Deer River City Councilor Chris Reed asked Monday how the City of Deer River plans to confront residents who are not receiving water services but are using the sewer service. Reed mentioned, at the regular city council meeting Monday, there are cases where the residents carry water in and utilize the city sewer to get rid of it.

City Administrator Mark Box suggested having Deer River City Attorney Andy Shaw send a letter to inform the parties that they need to stop or be charged with theft of services. If the residents don’t stop, Box said it would then become a law enforcement issue.   

In other business during Monday’s meeting:

Regular meeting minutes from April 12, 2021 and the work session minutes from April 15, 2021 were approved.

Bills for $46,067.25 were approved

Jordan Osse, Deer River Fire Chief, reported on eight calls for the month.  

“A few structure fires and a few grass fires,” Osse said. “We actually had a pretty decent grass fire, down pipeline road. Past ball club, past the river. We were able to get the side by side out, until the track fell off. And were able to get a little use out of it. The dealer fixed everything. Basically the tracks weren’t tight enough, and it was pretty rough terrain. And it just kicked one of the tracks off. No harm. No fowl. Everything is good. I’m sure we are going to learn more about it. It’s going to be a really good vehicle for us.”  

“Unfortunately, we had a few of our rookies resign,” Osse continued. “Met with them, laid out some options, and they both decided to resign.”  

“So where does that put your numbers?” Geving asked, with Osse saying about 16 or 17, with one active member who has been deployed.  

“So we are pretty light for sure, but everything has been going pretty good, even with that number,” Osse said.  

“Is there anything we can do?” Reed asked. “Or is this just what is going on. Are we not paying enough? Beyond this, is there a reason people are not doing this?” 

“It’s not just here Chris,” Geving said.  

“I know, is there anything we can do,” Reed said. “The fire department is important.”  

“There have been some ideas, and it probably boils down to creating an overall plan,” Osse said.  

Reed motioned to have Councilor Dan Graf and Richards sit on a committee to help with the recruitment process, which was passed unanimously.    

“We have a house burn coming up, tentatively on May 22,” Osse said. 

Osse has been taking the police department’s squad car home for quicker response to calls. This is working well for him and the department.  

“It’s getting you on scene before the guys,” Geving said.  

“Yes,” Osse stated. “The last few have worked out really well.”  

Deer River Police Chief Brian Castellano reported on 203 calls for the month. This is up from 149 calls in 2020.  He explained the backgrounds are finished to the two part-time officers and will be getting their physicals and the psychological evaluations next. 

“Once they have completed these, they will be ready for service and can start training with our department,” Castellano said.   

The annual vet clinic was on April 22, 2021 with approximately 100 pets seen throughout the day.   

“Had 67 vehicles go through the line, with most of the vehicles having more than one pet in the vehicle,” Castellano said.  

Castellano wanted to remind people to get their yard cleaned up, and if needed, he will be issuing blight citations. 

The Chief also reminded people there are more kids outside and to use caution when driving.  He also gave his monthly reminder to lock up property. 

“Please drive carefully!” Castellano said.  

Castellano brought up the possibility of not utilizing the bike patrol this summer. According to the Chief, in today’s climate, anyone who is wearing a police or security uniform may be a target.  

City Engineer, Bob Beaver, updated the Council on the walking trail project.  

The selected route as part of the 2016 grant application was chosen because it would have been the least disruptive to the property owners. The route was relatively flat, and there were no utilities to deal with. Over the past year, the City has been working on securing easements on the proposed route, and two properties were not agreeable to granting an easement. This primary cause changes to the route and substantially increased the cost of the project. In addition to these costs, there have been increases in the overall construction materials. 

The estimated price to build the path from US Hwy 2 to Lundeen fields is $1.3 million

“It’s just very substantial increases,” Beaver said, and Box and himself talked to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDot), adding this is just too much for the City to take on at one time. 

Box and Beaver met to look at the best section of the route and agreed that the area along Hwy 6 from Ninth Avenue Northeast to 14th Avenue northwest would make a safer route to the Lundeen field and was approved by the State. The estimated cost for this section is $348,000 for construction. There will be additional costs for engineering, and the grant doesn’t allow engineering costs to be paid. 

The Forward Health Foundation has donated money to help cover the engineering costs. A motion was made to move forward with getting the States approval on this section of the trail design and when approved to put the project out for bids.  

“I think this would be the safest way for pedestrians to get to the ball field,” Box said.  

Box stated the pond project will start on May 17. 

“That’s coming up in two weeks,” Beaver said.  

Short Elliot and Hendrickson (SHE) will have a full-time engineer on-site while any work is being done. Box will have the contact information for him if at any time someone needs to reach him.  

“Can I just give SEH a big thank you,” Reed said. “We’ve got our ground breaking, but I really do want to give a big thanks for what has been done.”  

The south infrastructure project is moving, and Rural Development has stated they should have their review completed this week. After reviewing their comments, we will be ready to bid on the project. 

Beaver is hoping to bid on the walking path and the south project at the same time.  

Box gave his administrators report and stated the groundbreaking event has been scheduled for Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. 

The board of appeal will be on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. 

The equipment bond that required posting is in the paper, and the City has been getting excellent bids from the local banks. This will be a 10-year bond. 

Box asked to be allowed to sign the agreement with Northland Securities. This is an agreement for their services in the bonding process. Motion was made to let Box sign the agreement with Northland Securities. 

Box has met with a potential business that may be coming to Deer River. They have asked if the City would be interested in setting up a T.I. F. district or as a tax abatement for their property. The Council is open to discussing any options. There is potential for multiple jobs as well as possible housing. Box will have more information once the sales transaction has been completed.  

The city administrator also asked for permission to post a job opening for a part-time license bureau clerk. Box will meet with Reed and Councilor Barb Serfling to discuss how to fill the position. Council agreed to advertise for a part-time license bureau clerk. 

“We will post both internally and externally and take applications until May 14,” Box said.  

Serfling was asked if the City can make the no parking strip along Hwy 2 at the west end of Jurvelin Hardware longer. Traffic entering the highway from Railroad Street have a hard time seeing oncoming traffic.  

“I don’t think we have any control over that,” Mayor Geving said.  

Serfling has received a complaint about the mailbox placement on Fourth Street Southeast. There is a group of mailboxes in front of one property, and the owner of the property cannot park in front of their house and receive the mail. Box suggested to have the property owner talk with the postmaster for help locating a suitable location for the mailboxes. 

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