David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
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WILLMAR -- Step inside Steve Fladeboe's downtown business and you'll see not only a restored produce warehouse but a growing photo collection showcasing early business people. Fladeboe is enhancing the showroom's beautiful old brick and timber architecture at his Excel Overhead Door with photos of decades-past street scenes, businesses and their owners and family members. "There are a lot of different pictures that are in the works and when people seem to hear it, all of a sudden the pictures kind of show up,'' Fladeboe said.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council has approved conducting a community survey to assist the council in determining city budget funding priorities for 2011. The council approved the survey Tuesday night. "The City Council just felt that in the process of dealing with the 2011 budget and in anticipation that there may be more difficulty with the Local Government Aid program they wanted to get some feedback from the residents of Willmar with regard to what they think the city's priorities should be.
WILLMAR -- One of Willmar Municipal Utilities' two wind turbines is out of service until repairs can be made, a utility spokesman said Wednesday. The turbines are located just north of Willmar Senior High School. On July 1, technicians from turbine manufacturer DeWind were dispatched to investigate an alarm that indicated communication failure in the hub of the north turbine, said Wes Hompe, staff electrical engineer with the Willmar Municipal Utilities. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the computer in the hub had become dislodged and was damaged.
WILLMAR -- Willmar will have a new police chief. The City Council on Tuesday approved the appointment of Capt. David Wyffels to the position of chief of the Police Department. He will replace Jim Kulset who will retire on July 23 after 33 years of police work, including 11 years as chief. Wyffels' appointment will take effect July 24. As the appointing authority, City Administrator Michael Schmit recommended Wyffels for the job.
WILLMAR -- A pilot project testing the feasibility of burning corn cobs with coal found that cobs are a viable, renewable fuel opportunity for Willmar Municipal Utilities, according to a recently completed study. Corn cobs were burned with coal at Willmar's power plant in 2009 without operational issues.
WILLMAR -- Just as plaque buildup in arteries restricts blood supply and can cause a heart attack, accumulation of fats, oils and grease in sewer lines can cause health hazards, damage home interiors and threaten the environment. "Think about it like heart disease,'' says Chris King, an operator at Willmar's Wastewater Treatment Plant. "If you put a lot of fats, oils and grease in your body, it's going to clog your arteries.
WILLMAR -- Officials say the five-mile-long sewer line that will carry municipal waste to the new wastewater treatment plant located west of Willmar is substantially completed -- three months ahead of schedule. Sewer line contractor S.R. Weidema of Maple Grove notified the city that the 29,145-foot-long interceptor sewer line is ready for its intended use of carrying municipal waste to the new treatment plant.
WILLMAR -- Willmar Police Department Capt. David Wyffels is being recommended for appointment as police chief, and long-time City Administrator Michael Schmit has given notice he'll be retiring next year. Wyffels' appointment was recommended Wednesday by Schmit to the City Council's Labor Relations Committee. The committee voted to support the appointment, which the council will consider July 6. If the council approves the appointment, Wyffels will replace Chief Jim Kulset who will retire July 23 after 33 years of police work, including 11 years as chief.
The Finance Committee is recommending the City Council ask citizens to rank the city's 10 most important programs or activities. Their comments will guide Mayor Les Heitke and council members as they prepare the 2011 city budget. If the council enacts the proposed survey, citizens will also be asked if they support a tax increase, fee increases, or cuts in municipal services if Local Government Aid paid by the state of Minnesota is reduced.
WILLMAR -- Willmar Municipal Utilities was one of many municipal utilities in the state that sent employees to provide mutual aid and help restore power to the tornado-ravaged city of Wadena. The Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association called for mutual aid after the tornado struck Wadena on June 17 and crews from Willmar, Moorhead, Sauk Centre, Elk River, Detroit Lakes, Melrose and other utilities answered the call. Two Willmar linemen, Zach Larson and Casey Jenny, and a double-bucket truck left Willmar at 4:30 a.m. on June 20 and returned to Willmar at 10 p.m.