City to take over care of Pierz Family Gardens

By Terry LehrkeNews Editor

To keep what is considered a community asset open, the city of Pierz will take over the administration and upkeep of the Pierz Family Gardens. They are located near the County Shop on 143rd Street.

The gardens were created in 2009, by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to promote family togetherness and a better appreciation of nature. Much of the administrative work for the gardens is already done at City Hall. That’s where residents pay the $30 fee for the 25-foot by 25-foot plots.

Public Works Supervisor Bob Otremba put together a proposed budget for the gardens and while the city won’t make money, it won’t lose money either.

In 2014, the Pierz Healy High School FFA wants to rent 22 of the plots, bringing in $660. Otremba estimated an additional 20 spots, rented by community members, will bring in $600 if all are rented.

Otremba listed expenses as tilling ($300); portable toilet rental ($215): water charges ($210); water fittings ($100); one-time water improvement of adding a main-line feed ($400), bringing the expenses to $1,225.

Otremba said the school planned to pay for all the water used on its plots. Under the leadership of FFA Adviser Pat Tax, the FFA group plans to use a drip irrigation system and will use the produce grown in a farm to school program, as well as raising funds through the farmers market in Pierz.

City staff already mows around the area, Otremba  said. He didn’t foresee a lot of extra work.

As far as water usage, Otremba said in the past the Rich Prairie Sewer and Water District charged $10 per 1,000 gallons, but in 2014 will charge $3 per 1,000 gallons.

While City Administrator Anna Gruber and Otremba didn’t foresee a headache for the city, if administration of the garden should become a problem, the Council will revisit the issue.

Elvira Stumpf, along with her husband, Herb, Wally and Judy Meierhofer, Russ Hildebrandt, Jim Gerwing, Kevin Happke and Robert Boser, initiated the garden and have worked to keep the gardens open and clean.

The initial idea, spurred by a $2,000 grant, Elvira said, was to have grandparents and grandkids gardening, families working together, hence the name “Pierz Family Gardens.”

She said the group felt that since the school was interested in so many plots, now was the time to hand over the responsibility of the gardens. She said the group felt it may also be time for a bigger operation, more than the group could take responsibility for, and the city already had a hand in the operation of the garden.

For more information on the Pierz Family Gardens, call City Hall at (320) 468-6471.

Pierz City Council Briefs

In other business Monday, the Pierz City Council:

• Approved assessments for the Park Avenue/Robert Street improvements in the amount of $98,689.62, about 16 percent of the total project cost of $886,247.55;

• Approved a new right of way permitting form;

• Approved hiring Shannon Storkamp to clean City Hall and the public library at $10 per hour, as well as the city park shelters for $20 per cleaning;

• Approved a permit for the Buckman Trailblazers to enable the club to conduct charitable gambling at the Old Bank Restaurant;

• After discussion about whether Pierz Parks Assistant Zach Baert should be on the city’s employee step plan for increases in pay due to his position being revised to full-time seasonal, approved moving Baert from Step 7 (16.54 per hour) to Step 8, or $17.20 per hour. The Council plans to continue discussion on the position and the benefits that go along with the position, at its Oct. 21 workshop;

•Tabled until December discussion on a raise on the raise in full-time employees’ insurance stipend, after it was questioned whether the Council voted to increase it to $750. In December, the Council may have more answers to questions about what benefit the Affordable Care Act will be to employees;

• Approved permits for Brett Meyer for a fence; Pierz Public Schools for a concrete pad to build a shelter; a sign for Buch’s Bed and Breakfast; and for Tom Smude to add on to his business in Industrial Park;

• Were reminded by Public Works Supervisor Bob Otremba that winter parking restrictions will go into effect Nov. 1 and last until April 1, 2014. During that time, city residents may not park on city streets overnight; and

• Learned from Otremba that street light poles for Park Avenue that were damaged when received will either be repaired or replaced.

The next regular meeting of the Pierz City Council  will be held Monday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. at City Hall.