City commission covers child care among range of issues during Feb. 1 meeting

Chuck Wickenhofer
City Engineer Mike Grafsgaard addresses the city commission

Addressing the Devils Lake workforce’s child care needs was covered extensively as part of the city commission’s agenda Monday, as was a discussion about road work on College Dr. and the possible temporary closing of part of the busy road as a result.

City Manager Terry Johnston reported on the formation of a committee to discuss options to increase the availability of child care in the city. Johnston announced an upcoming town hall meeting that would allow the issue to be discussed publicly in more detail.

The issue is that families who are in need of child care potentially face a shortage of daycare options in Devils Lake, and the committee is designed to address such issues as hiring quality personnel and funding the project. The building that has been identified to facilitate a daycare center has the capacity to house 72 children, Mayor Richard Johnson estimated.

The commission agreed that addressing the burden on working families was a priority, and also agreed that the first step was to find a capable director who would be able to effectively organize the effort, which would include acquisition of grants and gathering sponsors. Though no motion in relation to the potential childcare center was on the agenda, Rachel Lindstrom of Forward Devils Lake requested flex funding at the meeting in support of the pursuit of child care options. The funding request was approved.

City Manager Mike Grafsgaard discussed future construction on the underpass at College Drive just south of 6th St. Grafsgaard said that although no work on the underpass would likely take place in 2016, the project, when undertaken, could last an estimated two years. Grafsgaard also mentioned that College Dr. could be closed near the site for a yet unknown length of time, prompting concern from the commission about the possible shutdown of an important city roadway.

Further planning on the project depends on recommendations from the Department of Transportation, among other factors.

Police Chief Keith Schroeder reported that the department hired a new sergeant Monday. Schroeder also covered a memory upgrade necessary to store body cam and dash cam footage. Among the commission’s motions were approvals­­ of the purchase of a slope mower for $197,435.80, as well as the purchase of a public utiltiy truck for $26,999.