Winton faces uncertain future

by Tom Coombe -
Ely Echo 11/18/2017

The city of Winton has a brand-new City Hall to call its own, but the day may eventually come when there’s no local government to operate it.
Kathy Brandau, mayor of the tiny community east of Ely, floated that possibility last week, when members of the Community Economic Development Joint Powers Board met at the new City Hall and community building.
According to Brandau, several factors could prompt the city government to dissolve.
Chief among them are the possibility of retirement for city clerk Anne Jackson as well as her husband Terry, who contracts with the city on water and wastewater operations.
Others on the council may also move on, making Winton a city without a government.
While nothing appears imminent, Jackson could retire next year and Brandau said city officials are talking about combining the clerk and treasurer jobs - now elected positions - and creating a paid position.
Anne Jackson said Thursday that while there are concerns, numerous options are on the table.
‘We’re looking at the future of leadership out there and future positions,” said Anne Jackson.
Once a logging hub that had its own hospital, Winton now has about 170 residents and it’s possible the city could move to unincorporate.
Should that occur, it’s not clear what would come next.
Morse Supervisor Bob Berrini said the town board has already looked into it and the township would not be forced to annex Winton.
The St. Louis County Board would apparently have final say and other possibilities include becoming an unorganized township or even annexation into the city of Ely.
Anne Jackson confirmed she is considering retirement from a post that runs through 2018, but that she has made no final decisions.
She added the city is “putting feelers out” for the water and wastewater job, which is vital to city operations.
Jackson said she was hopeful that Winton would remain and not become part of a neighboring community.
“Winton people have their identity, which they love,” said Jackson.