The Crookston City Council met on Monday night in the Council Chambers at City Hall. One item, a resolution supporting the efforts of Epitome Energy LLC to open a soybean crush facility for biodiesel fuel in Crookston was the lone item on the regular agenda and passed unanimously.
Councilman Jake Fee said the City of Crookston is very excited for Epitome Energy to come to town. “Well, I think everybody knows the city is very excited for Epitome to come to town,” said Fee. “This puts it in resolution form that we support all efforts being taken with the group to come into town and the jobs and tax base they’ll [bring] to the City of Crookston. We support every effort they’re taking to make this thing happen.”
During the Crookston Forum David Regimbal spoke to the council regarding issues with a driveway he says was damaged during previous street improvement work. Regimbal, who claimed the city poured the hot mix over cement that had broken up during the project, said the work was not done correctly before.
Mayor Guy Martin asked Public Works Director Pat Kelly to address the issue, but he was quickly cut off by Regimbal. “I’ve looked at it,” said Kelly. “The whole driveway is overlaid over something.”
Regimbal then cut it that it was concrete, with Kelly trying to respond several times. “It’s concrete, and I told you it’s concrete,” said Regimbal. “And you denied it and said it was gravel. If you would’ve talked to your employees, they would’ve told you it was cement. And you left the busted cement.”
Kelly responded, “they did not tell me it was cement.”
Regimbal then claimed Kelly told his employees it was gravel under the asphalt, instead of asking them what was there. “You didn’t ask them,” said Regimbal. “You told them it was gravel and it’s not gravel. I’ve been fighting with you for two years about this.”
Kelly attempted to respond but was cut off by a heated Regimbal who told Kelly he should’ve looked at it. “You should’ve done your job and gone and looked at it,” said Regimbal. “When the City of Crookston signed off on that project, it became your responsibility to fix it, and it no longer was the contractor’s responsibility. You people signed off on it. It makes it your responsibility, not my responsibility. I didn’t wreck it. You wrecked it.”
Kelly finally said, “fine, you know, fine. We’re going to do the street. We’ll cut it back to where we cut it. We will fix it with concrete. Do you want concrete up even with the asphalt?”
Regimbal said no he wanted concrete and then asphalt on top of it before continuing to berate Kelly for several minutes before Martin confirmed the driveway would be addressed and Kelly said that work there is scheduled and the concern would be addressed when the contractor gets to that street during this year’s street improvements.
Marty Seifert, from the Greater Coalition of Minnesota Cities, also spoke to the council encouraging them to attend the coalitions summer conference in Bemidji July 24-26. He also addressed the results of the final legislative budget, including what was successful and what wasn’t. The most significant success was the Local Government Aid (LGA) being increased back to its 2002 pool of money, which because of changes in the formula since then means Crookston is projected to receive its most substantial portion of LGA money ever in 2020 at $3,852,782.
Seifert also discussed child care, and while the coalition didn’t get what it was asking for, they were able to secure $1.5 million in grants for child care for the Minnesota Initiative Foundation (MIF) and DEED. Seifert said the grants are intended primarily for providers but could possibly be utilized by communities to work on their shortage. “It’s mainly for the providers focused on business development and training,” said Seifert. “So to identify sites, deal with the regulatory aspect, or to take a look at consolidation maybe working with a church or a school. A lot of it is to jump-start that. The DEED department is working through how to put the program together because this is a new program. They’ll have eligibility opening this fall.”
Seifert also said he believes the grants will be for both new and established providers. “That’s what the intent was,” said Seifert. “Sometimes you can grow the provider base that is already there, and it’s more efficient to do that by adding new staff and capacity in a building versus starting from scratch. So sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
The Council also passed their consent agenda which included the May 28 meeting minutes, bills and disbursements in the amount of $288,417.63, as well as pool use and arena lease agreements with Crookston Public Schools. The school will pay the City $30,000.00 a year for the eight-year term of the pool usage agreement. They will pay $112,584.00 each of the next two years for the arena lease with the lease increasing after that by the same percentage the legislature increases the general education aid formula.