Cold storage building approved

by April Scheinoha

    Displaced equipment from the Electric, Water Systems, and Parks and Recreation departments will soon have a new home. The Thief River Falls City Council has approved paying $87,513 to Falls Building Center for the construction of a cold storage facility. The matter was approved at its meeting Tuesday, June 6.
    The Red Lake Falls company will construct the 7,200-square-foot building south of the Water Treatment Plant. Construction is expected to take place in August.
    The equipment is currently located in two buildings on the Municipal Service Center property. That property was recently sold to Digi-Key for $1,368,000. Digi-Key plans to use the property as its western parking lot. The company is building a one-million square foot fulfillment, valued-added manufacturing and warehouse center on the site of its current western parking lot. A skywalk will connect the new building to Digi-Key’s current facility.
    City Administrator Rod Otterness said he prefers that the city use reserves to pay for its new cold storage facility. He also prefers that the city save the Digi-Key money for when it plans a major building project.
    The city is considering constructing a facility to house the Electric Department office and equipment, which are in the process of being moved. The office will be temporarily located at the city-owned building that formerly housed HDR Engineering. Other Electric Department equipment is being stored at the former ITS Auto building, which the city also owns. The city is also leasing two other properties from private individuals to store Electric Department equipment.
    Council Member Curt Howe questioned whether the city should use its reserves to construct a cold storage facility.
    Mayor Brian Holmer replied that the city still needs such a facility. He added that the building is being constructed on city-owned property.
    Council Member Josh Hagen indicated that the council learned it’s not cheap to rent storage space in this area. “That’s something to keep in the back of your head when you’re talking about building a simple cold storage building,” he said.
    The city is paying $5 per square foot to lease one of the buildings to store Electric Department equipment.
    The council rescheduled the Tuesday, July 4 council meeting. The meeting will be held Wednesday, July 5 at 5:30 p.m.
    City Council approved a 3.2 percent on-sale malt liquor and wine license for Julie Koshenina doing business as The Puck on 3rd. The license spans from now to Dec. 31. The Puck on 3rd is located at the former location of Buca’s.
    The council approved the Teamsters internal transfer of Ronald Lund. Lund is transferring from the position of power plant operator/electronic technician to chief power plant operator. Lund succeeds Gary Page, who has retired.
    Lund will be paid $26.05 per hour. Per the union contract, he will be able to return to his former position in 30 days if he so chooses. The council doesn’t plan to fill Lund’s former position.
    A public hearing is scheduled Tuesday, June 20 regarding the city’s application for a $4 million grant under the Minnesota Investment Fund. The city is applying for the grant on behalf of Digi-Key. The hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
    The council closed the meeting for a performance appraisal of Parks and Recreation Director Joe Amundson. A summary of the closed meeting will be provided at the next council meeting.
    The council had initially planned to conduct such an appraisal in March. The item was removed after the Management, Administration, Professional and Supervisory union met with the Labor Committee regarding performance appraisals prior to that council meeting.
    In January 2016, the council changed the city’s organizational chart. As a result, the council serves as the department leaders’ immediate supervisor.
    The next council meeting is scheduled Tuesday, June 20 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
    The council will meet with the Pennington County Board on issues of common interest Thursday, June 22 at 7 a.m. at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
    City Council will meet as the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, June 27 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.