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Assessment costs higher per foot to fix Miller St.

As the 2015 street projects move forward into the design stage, a large scale Miller Street project may be added to the agenda.
At last week’s regularly scheduled New York Mills City Council meeting, the council passed a referendum directing the 2015 street projects to move forward. Earlier this month, the council heard concerns from residents regarding possible assessments. These concerns will be evaluated as the project moves forward. The council can stop the project at any time.  
On top of the approved $3.1 million street project, the council is considering fixing the storm water drainage issues on Miller Street. The total cost for the water main, storm sewer, street and sidewalk is estimated at $695,000. Per the city’s Special Assessment Policy, the accessible costs equal $193,000, while the remaining $502,000 will fall on the city.  
If the costs were true and the assessment policy stayed the same, the property owners along Miller Street would be assessed significantly higher per foot than the typical NY Mills street project. Right now the assessment cost per foot is $155, far higher than the $26-$45 per foot costs of other projects.  read entire story. . . .

Council holds off on administrator decision

The New York Mills City Council held off making a decision about changing from a city clerk model to a city administrative model after hearing residents’ concerns.
During a public forum last week, four residents were present to voice their opinion about changing the model. Two people favored the change, while two were against it. Counselors also relayed thoughts that residents shared with them in personal conversations prior to the meeting.
The administrative model was originally brought up two months ago by then-counselor Jason Schik and counselor Josh Hoaby, with the hope that the council would spend less time on the day-to-day operations. During last week’s meeting, Mayor Julie Gerber said it would not be a hardship to continue operating as they have been; they are simply looking into new ways.
The current practice is that the elected council members supervise the five department heads. If the city changed to an administrative model, supervising would be the task of the administrator.  read entire story. . . .

Horrific good times ahead NYM Halloween parties on Saturday

Looking for a way to make Halloween spooky and fun again? Look no further than the New York Mills Community Halloween Party this Saturday.
On Oct. 25, preschool students through second grade students will begin the community party with crafts and games at the Cultural Center from 3:30-5 p.m. Children are invited to come in costume to decorate a cookie, build Halloween crafts and play games. Prizes will be awarded at the game stations.
Elementary students in grades three-sixth are invited over to Mills Lanes for costume bowling.  From 3-5 p.m., children are invited to gather with their classmates, check out each other’s costumes and enjoy one free game of bowling, with following games at $1 each. Mills Lanes will be aglow with black lights and glow-in-the-dark magic just for the party, and children will receive special treats.  read entire story. . . .

Social media sparks talks of NYM bullying

In speaking with New York Mills School administration, the district is in full compliance to the Safe and Supportive School Act. According to recent social media site activity though, some frustrated parents don’t believe the school is doing enough.
The Safe and Supportive School Act holds Minnesota schools accountable for bullying, by requiring school officials to investigate every claim of bullying that comes across their desks.
In the past, NY Mills School administrators have reacted seriously to all bullying issues they knew of per the school’s policy. Even so, last summer local administrators reviewed its practice and fine-tuned the NY Mills’ bullying policy to better fit within the new law.
In response to the parent comments on social media, NY Mills School administrators contacted the Dispatch in hopes to clear up possible misconceptions about bullying.
In an interview last week, High School Principal Michelle Young, Elementary Principal Judith Brockway and Superintendent Blaine Novak said there was no denying that bullying happens within NY Mills School. So far this year, they have dealt with a handful of cases. On the other hand, there were many other cases that, upon further investigation, were found to be a conflict, not bullying. Administrators estimate 95 percent of reported bullying cases that are investigated in NY Mills end up being classified as an engagement or a conflict.
So what is bullying?
Bullying is defined by law to be intimidating, threatening abusive or harming conduct that is objectively offensive. On top of that, the situation must have an actual or perceived imbalance of power and the behavior must be repeated. In some cases, a single incident could be so horrifying that it interferes with another student’s educational opportunity, thus would be considered bullying.
There are four different categories of bullying. Probably the most recognizable types are verbal and physical bullying. In today’s world, there are also social bullying and cyberbullying.
Social bullying occurs when someone feels socially unaccepted. Spreading rumors about someone or purposely ignoring someone on the playground could be considered social bullying. The difficult part about social bullying is so much of it could be considered normal children behavior, said Brockway.
The real problem at this time is cyberbullying, mostly because it’s so hard to combat. Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology to bully electronically. To make matters more difficult for school officials are the fact that cyberbullying can happen anywhere. One person can attack another person on a home computer via Facebook or Twitter, something the school has no control over.
Brockway said, “There has always been bullying. Social media has made it 10 times easier to bully.”
Despite these policy changes, as well as proactive lessons on bullying throughout the year, the school still can not promise there will not be bullying.  read entire story. . . .

Broadside crash on Hwy. 10 injures three

Three people were injured in a broadside car crash on Highway 10 on Friday afternoon.
Just east of New York Mills at 4 p.m. on Oct. 17, a Ford Freestar was broadsided in an attempt to cross Highway 10, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
Thomas Larson, age 62, of Wyndmere, N.D. was driving a 2005 Ford Freestar and was traveling southbound. He attempted to cross Highway 10 from 560th Avenue onto County Highway 106 and was struck by a 2001Buick Park Avenue in the eastbound lane. He sustained non-life threatening injuries, according to Minnesota State Patrol.
Devlin Hessig, age 26, of New York Mills was driving the Buick, along with a 24-year-old and a 1-year-old passengers. Hessig and the 24-year-old passenger received non-life threatening injuries. The 1-year-old had no  read entire story. . . .

Ottertail to pay for half its sidewalks

The City of Ottertail will pick up half the cost of redoing sidewalks along Main Street as part of a revitalization project in town.
At its Oct. 16 meeting, the council unanimously agreed to change its policy of requiring businesses to pay the entire cost of new sidewalks. Officials said under the new policy, which was amended for this project, business owners would pay about $4,000 each instead of the estimated $8,000.  
The city would also pave the parking area and add stripes for more orderly parking. Even though Main Street is a state highway, the city will pay for the work itself without state money because that section of road is not scheduled for work by the state until 2028.
One affected property, the Ottertail Creamery, has already built some new sidewalks at its own expense. Council members said they would be willing to pay the entire cost of the remaining sidewalks next to the Creamery.
“It’s a fairness issue,” said councilman Michael Windey.
The council agreed to form a working group with planning committee members in order to move the project forward.

In other news:
-Changed the city’s sick leave policy for its employees. It now allows employees to accrue up to 90 days of sick leave, up from its previous limit of 20 days.  read entire story. . . .