Arnoldt sworn in

Janesville Mayor Andy Arnold reads the oath to serve the city as its new mayor. The new Janesville City Council members were sworn in at the first meeting of 2021. (Bailey Grubish/Southernminn.com)

Waseca County will continue to be impacted by COVID-19 in 2021 while the cities of Waseca and Janesville are looking ahead to infrastructure projects this year.

Waseca County Public Health is gearing up to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to residents once they become available for the general public, Johnson said. The department is working with the county emergency manager to figure out how to logistically provide the vaccinations in an effective way. The county has also reserved some of its federal COVID-19 funding to cover that.

”The logistics for that will be ongoing for several months,” he said.

Beyond providing the vaccinations, COVID-19’s impact on Waseca County in 2021 is a lot of “unknowns” at this point, Johnson said. The state is looking at a potential budget shortfall next year. Six percent of Waseca County’s budget is funded with state aid and what a shortfall could mean for the county is unknown, he said.

”That’s obviously an impactful thing,” Johnson said.

County officials are currently discussing potential impacts and cuts in the budget if the state ends up cutting its aid to counties, he said.

Johnson said they hope to move forward on expanding broadband internet in the county in 2021. They’re expecting to hear whether the county received a Border-to-Border grant to fund the expansion. The county received funding in 2020 for a feasibility study on the current broadband status locally and that has allowed county officials to figure out the infrastructure needs. When the schools went to distance learning last spring, the schools weren’t in a good position for students to have fast internet access at home, he said.

”We didn’t have the infrastructure in place when that happened,” he said.

The county also has some road construction projects on its plate for 2021, including the reconstruction of County State Aid Highways 3 and 4 and Country Road 74 in Waldorf.

Work will continue at the county’s solid waste facility that began last fall when the county cleared 1 acre of space to provide for social distancing. The county plans call for more intentional logistics for its drop off location and make the recycled concrete material more accessible, as well as working on the compost pile at the facility, Johnson said.

City of Waseca

The city of Waseca has numerous big projects planned for 2021, with several other projects that will be taken care of throughout the year.

A street reconstruction project for 26th Avenue Northeast, known as the pool road, could begin in June, according to City Manager Lee Mattson. The reconstruction will go from State Street N. and go east to where the township road takes over. The bid for this project hasn’t gone out, but the work could begin in June.

State Street in Waseca is scheduled for a water main replacement from Second Avenue South to Sixth Avenue South, except for the portion of the water main that was replaced in the fall of 2020. Another water main project that is scheduled for 2021 is for the Conagra Foods, Birds Eye’s parent company, site on Brown Avenue. A state grant was secured for this project and the goal to pay for part of it is to use the future Conagra tax revenue. This will go out to bid early in 2021 with the goal of completion this year. There will be an easement done on this property and most of the work will be on the southside of Brown Avenue with little work under the road.

City councilors approved in August the facilities plan to fix and update the current sanitary sewer system. The system needs to be improved now because there is the excess infiltration and inflow of clear water entering the sanitary sewer collection system. Clear water could be ground water, storm water or surface water from lakes or rivers. This plan to improve the sanitary sewer system is happening now because of a schedule of compliance that the city negotiated with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in 2018. The first phase of the facilities plan will cost an estimated $1 million, funded through the sanitary sewer fund. State funding is potentially available to be used to fund the project.

A project that has been in the works for several years is the trail and pedestrian crossing in front of the Waseca Junior Senior High School. In 2020, both the Waseca School Board and the Waseca City Council voted to get this crossing accomplished, while working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The council approved a crossing near 17th Avenue NE to give students a safer way to cross U.S. Highway 13. The crossing in front of the school on the highway will also have a trail/sidewalk running along the west side of Highway 13 from 15th Avenue North to 19th Avenue North. There is also a trail from the crossing to the high school parking lot and front entrance.

To fund this project the school district will fund 25% of the costs that are not funded by grants and the city will fund the remaining 75%. Grants have been secured by MNDOT to pay for the construction and construction supervision portions of the project and the city will be responsible for cost overruns in those areas as well as the costs associated with designing the project.

City of Janesville

The city of Janesville will begin 2021 with a new leader.

Mayor Andy Arnoldt was sworn in as the new Janesville mayor on Monday, Jan. 11, along with newly elected city Councilors Andy Ahlman and Jim Mulcahey.

Janesville doesn’t have any major road work planned for 2021, but the city plans to add a new deck at the golf course and purchase a new fire truck and police squad car.

Crews have removed the old clubhouse deck at the city-owned Prairie Ridge Golf Course, with the new deck going up this spring. The deck layout will be about the same with a little more space to allow for more tables.

The materials are estimated to cost about $30,000 with labor costing about the same. The Janesville Area Golf Association has agreed to donate the labor cost.

Janesville will also be purchasing a new rescue truck for the fire department, a new squad car for the police department and a new vehicle for snow removal this year, per the city’s equipment replacement schedule.

The rescue truck for the fire department was ordered recently and is expected to be delivered in the summer with the squad car and the snow removal vehicle to arrive to the city sometime in the spring.

The Janesville Economic Development Authority will also continue to run a variety of programs that began in the last few years. The Storefront Enhancement grants will continue along with housing incentives for new builds within the city limits.

The Storefront Enhancement Program in Janesville requires properties to be either retail/commercial business properties located within the city and the applicant must not have started or completed work on the proposed project, though phase work is permitted. Proposed improvements must comply with the Minnesota State Building Code for rehabilitation work and proper building permits acquired.

All of the work must be completed within 180 days of notification of the grant.

The city and the EDA plan to brainstorm other new programs to start in 2021.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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