The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 30, 2013

Ask Us: County, column work to clear debris quickly

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Q: Who’s going to clean up all the trees and debris under the Red Jacket Trail bridge, and who’s going to pay for the removal?

A: Blue Earth County — as owner of the Red Jacket Trestle — is responsible for the removal of debris that accumulates against the bridge piers. County crews were just waiting for water levels to drop enough to get equipment to the riverside.

“A few weeks ago, we were able to gain access,” said Blue Earth County Public Works Director Al Forsberg. “I believe 30 tandem truckloads of debris — stumps, logs, brush — were hauled away.”

(Ask Us Guy realizes some readers may have noted the “a few weeks ago” as part of Forsberg’s answer.)

It’s time to come clean. The Ask Us Research Group is running a bit behind on getting questions answered. With the end of the fiscal year tonight at midnight, we figured we’d better review our books and see how big the answer-deficit is.

After checking email, listening to old voicemails, counting up the letters in that blue pocket folder and looking under the pile of Diet Coke cans covering the right side of the Ask Us Reference and Resource Center, we came to the realization that we may be more disorganized and dysfunctional than Congress.

There are, however, still a few hours left in the fiscal year, and our accountants said if we answer 28 questions in this week’s column, it may keep the auditors at bay. So, here we go:)

Q: After two years, the sidewalk and boulevard on Madison Avenue is finally in place. But there’s still a piece of sidewalk missing in front of U.S. Bank across from Perkins. It’s been two months since the rest of the sidewalk was completed. Why is that small remaining piece not done?

A: Some private utility work still was required on that one small spot, Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges said. It will be taken care of this fall.

“That’s on the punch list,” he said.

Q: There used to be on the Mankato hilltop a place called Mailbox Plus that took those Styrofoam packing peanuts. Now, they’re out of business. Where can we take those packing peanuts so they don’t end up in the landfill?

A: Blue Earth County Recycling Coordinator Jean Lundquist recommends that people ask friends and acquaintances if they regularly sell stuff online.

“People who sell on eBay are always looking for packing peanuts,” Lundquist said. “And if folks don’t know anyone, they can call me and I have a list of people who will take them.”

Lundquist’s number is 304-4440.

Q: Why has the city not put in the dock at Troost Pond in Rasmussen Woods this year?

A: “Actually, it was in this spring,” Hentges said. “We took it out to do some relatively major repairs. It has some safety and stability issues. ... We’ll work on it over winter. They can probably do the repairs necessary to get it back in place (in 2014).”

Q: The city of Mankato has not put out the picnic tables along Glenwood this year. They were the only places to sit and enjoy the valley. Will they be returning them?

A: “We had a very late spring and winter,” Hentges said, referring to the cold, snowy weather in April and May that kept city crews scrambling to catch up into June. “It was probably something that was overlooked.”

Hentges encourages people to call 311, the city’s information and question line, on issues like this. That probably would have been enough to remind city workers that a citizen was missing the picnic tables.

(OK. Ask Us Guy figures that’s almost 28 questions answered, if you round up ... . So we’re passing a continuing resolution to keep the column running temporarily and voting to recess until Oct. 7.)

Contact Ask Us at The Free Press, P.O Box 3287, Mankato, MN 56002. Call Mark Fischenich at 344-6321 or email your question to; put Ask Us in the subject line.