City OKs sand mine agreement, will wait 30 days for school

GLENWOOD CITY — Near the end of a three-hour meeting the City Council voted to accept the Non Metallic Mining agreement with Vista Sand, but will wait for thirty days to allow the school district and Vista Sand to come to an agreement over a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

 On a five-to-one vote the council agreed to wait thirty days for the school and Vista Sand to work out a MOU. Both R. J. Sikes, of Vista Sand and School Superintendent Tim Emholtz addressed the council about the MOU. Emholtz, in a written statement told the council that the school and the company have three unresolved issues over agreeing on a MOU.

Emholtz said the three issues were  “surrounding the functions and authority of the Technical Evaluation Panel, the frequency of air monitoring, and that the District has a right to have a say in any addition of dry processing in the future.”

But R. J. Sikes informed the council about its negotiations with the school and that “Vista has gone as far as we can, gone farther than any other sand company in the state.” He continued, “We don’t feel that we can get there, we have hit the wall in the last couple of weeks.” He noted what Vista Sand has agreed to with the school, which included including paying  $17,500 in the school’s legal fees over the mine issue.

After the council moved to accept the agreement and opened for council member discussion a couple of amendments were offered. But in the end the council on a five-to-one vote agreed to accept the agreement. But if the school and Vista Sand cannot work out an agreement then both parties will submit their proposals to the council and the council will decide on one or the other proposal and the council will determine the agreement.

Over 60 people gathered at the Community Center for Monday night’s meeting and after Mayor John Larson opened the meeting for public comment about 20 of those addressed the council. The council heard from some persons about their preconceived dangers that a mine could bring to the community. But a majority of those addressing the council stood up and encouraged the council to support the mine and the jobs that it will bring.

One of those supporting the mine was Rob Dow, who told the council that he works for the sand mine in Taylor, Wisconsin and noted the benefits that it brought to that community. But the most touching was a talk from Judy Holmquist. She related to the council that there are no jobs here and that her husband, Paul, works in the oil fields of North Dakota.

Holmquist stated, “we live as close to the proposed sand mine as the school and I am not afraid.” She talked about her kids having to step up because their dad has to be out in North Dakota. “I would love to have my husband home so he can be the father he wants to be and the father he needs to be. These kids had to be raised by Mom because Dad had to go so far away; I am definitely in favor of the mine because I would like to have my husband home.”

Jody Slocum of rural Downing spoke to the council saying, “We still should have a referendum on the mine, and Downing should have a referendum.” She made some comments against the landowners, which brought Mayor Larson to tell her that her comments are uncalled for. Mabel Hoffman asked why no one was discussing the truck traffic that would result if the mine were operating.

Scott Teigen address the matter to the council and indicated, “You have had two elections which to me were referendums in the last five months which should give you directions to what the community wants. I believe that the future of Glenwood City is in your hands tonight. It’s not all about money,” Teigen stated. “We want to keep our doctors, dentist, grocery store and hardware store. It’s forty jobs for starters and I think it can grow from there. I think of forty employees like Paul Holmquist that could be with their families.  I see the economic benefit which could be a couple of million dollars for the community.”

Included on Monday night’s agenda was to be a discussion and possible action on the annexation petition from the Teigen and Crosby families and that of city owned land where the city wastewater treatment facility is located. But it was learned at the meeting that the necessary paper work from the state has not been returned and the council took no action on that matter.