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Hammond Village Board tables library repairs to get more quotes

Before the Hammond Village Board meeting Monday, Feb. 13, was more than a few minutes old, members of the community, as well as members of the Hammond Community Library Board, addressed the board members about their concerns over the repairs needed to the library.

The issue

According to an email from Michelle Johnson, Hammond Community Library director, the issue of the library stems from an inspection done on the library building by the fire inspector back in December, which turned up three fixes that needed to be taken care of on the upper level of the building, including the exit lights, safety lights and the need for 2.5 pound extinguishers to be added to the upper level. When the public works department was notified of the need for the fixes and investigated the upper level themselves, they found more electrical issues that needed to be taken care of as well. The public works department got one bid for the repairs, but the bid did not include a monetary amount due to the unknown amount of work that could show itself after the repairs are started.

At the board's Jan. 23 meeting, the board talked about the issue and, according to the meeting minutes, approved a motion to ask the fire inspector for United Fire and Rescue if the items from the inspection would need to be corrected if the upstairs was padlocked with no access and a no entry sign was posted. According to Johnson, just two days later, before 7 a.m., the public works department had placed padlocks on the doors to the upstairs and were the only ones with keys to the locks. Johnson said there was no conversations had between the public works and the library board, staff or director about the upstairs being locked. The library still uses the upstairs for storage and needs access to it for items for programs and other projects.

"We make due with the space and resources we have and we appreciate all of you and your families, book clubs, etc. and the continued support of the library," Johnson said in her email, which was sent to community members in order to garner support for the library at the Feb. 13 meeting. "We love to see you each week participate in the programs and we love to see the love of reading and sense of community when you visit the library."

Public comment time

The issue came to a head during the public comment time of the Feb. 13 meeting when members of the library board and community members shared their concerns with the way the library is being treated by the village board.

According to meeting minutes, Leah Tritz, a member of the library board, thanked the board for working to repair the library, but also discussed the lack of communication between the two boards, pointing out that it is a problem and needs to be improved. Board president Tony Bibeau apologized for the misunderstanding in the motion from the last meeting and for having the public works lock the upstairs of the library.

Following the library board's discussion, Kari Benton read a letter from a homeschool family who uses the library and also discussed the benefits of the homeschool program and other programs held at the library.

Wally Graf asked how the fundraising for the library renovations was going, but was told by Friends of the Library member Allison Hagen that it was going slowly and had hit a roadblock. Hagen went on to say the project was in need of funding from the village in order to properly proceed with the renovations.

According to the minutes, several residents also made comments during the public comment time. One of the residents even stated that they felt the board comes across as uncaring toward the library with the way they treat it. Jamie Bolwerk commented that the board is made up of elected officials and the local elections are coming up soon.

Following the public comment time, the board heard an update about the fire code violations from building inspector Brian Wert, who did an inspection of the library and made his own list of what things needed to be addressed in order to use the upstairs again. The fire inspector agreed with the list of items Wert came up with. The board then took time to discuss whether or not they wanted to get additional quotes for the work and to have it on its next agenda for the meeting at the end of the month. The board approved a motion to table the approval of electrical work and to obtain additional quotes for the next board agenda.

Other items

• The board approved the proposal from Key's Well Drilling in the amount of $14,620 with proof of insurance.

• The board approved the building plans for Andy's Saloon (aka the Hammond Hotel) contingent on Greg Adam's recommendations.

• The board approved sending all three public works employees to training and to have them complete the residential inspections.

• The board approved a motion to not approve the contract with HydroCop and to table the proposal for the commercial testing until a contract can be received and approved.

• The board tabled the discussion of the village ice rink until a survey of use can be done through the utility billing.

• The board approve a motion to have the administrator draft a policy regarding the chain of command for village employees and to bring it to the next board meeting.

• The board made an announcement that from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 1, will be Village Clean Up Day.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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