Story City council hears Scandinavian Days, Trees Forever reports

Todd ThorsonStaff Writertthorson@storycityherald.com

Several new events are scheduled for this year’s Scandinavian Days celebration, event co-chair Diana Keech told members of the Story City Council recently.

The 2016 Scandinavian Days are scheduled for June 3-5 and will feature some new attractions, including a chainsaw artist as part of the craft show, Keech told the City Council at its meeting April 18.

A pancake breakfast fund raiser will also take place on Sunday morning at this year’s festival, and will be held in the Fairview Lodge. An open-air church service, a mainstay for many years at past Scandinavian Days, will be brought back and will follow the breakfast on Sunday. A beer garden will be set up in the park.

Scandinavian Days co-chair Sherri Keigan said Broad Street, from Park to Elm, will be closed in the downtown area for much of the weekend, beginning Friday, June 3. Keigan also said the committee has been working on bringing events back to the downtown area, as well as continuing various activities in the Story City park. Events scheduled to be held in the downtown area include a mini-tractor pull, the kumla/kringla eating contest, a Lutefisk roll and square dancing.

Following the presentation, the council approved funding of $3,500 for this year’s fireworks display on the Friday night of the celebration.

The council also heard from Trees Forever Vice President Denny Michel, and addressed issues concerning a residential alley.

Realtor and rental property owner Cheryl Eddy asked the council to approve her request to put gravel down in the alley behind her rental property at 709 State St., which is located across from the high school parking lot to the west. Eddy’s current renter Kim Fink, has had multiple parking problems and issues in the front of the property, especially during school activities and throughout the winter months because of the snow ordinance. Eddy wants to provide a place for her renter to park by allowing access to the back of the property through the alley.

Also present were neighboring residents William and Veronica Vaughn, who reside at 704 Grand Ave., and whose property is just to the west of the alley way, and Neal and Steph Reasland, 703 State St, who live on the corner of State and Story, just east of the alley and next door to Eddy’s property. Both the Vaughns and the Reaslands were opposed to gravel being put down in the alley because of rocks in their yards and snow removal issues.

Various alternatives were discussed with the council, including a concrete drive instead of gravel, and also installing a driveway in front of the property. Eddy voiced her opposition to both those options. She said a concrete drive in the front wouldn’t look aesthetically correct and that the 60 foot wide lot isn’t wide enough. Eddy also said that a concrete drive in the alley would be too expensive to put in, and that she would probably sell the property before agreeing to that possibility.

Council member Matt Triggs said that since two residents living so close to Eddy’s property were opposed to the gravel drive, he was “not comfortable approving a motion when there’s opposition to such a request”.

The council voted to approve a concrete drive or leave the alley in its current state.

Denny Michel gave a thorough annual report, including the past year’s activities, of the Story City Trees Forever group. He reported that a $4,500 grant from Black Hills Energy was received last year, with the city matching that amount, which gave the group $9,000 to work with. Various potted trees were ordered from Bochman Nursery in Minnesota, ranging in price from $85 to $110 each, and they were then sold to residents for $40 each at the annual Tree Sale held in April.

The $4,500 grant from Black Hills Energy was also approved again for this year, with the city again matching that amount. The 20th Annual Tree Sale is scheduled for this Saturday, April 30 between 9 and noon at the former Lone Tree Nursery site. The Tree Planting date is set for May 2, weather permitting.

Last year the Trees Forever tree sale featured 52 trees, and they sold all but five or six. On the tree planting date, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and local volunteers planted a total of 54 trees along the Jacobson Park trail, including the Jacobson Loop area. Michel also reported that Mayor Mike Jensen, who is also the President of the Trees Forever in Story City, had planted six pine trees near the soccer fields in northwest Story City for the purpose of starting a Christmas Tree nursery for future Main Street Christmas Trees on the town square.

Since 1992, when the Story City Trees Forever began, a total of 2,528 trees have been planed.

In other business, the council:

—approved a resolution setting a public hearing on a proposed 10-year agreement for use of the city-owned baseball field by the Roland-Story School District

—approved a liquor permit for Scandinavian Days;

—approved a building permit for Chris Hill, 1288 Jacobson Drive, to build a 12 x 16 ft. shed at an estimated cost of $4,500;

—approved Broad Street closing for various Story City GCC events through the end of the year;

—heard from Roland-Story High School senior Wyatt Erickson about the upcoming 3K/5K “Color Run” to be held on April 30 at 10 a.m. The event will be used as a fund raiser;

—passed a motion to allow Water/Wastewater Department employees Jason Loots and Scott Mathis to carry over 40 accrued vacation hours past their anniversary dates until the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2016 (this year only), due to short-handed staffing in the department the past few months and the unusual circumstances that situation created.