Saying that the use of storage containers is getting out of hand, the City Council is considering a ban on the use of storage containers and semitrailers in residential areas.

At a meeting last month, the council took a step toward regulating the use of the containers. A proposed change to the city zoning code would define temporary storage containers and semitrailers and prohibit their use in residential districts except for temporary use during construction.

Storage containers and trailers would be allowed in commercial and industrial zoning districts with placement, size and condition requirements.

John Reinan


Council bids goodbye to three members

The City Council bid goodbye to one-third of its membership, as council members thanked three colleagues who will not be returning for another term.

Shawn Mueske, Kathy Schwantes and Fernando Alvarado each decided to step down after finishing their four-year terms.

"I appreciate every one of you," Mueske said, praising the hard work of his colleagues in a late December meeting on the Zoom web conference system.

"It's been a pleasure and an honor to be able to serve," Schwantes said. "May 2021 be a nice, quiet, calm, healthy year."

Alvarado said that he and his colleagues "haven't always agreed, but hey, you know what? That's what makes it special. We were trying to do what's right for the city."

John Reinan


DNR warns: Be safe, check ice thickness

With cold weather finally arriving, many Minnesotans will want to get out onto frozen water for fishing, snowmobiling, skiing and other outdoor activities.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources warns residents to always check the thickness of ice when venturing out.

New, clear ice is stronger than so-called "white ice," so precautions should be doubled when dealing with the latter.

Stay off ice that's less than 4 inches thick, DNR guidelines say. At 4 inches, fishing and other activities on foot are safe.

Ice should be 5 to 7 inches thick to support a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle, and 8 to 12 inches thick for a car or small pickup. For larger trucks, ice should be 12 to 15 inches thick.

Check the thickness using a chisel, auger or cordless drill, then confirm with a tape measure. Remember, ice is seldom uniform over an entire body of water. Check the ice at least every 150 feet.

John Reinan