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Voyageur's Best Features of 2004

McGregor Water tower

The city of McGregor will never look the same
A permanent fixture on the horizon
by Cynthia Brekke  | February 10, 2004

You could say that the crew of A&B Construction out of Elk River didn’t ‘drop the ball’... and you’d be right. On Mon., Feb. 2, the base and ball went up, sending a permanent structure ‘towering’ above the trees, changing the landscape of McGregor. The huge crane set the ball atop the base and crews immediately set to welding the seams.

“It was pretty slick... went up in a matter of hours,” said Larry Paukert, city maintenance. “They’re going to inspect it on Thursday,” he added.

The 137-foot water tower is up, and is definitely visible from all angles when approaching the city of McGregor. It doesn’t look like much now, but this too shall pass. “Somebody asked me, ‘why did you put up such an ugly tower,’” Bret smiled. “I asked them why it was ugly and they said ‘It’s not painted or anything.’” Colors for the new structure are in the process of being decided, with painting to be done as soon as weather permits. Lights will be put on, to make it visible, but it is low enough that they wouldn’t be a requirement. “Everybody thought it would be a good idea, so it’s visible for pilots,” Larry said.

The city council briefly discussed the water tower, as well as water project issues, at their abbreviated meeting on Tues., Feb. 3, shortened due to the absence of city clerk, Judy Cirilli. It was the shortest meeting in recent memory.

With regards to the water project, the number of complaints on the water have diminished, as the lines are clearing up with usage. Bret also said that the number of people refusing to hook up is not as large as originally thought. “It changes daily,” Larry responded. He also stated that the first set of water bills have been sent out with just the base of $13.66. Residents will record how many gallons used and next month’s bills will have base plus usage.

Discussion then turned to the service for Cummings Amoco. They needed at least 60 pounds of pressure for the car wash, and Larry said the calculated maximum would be 58 pounds. However, after speaking with Jim Walker, a solution was easily found. “He said it wouldn’t be that big of an issue,” Larry explained, “because we can put a small booster pump on their line, especially for a big user, and it wouldn’t take much of a pump to do it.”

Bret filled the council in on the meeting that took place with Roger Clapp from Rural Development, and the state engineer, as well as Jim Walker, city water project engineer. The topic was the payment of design services to Walker’s firm. “What came out of it was, the state engineer says we need to pay up the balance of the contracts,” Bret began. “He’s checking some of the facts, but with regards to Jim Walker and the engineering firm, the state engineer says they’re entitled to every last cent that they’re asking for.”

As reported after the last city council meeting, the engineering fees exceeded what was originally bid. The council then heard a project review, and Jim Walker explained, line by line, the expenses and the circumstances surrounding them. This week, however, Bret clarified that, engineering fees not withstanding, the overall project was not over budget. “The project’s under budget by $160,000,” he stated. “We’re not over budget whatsoever.” There is, however, still some confusion over a shortfall of funds, to the tune of $600,000, through Rural Development. “It seems that it’s more an issue with Rural Development, and the inner workings of that, than the engineers or anybody else,” Bret continued. The meeting with these entities lasted three hours.

The issue in front of the city council was to approve payment, which some were hesitant to do. There are still some discrepancies between what’s been paid and what hasn’t. “We need to get Judy back here to find out what she’s paid,” Bret stated. “I don’t know what we’re okaying,” Larry Turner added, trying to decide how to fashion a motion. It was finally decided that the council would approve the payment on the balance owed on the original contract. Larry so moved and the motion passed.

The Airport/Industrial park property is still in the process. Bret explained that the hangars to the north are actually on Industrial Park property. “They received a letter from the state that said they either remove the hangars that are on city property, or figure out how the airport can annex more property from the city,” Bret said. “There’s some work to be done there. It has to be fixed.”

The Fish Fry is set for Fri., May 14, the weekend after Mother’s Day. It will be held at the Community Center, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., and is sponsored by the City of McGregor. There was discussion of a raffle for a fishing trip and secondary prizes, to be drawn that night. Bret asked if Larry Turner would approach the Lions, and see if they could handle it.

Bills were briefly discussed and motion was made to pay them, seconded and passed. With that, the meeting was over. The next meeting of the City Council will be held at City Hall on Tues., Feb. 17. Representatives from the Airport Commission should be on hand at this meeting.

This article first appeared in the February 10, 2004 issue of the Voyageur Press.