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Judge issues oath of office to four council members; application for real estate rehab funds is approved

WILLMAR -- Judge Donald Spilseth issued the oath of office Monday night to returning Willmar City Council members Denis Anderson and Jim Dokken and to new council members Tim Johnson and Steve Ahmann.

They were the winners of the four open council seats in the Nov. 4 general election. All will serve four-year terms.

Anderson, who represents the First Ward, was re-elected without opposition and has served since 1998. Dokken, who had represented the Fourth Ward since 1998, defeated Suzanna Hunnicutt. Johnson defeated one-term incumbent Steve Gardner for the Second Ward seat. Ahmann was elected without opposition. He previously served on the council from 1986 to 1994. Ahmann replaces Cindy Swenson, who did not seek re-election.

The invocation was given by The Rev. Paul McCullough, police department chaplain.

In other business, the council approved an application by the Housing and Redevelopment Authority for state funds to rehabilitate residential and downtown commercial and rental properties in Willmar and residential properties in Pennock.

As part of the application, the council voted to support the project; support a cooperative agreement between Willmar and Pennock; and to identify the downtown and residential areas where the funds would be spent. The agreement says both cities face similar community and housing rehabilitation needs and are making the joint application.

The deadline for submitting the application to the Business and Community Development Division of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is Thursday. Funding is funneled down from the federal community development block grant program to the state.

The application grew out of discussions among city staff, the HRA and the Willmar Design Center.

Willmar's application proposes to rehabilitate 13 owner-occupied homes on the east side in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. The area is generally bounded by Pacific Avenue on the north, First Street on the west, Olena Avenue on the south and Lakeland Drive on the east.

In the downtown area, the HRA would rehab 10 commercial units and rehab 15 rental units. The downtown area is bounded by Pacific Avenue on the north, Seventh Street Southwest on the west, Trott Avenue Southwest on the south and First Street on the east.

In Pennock, the application proposes to rehab 7 homes.

In other business, the council:

- Ordered preparation of the improvement report for proposed street and utility improvements in 2009.

- Approved the following mayoral appointments: Matt Schrupp, plant manager of Jennie-O Turkey Store, and Marv Kray to the Municipal Utilities Commission; Eric Weiberg, of Investment Securities, to the Rice Hospital Board; Beth Mathiasen, credit officer at Heritage Bank, and Mark Klema, civil engineer with Bolton and Menk, to the Planning Commission; and Dan Reigstad and Pat Curry to the Airport Commission.