Morris City Council deliberates granting a liquor license, discusses boulevard clutter

The Morris City Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 8 was short, sweet, and to the point. With two council members and city manager Rebecca Schrupp not in attendance, the meeting lasted only half an hour. 

Mayor Kevin Wohlers opened the meeting by quoting Zig Ziglar: “Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.” With that, he took a moment to recognize the hard work put in by city crews and utility workers in the aftermath of the July 25 storm that caused damage across the city, and much of west-central Minnesota. 

The main topic of discussion of the evening was whether or not to approve a liquor license for Family Dollar that would allow for the sale of 3.2% off sale liquor. The main concern of council members Brian Solvie and Kim Gullickson, as well as Mayor Wohlers was if this would impede upon sales at the municipal liquor store. “In a sense, could we be competing against ourselves [even if it’s only 3.2?]” Council member Gullickson shared that she remembers 3.2% alcohol being available at Pamida, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented for a store other than the municipal liquor store to sell. “Even if we decide not to pass this, people could still just go elsewhere to get [3.2% alcohol],” says Gullickson.

The present council members and Mayor Wohlers chose to table this discussion until the Aug. 22 city council meeting when all council members and the city manager are present. 

City Manager Schrupp recommended that one to two council members attend online training this year for board of appeal and equalization hearings. She would also like to see another one to two council members participate next year. The training is at no cost, and would be a time commitment of about 45 minutes, and would need to be completed by Feb. 1, 2024. 

A bid by Joe Riley Construction for a project to do a mill and overlay of the south frontage road from the west end by McDonald’s to College Ave. and College Ave Patch was approved. The bid came in at $131,797.70 and was well under the $164,000.00 engineer’s estimate. 

In some end-of-meeting discussions, Council Member Solvie mentioned that he noticed that the pickleball courts are still not completed. His opinion is that if the city hasn’t paid in full for the courts we should consider sourcing other companies to finish the courts in a timely manner so they might get some use before cold weather moves in. 

Council member Gullickson questioned if the city has an ordinance regarding items placed on the boulevard for free. She noted that one property, in particular, has had items sitting on the boulevard for about three months and has seen rain, heat, wind, and hail in that time. If there is no such ordinance in place, she’d like to have consideration for one that would have a set amount of time items can remain on the boulevard before the city comes to remove them and bill the property owner for removal and disposal. Gullickson added that setting items out for free isn’t the problem, but when weathered items have been sitting out for an extended period it can paint the town’s image in a negative light. 

Mayor Wohlers suggested discussion for a city “spruce up” week. Residents could put unwanted items out on their curbs and boulevards, and the city would come through and pick all items up on a specified date. The city would need to keep in consideration that a program like this would have costs associated with it, as well as add to the city crews’ workloads. Mayor Wohlers added that other cities have implemented such programs with success, and it’s something that the City of Morris could certainly have a discussion about. 

One individual approached the city with the idea of Mayor Wohlers declaring August “pull a weed” month. The idea is that if you see a weed, pull a weed. While Mayor Wohlers doesn’t find it necessary to declare the entire month for this program, individuals can still be encouraged to pull weeds on sidewalks when they see them. It takes all of us to keep our city in good shape.