History of the City of Clear Lake, Minnesota
March 28, 2000
On December 23, 1899 an official petition call for the establishment of the Village of Clear Lake was circulated. A document dated January 4th, 1900 calls for an official election and proposal to establish the Village of Clear Lake. The election was held on March 12, 1900 and had a total of 37 people voting. (The population of Clear Lake at that time was 176) The polls opened at 9 a.m. and closed at 5 p.m. After the votes were counted, there were 22 yes votes and 15 no votes. The Village of Clear Lake was formally established. The first officers of the new village were:
President- Edgar White
Trustees- B. Powers, C.D. Schwab, Henry Goenner
Recorder- Ernest A. Woods
Treasurer- Jas. Bowers
Justices- W.V. Davee (2 years), J. A. Ronertson (1 year)
Constables- Barton Clark (2 years), J. D. Horak (1 year)
There were a total of 8 ordinances enacted in the first year the village was established. The first ordinance was adopted by the Village Council on April 30th,1900 and was published in the Sherburne County Times on May 3rd, 1900. The summaries of the original eight ordinances adopted for the year 1900 are as follows:
Ordinance # 1 was “To regulate the exhibition of shows, caravans, circuses, menageries, plays, and concerts.
Ordinance # 2 was to license, regulate, and restrain hawkers and peddlers.
Ordinance # 3 was to restrain any person or persons causing or maintaining a disturbance.
Ordinance # 4 was to prevent and punish disorderly conduct, noise, and disorderly assemblages.
Ordinance # 5 was to regulate the sale of intoxicating liquors.
Ordinance # 6 was to regulate the construction of sidewalks. (they shall be at least 5’4” wide and made of 2” planks on a solid foundation)
Ordinance # 7 was to license dogs. (later repealed and re-adopted in 1999)
Ordinance # 8 was to compel all (horse) teams standing on the Village streets to be tied and blanketed.
Later ordinances were adopted from March 26, 1903 through the present day, which also included amendments, and revisions of the original ordinances. Some early ordinances have been repealed either in part or in total. Three significant ordinances were adopted in the decades of the 70’s and 80’s. The first was the formation of the Clear Lake/Clearwater Joint Sewer Authority. This ordinance allowed the two cities to combine resources at the sewer lagoon ponds located off County Road 8 in Clear Lake Township. A joint board of governance was also established with equitable representation for both cities. The second of these ordinances dealt with creating a public works department. This allows the city to hire maintenance personnel to oversee, maintain, and inspect the water and sanitary sewer operations for the city. The final of the three major ordinances of this time was the establishment of the Planning and Zoning Commission for the city. This committee operated as an advisory panel for the Council on matters of land use and planning. The Planning and Zoning Commission was officially dissolved in 1999 after completing new zoning and subdivision ordinances as well as a comprehensive plan for the city. The city then established a Zoning Administrator position and hired a city building inspector to handle implementation of the new regulations, including building permits.
The Village of Clear Lake was changed to the City of Clear Lake in the 1970’s when the State created a statute that mandated changing the designation of “villages” to “cities” unless the village formally filed to retain the designation of village. Since Clear Lake filed no such request, the Village of Clear Lake became the City of Clear Lake.
There were three churches in the city from the early days. The United Methodist (Living Waters Pentecostal), St. Marcus Catholic, and the Swedish Lutheran (Trinity Lutheran) churches. After some changes of ownership, the three churches remain active in the city today.
The principle businesses in the city were a pickling plant, canning factory, general store, bowling alley, creamery, livery stable, blacksmith shop, hotel, newspaper, movie house, drug store, barber shop, grain elevator, and lumber yard. Over succeeding years other businesses came to the city including an engine rebuilding shop, garages, car dealerships, turkey hatchery, antique stores, funeral home, bank, restaurants, hair salon, freight haulers, wood furniture sales, gas stations, hardware, grocery, and convenience stores. McDonalds Meats is one of the oldest stores still in operation at its original location today and has been awarded recognition for several of its products.
The Clear Lake High School was completed in 1917. This large brick building in the center of town has been converted to apartment units today. The city still has several group photos of various graduating classes from this school.
The main method of transportation was the Northern Pacific Railroad. The passenger train service operated in Clear Lake briefly in 1924. Passenger cars were reported to be “richly decorated” and were capable of carrying from 75 to 100 passengers.
Gas streetlights were introduced to the local area between 1901 and 1917. Also in 1917 electricity was brought to the city. The incandescent bulb form of street lights were installed on August 14th, 1928. Eventually the mercury vapor light, and finally the current amber colored high-pressure sodium bulb, replaced these. Telephone service was connected in 1906. The last utility to be installed was the natural gas lines put in by NSP in 1993.
The fire department for the city was actually established two years before the city was formed in 1900. The modern formation and adoption by a government unit did not occur until 1948. Currently the city has 30 volunteer firefighters including a first responder unit. The department started in 1948 with a Ford Luverne Fire Truck. There have been numerous changes in fire fighting trucks and equipment over the years including a new pumper truck currently on order for delivery in the fall of 2000. The department now has the capability of seeing in smoke filled buildings, thanks to many generous donations that purchased a Thermal Imaging Camera.
In 1954 a plan was introduced to create a city park on land owned by the Clear Lake School District. The land had been used as a ballfield. After the land purchase by the city, a doubles tennis court was built in 1977 with help from the Lions Club donations. Later additions included a restroom, concession stand, and basketball court. A pavilion was erected in 1985 and dedicated to Chester Goenner who was a city councilman, county sheriff, and Lions Club member. The pavilion has been used as an event center since it was built. In 1999, two restrooms were added to the building with donations from the Lions Club and the City.
The current City Hall Building was built in August of 1970 and was designed to be a combination of fire truck garage and City Hall Office. The records for the City are kept here and council meetings still take place here on the first Monday of every month.
In 1971, voters ushered in a new era in local government by electing the Catholic priest of St. Marcus Parish as the mayor on a write in vote. Since several weeks earlier his sermon had been on dedication and service to the community, he could not refuse the position as mandated by the people. Father Wilfred Illies was duly sworn into office as Mayor. It was Mayor Illies who began the groundwork for the city sanitary sewer project. Mayor Leo Carlin saw this project through to completion in 1977 during his term in office following Father Illies. A city municipal water system followed in 1979. The city water is treated for nitrates in a special treatment facility located in the city park.
Many of our towns citizens have a long history of service in local government over the course of its 100-year history. Jacob Arnold served as Treasurer over 50 years; Leo Carlin was a fire department volunteer, city council member, mayor and clerk for 41 years; Raymond Fiereck was a city councilman, acting mayor, fire department volunteer and clerk for over 30 years; and Phil Arnold served as a fire department volunteer, council member, clerk and Planning Commission Member for over 30 years as well.
The population of the City of Clear Lake after the Census of 1990 was 317. The city is currently facing major growth issues with a proposed development that will more than double the size of the present city and will likely triple the population. A light rail transit system is also proposed for the City which will again change the dynamics of the area. While both the proposed development and light rail system have not yet been given final approval, there will certainly be pressure from surrounding developments to move the city toward continued growth and expansion. Cities surrounding Clear Lake have already been through major growth and developmental changes. While Clear Lake may eventually become a much larger city, it will hopefully maintain the small town atmosphere that is treasured by its residents and envied by others.
* some information obtained by a narrative from former City Clerk, Nancy Fiereck –edited and re-written by Marilyn Bujalski
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