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Mitchell seeks grant funds for Sanborn bridge

Mitchell has yet to finalize phase one of its Sanborn Boulevard restoration, but the city is already seeking cost-saving measures for future phases of the project.

In an irregular Tuesday meeting of the Mitchell City Council — pushed back from Monday due to New Year's Day — the eight-person board authorized a Bridge Improvement Grant application for the Sanborn bridge.

The general bridge restoration is estimated to cost $1.045 million, but the city would pay $209,042 if the state grant is approved. And with the restoration, Deputy Public Works Director Terry Johnson estimated the 109-foot bridge, built in 2001, would last another 15 or 16 years.

But Johnson said at least one area of the bridge is in decent shape.

"I think the majority of the bridge structure is in good shape, other than the railing," Johnson said.

One critical feature is that the project is expected to keep the bridge open for the majority of construction.

"In the way that the grant was written is that you would maintain traffic during work to be done on the bridge," City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein said.

The bridge project will take place in 2019, after the first phase of the Sanborn Boulevard reconstruction from First to Havens avenues. The City Council will consider two options for that project in February — an expedited project that would shut the portion of street down for the much of summer, and a plan that would close the street for approximately 80 days.

Bridge Improvement Grants are fairly new, with the first being completed in the program in Davison County in 2017. The program was established under Senate Bill 1, a highway and bridge funding bill spearheaded by Mitchell's own former state Sen. Mike Vehle.

Tricky sidewalk talk

Upon the recommendation of City Attorney Justin Johnson, the council tabled an ordinance to amend its sidewalk snow and ice clearing policy on Tuesday.

The policy was aimed at letting Burr Street businesses off the hook for clearing sidewalks dozens of feet from their properties. The sidewalks were installed during summer construction along the road.

But because they are the adjacent properties to the sidewalks, those businesses are subject to clearing the pedestrian paths of snow and ice. Since the ordinance was tabled until Feb. 5, the existing ordinance will remain in effect.

Tuesday's discussions ultimately went nowhere as the City Council attempted to traverse a legal tightrope. The issue facing the council was how to craft an ordinance that applies only to Burr Street businesses, one that could be backed by Mitchell City Code and couldn't be challenged.

Councilman Dan Allen sought more information from Terry Johnson on the matter, and Johnson suggested he meet with business owners along Burr Street to seek input and consider their concerns with liability.

Consent agenda

The council will approved the following items of the consent agenda:

• Minutes from the previous City Council meeting and committee minutes.

• Named The Daily Republic as the official newspaper for the city in 2018.

• A raffle permit for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, with the drawing to be held on Jan. 6.

• An application for a wine license from Karmen McCain for Cafe Teresa.

• The replacement of two Mitchell Police Division patrol cars, gas and fuel quotations and pay estimates.

• Bills, payroll, salary adjustments, new employee hires and authorized payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.

Agenda items

• Call meeting to order, conduct the Pledge of Allegiance, hear an invocation, conduct roll call and call for citizen input.

• During citizen input, Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell reminded citizens about a presentation from Fyra Engineering about Lake Mitchell water quality at Mitchell Technical Institute. The meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 9.

• During citizen input, Councilman Kevin McCardle thanked Corn Palace Director Scott Schmidt for overseeing the festivities over the weekend at the Mike Miller Classic.

• Held hearings and approved four special event liquor licenses at the OverTime Event Center.

• Designated the city's official depositories. Councilman Jeff Smith abstained from the vote.

• Approved Resolution No. R2018-01, the vacation of a right-of-way that formerly separated the Coca-Cola bottling plant and Vern Eide of Mitchell.