WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     westbrook — Police Chief Alan Wahl talked with the council about hiring part-time officers. He noted that some area police departments are advertising for part-time officers up to $20.00 per hour. That makes it difficult to find people willing to come here for considerably less money.

    Wahl told the council he is talking with a couple of potential candidates who will be graduating law enforcement school in May and August. Wahl said one of them would possibly be a long term officer, the other would be a long term who might possibly be able to take over Wahl’s position when he retires.

    Mayor Dennis Phelps commented that it would be good to start visiting with these candidates at any time.

He also suggested looking at the possibility of sharing with another nearby town. Wahl says that could significantly increase case loads and increase mileage on the squad vehicle. The council felt they should go ahead and begin formally advertising for part-time help right away.

    Wahl says letters have been sent out to property owners who need to clean up their premises. He noted that they have a couple of those who he has to talk with personally each year.

    Along with getting the swimming pool ready, Street Supervisor Carl Conrad says he is getting ready for the city wide cleanup, and branch pickup. “We already have picked up some of the tree branches,” Conrad said.

    Librarian Kari Ourada gave a report on the library for 2016.

    She gave some statistics from the previous year. They had 994 registered users, approximately 9000 visits last year. There are 18,599 items currently in the library. The total circulation of items was 12,873.

    The library co-sponsored 34 programs that were attended by 1017 patrons.

    Seventy-nine patrons took part in the winter reading program reading 1481 books.

    The summer  reading program theme is “Reading by Design.” The planned designs are centered around Robots, Monsters, Legos, Slime, and Word Art. There are three special events planned so far, including end of summer pool party.

    They have been working with Scott Schoborg and Dan Joel to fix the door problem on both entrance doors of the library.

    Ourada requested to have an awning installed on the back of the library to accommodate some of the summer reading programs that are not appropriate for doing indoors. It would serve as shade during the hot summer days. She noted the library has some of the money needed to do this. She was talking about a 10 x 12 foot awning. Those at the meeting felt it should be a bigger size of 10x 20 feet. The council approved installing a 10x20 foot awning for $1,900.

    The council also approved Deb Warner to fill out Donna  Edsill’s term on the library board through the end of 2017. Possibly she would like to continue for another three year term after that.

    Fire Chief Curtis Madson talked to the council about joining the Southwest Fire Department Association and West Central Fire Department Association for a Mutual Aid Agreement. He told the council the effort is to try and regulate the costs for the townships to pay for fire coverage from various departments. He says he doesn’t know how the rate adjustments would be set, or how they would go over, with some getting as high as $400 per section. Although he says he knows of only one department in the Southwest Association that is that high.

    Approval of the agreement would be subject to approval of the governing body of each party. The League of Minnesota  Cities has no objections to the agreement. It complies with league recommendations regarding liability, workers’ compensation, and damage to property and reimbursement. The council approved joining the Southwest Fire Department Association and the West Central Fire Department Association Mutual Aid Agreement.

    The council discussed lifeguard wages. It was decided to increase the pay of veteran guards by 25 cents per hour, and 50 cents per hour while teaching. New guards will receive pay based on minimum part time wage.

    Utilities Superintendent Dan Joel gave a safety lesson to the council on how to clamp off a gas line leak in home gas lines outside the home. If a person  suspects there is a gas leak in the building, they should vacate the premise immediately and then call 911 to report it.

    The following action was taken by the council:

    • Approved permits for Fun Days June 23, 24, 25, for temporary alcohol  license, charitable gambling, bingo, and raffle.

    • The board approved the financial audit for 2016 with no significant issues mentioned.

    • Building permits were issued to Woodstock Communications to install a building near the cell phone tower.

    • Wendy Knakmuhs to install a paved patio, and two egress window wells on her property on Seventh Street.

    • Susan Chapman to install a metal storage shed on her property on Seventh Street.