GRRL Branch manager calls Upsala a ‘reading community’

By Kerry Drager, Correspondent

Upsala’s Great River Regional Library (GRRL) Branch Manager Wanda Erickson came before the Upsala City Council last Monday to thank the community for 27 years of support.

According to the statistics presented to the Council, city residents have checked out more than 21,000 books already this year. With these numbers, checkouts will exceed last year’s total at 42,561.

The branch is also being supported by attending library sponsored events. The library sponsors Between the Covers Book Club, Behind the Scenes Movie Group and the Knitty Gritty Craft Group. These clubs meet once a month. There are also several other events being offered throughout the year including Meet the Author and several activities for children and teens of all ages.

“The third annual Summer Concert in the Park went well this year,” said Erickson. “There were 148 people that attended, and that’s quite a bit more from last year. Young musicians from our community have been wanting to come on-stage. This year they were calling to ask if they could participate.”

Due to budget cuts, the Upsala branch experienced a reduction in hours for the Library Services Coordinator. Hours for the library assistant and the library aide were increased. Managing the needs of the library due to these cuts has been challenging, Erickson said. She encouraged the Council and community members to keep the county commissioners informed on the benefits of the library and the many events the community enjoys because of funding provided to the library. Opening hours for the branch has remained the same.

Library patrons have been accessing the library’s free WiFi at an increasing rate. To help cater to their needs and to provide a place to access the Internet on personal devices, Erickson is requesting that a stone bench be placed in front of the library for these individuals.

The Council discussed ways to reduced the cost of the 2014 Street and Utilities Improvement Project. City Engineer Scott Hedlund presented plans to change the lift station and sanitary sewer design. The new plans consist of changing to a more shallow, prefabricated fiberglass lift station and a shallower, sanitary sewer. These changes would save the city $80,548.20 from the contract bid from C & L Excavating Inc. of St. Joseph.

The Council is concerned that the shallower lift station and sewer will not address the future needs of a growing community in the new development. It is enough to handle the development as planned now, but an additional or deeper lift station may be needed in the future.

The Council discussed adding a telemetry system called SCADA to the project at an additional $35,000. This would provide the city with a communication feature that will notify city maintenance if anything were to go wrong at the lift station. Currently, the only alarm system is a horn and light indicating a problem. With SCADA, the city will be alerted by a call, email and/or fax. The Council decided to wait on the telemetry system.

The Council also approved a motion to accept C & L Excavation’s bid for the shallower lift station and sewer in the amount of $501,987.61.

Upsala City Council Briefs

Other business that came before the Council Monday, included:

•Approval for acquiring the Mount Olive Lutheran Church;

•Learning that the water treatment plant has been cleaned and maintenance done;

•Hearing that there is a drainage issue at the property located at 511 Highway 239. The Planning Commission will follow up;

•Learning that City Maintenance employee   Frank Koopmeiners will be painting the curb alongside a group of mailboxes located near the corner of Borgstrom Street;

•Hearing the playground at the City Park’s will get new sand and be retilled;

•Learning that the Upsala city signs will need to be repainted; and

•Reminding the upcoming filing date deadline for City Council candidates is Tuesday.

A pre-construction meeting for the improvements to the 2014 Street and Utilities Improvement Project is set for Wednesday, Aug. 13, at 10 a.m. at the City Hall.