HEADLINES FOR AUGUST 19, 2016
Central Avenue roundabout now open
The new roundabout at Central Avenue and 8th Street North is now open, creating somewhat easier access to both Holiday and Perkins. However, Central Avenue/Highway 25 is now closed from 8th Street North to Highway 55. Construction continues on the Highway 55/25 intersection. (Photo by Doug Voerding)
Buffalo city council approves zoning change for second Allina clinic
By Doug Voerding
A second Allina Clinic will be opening in Buffalo next year on the northwest corner of County Road 35 and Crossroads Campus Drive behind Wells Fargo Bank.
The Buffalo City Council on Monday, August 15, approved a zoning change for the easterly four acres from B-3 Highway Commercial to B-6 Health Care Facility. The westerly four acres will remain zoned B-3.
Chris Lambert of Medcraft Healthcare Real Estate told the council that the building would be 15,000 square-feet and would be for clinical services.
“Some services,” said Lambert, “would be pulled from the Allina Clinic at the hospital and more special services would be added.”
Lambert did not give any details on what exact services would be in the new building.
Groundbreaking is expected yet this year with an anticipated completion date of June, 2017.
During the Open Forum part of the meeting, Kent Lungstrom talked about the traffic loss in downtown Buffalo with the closing of Coborn’s and the Wells Fargo drive-up.
Lungstrom asked if the council was considering closing the downtown municipal liquor store.
Mayor Brad Nauman said that there were no plans to close the downtown liquor store.
Then Lungstrom asked if the council had a “proactive plan for more businesses downtown.”
Nauman said that since NAPA is moving to near Highway 55 across from Culver’s, the city is working with the owner of the downtown NAPA building, who is considering multi-family housing on the downtown site.
Assistant City Administrator Laureen Bodin said that the city Housing and Redevelopment Authority has distributed the downtown feasibility study to many businesses and has been working with the owners of Marketplace in Watertown in a possible takeover of the former Coborn’s building. That building is owned by Gordy’s of Willmar.
Nauman said that Wells Fargo has not disclosed any plans for the downtown drive-through bank.
Councilmember Paul Olson said, “Now is the prime time to seed lawns because the temperatures are cooler. It’s a great time to fill in bare spots, and make sure you are planting perennial grass, not annual.”
Olson also said that grass seed should not be just thrown on the ground, but be scratched in with a rake.
Three other people addressed the council during the Open Forum.
Steve Kilburn, DFL-endorsed candidate for Representative District 29A and Jan Kittok, DFL-endorsed candidate for Senate District 29 explained their positions on several issues including health care and education.
Dave Teske, a resident on Cattle Court in Rodeo Hills, talked to the council about the park land behind his house and borders the backyards of houses on another cul-de-sac.
Teske and his neighbors have been maintaining the park, but there has been some disagreement about the mowing.
Teske would like to adopt the unnamed park. The council recommended attending the next Park Board meeting with his request.
In other action, the council
- approved the signing of a grant agreement for the repaving of the entrance and parking lot at the airport. For the estimated $243,000 project, the FFA will pay $219,000 with the state contributing another $10,000. The cost to the city would be $14,000, already budgeted in the airport capital improvement plan for 2016.
- accepted with regret the resignation of Nick Abel, wastewater operator. Abel has accepted a position in the city where he lives.
- certified four delinquent utility accounts to the tax rolls.
- discussed but took no action on the revised and amended zoning ordinance. The Planning Commission has been working on the revision for more than a year. The council will consider adoption of the revised ordinance at a future meeting.
- approved a zoning change for a 6.4-acre outlot in Buffalo Pass. The change would be from R-1 to R-2, allowing for single-family homes on smaller lots.
Highway 25/55 construction continues with access changes
As of last Monday, Aug. 15, motorists who travel Highway 25 in Buffalo faced changes as one reconstructed segment of the road opened in its permanent configuration, and another segment closed for construction.
These are the traffic changes now in effect:
All lanes of Highway 25 south of 8th Street, including the new Highway 25/8th Street roundabout, are now open. All major work on this segment of Highway 25 is now complete.
Highway 25 is now closed just south of Highway 55, between Highway 55 and 8th Street.
Motorists may access Holiday, Perkins, and Wright County Lumber from the south by using 5th Street, by following the signed detour along Highway 55, County Road 12 and County Road 36, or by using other local roads.
Highway 25 north of Highway 55 will remain closed, and is scheduled to open in September. Access to local businesses and residences will be maintained throughout the closures.
The closures are needed as part of a multi-year, multi-project cooperative plan between the City of Buffalo and MnDOT to improve mobility, safety, and infrastructure in Buffalo and Wright County.
When complete in fall 2016, the combined projects will reconstruct Highway 25 between 1st Street South and Catlin Street, expand Highway 25 to four lanes between Highway 55 and 15th Street, reconstruct and reconfigure the Highway 25/Highway 55 intersection, upgrade signals and lighting on Highway 25 and Highway 55, replace the existing Highway 25/Eighth Street NW intersection with a roundabout, improve underground utilities, improve pedestrian accessibility along Highway 25 from downtown Buffalo to John Ause Memorial Drive, add turn lanes at the Highway 55/Wright County Road 14 intersection, south of Buffalo.
To have information on future traffic changes on future traffic changes and other important project updates sent to your inbox, sign up for the project’s email updates.
To download detour maps and get more project details, visit www.mndot.gov/d3/buffalo.
To receive information through Twitter, follow MnDOT District 3 @MnDOTCentral.
Come celebrate Montrose Days this weekend
The 35th annual 2016 Montrose Days celebration, “Family Fun for Everyone,” will be Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, August 19, 20, and 21.
The weekend is packed with activities including inflatables, street dances, bean bag and horseshoe tournaments, parades, peddle and tractor pulls, fireworks, and a medallion hunt.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 19
4:00 to 7:00 p.m. KRWC Road Show (Lions Park).
4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Bingo (Lions Park) sponsored by the Montrose Lions
8:30 p.m. Music by: Shane Martin Band (under the tent).
10:00 p.m. Fireworks.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 20
Breakfast (Boy Scout and Girl Scout Booths).
8:00 a.m. - noon Bake Sale (United Methodist Church parking lot).
8:00 a.m. - noon Car Show (United Methodist Church Parking Lot).
8:30 a.m. Horseshoe Tournament registration (east side of fire station), 9:00 a.m. start.
8:30 a.m. 5K Run / Walk registration (Veterans Memorial Park / Tennis Court), 9:00 a.m. start.
9:30 a.m. Bean Bag Tournament registration (under the tent), 10:00 a.m. start.
11:00 a.m. Kiddie Parade (starts at City Hall on Third Street and ends near the big tent off of Center Avenue) sponsored by the Nikole Hernandez Foundation.
12:30 p.m. Kids Pedal Pull Registration (Center Avenue), 1:00 p.m. start. Sponsored by Montrose Days Celebration Committee and Grace Place.
3:00 p.m. Gopher State Garden Tractor Pullers (Center Avenue).
4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Bingo (Lions Park) sponsored by the Montrose Lions.
5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Pork Chop Dinner (Montrose Community Center) provided by: Firemen’s Relief Association.
8:30 p.m. Music by: Menace (under the tent).
SUNDAY, AUGUST 21
1:00 p.m. Parade.
Following parade: Chicken Dinner (Montrose Community Center) provided by: Montrose Lions.
Following parade: Waterball Tournament (Second Street)
Following parade: Montrose Ambassador Coronation (United Methodist Church)
3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Bingo (Lions Park) sponsored by the Montrose Lions
- men’s slow pitch softball tournament (Carver Park)
- Animal Kingdom, 5 in 1 Ninja Combo, 2 Lane Giant Slide, 45 foot Delta Force Criss Cross Collision Course Zorb Ball Racing, and Inflatables.
- Ring Toss, sponsored by the Firemen Relief Association.
- Cheese curds, corndogs, footlong corndogs, footlong hotdogs, frozen custard, cookies, gyros, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, Italian ice, mini-donuts, root beer floats, turkey legs, walking tacos, water, pop, and adult beverages.
Auditions for BCT’s ‘The Sunshine Boys’ set for August 27 - 28
Auditions for “The Sunshine Boys,” one of Neil Simon’s most popular comedies, are coming up fast at Buffalo Community Theater (BCT).
Audition dates will be Saturday, August 27, beginning at 1:00 p.m. and Sunday, August 28, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at the Discovery Elementary School Auditorium located at 214 1st Ave NE, Buffalo. The theater entrance, which will be open at 12:30 p.m. each day, is at the top of the ramp. Anyone interested in auditioning need only come to one session.
BCT encourages those who are interested in auditioning but unable to make one of these dates to contact them at email@example.com., as alternative arrangements can be made.
If you’ve been thinking about getting (back) on stage, “The Sunshine Boys” could be the perfect opportunity for you with roles for 4-5 adult men and 2-3 adult women.
“The Sunshine Boys,” directed by John Kunik, concerns the reunion of a pair of cantankerous vaudeville comedians “Lewis and Clark.” Despite their comedic chemistry onstage, the one-time famous duo can’t stand each other offstage. The shenanigans that ensue when these seasoned stage partners are coerced to reunite for a television comedy special will likely make this production one of the most hilarious BCT has ever done.
A list of character descriptions and script excerpts for audition purposes are available on the BCT website, bctmn.org.
Updates and helpful information on auditioning will also be posted on the Buffalo Community Theater Facebook page.
Regular weeknight rehearsals will take place Monday through Thursday beginning September 6, leading up to performances October 21-23, and 28-30.
Volunteers are needed in all aspects of the production, so folks are invited to stop by during auditions to sign up, or to contact BCT via their website to help with ushering, set building, painting, and other needs.
Don’t miss this chance to get involved in community theater.
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Wright County opens new facility
Wright County is opening a new Highway Department building to accommodate growing transportation needs
Story and Photos
By Doug Voerding
When Wright County residents hit the roads, drivers want well-maintained highways that connect communities and trade centers efficiently. Drivers need county roads to easily access state highways and national freeways. Accessing goods and services requires excellent roads.
That is the job of the Wright County Highway Department, and the mission statement is the driving force.
“The Wright County Highway Department is committed to provide professional and technical expertise in constructing and maintaining a safe and cost-effective public transportation system.”
Now, to become even more efficient and more cost-effective, the highway department, after two years of planning and a year of construction, is moving into its new building on Braddock Avenue, just south of the Wright County Law Enforcement Center.
“The move started on July 13,” said County Engineer Virgil Hawkins. “But, it has been a slow process. We can’t just stop our road work and move to the new building, so we are moving a little at a time.”
The Highway Department building is large, nearly 100,000 square-feet, almost triple the size of the original public works building, also on Braddock Avenue near the corner of 35th Street NE.
At a cost of $13 million, the building, said Hawkins, “is a functional building. The building is utilitarian, not extravagant. It is not a Taj Mahal, by any means, but it is a good building providing the much needed space our department needs to continue to be efficient now and into the future.”
Hawkins said that the timing of the bids worked in the county’s favor, allowing an additional 12,000 square feet to be added to the building without exceeding the budget.
“We planned the construction,” said Hawkins, “so that the building was enclosed by winter, allowing the construction to continue inside the building during the winter.”
The building has three major areas, vehicle and equipment storage, fleet services and parts, and offices.
Vehicle and equipment storage
By far the largest part of the building is the vehicle and equipment storage space. At 54,000 square-feet, the room is more than five times larger than the indoor storage space in the old building.
Nearly all of the highway department vehicles, including sand trucks, forklifts, front end loaders, and road graders are now stored indoors, reducing vehicle problems caused by weathering. At the start and end of the day, nearly every parking spot is filled with the vehicles used by the 25 road maintenance workers.
In the winter, the space will only be heated to 54 degrees, saving on heating costs, but keeping the snow plows and sand trucks ready for action without the lengthy warm-up required by diesel engines and without dead batteries needing charging.
In the summer, the plows will be detached from the trucks and stored up on a shelf that runs entire length of one wall. The plows will be out of the damaging summer weather and above parking spots for trucks.
To be efficient across the entire county, Wright County also maintains five much smaller highway department shops in Otsego, Silver Creek, French Lake, Cokato, and Waverly, but the new facility is the base site for much of the county road work.
Fleet services and parts
Wright County owns 177 highway department vehicles, 140 sheriff's department vehicles, and 43 vehicles from other departments. That’s a fleet of 360 cars, trucks, and road maintenance vehicles that need to be maintained and ready for service every day.
The vehicle repair wing of the new building at 25,000 square feet is double the space of the old building. There are 14 services bays, a welding room, a parts room, a wash bay, and a large mezzanine area for storage of tires.
The six full-time mechanics have not yet moved into the new space.
Brian Jans, fleet maintenance manager, said, “It will take a couple of weeks yet, and then it will take a while to settle in with all new workbenches and work areas.”
In a separate room near the repair bays are double-walled tanks of vehicle fluids, oil, antifreeze, and even washer fluid. There is a 1000-gallon oil waste tank. The used oil is either sold or used for winter heating in the old highway department building.
The space for the highway department office staff at 8400 square-feet is only about 2000 square-feet larger. Most of that added space is used for larger conference and meeting spaces. In the old building, large meetings were held in the shop/garage. Now training and planning meetings have spaces and equipment to make the meetings more efficient and productive.
While energy efficiency can be seen throughout the new building, it is most noticeable in the office area. All of the lights are LED, and banks of lights turn off and on depending on the sunlight coming in the windows.
The new office area does provide more space for spreading out blueprints for road projects. A separate room is now designated for the storage of department records, dating back many years to the beginnings of the public works department in the county.
The engineering staff of 15 is responsible for planning, designing, and managing the construction of road projects throughout the county, monitoring the all of the possible problems with the 511 miles of paved roads and the 39 county bridges.
In addition, the engineering staff reviews and grants permits associated with the county roads. In 2015, 637 of those permits were issued.
The new building for the Highway Department really solved space problems for three other county departments.
The old public works building is, in a sense, being recycled. The building constructed in 1998 is being remodeled to provide more space for the Surveying Department and the Parks Department. The extra space in the old building may also be used by the Extension Service that would move from the courthouse downtown.
The Highway Department is anxious to show Wright County residents the new, efficient building, but an open house may not be held until next spring when everything is moved and everyone is settled into their new quarters.