Agreement would have Crookston wastewater personnel checking Fisher lift station on weekends

    Whenever Crookston Public Works Director Pat Kelly has an opening for a wastewater operator/technician, he knows it's going to be a struggle to find someone to do the job.   

    It's certainly not a glamorous job, he said. "You know what you're working with and it's not pleasant," he said. "But it's steady work."   

    His department has an opening for a waster technician right now that he can't seem to fill. But at least in Crookston, Kelly has a couple wastewater guys on staff who can step up in a pinch, and, Kelly, too, is properly licensed to do the job when called upon.   

    The situation's a bit tighter around 10 miles down U.S. Highway 2 to the west, where the City of Fisher has one wastewater operator on staff, but, according to Kelly, "does pretty much everything all the time, with no relief." That includes checking Fisher's lift station on weekends. The city has been trying to hire an additional wastewater staff person on a part-time basis, but no one's applying.   

    So, Kelly told members of the Crookston City Council at a Ways & Means Committee meeting this week, Fisher officials have asked their neighbor to the east for a helping hand. Council members voted in favor of giving Kelly the leeway to work up an agreement with the City of Fisher that will have a wastewater operator from Crookston driving to Fisher each weekend to check their lift station.   

    Including the necessary mileage and overtime costs, City Administrator Shannon Stassen said it'll cost approximately $46.05 each time, which would be billed to the City of Fisher for reimbursement.   

    Kelly said if a significant repair is needed in Fisher, Crookston would either tackle it and be reimbursed for the extra cost, or tell Fisher officials that they need to get someone to address it. If there's an emergency, a blizzard that makes travel impossible,  or some other higher-priority need in Crookston, Kelly said Crookston wastewater needs will be the top priority.   

    The details of the agreement still need to be finalized. The Fisher City Council meets on Sept. 8 and is expected to discuss the City of Crookston's willingness to help them out.   

    "I think we've got to help our neighbors out," At Large Council Member Bob Quanrud said.   

    Council members suggested that, if the arrangement becomes reality, Kelly update the council in six months or so to on how the agreement is working.