Mayor Kip Emerson hit the gavel to begin the Osakis City Council meeting just like any other, but Monday, Dec. 14, was different.

Emerson was nominated by the Economic Development Authority Board to be put on the Award Board at the Osakis City Hall.

After retiring from being a teacher in 1999, Emerson was voted in as a council member and has been involved with the city ever since. He was a council member for more than nine years, mayor for 12 years and a member of the Osakis EDA Board for more than 20 years.

Emerson choked back a few tears while summarizing how much the years of involvement and connection to the community have meant to him.

Council members Jerry Olson and Justin Dahlheimer were recognized too, as their terms also expire in 2020.

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Although a formal celebration couldn’t be organized at this time, council member Laura Backes noted that the community should watch for an event in the coming year.

New Osakis logo and possible mural

On the city of Osakis Facebook page, a request was posted for design ideas for a new city logo, and the council received 11 submissions.

After some discussion about personal preferences, Emerson and Dahlheimer’s choice prevailed: A badge of the sun setting on Lake Osakis.

This new logo will be used on city letterheads and newsletters, outlining the color palette the city will use for these items.

Lili Lennox, a Minneapolis muralist, emailed the council about a potential design project unrelated to the logo contest. Lennox grew up in Morris, but she visited Osakis in 2018 for the funeral of a family friend.

“This mural could serve as a celebration of Lake Osakis and be featured on an otherwise empty wall,” she wrote. “This is an opportunity to display the pride the community has for its hometown.”

The council expressed an interest in finding a spot for a mural, but they decided to follow up with Lennox and discuss other design options than the example she attached.

Replacement bridge on Highway 27

Sheila Krohse, an engineer with Bolton & Menk, presented information during a public hearing on behalf of Minnesota Department of Transportation on the replacement of a bridge on state Highway 27. Representatives weren’t allowed to attend in-person meetings because of the COVID-19 spread.

Krohse explained that the portion of the construction planned for Osakis is a small part of a 13-mile project. The proposed area within Osakis city limits hasn’t been touched since 1948, so she said a trail bridge at the site will also need to be redone.

After the project is completed, the bridge clearance will increase from 14 to 17 feet, and the shoulders will widen from 2 to 8 feet. Krohse said the bid should be approved by December 2021 so that construction could begin in 2022.

To answer concerns expressed by Osakis residents present at the council meeting, Krohse said that MnDOT wouldn’t detour through city streets to avoid creating potential damage from the heavy traffic.

Other items

  • The council approved the 2021 budget and a 1% increase in levy following a public hearing. Emerson commented that it’s been a 3% increase for the last few years, so this year was an improvement.

  • City Superintendent Greg Gottwald asked the council for their guidance on whether to implement the skating rink downtown given the most recent COVID-19 shutdown of some public gathering spaces. Council members Laura Backes and Justin Dahlheimer said it seemed like a good opportunity for people to get out of the house and do something in line with the outdoor safety guidelines.

  • The council also approved Gottwald’s request to purchase skid loader sanding attachments totaling $4,100. He said these additions will allow for a more maneuverable machine to maintain the smaller lots in town.