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City Council addresses National Library Week, Emerald Ash Borer concerns, and mayor and alderman vacancies

The Lennox City Council met Monday, April 8 in the Lennox City Boardroom. The Council heard agenda items including a proclamation for National Library Week, bus parking, and emerald ash borer. 

Mayor Duchene started the meeting by making a Mayoral Proclamation for National Library Week. Mayor Duchene presented the proclamation to Audrea Buller and Becky Beringer. 

“WHEREAS, libraries offer the opportunity for everyone to connect with others, learn new skills, and pursue their passions, no matter where they are on life’s journey; WHEREAS, libraries have long served as trusted institutions, striving to ensure equitable access to information and services for all members of the community regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic status; WHEREAS, libraries adapt to the ever-changing needs of their communities, developing and expanding collections, programs, and services that are as diverse as the populations they serve; WHEREAS, libraries are accessible and inclusive places that promote a sense of local connection, advancing understanding, civic engagement, and shared community goals; WHEREAS, libraries play a pivotal role in economic development by providing resources and support for job seekers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses, thus contributing to local prosperity and growth; WHEREAS, libraries make choices that are good for the environment and make sense economically, creating thriving communities for a better tomorrow; WHEREAS, libraries are treasured institutions that preserve our collective heritage and knowledge, safeguarding both physical and digital resources for present and future generations; WHEREAS, libraries are an essential public good and fundamental institutions in democratic societies, working to improve society, protect the right to education and literacy, and promote the free exchange of information and ideas for all; WHEREAS, libraries, librarians, and library workers are joining library supporters and advocates across the nation to celebrate National Library Week; NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that I, Stacy DuChene, Mayor of Lennox, South Dakota, proclaim National Library Week, April 7-13, 2024. During this week, I encourage all residents to visit their library and celebrate the adventures and opportunities they unlock for us every day. Ready, Set, Library,” Mayor DuChene read from the proclamation. 

At the March 25 City Council meeting, Community Transit of Watertown/Sisseton Inc. presented information regarding a planned building expansion. More information was requested for pricing on the project and City Administrator, Nate Vander Plaats returned to the council with his findings. 

“I did speak with several industry individuals over the past week and my concerns remain. The cost is not in line with what the market would dictate. Delays have made that project more expensive and whatever increased costs do exist are our sole burden. I did meet with Transit and DOT staff this morning to discuss where we are and the next steps and reiterated those concerns. I did have calls from contractors after the last meeting who called the amount into question as well,” Vander Plaats said. 

Alderman Chad Reilly asked if there was another location that the structure could be moved to.

 “The only property that the City has that you could relocate to that would possibly work today would be the old water plant lot on East Second. I think the alley access would be a challenge for those larger buses just based on how much room they need to maneuver,” Vander Plaats responded.

 Vander Plaats feels that it would be difficult to meet the construction schedule timeline by September for the grant. The Council agreed that at this time it would be best to wait for the next grant period and find a better solution before moving forward on a building project.

The City of Lennox has budgeted for two key projects in 2024 one is the replacement of roofing and windows at the Lennox Historical Museum and a structural assessment and painting of the bandshell. The City of Lennox issued a request for proposals (RFP) for architectural services and project management to complete these projects. 

“Five firms responded to the City’s RFP and all responses were in line with expectations. The firms are here tonight to present their services briefly, and have been asked for an estimate of their fees, keep in mind, we did not budget for the project management of this system, so we would need to allocate additional funding from second penny of this year which should not be a problem,” Vander Plaats said. 

RSA, Stone Group, ID8, Koch Hazard, and PlaN Architecture presented their options to the Council. After each of the presentations, the Council agreed to take two weeks to consider all the information presented to them and make a final decision at that time.

Vander Plaats was notified of the presence of Emerald Ash Borers in the community last week. 

“I want to be proactive as possible in our approach to mitigating the spread. We’re asking for a certified and licensed arborist to assess all the ash trees in Western Park and identify each for either treatment or removal. We will begin removing trees that we’re able to in the next few weeks and over the course of the next month or two, we’ll being to work on a more comprehensive plan for the entire community,” he said. 

The cost of the consulting contract is $1,100. Motion approved pending City Attorney approval. Vander Plaats is planning to hold a community meeting in the future for those that are worried of trees on their property and is working to find places that can take the trees to be destroyed.

Discussed moved to Mayor and City Council Vacancy Interviews. The city received three applications for the open positions. They included Nick Cable, Lauren Van Driel who were vying for Ward 3 Alderman position and Chad Reilly for the Mayor position.  Each candidate spoke to the council and answered questions the council had for them. 

The Council will continue discussion at the next meeting with appointments being made then. The meeting was adjourned at 9:29 p.m. 

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