Part-time position to work up to 20 hours per week

Photo by Chad Koenen
The Henning City Council approved matching a $1,000 grant for the new Henning Skate Park. A group of volunteers are attempting to raise money to construct the skate park as soon as this summer.

By Chad Koenen


A new face could soon be coming to the City of Henning office building. 

During its regularly scheduled meeting last week, the Henning City Council approved a request from the city staff to hire an additional person to work in the office moving forward. The request from the city staff was for a third full-time person, but ultimately, just a 20 hour per week position was approved by the city council. That will give the city two full-time and one part-time person in the office.

Henning Utility Supervisor Ted Strand said the position will allow office staff to complete training, take vacation and provide another set of eyes in the city office to assist in day-to-day activities. Even though the city is in the process of selling Willow Creek Assisted Living Facility, Strand said much of the work for the facility has recently been contracted out, but the upcoming Highway 108 project, ambulance service and Henning EDA, as well as the need to properly retain office materials will provide more-than-enough work to justify the position. 

“That’s one thing we have budgeted for and we feel it is needed for someone to come in for checks and balances in the office and to help us follow through with some things,” said Strand. “I know we are getting rid of some things like Willow Creek…but we still have a lot of work.”

The city office staff had previously had 2 1/2 full-time equivalent people in the office, but eliminated the part-time position due to budget cuts in the city. After staff members raised a concern about not being able to take vacation and being overwhelmed at times with the scope of the work and upcoming projects, city councilman Jesse Hermanson said he would be in favor of a part-time person, but questioned the need for a third full-time person in the office.

“I am all about sufficient staffing and work-life balance…but we have never had three full-time office people,” he said. “I can’t get behind a full-time, but again that is just me.”

City clerk/treasurer Jenna Kovarik said she would be comfortable with the addition of a part-time person in the office as the additional staff member would take a lot off the plate for both herself and the deputy clerk.

“I am OK if you give me a part-time person just because I think a couple of you have known I think that would be helpful,” she said. “I just know there are days where another person would be very, very helpful.”

Henning Mayor Robert Johnson said he has seen first-hand the need for a part-time person in the office staff to learn some of the billing information to allow the current staff to get additional training, take vacation and take some of the workload off of their plates. 

The city council approve adding an additional part-time person in the city office for up to 20 hours per week. The council also requested that the city office staff stagger their lunches so people can stop by the office over the noon hour to pay bills and ask questions when possible. 

In other news

• Discussed a proposal from Legacy Power Line to remove the remaining overhead units and conductor from the phase 1 and phase 2 portions of the city’s electrical project. The proposal will include removing the power lines and equipment, labor and equipment needed for the project. The proposal had a cost of $40,000 and would include removing the power poles that are no longer needed since the electrical wires are underground. At the request of Hermanson, the city will request more information on how Legacy Power Line arrived at the price of $40,000 before moving forward with the project.

• Approved a request to match a MRES grant for $1,000 for the Henning Skate Park. The city will match the grant dollar-for-dollar to provide $2,000 for the project. Representatives from the skate park committee also requested up to $10,000 in funding for the project from the city, but that request was tabled until a later date. 

• Approved the city’s participation in a county beautification program that will be distributed through the Henning EDA. The grant will provide funding for downtown businesses for things like windows, doors, updating the look of the exterior of the building and enhancements of the business district. The city received $25,000 in funding from Otter Tail County, which will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the business who received the funding. The grant will be forgiven over the course of three years provided the business or property is not sold in that time. 

• Heard a request from several employees at Willow Creek Assisted Living for clarity concerning the payout of accrued vacation when the facility is sold to St. Williams Living Center in June. The city council said its attorney is on vacation and will be back on April 11. When he arrives back from vacation city representatives will meet with its attorney to find out how much and at what rate the vacation time will be paid out to employees. 

• Approved a 3.2 liquor license for B&D Foods in Henning. 

• Discussed how the city should respond to requests to disconnect city utility meters for Henning Public Utility customers. Strand said many of the requests come from people who no longer use electricity, natural gas, water or sewer, and want to avoid the monthly base charge for having the utilities hooked up. While the city has a fee built into its payment schedule for disconnecting the utilities for seasonal customers it does not have a fee for permanently removing the utility, which can be labor intensive for things like natural gas. The city council requested that Strand put together a proposal and fee to bring before the council to address permanently removing unwanted utilities.