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Council OK’s roundabout engineering, silo artwork

August 22, 2018

STERLING – The City Council split its time Monday putting in motion industrial park roadwork before moving on to artwork.

The council voted 5-0, with 3rd Ward Alderman Bob Conklin absent, to approve an agreement for engineering services with Mead & Hunt in Middleton, Wisconsin, for a roundabout to be built at Lynn Boulevard and West LeFevre Road. The total cost, including subsurface and physical feature studies, will be $99,950.

Discussion on the proposed change started in December, when Troy Pankratz, senior project manager at Mead & Hunt, presented results of a safety study the firm did on the intersection. The analysis was done in anticipation of Halo Branded Solutions’ new global headquarters, which opened in April.

Halo’s plans to create 250 jobs over the next 5 years would double its current workforce and increase traffic near the plant. There are stop signs both ways on Lynn, but none on LeFevre. The Mead & Hunt study found that a single-lane roundabout would provide a safer intersection than traffic signals.

The agreement calls for a preliminary study to be done by Sept. 28, preliminary design by Oct. 31, and bidding by the end of February.

The council also voted 3-1 to allow a permit for Chicago artist Annie Hermes to paint a mural of pink and purple flowers on the side of silos in the 200 block of Third Avenue. The painting will be paid for by Dr. Ed Miles, who owns the silos and lives in an attached loft.

Hermes, 39, a Newman Central Catholic High School graduate, wants to start work on Sept. 8. She needed council approval to close the north lane of Second Street to allow a lift into the area, which she received.

Under city ordinance, the mural commission must issue a permit for new works, but the commission is now vacant. City Attorney Tim Zollinger said that because the city doesn’t have an active commission, it fell to the council to decide on the request.

Building and Zoning Administrator Amanda Schmidt said she struggled with whether the flowers would fall within the parameters of the commission.

“From my standpoint, the mural commission is for the historical ones,” she said.

Since 1995, 20 murals have been created around town, all with a local historic theme. The last one, “Lincoln in Sterling,” was installed in July 2015 acros from the Lincoln-Manahan Home Museum at 607 E. Third St.

City Manager Scott Shumard said all of the commission members’ terms expired a year or 2 ago.

“We have one name, potentially another. Trying to find commissioners will take a few more weeks. Hopefully, this meeting will shake free a few more people,” Shumard said.

Miles said he came up with the original criteria, and Hermes came up with the design.

“I think it’ll draw people to the community,” Miles said.

Ward 2 Alderwoman Chris Wilen, who voted against granting the permit, said she would like to see a commission formed.

Alderman John Stauter abstained, saying he was undecided and wanted to discuss the project with Sterling residents.

Also, after going into closed session to discuss the city manager’s salary, the council approved a 4.5 percent raise, from $110,223 to $115,183, for Shumard. The increase is retroactive to May 1.

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