Council sets committees for upcoming year

Photo by Chad Koenen
The Henning City Council will be seeking PFA funding and grants to help and fund an Inman St. utility and road project in Henning.

By Chad Koenen


A new-look Henning City Council hosted its first meeting of 2023 on Monday night.

The city council heard a number of updates from department heads, as well as reorganized for the upcoming year. 

Mallory Loock and Jesse Hermanson will join Scott Hart and Wes Johnson on the city council, while Robert Johnson will take over as mayor.

Photo by Chad Koenen
The Henning Wastewater Treatment Plant is over 20 years old and the city’s engineering company will be putting together a facilities plan to look at needed and future repairs at the facility.

During the meeting, the city council heard from Apex Engineering representative Bob Schlieman, who highlighted a number of upcoming projects on the horizon in Henning. 

The first project is the Inman St. utility, street and main wastewater lift station improvement project. The project was originally scheduled for last year, but was postponed due to a lack of available PFA funding. The project will repair underground utilities and make surface improvements to Inman St. from Marshall Ave. to Highway 210. It will also replace the city’s main wastewater lift station. 

The total project cost is estimated to be just over $3.7 million, of which the city is responsible for an estimated $2 million. Otter Tail County will be responsible for the remainder of the project, however, Schlieman said the city would likely receive grants to cover a large portion of its responsibility.

“It is anticipated you will receive a significant amount of grant dollars,” said Schlieman. 

He also updated the city council on the upcoming 2024 Douglas Ave. (Highway 108) project that will replace underground infrastructure and reconstruct the driving surface on Henning’s main corridor. Schlieman said it is expected that MnDOT will begin the design phase of this project soon. 

He also highlighted a preliminary engineering report for the city’s water treatment plant that was constructed in 2001. Schlieman said the design life for many components in this type of facility is 20 years and Apex is currently working on preparing a facilities plan to document the condition and improvement needs for the Water Treatment Plant.

He also brought to the city council’s attention several other projects that have been identified by city staff including: a street and alley maintenance/replacement plan, a new fire hall as currently the fire trucks must be special ordered to fit through the doors, improvements to the wastewater treatment facility as the irrigation systems and other components are reaching the end of their useful life and additional underground utility and surface reconstruction areas. 

“As you can see we will probably be busy with construction over the next couple of years in Henning,” said Schlieman. 

Committee designations and assignments

The Henning City Council made several appointments and designations during its first meeting of the year. The city council established its committees, including a new finance committee that Robert Johnson said will review monthly statements from every department and will bring financial recommendations before the city council.

Robert Johnson said he also wanted to utilize the committees more than in the past by having the committees do some of the leg work and bring recommendations before the council on matters affecting the city. Johnson also said he wanted to have all four department heads on the personnel committee, as opposed to just city clerk/treasurer Jenna Kovarik and the head of the department being discussed. 

City council, city staff and community members on each committee will be included in an upcoming issue of the Citizen’s Advocate.

In other news

• Approved an increase in utility rates, along with the rates for things like making copies at city hall. Utility supervisor Ted Strand said the new utility rates follow a rate study provided by Missouri River Energy Systems. The new base rate for residential water will be $33 per month (including 2,000 gallons) and $6.42 for every 1,000 gallons thereafter. The residential base sewer rate was set at $33 per month for the first 2,000 gallons and $7.15 for every 1,000 gallons thereafter. The base natural gas rate was set at $6 and all usage per CCF will be set at .275 over market. The base residential electric rate was set at $16 per month and $11.7 per kWh from June through August and $.094 per kWh for September through May. 

• Approved 4-0, with Johnson abstaining, to utilize Brogard’s Plumbing Heating and Excavating to haul large snow piles when needed. Strand said the city has made a similar arrangements for the past several years and has been plowing snow and completing the rest of their work this winter without utilizing overtime. 

• Heard from Johnson about the desire to have a bus trip through town to look at all of the city property and potential future needs. 

• Heard an ambulance update from Chelsea Waskosky who said the ambulance service has filled all three part-time positions that were open and responded to 40 calls in December. The ambulance service responded to well over 400 calls last year as it completed its second busiest year in terms of call volume in its history. Waskosky said the ambulance service is also looking into a new ambulance rig and weighing its options on how to best proceed.

• Heard that there are currently 28 residents at Willow Creek with 22 of them being on services. Willow Creek also received a $5,000 home and assisted living grant for technology for the residents and staff training. 

• Discussed how to proceed with calls for service from the utility staff at Countryview and Willow Creek. Strand said his department has been keeping track of the time city employees are spending at the two facilities since at least July. The city’s various committees will look into how to potentially reimburse the utility department for their time and how to proceed with future calls for service.