2022 News review – July, Aug., Sept.

Top stories – July 2022

Sportsman’s Club to buy land for gun range
Pipestone County Commissioners approved selling the former landfill at 1491 County Road 6 in Section 31 of Rock Township to the Pipestone Sportsman’s Club for $100 plus closing and other costs, and authorized the county attorney to prepare sale documents. The club plans to develop a gun range on the site. As part of the sale, the club agreed to allow the Pipestone County Sheriff’s Office to use the grounds for life at no cost. The Sportsman’s Club was the only bidder at the public auction.

PAS upgrades elementary school playground
Pipestone Area Schools (PAS) continued to enhance amenities at the new elementary school. PAS School Board members approved adding a poured in place rubber surface to the existing playground at the elementary school and decided to look into the cost to add an outfield fence to one of the new ball fields that is being built north of the school.

Family Dollar/Dollar Tree opened for business in the former Livermont Auction Company location on Second Street NE. A wide variety of renovations were made in order to accommodate the retail business.

Family Dollar/Dollar Tree open in Pipestone
The new Family Dollar/Dollar Tree store at 317 Second Street NW in Pipestone opened on Thursday, July 14. The new business filled a large building made vacant by Livermont Auction Company’s closure. To accommodate the new business, improvements were made to the interior, the exterior facade, and the parking lot. The store carries a wide range of items including food, health and beauty products, housewares, clothing, school supplies, crafts, pet items and more.

Carnegie Library discussions continue
In a series of July city council meetings, the council tackled details related to their plans to sell the historic Carnegie Library building. The council finally did approve language to be included in purchase agreement covenants that would require any buyer to maintain and repair the property so as to maintain the building’s architectural and historical integrity. Councilmen Justin Schroyer and Dan Delaney voted against the measure. It was reported that if the city were to keep the building, and desired to repair it to a usable capacity, the cost would be near $500,000.

The back and forth of library proposals
Following the City of Pipestone’s rejection of a new library agreement brought forward by the Pipestone Area Schools (PAS) School Board, the school board looked to seek more clarity. A letter from the city to the school district dated June 21 indicated only that the council had voted to reject the proposed agreement and would consider any new proposals that were presented.

“My question is how can we present a new proposal if we do not know what they found unacceptable with this agreement,” said School Board Chair Jeff Baatz. “Nothing was stated in the letter as to why they did not accept the agreement as presented.”

Then, later in the month, the Pipestone City Council approved a motion to allow City Administrator Jeff Jones to present a new proposed library operating agreement back to the Pipestone Area Schools (PAS) School Board. In seeking clarification before bringing a proposal to PAS, Jones read a portion of a letter dated February, 11 from the Minnesota Department of Education. That letter states: “If a new agreement gives Pipestone Area School Board authority over the library, then Meinders Community Library would not be considered a public library under Minn. Stat. 134.001.” Based on this concern, and others, the proposal brought forward to the school for consideration was very much like the current in-force agreement.


Top stories – August 2022

The Pipestone Family Aquatic Center welcomed a new event to the pool when dog lovers brought their family friends into the waters to enjoy the Doggie Plunge. Sixty-six dogs attended the event which was a fundraiser for the Schroeder Center.

Central School property heads to auction
The two properties on which Central School once sat were approved for sale at public auction by the Pipestone County Commissioners. The basic sale price was set at $28,000 for the north lot and $72,000 for the south lot, which was larger.

Pipestone County Fair recognitions
During the annual Pipestone County Fair, a number of individuals were recognized for their work in the ag community. The DJ and Amy Folkerts family was named Pipestone County Farm Family of the Year, the Philip and Laurel Berg family was inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame, Tyenna Muller won the Champion Premier Showman award and Emily Nelson won the Reserve Champion Premier Showmanship award.

No sale for the former Carnegie Library
After months of taking steps toward selling the former Carnegie Library, the Pipestone City Council did not act on a resolution that would have ordered advertising for bids for the property. After reviewing yet more guidance from the Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) office, the council took no action to present a motion to proceed with the sale. The MMB guidance required that their office would have to sign off on any sale of the property. Without a motion to proceed, the project was dropped from discussion and no further plans or actions were taken.

State auditor’s office finds issue with procedures in Jasper
The City of Jasper was advised by the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) to separate its operations from those of the Jasper Development Corporation (JDC). According to a letter from an investigator with the OSA the auditor’s office received concerns about payments by the city of Jasper to the JDC, which is a nonprofit corporation. “Based upon its review the OSA found that the city did not follow Minnesota Law when it (1) paid the legal fees of the nonprofit corporation, (2) allowed the nonprofit corporation to use the city’s address for its business filings and mailing address, and (3) paid $30,000 to the nonprofit corporation without receiving anything in return,” according to the letter. As a result of the auditor’s review and communications, a number of Jasper officials were required to separate themselves not just from the JDC, but from other non-profit groups or other organizations which have historically worked closely with city resources.

Planning Commission takes a look into city nuisances
The Pipestone Planning Commission discussed the potential creation of an animal control officer position, limiting noise during night-time hours and limiting the use of commercial dumpsters. Pipestone Building and Zoning Official Doug Fortune said the topics were based on complaints that he had heard from Pipestone residents. The most hotly discussed topic would prove to be that of feral cats and how best to address what some community members expressed as a big problem. No action was taken in August other than to do some further investigation into the issue.

Primary election sets stage for November contests
The 2022 primary election resulted in what would be a change to come in Pipestone leadership. In the race for mayor of Pipestone, Dan Delaney and Verdeen Colbeck received the most votes for the mayor’s seat, advancing them to the November general election. Delaney led the vote tally with 205, Colbeck came in at 103 and incumbent Mayor Myron Koets tallied 97.

In the other local primary contest, voters in Pipestone County Commissioner District 2 sent Doug Nagel and Kim Drew on to the November election. Nagel garnered 186 votes, Drew 115 and Thomas Haag 63.

Pipestone explores new development
The Pipestone City Council voted to proceed with platting work city-owned land east of where 11th Street NE ends, near where the Caring Hands Dental Clinic is located. The city has considered zoning the land light industrial and making lots available for sale.

Top stories – Sept. 2022

A total of 126 kids participated in the fifth annual fishing derby at Hiawatha Pageant Park in Pipestone on Wednesday evening, Sept. 7. The event was hosted by the Pipestone Area Chamber of Commerce and Pipestone Kiwanis Club and included a free meal, trophies and prizes.

Hartquist buys north lot of former Central School property
Jeff Hartquist was the winning bidder on the north lot of the former Central School property during a tax-forfeiture auction held Aug. 24 in the Commissioner Room at the Pipestone County Courthouse. Hartquist was the lone bidder on the property, located at 400 Second Ave. SW in Pipestone, and obtained it for the basic sale price of $28,000 that was set by the Pipestone County Commissioners, plus fees. Hartquist said after the auction that he’s considering building a new structure for Hartquist Funeral Home & Cremation Services at the site.
The Pipestone Planning Commission voted on Sept. 21 to recommend that the Pipestone City Council approve a conditional use permit for a new Hartquist Funeral Home on the site.

Library negotiations end and a temporary location is approved
The Pipestone City Council voted 3-2 on Sept. 6 to end negotiations between the city and the school district to develop a new library agreement. The city council also unanimously approved a lease agreement between the city and Steve and Wendy Hennager, of Lake Crystal, to lease the former Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses property at 220 Third Ave. SE in Pipestone for a temporary community library. The city will pay $1,500 a month rent and a $1,000 damage deposit.
The city council’s decisions followed a unanimous vote by the Pipestone Area Schools Board to reject a library agreement proposed by the city of Pipestone.

Permit approved for Trosky wastewater ponds
Pipestone County Commissioners granted the city of Trosky a conditional use permit on Sept. 13 allowing it to build wastewater treatment ponds on agriculturally zoned land about a mile east of the city. The permit was approved with the condition that the city extend a proposed 15-inch tile from 31st Street to a point of outlet in an unnamed tributary of Poplar Creek.
The permit was a step forward in Trosky’s years-long effort to address wastewater issues that stem from the fact that the city does not have a centralized sewer system.

PAS shows improvement, but is still behind state averages on assessments
Pipestone Area Schools proficiency scores in math, reading and science improved in 2022, but continued to lag behind statewide averages.

Superintendent Kevin Enerson said he considered anything within 5 percentage points to be in line with the statewide results and that trend data is important to watch. PAS assessment scores were within 5 percentage points in all three subject areas and there was an upward trend in all three subject areas in 2022. While he thought things were heading in the right direction, Enerson said there was more work to do.

Iowas of Oklahoma visit ancestral home
About 50 members of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, most of them elders ranging in age from 50s to 80s, stopped at the Pipestone National Monument Sept. 13 as part of an eight-day journey to places their ancestors called home. The Iowa were early keepers of the pipestone quarries. At one time the tribe’s lands encompassed areas of present-day Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.

Between 1824 and 1838, the Iowa Tribe was forced to cede much of their land to the United States. They left their homelands in southeast Iowa for an area 10 miles wide and 20 miles long along the border of Nebraska and Kansas. In 1878, some tribal members left the reserve on the border of Kansas and Nebraska and moved to Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma, in hopes of better living conditions, according to information from Pipestone National Monument.

Animal ordinance discussion elicits strong opinions
Pipestone Planning Commission members and about 10 residents of Pipestone and other communities had a lengthy and sometimes heated discussion about the city of Pipestone’s animal ordinance during the commission’s Sept. 21 meeting. Commission members had previously discussed the matter in August due to complaints from community members about animals on the loose.

Some residents took issue with the city’s ordinance, which allows animals that are impounded and not claimed or adopted to be “painlessly and humanely destroyed” and in support of a trap-neuter-return policy. Others took issue with unwanted animals loose in the city and causing damage to property. Pipestone Building and Zoning Official Doug Fortune planned to discuss issues brought up at the meeting with the Pipestone County Sheriff’s Office and bring information to the next planning commission meeting.

Council approves preliminary levy increase of 13.5 percent
Pipestone City Council members during their Sept. 19 meeting approved with a 4-1 vote a preliminary 2023 property tax levy of $2,702,003, which was a 13.5 percent increase over the 2022 levy. The approved amount was based on a proposed budget of $11,945,678, which was an 8.35 percent increase over the 2022 budget.