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Willmar, Minn., Civic Center manager receives state award

WILLMAR -- Civic Center Manager Kevin Madsen has received the Distinguished Service Award on behalf of the city of Willmar from Minnesota Day Activity Centers, an advocacy group for organizations that provide services to people with disabilities.

The award was presented to Madsen at the Monday night City Council meeting by Lee Wierschem, a job coach and human services technician at Crossroads of Willmar, a day treatment and habilitation service. Crossroads works under the Minnesota State Operated Community Services program.

Wierschem said the award recognizes people and businesses that provide job opportunities for people with disabilities that do good things for those individuals.

Wierschem praised the 12-year relationship between Crossroads and Madsen and Civic Center staff under which Crossroads clients assist staff in preparing the facility for hockey games and dry-floor events.

The relationship provides job opportunities for Crossroads clients, and the city pays a small portion of their wages, according to Madsen. Their work includes janitorial, event preparation and cleanup services, according to Wierschem.

Crossroads clients also work in the community doing lawn mowing for businesses and individuals, snow removal, janitorial work and in-house packaging, said Wierschem.

Madsen has worked at the Civic Center for 26 years and has served as manager for the past 17 years. Madsen said he was accepting the award on behalf of the city.

"The award speaks to what we all know that we strive to take care of those who are less fortunate by no fault of their own,'' he said. "The city of Willmar does that very well with this program.''

In other business, the council voted to hire a custodian to clean city buildings after being told that a private cleaning company contracted just over one year ago at a higher cost has provided less than satisfactory service.

The hire was recommended by the Labor Relations Committee.

In December 2011, the council defeated a motion to hire a third custodian to clean city buildings.

In January 2012, the council voted to seek proposals from private cleaning companies, and Service Master was hired for a 12-month period at a cost of $51,419 for cleaning the Community and Activity Center, airport terminal, Public Works, Fire Department and Wastewater Treatment Plant.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said staff has not been satisfied with the level and quality of service, and she said staff had exhausted all remedies with the current vendor. She said staff had contacted other vendors and the potential costs of a new vendor were estimated at $47,000.

Based on the lack of cost savings and poor quality, the recommendation was to hire a custodian at the entry level range of $35,900 to $45,640.

The committee's recommendation was supported by Cathy Johnson, Community Center board chair, and board member Loren Luschen.

Luschen said a custodian was needed to perform other duties such as minor repairs and setup for events, in addition to cleaning. He said the cleaning service can only clean.

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