New Auburn mayor reflects on previous year


Streets were beginning to look fine in 2009.

That was the case for New Auburn as a $1 million street improvement project headlined the City’s business this past year, according to Mayor Roger Becker.

New Auburn Mayor Roger Becker
New Auburn Mayor
Roger Becker
Work was done on existing blacktop streets, and previously designated gravel streets were surfaced, Becker explained.

Major street work was not completed in November as initially planned, according to Becker who is in his 24th year as New Auburn Mayor. The contract with Wm. Mueller & Sons of Hamburg was extended until June 15.

Becker said that Al Hahn and Justin Black of SEH did a wonderful job with the project. However, with the wet October, the City decided to extend the contract for completion until mid June of 2010. There are a couple of soft spots in the roadways, he said, and the final surfacing will be completed next year.

Becker’s biggest frustration last year is that New Auburn was unable to tap into federal stimulus funds for the street project. Communities under 5,000 were not allowed to receive any stimulus money. “We were shovel ready,” he said. “It really upsets me. There is no reason not to help small towns because they do not have as much tax base.”

New Auburn was fortunate though, Becker said, that with the poor economy, construction firms were looking for work and the City received a favorable bid.

In addition to finishing the street project, there are several ongoing community projects.

The Friends of High Island will be installing its fourth rain garden this year near the ball field. According to Becker, this year’s rain garden is the largest one planned. Volunteers assist with the project. The Friends of High Island will be holding their annual benefit January 23 to raise money for the project.

The drawdown of High Island Lake is continuing. Barley straw was placed by the inlet last year. The barley straw has helped remove algae phosphorous. There is now two feet of clarity in the lake, Becker said.

A memorial will be constructed near New Auburn’s Fire Hall this spring. The memorial will be constructed in memory of Dale Rischmiller. Rischmiller, who died in October, was a 42-year member of the fire department and served as fire chief for 17 years. The memorial is being donated by Rischmiller’s family, Becker said.

Council member Mike Hauan stepped down in September because he moved out of state. Doug Munsch was appointed to fill Hauan’s term. This fall, the City residents will elect a mayor, a two-year term on the council to fill Hauan’s unexpired term, and two four-year terms on the council.

New Auburn is continuing to contract with the Sibley County Sheriff’s Office for patrol. The City pays for 20 hours of patrol per month in varying shifts. It has helped to reduce crime in the community, Becker said.