Waukon City Council approves hiring of new police officer, discusses future funding for City Facade Improvement Grant

New police officer sworn in ... Alyssa Rostad (left) was sworn in as a new officer for the Waukon Police Department by Waukon Mayor Arvid Hatlan (right) at the Monday, December 4 meeting of the Waukon City Council. Officer Rostad is from Houston, MN and is a 2019 graduate of Houston High School. She graduated from Simpson College in Indianola with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Submitted photo.

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, December 4 to address a full agenda of matters including changing city council meeting dates in January, hiring a police officer and discussion of funding for the City Facade Improvement Grant Program.

Mayor Arvid Hatlan called the meeting to order. There was no public comment during that alloted time with the meeting moving into Department Reports.

Robey Memorial Library Director Cate St. Clair encouraged children and families to participate in the Main Street Story Walk which continues in December. St. Claire noted that copies of the book “Winter is Here” by Kevin Henkes are available for free at the library to children that complete the Main Street Story Walk, with this being made possible through a donation by the Oneota Valley Literary Foundation.

Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub provided an update relating to winter activities noting that biddy basketball for Kindergarten through third grades is getting started with registration numbers exceeding previous years. Similarly, Strub noted that registration numbers for fourth-sixth grade travel basketball have also exceeded previous years. He also reported that adult volleyball has begun and that the Waukon Wellness Center has been busy.

Street Superintendent Keith Burrett noted that his department has been dealing with snow on and off. They have also been working on equipment repairs and maintenance following some breakdowns.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper reported that he was contacted by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) a couple weeks ago to set up a tour of the Wastewater Treatment Plant this Wednesday to include a professor from the University of Iowa and a professor from Wichita State University, an expert in the science used in oxidation ditches and associated processes in place at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Cooper noted that this tour will be an opportunity to provide information and receive feedback. Cooper also discussed lift station and pump house maintenance items that are ongoing.

Police Chief Paul Wagner advised that two of the three speed feedback signs on highways entering Waukon have been programmed and are operational. Wagner added that he may know more on the status of the third speed feedback sign later in the week. He noted that the Waukon Police Department received a lot of public feedback following a post on Instagram and Facebook relating to the speed feedback signage not initially being operational or programmed, but that issue has now been resolved following the programming of the signs this past Friday.

Engineer Sam Ertl with Fehr Graham Engineering provided an update, noting that Alliant Energy has installed two additional streetlights on West Street, among other specifics.

City Clerk Sarah Snitker reported that the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program has been completed with six houses rehabilitated and over $151,000 in funding utilized. Snitker noted that four of the seven approved projects through the City Facade Improvement Grant Program have been completed. She further noted that due to a resignation effective at the end of December, a new custodian for City Hall will be needed.

Assistant City Attorney Hattie Frana advised the work continues relating to agreements for the Wastewater Treatment Plant. In addition, Frana noted ongoing work associated with the 9 and 11 Allamakee Street properties.

City Manager Gary Boden advised that he will be attending the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission’s (UERPC) annual Legislative Forum this week. Boden noted that concerns will be relayed to legislators in attendance at this forum relating to the negative impact of House File 718 and property tax reform in addition to concerns relating to childcare availability.

Boden noted that a grace period or postponement may be requested of City employees relating to the last payroll of the year scheduled for December 28. He further noted that due to the Christmas holiday break December 25-26, only one day, December 27, would be available to perform the payroll function, which he advised would not be sufficient time to complete the scheduled payroll for December 28. Boden suggested that employees will be consulted about the potential postponement of payroll to December 29.

For the City Council Report, council member Kevin Johnson clarified that the speed feedback signage does not have a camera. He also encouraged those who have not yet done so, to go and vote in the run-off election for the Waukon City Council At-Large seat that was originally on the November 7 ballot.

Council member Dave Blocker echoed similar concerns as Boden earlier in the meeting relating to the impact of House File 718. Blocker encouraged residents to educate themselves about House File 718 and to contact Representative Anne Osmundson and Senator Mike Klimesh relating to this matter.

For the Mayor’s Report, Hatlan provided an update relating to the fiber optic installation. He also made note of House File 718 and encouraged residents to vote in Tuesday’s city council run-off election.

The meeting moved into discussion of changing city council meeting dates in January 2024. The council typically meets the first and third Monday of each month. The council discussed the New Years Day holiday Monday, January 1, 2024 as a conflict with that schedule with City Hall closed in observance of that holiday. Several options were discussed with the council later in this meeting agreeing upon meeting dates to include Tuesday, January 2 and Monday, January 22.

The council next discussed funding for the City Facade Improvement Grant Program for the Fiscal-Year 2025 (FY25) Budget. Hatlan noted that this program has been a positive for downtown Waukon with his recommendation to add funding for this program to the budget. Boden added that economic development funds were used in support of this program and that from a budget development standpoint he anticipates being able to provide a solid funding amount for this program towards the end of January. No action was taken relating to this matter.

Wagner addressed the next matter by providing a recommendation to hire Alyssa Rostad as a police officer starting December 18, 2023 at $20.17 per hour. Wagner discussed the applicant review and hiring process in addition to the certifications that will be completed by Rostad in the coming months.

This hire was approved by the council as recommended by Wagner with Rostad then taking the oath of office (see photo above) following that approval.

The meeting moved into discussion of a new phone system for the Waukon Police Department, City Hall, Street Department and Water/Sewer Department. Wagner noted reliability as a concern relating to the current phone and voicemail system in addition to being a deciding factor in recommending a switch to Five Star Telecom as service provider. Following discussion, the council approved this recommendation.

The council next addressed the 1st Street NW to 1st Avenue NW Storm Sewer Project - Change Order #5 and Pay Estimate #4. Ertl noted that the street paving is complete with sidewalk and parking areas anticipated to be completed by the end of this week. The council approved the change order.

The 4th Street NW Improvements Project - Change Order #4 and Pay Estimate #7 was next addressed with Ertl providing an overview. The council also approved the matter.

During the second Public Comment portion of the meeting, Snitker added to her earlier report by providing details relating to upcoming events including the Holiday Shop Hop in Waukon this Thursday, December 7, the Lighted Holiday Parade in Waukon Saturday, December 9 and the 4th Annual Holiday Craft Show Saturday, December 9 at the Allamakee County Fairgrounds Pavilion from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Prior to adjournment, the council moved into Closed Session: Per Iowa Code Chapter 21.5 (1)(j) to discuss the purchase or sale of particular real estate only where premature disclosure could be reasonably expected to increase the price the governmental body would have to pay for that property or reduce the price the governmental body would receive for that property.