Wykoff's city council dealt with interim wastewater treatment plant operator hiring matters during its Monday, June 9, meeting.

The council had held an interview session earlier in the month to meet candidates applying to operate the city's new wastewater treatment plant being built on the east side of town, and from that session, two candidates were chosen - one who has a class B operator's license and is willing to handle signatures and paperwork for the plant and train one or two people to operate it, and another who is working to obtain his class B operator's license.

Councilor Mitch Grabau expressed his concern with one candidate's work history, noting that the candidate has been "all over the map."

Mayor Lyman Hare reminded Grabau that the city has a six-month probation period for its employees that provides the city opportunities for review.

Hare stated that he liked both candidates. "We should be making our decision quickly," he said.

The council voted 4-1, with Hare opposed, to hire Jeff Copley, the candidate with the ready B license, then set a meeting for this Wednesday, June 18, at 7 p.m. to work with the candidate to develop a job description for the worker who would be handling actual plant operations. Copley would work with the city on training a new person or possibly two people that the city hires until the permanent person is fully licensed, which could take up to seven years.

Additionally, the council must address its need for a city maintenance worker, and the process is ongoing at this point in time, since longtime city maintenance foreman and wastewater treatment plant operator Al Williams meant to retire last November but returned on a part-time basis to assist the city until a replacement could be found.

The council authorized payment of a pay request in the amount of $5,221 to WHKS, the engineering firm managing the wastewater treatment plant's construction, and voted to waive the city building permit fee for the plant because paying it would be a redundancy in city accounts.

Fillmore County Emergency Management director and Fillmore County deputy Kevin Beck approached the board - at the mayor's request - with options the city could pursue in replacing or repairing its worn emergency sirens.

"I'm not here to sell you sirens," he first stated, going on to say that the mayor had asked city clerk Cheryl Davis to inquire as to whether the county could activate the sirens. "The way you're sitting right now, we cannot do that. You have the old sirens that need a telephone line, and that means you have to push a button to activate them."

Council member Jeremy Comstock interrupted Beck. "I'm trying to figure out why you're here."

Beck informed Comstock that he had been asked by the mayor to appear, so he did so. The emergency manager elaborated, "A new siren doesn't cost $25,000. That quote is actually for two sirens, but the best siren everyone is using is about $19,000. You can get by with one siren for the whole city if you place that on the fire hall, so next year, if you wanted to budget $5,000..."

Comstock interrupted Beck once again, pointing out that the council had discussed the matter during the May meeting and decided to keep its existing sirens, which were last replaced in 1981.

Beck continued, "I'm here to help you - we're willing to set the sirens off, but it will cost $4,500 to add a box for each one of them."

Hare said, "I guess we'll go with what we have for now."

Water meters and sewer charges were the subject of several items on the agenda, as resident Jon Bicknese had requested at the previous meeting to have the water service to the farm property adjacent to his home disconnected. Councilors voted to allow the disconnection and agreed to refund Bicknese's meter costs upon return of the meter to the city, then made an adjustment to Sheri Schmidt's sewer charges for a house she owns in Wykoff that had a water leak that affected her first quarter sewer rate, the rate upon which the rest of the year's charges are based.

The council granted permission to Wykoff Fire Chief Wade Baker to use the city's credit card up to $250 for the bulk purchase of parade candy for the parades the fire department will be in this summer through Fall Fest at the end of September. The rest of the amount will be taken from fire department funds, as Baker estimated that the cost of giving out parade candy is approximately $500. The fire department participates in the Preston Trout Days, Cherry Grove Fourth of July, Chatfield Western Days, Spring Valley Ag Days and Fall Fest parades.

Hare asked Baker whether handing out candy is necessary since he stated that he'd attended several parades in which candy wasn't a part of the fire departments' participation.

Councilor Comstock observed that "it's good public relations" for the department, and Baker added that the firefighters like to maintain relationships with the towns in which they serve as mutual aid responders.

Councilor Megan Larson addressed the sixth old business agenda item, paid time off (PTO) use, for which she was to be working on a policy with the city attorney, Tom Manion. Larson reported that she hadn't heard from Manion and felt that Manion's response time has been longer than anticipated.

Hare suggested that Larson attempt to contact the attorney by sending a letter since she felt that her emails had been ignored.

The PTO matter was tabled until the next meeting.

She then introduced the Wykoff softball team's request for park and recreation funding for new equipment and fees as presented to her by Brett Corson. The council honored Corson's request, up to $500, for this summer's entrance fees and equipment.

Next, city maintenance worker John Baker presented quotes for a new city tractor to replace existing equipment, noting that he particularly liked a New Holland demonstration model available with a new warranty at Hyland Motors. The council encouraged Baker to pursue test-driving the tractor and to do more comparison between the tractors he'd considered.

The council then did some housekeeping of miscellaneous agenda items including approving a retroreflectivity policy for the city's street signs. The council also allowed resident Mitch Horsman to keep the bushes that are planted alongside his driveway - too close to the right of way but likely planted by the previous homeowner before the ordinance took effect - until they die or are removed, thereby opening the driveway sight line for a neighbor who registered complaints about the bushes. The council issued nuisance letters to a resident whose lawn is overgrown, another to a resident on Fillmore Street whose vehicle stands filled with refuse, and to the Bank Gift Haus - informing the owner that the tables on the sidewalk are too close to the handicapped-accessible ramp and asking that they be moved.

Though not on the agenda, Wykoff's city hall now has more adjacent parking after the former Kingsland Middle School tennis courts, located to the north, are being converted to a parking lot.

Lastly, Wykoff is without a mayor following Hare's resignation at the end of the meeting. More information on his resignation is included in another story in this week's Tribune.

The next Wykoff city council meeting is set for Monday, July 14, at 7 p.m. in the city hall meeting room. The public is welcome to attend.