F. Mike Tuohy appeared before Chatfield's city council last Monday, April 14, to give the annual report on the Chatfield Center for the Arts (CCA).

He reported the actual results of the 2014 state bonding bill. Request for funds for the CCA are still uncertain, however, the CCA's guardians are optimistic because of support from Sen. Carla Nelson and other members of the Legislature.

The economic development authority-owned property has undergone a transformation since it became the CCA, a transformation that Tuohy noted encompasses not only the art center itself, but also the local businesses that are benefitting as popularity of the activities held there continues to grow.

"We need to be very proud of what we've accomplished...I don't see any dark clouds in the future," Tuohy noted.

Councilman Robert Pederson inquired as to whether the bonding bill would provide funds for operation as well as for renovation.

Tuohy replied it would "bring the building back up to date" and there are numerous projects that still need to be done to accomplish that. He also said operating funds would have to be found elsewhere, such as in an endowment fund. The fiscal committee handling CCA operations as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization hopes to establish such a fund and garner $5 million for continued property and program development.

He pointed out that even as the city works to support the CCA, its role in the long term should not have to be such.

Pederson then asked if the bonding bill is an "all or nothing" determination. Or, in other words, if a decision is made in the Legislature, would the CCA receive its requested amount or nothing at all? That is yet to be determined.

Councilman Mike Urban commented that he feels it's "nice to see a lot of different things on the marquee...to see it growing and seeing a return on the investment" made in the vintage building.

Mayor Russ Smith commended the CCA committees and expressed his optimism for the center's future.

Fire department request

The fire department presented a request for $30,000 from its charitable gambling fund to renovate the fire hall kitchen, as the existing cabinets and fixtures are outdated.

Furthermore, the department would like to install an overhead door to close off the kitchen from the rest of the hall as a way to keep the kitchen clean and secure. Currently, parking the diesel fire engines in the hall lifts up dust that lands in the kitchen - a facility that is used for public fundraising purposes.

Firefighters on the kitchen renovation committee consulted with Tuohy Construction and also with Brian Lee Construction, obtaining two bids for the project that came very close to being identical for identical cabinetry and fixtures.

However, Paul Tuohy's bid was lower, and the firefighters have also elected to do some of the work themselves to keep costs in check.

A motion passed to grant the department $30,000 from its capital fund, with Councilor Dave Frank abstaining from the vote.

Public works report

In public works news, Councilman Paul Novotny cited the city's ongoing storage problems have caused city maintenance workers to stow equipment and tools in just about any spare corner they can find. Until a permanent storage solution can be found, a temporary unit might be placed near the wastewater treatment plant.

In water news, the city is examining the cost of replacing meter reading equipment. This includes purchasing a handheld radio reader that can assess meters and spare the city workers having to walk from house to house.

However, the expense of meters that can be read by such a reader is another matter that needs further investigation.

Pederson shared that the Mill Creek handicapped fishing pier is in need of repair, and city maintenance foreman Tony Lammers concurred that it will need some serious renovation before it is safe for use once more. Lammers related he had invited state fisheries personnel to look at the pier and to inquire about the availability of funding for the repairs, even though the city is responsible for daily maintenance of the pier.

Lammers asked permission to upgrade the purchase of a previously approved city truck, upgrading from a half-ton to a three-quarter ton truck. After determining what the new truck's uses would be, city crews would do better to have a larger truck and one equipped for a plow, which the half-ton truck approved at the previous council meeting would not have had. Lammers reported the cost difference would be approximately $2,600. Urban asked Lammers if the three-quarter ton truck would be a 2015 model instead of a 2014 since pricing is no longer available for 2014 models, and Lammers replied that would also be the case.

Other matters

Smith's mayor's report included approving the appointment of Mike Buss to the cable access board until January 2017 and announcing that there still are vacancies on that board and the planning and zoning committee.

City Clerk Joel Young invited anyone on the council who wishes to attend the Southeast Minnesota League of Municipalities (SEMLM) meeting in Spring Valley on April 30 to do so.

The council also voted to support the local ATV trail club in its pursuit of federal grant funds to improve its trailhead parking lot.

Before adjournment, Pederson spoke about improvements being done to commercial and private property around the community, thanking the owners for taking the initiative to make those improvements.