Upon his appointment to the Chatfield City Council, Mike Urban recited the oath of office and took his place on the council.  PHOTO BY ANTON ADAMEK/CHATFIELD NEWS
Upon his appointment to the Chatfield City Council, Mike Urban recited the oath of office and took his place on the council. PHOTO BY ANTON ADAMEK/CHATFIELD NEWS
The Chatfield Committee of the Whole met prior to the regular council meeting on Monday, April 22, to discuss the filling of the empty council seat. The seat was vacated by Russell Smith when he became mayor after Don Hainlen resigned from that position when he moved out of the community.

The Committee of the Whole met at the Thurber Municipal Building and consisted of the mayor, council members, city clerk and city attorney.

City clerk Joel Young said the last time the council had to fill an empty seat by appointment had been in 1997.

At the March 25 council meeting, it had been determined the council would allow recommendations from the public to help them decide who should serve.

As reported by the council members, each received numerous phone calls and emails expressing interest in the seat or support for another person. Smith said he thought there had been a pretty good response.

"We have a short list of people coming forward," he said. The council seat, he also stated, would be filled to finish out the term until 2015.

Councilman Robert Pederson said he felt the decision would be close. Smith asked the council to consider choosing someone who would have the time to be involved and to get up to speed. City attorney Frederick Suhler reminded the council that they would have to select the council member publicly.

After the Committee of the Whole meeting, the council reconvened for the regular city council meeting. Mayor Smith described the discussion that had taken place in the prior Committee of the Whole meeting.

"There was no vote in there. Basically, just a discussion on the process we wanted to take out here," he explained.

He listed the names of those who expressed interest in the council seat: John McBroom, Rita Charlton, Mike Urban and Tom French.

In a memo from the city, Josh Thompson was also on the list, but had later indicated his inability to serve. "It's a tough decision because one person will be happy and three people will be disappointed. I don't think a decision will be made here lightly," said Smith.

Smith explained the process of majority voting that the council would use to elect a new member. Council member Ken Jacobson said that all those who had submitted their names were qualified for the position. "We're not an exclusive club," he shared. He reminded those who would not be selected that they could run again or become involved with other committees or city activities.

Pederson shared the phone calls and emails the council had received factored into their decision.

Smith agreed that it was an informal process.

Jacobson thanked everyone who had stepped up and were willing to serve.

Council member Dave Frank thanked the people who called or emailed in support of a candidate.

He then made a motion to elect Mike Urban to the council. Jacobson seconded the motion saying that the support from other community members weighed in on his decision. Smith agreed that the input from the community was good.

Pederson said they considered those who had run for the council in the fall. "It's tough when you live in a town where you know each and every person. No hard feelings how it comes out," he expressed.

Smith encouraged people to "get their feet wet" in other city committees. "If you have volunteerism, keep going," he said.

The vote was unanimous in appointing Mike Urban to the Chatfield City Council.

"It'll be nice having a full group again," stated Councilman Paul Novotny.

"I'd like to say thanks for your vote of confidence in appointing me," shared Urban.

Pay equity, other reports

Young notified the council that the city had achieved compliance with the Local Government Pay Equity Act. Young admitted he had been concerned about not meeting compliance.

"That puts us in shape for the next three years, but we'll probably have to undertake some kind of study to make sure we're compliant next time around," he shared.

He also notified the board of a request for input from the Rochester-Olmsted Council of Governments, which does all the long-term planning for the greater Rochester area. Input was needed, he said, for transportation and infrastructure for the next 30 years. Due to the recent developments with the Destination Medical Center, Young said Chatfield should get involved with the council.

Jacobson gave an update on the Public Services committee. He said they were seeking bids for the fire hall lighting and had received three quotes. The council approved the lowest bidder.

He also mentioned that the fire department had received 12 calls during the first three months for 191 man hours. They would also be executing a controlled burn in May. He said the department was also considering purchasing a grain rescue package, which would equip members to rescue someone from a grain bin.

Jacobson also presented an update on the project to move the sand volleyball courts in Mill Creek Park. The project would be completed by the high school in order to convert the north softball field into a varsity baseball field. It was estimated to cost $7,600 to the school and would be completed by the fall. Urban asked if they would be moved before Western Days. City Superintendent Tony Lammers said it was up to the school.

The council approved the city pool director to collaborate with the schools in a reading program, which would give students who complete a certain amount of reading during the summer a one-day pool pass.

In response to some concern voiced about the visitor's center, Jacobson explained the council never wanted to close the visitor's center, but that it should be staffed. "We appreciate the volunteers that are gearing up for the summer and fall."

A question was asked about whether the visitor's center would be moved to the Center for the Arts. Smith said that may be possible in the future, which would mean that the current one would be closed to move it over. "We weren't planning on making any plans for it," shared Novotny.

City beautification

Lammers talked about possible trees to be planted on Main Street as well as the possible concrete and steel grating to be placed around the tree.

Lammers said it would help collecting water for the tree and prevent the tree from pushing the grating out.

Council member Novotny said the city should go around to business owners to get their thoughts on having trees in front of their business.

Lammers said they would want to get the plan in place so they could get the stumps taken out.

Pederson thanked residents who keep their houses looking well-maintained. "Keep up the good work on all the homes. We're coming into the time of year where you can back up and see what needs to be done."