GreenStep efforts could grow, after council meeting

MARSHALL – A local movement to make Marshall a cleaner, greener place has been making progress, said Marshall GreenStep coordinator Tom Hoff at Tuesday’s meeting of the Marshall City Council. After action by the council, the group hopes to gain a full-time worker to help with planning and projects.

A majority of the council voted to approve the GreenStep Committee’s applying for an AmeriCorps member through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s “Minnesota GreenCorps” program. If the application is accepted, Hoff said, the worker would help expand local GreenStep partnerships.

Marshall was named a GreenStep City last spring. GreenStep Cities is a voluntary program administered by the MPCA. Participating cities can be recognized for improving efficiency and adopting “green” practices, like recycling and conserving energy. Hoff said a group of Marshall citizens have been working together with city officials and community members to improve Marshall’s GreenStep rating over the past year. They’ve met with success so far.

“This year,” Hoff said, “Marshall will be designated a Step 2 city,” a level up from where it started. However, he said there are limits to what current volunteers can do.

Having a GreenCorps member working with the committee, he said, “can give us a little nudge.”

If Marshall is granted a full-time GreenCorps worker, he or she would be hosted by Marshall Community Services but have a stipend paid by AmeriCorps, Hoff said. The worker would also be given training by the MPCA. Possible projects where a GreenCorps worker could help the Marshall committee include building partnerships with Marshall public and private schools, developing best practices to reduce litter in the city, or working with hotels and apartment complexes to install energy-saving devices.

“I think this is a great opportunity,” said council member Larry Doom.

“The concern I have is the affiliation with AmeriCorps,” said council member Glenn Bayerkohler. The service organization had come under fire for financial mismanagement, he said.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of approving the application for a GreenCorps worker. Council members Bayerkohler and Jennie Hulsizer cast the votes against.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the city also issued a proclamation recognizing Ray Johnson for his contributions to aviation in Marshall and southwest Minnesota. Johnson was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame on April 20. Johnson started the company that became Midwest Aviation in Marshall. He has also logged more than 32,000 flight hours in his career, serving as a pilot and flight instructor, the Aviation Hall of Fame said.

City officials and members of the Marshall Airport Commission were present Tuesday night to congratulate Johnson.

“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a real commitment to aviation,” Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said.

A request for a temporary 3.2 percent malt liquor license for the Marshall Softball Association, to be used at the softball complex this summer, was pulled from the council’s consent agenda for discussion. Bayerkohler said he had some questions about the legal status of the Marshall Softball Association.

“What type of entity is (the Marshall Softball Association)?” Bayerkohler said. “Normally, organizations that come to us are non-profit corporations.”

Bayerkohler said the Marshall Softball Association was not listed as a corporation by the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. He asked if there could be any potential liability issues for the city if a license was granted to a private organization.

“I think there’s some things we need to check out before we authorize a license,” he said.

The temporary license was requested from May 13 to Sept. 13. Council member Mike Boedigheimer moved that the liquor license request be tabled until next regular council meeting, to allow time to gather more information. The motion passed.