Streets? Pests? Odor?

Wahpeton Mayor Steve Dale responded to several resident questions during a Monday, May 20 city council meeting. He was asked about everything from road improvements to funding for the city’s gateway enhancements project.

What is Wahpeton doing to improve its streets?

It doesn’t matter where they are located, they are horrible, resident Darby Casper said. A city-wide pavement assessment is coming soon, Mayor Steve Dale said. ‘Some streets, we know, are beyond their useful life,’ he said. The recently-passed “Prairie Dog Infrastructure” bill may assist in funding improvements.

Why is a dumpster near Wahpeton Middle School not being emptied as often as it could be?

Pests have been seen outside the Asbury Apartments complex, Casper said. Legal action to ensure timely clearance of the dumpster is ongoing, Mayor Dale said. The building’s owner has been criminally charged based on violations and is also in a civil case, Assistant City Attorney Brittany Hatting said.

How is Wahpeton’s gateway monuments project being funded and was there oversight in terms of bids and locations?

Funding comes from Wahpeton’s restaurant sales tax fund, Dale said. It is an approved use of fund revenue. Site work was bid out to three different contractors, but he did not immediately recall the lowest bid received. Casper also asked about a northeastern monument being located near a similar sign in Kidder Recreation Area.

Why does Wahpeton not use aerial spraying for vector control?

Wahpeton pays a retainer to allow aerial spraying when it is warranted. That happens when a high enough rate of diseased mosquitoes are found in the city’s traps. Wahpeton continues to stand by its current vector control operations. Aerial spraying, Dale said, is not as effective as ground spraying and use of larvicide.

Will residents be able to have their windows open this summer?

The city has gone a long way in mitigating the problem in recent years, Dale said. Projects like the second phase of east side sanitary sewer improvements will eliminate much force main and ideally bring water to wastewater ponds in better condition. The city continues to educate and work with industrial contributors.

Should supporting arts and culture be a city priority?

A motion specifying this goal failed to receive a majority vote. Dale and council members said arts and culture support occurs already, does not belong on a list of big picture items and is covered through Wahpeton’s goal of marketing and civic engagement. The motion received two votes in favor and three against.

Darby Casper had much on her mind when the Wahpeton City Council met Monday, May 20.

Attending with a group of four, Casper said she was speaking for friends, neighbors and residents. Wahpeton Mayor Steve Dale responded to both Casper’s questions and a second concern previously raised by Councilwoman Renelle Bertsch, 2nd Ward.

“I was at the nursing home yesterday and someone from Breckenridge said, ‘Oh yeah, your streets are horrible in Wahpeton,’” Casper said. “You know what? That’s not the image I want my city to portray.”

Every single person who attended the council meeting had traveled on bad roads, Casper said. Waste management at the Asbury Apartments complex, the city’s gateway entrances project, vector control and city odor were also discussed.

“I’m from Wahpeton, born and raised here. I’d love to see Wahpeton become a progressive city where people want to come to our city. They’re proud of it, (want to) raise their kids, go to school where they won’t see garbage and bad homes,” Casper said.

People in Wahpeton aren’t getting answers and are getting frustrated, Casper said. She plans to attend further meetings.

A motion to include arts and culture support on Wahpeton’s goals and priorities list failed to receive a majority vote. Councilmen-at-large Kelly McNary and Perry Miller voted for the motion, given near the meeting’s conclusion. Councilman Rory McCann, 1st Ward, and at-large council members Tiana Bohn and Lane Wateland voted against the motion.

“I’d like to believe that we elected (support) arts and culture all the time in the regular vote of business,” Mayor Dale said.

Earlier in May, the council approved goals and priorities for 2019-2022. They are big picture items, Dale said. He did not feel supporting arts and culture belonged on the list. Bertsch was absent from the meeting.

Improving Wahpeton’s community image through marketing and civic engagement is on Wahpeton’s goals list. The engagement portion includes supporting arts and culture, Bohn and McCann said.

Tony Kub, a retiring utility worker, was honored earlier in the meeting. Kub has served Wahpeton Public Works since 1975.

“The city of Wahpeton hereby extends congratulations and gratitude in appreciation of the benefits to the public through your dedication and expertise,” Sewer Foreman Don Wald said.

Kub received a plaque but declined to give remarks.

With a 5-0 vote, council approved re-appointing Larry Merbach to the Wahpeton Airport Authority. Merbach will serve an additional five-year term, ending in 2024.

Council also voted 5-0 in approval of Becky Truesdell and Tara Yaggie filling vacancies on the Wahpeton Convention and Visitors Bureau. Truesdell will fill the last two years of a four-year term ending in 2021. Yaggie will fill the last year of a term ending in 2020.

Mayor Dale granted several requests for referral. The finance, personnel and economic development committee will review Wahpeton’s 2020 budget, tax increment financing district, cash flow projections and banking options.

The public works and safety committee will review a Safe Routes to School project affecting crosswalks at 11th Street North, proposal for a flood system list station improvements study and agreement for improvements to John Randall Field and Hughes Drive, among other topics.

A helmet used in one of NASA’s Apollo missions will arrive soon at Leach Public Library. It’s expected as soon as Monday, June 3, Library Director Melissa Bakken said. The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission will occur from July 16-24.

Councilman Don Bajumpaa, 4th Ward, was also absent from the meeting. Councilman Brett Lambrecht, 3rd Ward, left before the voting.

Wahpeton City Hall and the Leach Public Library will be closed Monday, May 27 in observance of Memorial Day.

The next city council meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, June 3 at City Hall, 1900 Fourth St. N. in Wahpeton.

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