SE council approves resolution to acquire former Standard Oil service station

SLEEPY EYE — By a 3-2 vote, the Sleepy Eye City Council approved a resolution to acquire the former Standard Oil service station located at 245 E. Main St. Tuesday.

City councilors Doug Pelzel and Larry Braun voted against the measure that came on a motion by Joann Schmidt, seconded by Gary Windschitl. The resolution followed a Pelzel’s motion, seconded by Braun to let the building go back to Brown County. That measure failed 3-2.

City Attorney Alissa Fischer said the property could be acquired for a $250 fee. The Sleepy Eye Chamber of Commerce approved buying the blighted property for any associated fees. The City and Chamber plan to enter a lease agreement with the Chamber assuming all financial responsibility for renovating the property.

The Chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau now rents a small space in the Sleepy Eye Community Center and seeks a more visible location.

The city council also:

• Tabled a funding request for a solar-powered, lighted crosswalk over St. Mary’s Street, linking the church and school parking lot and school property. Science teacher Mary Beth Botz said two of her students have collected $3,800 in local donations for the project that would be very similar to lighted crosswalks on Main Street and TH 4. The request will be reconsidered after more donations are received.

• Learned about an airport runway lighting project estimated to cost $300,000 from City Engineer Dave Palm and airport manager Larry Lund. The new higher-powered lights can be radio-controlled by pilots. Bids are going out for the project that will be 95 percent paid for by the Minnesota Department of Transportation aeronautics division. The project is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 31, 2019.

• Tabled an ordinance that would require property pin locations to be found for construction projects. and building permit and variance requests. Costs range from $700 to $1,200 for survey work by Bolton & Menk.

• Scheduled a finance committee meeting for noon, Monday, April 15 to consider a Schieffert land swap and the 12th Avenue East project.

• Heard Ambulance Coordinator Shari Hittesdorf discuss a new labor law requiring anyone working over 40 hours a week to be paid overtime. Hittesdorf said the law creates great difficulty for her to schedule her ambulance crew since “call time” counts a “engaged to work” time.

“To complicate this situation, if someone is employed by the City including the medical center, ambulance call time would need to be added to our work hours, making it nearly impossible to take call time, or face the consequences of the employer paying overtime,” Hittesdorf said.

“I will be very limited in how often I can respond to emergencies, since I am the ambulance coordinator and emergency manager who trains EMTS, doctors, nurses, firemen, police officers, lifeguards and so many others emergency response courses,” Hittesdorf said. “Mostly the ones that will suffer will be our would-be patients.”

Fritz Busch can be emailed at