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Willmar council OKs consultant’s proposal to lead planning retreat

WILLMAR — Willmar City Council members Monday night approved a committee recommendation to hire Neu & Company of Lakewood, Colo., to lead the council on a proposed 1½-day planning retreat.

Council members had been discussing for the past several months the possibility of having a retreat and lining up a facilitator to lead the discussion.

The council’s Labor Relations Committee met Oct. 16 and voted to recommend hiring Dr. Carl Neu at a cost of $7,260.

The committee also considered and discussed but did not recommend a proposal from Dr. Bruce Miles of Big River Group LLC of St. Cloud at a cost of $9,625.

Neu had been hired by the city to lead a planning retreat several years ago, and Neu also served as facilitator for the former Willmar 2020 community visioning project.

In a letter to City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday, Neu said the comprehensive retreat will focus on three areas:

* Helping council members identify and understand their communications’ strengths and ways to improve their relationships, especially in working with others.

* Re-evaluating the council’s goals and policy-setting processes.

* Clarifying roles and responsibilities within the council and between the council and the administration.

Neu required the retreat be held at a comfortable setting — preferably not in City Hall — and that a U-shaped table be provided to accommodate council members and administrative staff who may participate.

Councilman Steve Ahmann, chairman of the Labor Relations Committee, reported that committee members discussed that during the retreat they wanted to work on policy development, and understand and incorporate the charter as council policy.

The council set the retreat for Nov. 22 and 23 at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center of rural New London.

Ahmann reported that the committee further noted that once the retreat is concluded, a six-month follow-up should be implemented to monitor progress.

In other business Monday, the council:

* Approved an agreement with BNSF Railway to construct and maintain the new railroad crossing quiet zone at Willmar Avenue Southwest. The project can still be constructed this year with the exception of the signals.

* Voted to introduce a proposed dangerous animals ordinance for a hearing on Nov. 4. The ordinance was proposed by Police Chief David Wyffels. The proposed ordinance addresses the city’s need to declare an animal as “potentially dangerous’’ or as a “dangerous animal’’ and will allow the Police Department, city prosecutor and district court to take necessary action to protect the public from potentially dangerous or dangerous animals.

* Voted to introduce a proposed ordinance for a hearing Nov. 4 that will enumerate the duties of the city attorney in city ordinance. The duties of the city attorney had not previously been stated in ordinance. The ordinance was recommended by the Charter Commission.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150