City helps Columbus Community Hospital with $10 million bonds for renovation

May 9, 2019

Columbus Community Hospital will receive help from the city of Columbus for its new expansion project.

On May 7, Columbus City Council approved a resolution authorizing $10 million in revenue bonds for the hospital for its $15 million revenue and expansion project, which the hospital expects to complete by the summer of 2020. On Tuesday, the council held a public hearing before approving authorization, but no one spoke in opposition of the bond sale.

“I think it’s pretty awesome that the hospital is embarking on a $10 million bond offer,” said Columbus resident JD Milburn. “This just shows that we’re growing and this is a fine hospital. (The bonds) shouldn’t be going to Beaver Dam, it shouldn’t be going to UW, it should be going to our own hospital. I’m totally in favor of it.”

Council President Andy Traxler, filling in for Mayor Mike Thom, who was sick with the flu, agreed with Milburn. Traxler said the hospital has invested heavily in the community in the past five years.

“They’ve put a lot of money into that hospital and the community, so I certainly support this as well,” Traxler said.

The expansion will include a three-story building added onto the hospital with two stories devoted to the Prairie Ridge Health Clinic and the third housing the CCH Rehabilitation Center. CCH completed its last expansion work in 2015.

Farmer’s market at city hall

City officials approved a request from the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce to lease the city hall parking lot for a seasonal farmer’s market.

The market would be held weekly, Wednesdays from 3-6 p.m., in the lot, which previously hosted it. The market would run through October. During this time, no customers would be able to park in the lot at city hall.

“The one thing I was looking for in this agreement I found and that was to make sure the property was cleaned up afterwards and that’s in there so that’s good to see,” Traxler said.

Milburn, the chamber of commerce’s vice president, requested a 30-day cancellation clause be added to the lease agreement. Under the clause, the chamber and/or the city could discontinue the market with 30-days’ notice.

“It’s just to protect from any claw-backs if there was a vendor who expected all sorts of revenue and all of a sudden we cancelled it, I think it just makes sense,” Milburn said. “There might not be something that happens in a million years, but just in case something happens with a vendor, it gives the chamber an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, we don’t want to do this anymore.’ It’s pretty standard in contracts.”

Milburn said several of the vendors have pre-paid to reserve their spots for the season. Attorney Paul Johnson agreed to add the cancellation clause.

Donation for banners

Thanks to a donation from Bob and Janet Groh, the city’s downtown will be aligned with colorful banners later this year.

The city approved a $10,000 donation from the Grohs to the Columbus Historical Landmarks and Preservation Commission for 35 banners which will be placed on downtown light poles. Four designs, from local artists, will appear on banners, with the greeting: Welcome to Columbus. The city plans to replace the banners every five years, which will cost about $5,000.

Included in the donation is money for brackets and 10 hanging flower baskets. In their donation form, the Grohs said they’re making the monetary gift to “dress up our downtown in hopes of attracting new businesses and people to enjoy Columbus.”

In addition, Columbus businessman Todd Frey will manufacture and donate the brackets. Columbus FFA is also chipping in, growing flowers to be placed inside the baskets.

“I can’t wait to see what they look like on the poles,” Traxler said.

New business in old location

A former liquor store in Columbus will transform into a car dealership and detailing shop.

The city approved a conditional use permit to Shane Hurley for 131 Hurelle St., the old Bob’s Beverage location. According to Director of Planning and Development Matt Schreiber, the building has been vacant for about a year and Hurley intends to purchase the property. Hurley plans to house about used 20 cars on the lot.

“It’s good to have somebody who is interested in that building,” Schreiber said. “He’s not going to be doing servicing, like oil changes, it will be more like after-market detailing.”

Road aid for street projects

Columbus will use funds from the county to help repair parts of Waterloo Street this summer.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved using more than $9,000 of county aid. Total cost for the street repair is $11,100. Three areas of Waterloo Street, from Poet to Williams Street, will receive mill work with overlay applied to the full width of the street. The project will also include crack filling and patch work.

In a memo to the council, City Engineer Jason Lietha said using county funds for the Waterloo work makes sense because “this section of Waterloo doesn’t have concrete under the asphalt, and the curbs are in decent condition, which makes it a good candidate.”