Ceylon discusses storm damage

CEYLON – Ceylon City Council this week discussed storm damage from the Sept. 20 tornado.

It was reported that federal disaster relief or other help probably will not get to Ceylon or will arrive later. The council approved paying the $14,000 in bills related to public infrastructure damage. Seven street lights were damaged, and tree and stump removal is ongoing.

The city has to present pictures, measurements, etc., to the Federal Emergency Management Agency before completing rebuilding and cleanup.

There also was damage to local houses and other structures, such as roof damage and broken windows.

The City Council commended city employees, citizens who helped, Martin County employees, Hy-Vee, NuWay and, especially, Legends 2, for the help in the aftermath of the storm.

The council will study the city emergency plan, which is in need of an update, at its next meeting on Nov. 13.

Turning to other business, the council discussed adjusting water rates with gradual increases each year. This was recommended by Bolton & Menk engineers to help with grants needed when new streets are scheduled to be built in 2020.

The city clerk reported that nearby towns’ rates are much higher.

The water repair going on in the south part of town and other large bills the last two months are cutting into the city budget. The council believes it needs to be realistic about paying bills.

In years past, gradual increases have not been addressed or approved.

The council approved a $5 monthly increase in water bills.

The council also approved charging the current price for all meters damaged due to negligence. The suggestion of everyone having a meter was discussed. This would help with location of leakages and repair of meters. This item was tabled for now.

The suggestion to map all water shutoffs and routes in town also was tabled.

In another matter, the council discussed the 2019 budget. Among other things, the council is considering the purchase of a generator. Officials believe the need was demonstrated during the Sept. 20 storm. The council will try to finalize the budget at its next meeting.

In other business, the council discussed forfeited properties scheduled to be on the county auction in November. There are four properties in Ceylon — two on West Main Street, one on Railroad Street and the former Top Spot Building. The council discussed the pros and cons of not putting them on the auction but assuming ownership and then demolishing them. They approved removing the two properties on West Main Street from the auction. The clerk reminded the council that the county has funds to help with demolition of hazardous properties such as these.

In other city news:

o Councilman John Gibeau said he attended a state Public Utilities Commission meeting related to Frontier. He said he reminded Frontier officials and those present that a small town needs fast and reliable internet to interest people to live and work there. A technician came to Ceylon and said the lines left in the trees and on the ground have deteriorated because of water getting in lines. Gibeau said that, according to Frontier, the contractors they hired will bury new lines next week. The council reserved the right to complain if the work is not done. Officials note that Ceylon has been living with no or slow internet for three years. Gibeau said Frontier has 400 complaints in Minnesota and there are national inquiries too.

o The council approved a request to close the street between the bank and the former Petersen Café wall for an outdoor movie at 7 p.m. Oct. 20. The movie will be free, with donations accepted.

o The deteriorating fire hall driveway was discussed. Make-do repairs have not been successful and water is creating grooves in the driveway. Heavy water trucks are moving the driveway material up and down. City officials will attend Fire Association meetings and explain the need for repair of the driveway.

o It was reported that the Ceylon fitness center needs new members if it is to stay afloat. Those interested may contact the city clerk for more information.