Photo by Robert Williams
JoAnne Knuttila will be opening A Step Up, a thrift boutique and alterations business, in the space that was the home of The Attic Shoppe for decades after some renovations are completed, according to the Vergas City Council.

By Robert Willams


The City of Vergas agreed to rent the space above the liquor store, formerly the Attic Shoppe, to JoAnne Knuttila, who will be opening A Step Up, a thrift boutique and alterations business.

Knuttila was at the September city council meeting and presented changes needed for the space including painting and redoing the flooring. She is providing all the labor on the project. The removal of 30-year-old carpet was necessary and the existing floor underneath is made up of both concrete and tile.

Initially, the city was unaware if the space could be legally rented in regards to handicapped accessibility. A specialized engineer examined the building and noted that because the business is a gift shop a lift chair for the staircase does not need to be installed. The bottom landing and doorway, however, do need to be upgraded. Two options were suggested were to move the door to near the womens’ restroom or take the door out and move it to the top floor. 

Knutilla preferred to keep the door downstairs so customers see her business and will know it’s open. Lighting also needs to be upgraded.

The council approved the lease and a contribution from the liquor store fund of $5,000 for the improvements.

Townline easements completed

City clerk/treasurer Julie Lammers reported all affected landowners along Townline Road have verbally agreed to signing the necessary easements to acquire 33-feet of right-of-way on each side of the section line. Three of the four quarters of land along the road are in the city limits. One of the landowners, Terry Engel, asked for the new right-of-way line to be staked along his property, as he wants to build a new fence, and wants to install it on the line.

After discussion, the streets committee felt that all of right-of-way should be staked, as DuFrane 

would like to get bids for brushing the right-of-way once it’s legally obtained. The committee recommended to the council to have Widseth stake the right-of-way once the easements are signed and checks issued.

Non-resident yard waste fee up $5

The yard waste will be raised from $60 to $65. To date, the city has issued 231 permits, totaling $13,855. Also to date, there has been associated expenses for $7,486.35, for a net profit of $6,368.65. The increase in the non-resident dumping fee for 2023 is to start a loader fund.

Lammers said at the present time there is no fund or money set aside for a new loader. In the past, loader expenses have been split: 1/3 – yard waste; 1/3 – streets; and 1/3 – parks/recreation. Last year, councilwoman Natalie Fisher asked for a more detailed breakdown of the loader use. For 2022, the loader use breakdown is: 4 hours – Bunkowski farm cleanup; 2.1 hours – parks; 13.4 hours – yard waste; 2.9 hours – streets. 

Public Utilities Superintendent Mike DuFrane said because of the large stumps and tree trunks delivered to the yard waste side this year, the pile has basically been continually burning. Every time he repositions the pile, the fire ignites. 

The streets committee discussed the camera at the disposal site, and if it could be determined who is hauling the large debris. To date, there has never been a citation issued for a yard waste disposal violation. Lammers said this year, staff have kept track of the issued permits by Township. 

EDA/HRA meetings moved

Meetings of the Economic Development Authority and Housing Redevelopment Authority have been moved to the first Tuesday of the month at 2 p.m., at the Event Center.