Colfax urges vigilance as freeze-thaw begins

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  Icy streets and sidewalks have been a problem since December and have not gotten any better with several episodes of freezing rain and wet, heavy snow.

As we get into more of the freeze-thaw cycle of March, the Colfax Village Board is urging residents to remain vigilant and to take precautions.

So far this year, the Colfax Police Department has issued 105 notices for poor snow removal, said Mark Halpin, village trustee and chair of the public safety committee, at the Colfax Village Board’s March 11 meeting.

In the coming weeks, “we will have many issues with melting and refreezing,” he said.

Colfax has a number of senior citizen residents, and Halpin encouraged neighbors to help each other.

He also noted that even if businesses are not open on weekends, business owners still need to be aware of the conditions on their sidewalks and arrange to have the sidewalks shoveled or to sprinkle ice melt material or salt-sand to keep the footing sound.

People really should work with their neighbors to help keep the sidewalks clear and safe, said Susan Olson, village trustee.

Susan Olson suggested that perhaps a “group buy” of salt-sand would be helpful.

Some municipalities buy extra salt-sand so that under icy conditions, residents can get salt-sand to sprinkle on sidewalks, Halpin said.

Unfortunately, because of all the bad weather so far, the village is now experiencing a shortage of salt-sand, he said.

Of course, in a winter like this year, it’s not just the village that is running short of salt-sand —the county and the townships also have been using quite a bit of salt-sand and many townships are reporting that their supplies are dwindling as well.

Neighbors should help neighbors; grandchildren should help grandparents; family and friends should help each other, Halpin said.

Halpin also reminded village residents that if they have a hundred feet of sidewalk, they must make sure the whole sidewalk is clear and “not just in front of the door.”

Melting snow that runs over the sidewalks can turn into sheets of ice by the next morning, and problem areas can change from day to day, Halpin noted.

Other business

In the other business, the Colfax Village Board:

• Reviewed fee schedules for the village during a special village board meeting that started at 6 p.m. Before any of the fee changes can go into effect, the village board will have to approve them as ordinance changes.

• Approved a training request for Jackie Ponto, administrator-clerk-treasurer, and Beverly Schauer, village trustee, to attend the Red Cedar Watershed Conference at UW-Stout on March 14.

• Approved a facility rental request for the Colfax Fairgrounds from the Dunn County Solid Waste Division for annual hazardous waste collection on September 11.

• Approved an application for a cigarette license for Dollar General from March 11 to June 30, 2013.

• Approved a bartender’s operator license for Carey Davis from March 11 to June 30, 2013.

• Learned that of the nine property owners eligible for a Letter of Map Amendment for the FEMA floodplain along Eighteen Mile Creek to bring their properties out of the floodplain, seven have indicated they would be interested in applying for a LOMA, one has said “no” and one has not responded. Being out of the floodplain means that mortgage lenders cannot require property owners to buy flood insurance. Village board members agreed to place the item on the agenda for the next meeting.

• Approved the street sweeping advertisement for bids.

• Approved the proposed certified survey map for Evergreen Cemetery and agreed to send it to the Colfax School Board for review.

• Approved purchasing a reception desk for the village administrator-clerk-treasurer’s office at a cost of $525. The desk is located in Austin, Minnesota, and Chris Olson, village trustee, said he would haul the desk to Colfax.