from 1st Ave. South SW to Division Avenue including removal of concrete pavement under the asphalt and contaminated material, hauling it offsite.

• Began installing temporary water services to downtown residents/businesses.

MnDOT officials report that this week the following tasks are scheduled:

• Hook up temporary water services

• Begin water main and sanitary sewer replacement between 1st Avenue SW and Division Avenue

The roadwork on Highway 44 between Spring Grove to Highway 52 (to Prosper/Iowa state line) is scheduled to begin on June 24.
Nineteen residents attended the June 4 meeting of the Spring Grove City Council. Most were there for two reasons - a recently initiated detour and the recently opened SWIM Center.

"Detours are a work in progress," Mayor Bruce Poole noted. "We should all get involved.

"They (the detour routes) were designed the best they could, but there are places where we need to make sure that we're not getting (into) something dangerous for the kids.

"You see all these trucks coming by, and the kids' natural inclination is to go out and watch them. Some of the big truck drivers can't see the kids when they're making these turns, so I think the parents and the families around should watch and see (and) if we find a problem like that. They should identify it to me or to Mathy, and then we can try to alleviate it. We don't want any accidents."

"I'm on the corner of the detour," resident Jan Britain stated, "and it is a circus. You have semis coming up over the grass, over the curbs. The truck drivers don't have enough room to get around.

"One of my main concerns was that we have 11 children on our block that are 11 and under. These are just kids. Their parents are working. Paul (Chief Folz) has talked to the parents, and they say, 'We're going to watch our kids,' but I've seen a lot of stuff, and I don't want to see anybody getting ran over."

Britain also said a streetlight near her home is also out, compounding safety concerns.

Poole said he would contact Public Utilities Director Paul Morken about that issue immediately.

Resident Kristy Folz said that some "no parking" signs along the route do not appear to be up to MnDOT standards and look homemade.

"People laugh at them because they don't think they're real (official) signs."

Members agreed by consensus to ask contractors and MnDOT to look into the signage issue, since it could potentially contribute to unsafe conditions.

"It will remain a work in progress for many months," Poole reminded attendees. "We're going to see it (the in-town detour) change several times during this project."

SWIM Center issues discussed

Residents and council members spent an hour in conversations with Matt Satterly of USA Pools, the company, which recently took over management of the Family SWIM Center.

"It's been kind of a disaster trying to get the pool going this year," city attorney Joe Hammell stated.

He then outlined a wide variety of concerns, including hiring lifeguards as independent contractors rather than as employees, not having a certified pool operator "on deck," (something Hammel said is required by Minnesota law).

Having chemicals delivered, having a trained staff member on-hand to use them to maintain water quality and an apparent limiting of swim lessons compared to last year were other issues identified.

Hammell said that not having lifeguards as employees also raises a "huge issue" with liability.

"I think the biggest overall thing is communications," he concluded. "(Councilmember) Lorilyn Dehning has tried and tried to contact the company about these concerns and generally gotten no response."

Folz brought six areas of concern, one of which included the dropping of her daughter from the work schedule when she and her husband questioned the company on employment issues.

Some of the practices that she questioned were forcing lifeguards to purchase uniforms from the company at $140 per set, not paying for mandatory meeting attendance, forcing employees to be paid by debit card only, and misleading information on the rate of pay.

"I ask this city council to find that this company treats its employees/future employees at best unfairly and at worst they act in an illegal manner," Folz noted in a prepared statement.

Representatives from the city have even had to purchase chemicals and concession supplies, according to reports from staff members, which Dehning provided.

Satterly replied that the company uses independent contractors for seasonal help at all of their facilities.

"We made that decision based on our legal counsel's advice," he said. One reason is that seasonal employees can file for unemployment insurance while independent contractors cannot, he added.

"Folks that work for us are covered by our insurance," Satterly said. "We've never paid anyone for a training meeting that's part of the hiring process. Our staff has always paid for their uniforms and certification. It's a choice for those who want to work."

"We're not doing anything here any differently from everywhere else and anywhere else we work," he stated adding that the company's legal staff will check into Minnesota statutes.

The company will not limit swim lessons, Satterly stated.

Parent Jessie Halverson said she had difficulty signing her child up for swim lessons.

"Get rid of 'em," one parent of a lifeguard said. Several other parents applauded.

Resident Patty Storlie said the pool is important to local families. "It was one of the reasons we came (to town), one of many reasons. I know of a lot of people around Decorah and La Crosse come here to swim in our pool every summer. I think it's a very important community asset."

"I know it costs the city money, but it's my understanding that in the State of Minnesota there's only one pool that is actually making money. It's an expense worth having, I think." There was applause from several in attendance for those observations.

"What are our options here?" councilman Robert Vogel finally asked.

"Basically the options are to work with Matt and his people to get these questions answered and to see if they can get solved," Hammel stated, "(or) the other option is if you feel that it's beyond making it work, then you'd have to list out the reasons that the contract isn't being followed and then ask that it be terminated."

The council then went into closed session with Hammell. Upon their return, he gave the following statement:

"USA Pools will have 48 hours to give us answers to the questions and concerns we had to see if the matters can be rectified that were concerns of the city. The pool will be closed until it's definitely safe to swim in. There will be an emergency meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. right here."

Hammell said the determination to re-open will be based on the advice of a certified pool operator.

Pool closure policy adopted

On a related note, Dehning provided a policy for closing the pool that city officials will be able to put into effect. It passed by unanimous vote.

The first circumstance is a mandatory 24-hour closure to remove any fecal matter, including water treatment and filtration.

Secondly, lightning would necessitate bringing swimmers inside for at least a half-hour, and the pool may be closed for that shift or until the weather passes.

Air temperatures below 60 degrees will also be a reason to close.

Fiscal agent action tabled

Members tabled a resolution enabling the city as a fiscal agent (pass-through) for donations to the Spring Grove Entrepreneurs Institute after councilmember Nancy Nelson expressed reservations that it was not legal.

Vogel voted "no" to tabling the matter stating that there must be a way for the city to do that for the group.

Birding signage approved

Resident Saundra Solum gave the council a report on the Norwegian Ridge Birding Trail that will soon open in Spring Grove (see separate article, this issue of the Herald). Council members voted to allow birding trail volunteers to place signage in city parks.

Fest Building repairs discussed

Several repairs to the Fest Building were authorized, including fixing a convection oven and a sink. Morken will be asked to get quotes for a new water fountain for the building as well.

Health insurance approved

Members approved an alternative health insurance offering for city employees, but will not force the issue with workers.

The motion will allow the union to choose between their current plan and one from Health Partners of Minnesota. According to Dehning, the plan would save the city $14,000 annually.

City audit to be published

With the 2012 city audit now complete, the council voted to have Hammell decide which portions will need to be published in the Herald.

A separate motion authorized Dehning to seek RFPs (request for proposals) from prospective auditing firms for next year's report.

Another vote hired Jennifer Walters to a part-time position at The Corner Store.