|1/22/2021 1:28:00 PM|
Chisago City Council recognizes Ojiketa volunteers; discusses plans for Hwy. 8
by LEILANI FREEMANThe Chisago City Council took time during the Jan. 12 organizational meeting to say a special thank you to a dedicated group of Ojiketa Regional Park volunteers. Their gratitude as a proclamation declared Jan. 12 as OWLLS Day in Chisago City. O.W.L.L.S. stands for Ojiketa Wednesdays for Laughs, Lunch and Service.
City Park Commissioner Bill Mack created the group in 2015, and since then has orchestrated its efforts to meet the needs of the park. The OWLLS identify needed improvements, raise funds, recruit volunteers and gather for a few hours each Wednesday to complete projects, while allowing time for lunch and laughter.
The official city proclamation stated, “The City of Chisago City recognizes the OWLLS contribution to Ojiketa Regional Park iimprovements making the park more accessible, improving environmental amenities, and modernizing this unique historical regional park for the community and many out of town visitors for years to come,” adding that the city “wishes to acknowledge its gratitude and recognize the dedication of volunteerism and the spirit behind the OWLLS.”
OWLLS members watched the proclamation being made via Facebook. Mack told the council that 12 to 15 men and women gather at Ojiketa for four hours weekly with two goals, to serve the city to benefit the park, and to have fun. Mayor Bob Gustafson said the OWLLS have many skilled members and he has been amazed at some of the projects they have done.
Also during the Jan.12 meeting, the city accepted $2,700 in donations to the OWLLS for use at Ojiketa of which $2,500 was donated anonymously, and $200 donated by Jane Wachutka.
In other business, the council:
- administered the oath of office to incumbent Council Members Marie RIvers and Jeremy Dresel reelected to four year terms.
Approved the following annual appointments:
City Attorney - Thomas Miller, of Miller & Stevens Law Office
City Engineer - Ryan Goodman of Bolton & Menk, Inc.
City Auditor - Abdo, Abdo, Eick & Myer
City Financial Consultant - Ehlers & Associates, Springstead, KDV Kern DeWenter, Viera
Fire Chief - Zach Reed
Official Depositories - MidwestOne Bank, 4M Fund, Dain Rauscher and Citigroup (formerly Salomon Smith Barney)
Official Newspaper - Chisago County Press
Posting Locations - City Hall and Post Office
Monthly City Council Meetings - Fourth Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m. at City hall (Second Tuesday reserved as needed).
City Insurance Agent - Security State Agency
Alternate Park Commission and Planning Commission liaison
Bob Gustafson — Police Commission, Weed Inspector, Chisago Lakes Joint Sewage Treatment Commission, Personnel Committee, Finance Other council appointments include:
Jeremy Dresel - Cable Commission, EDA, Finance Committee/budget, Committee/budget, Library, Municipal Trustee for Volunteer Fire Relief Association, alternate to Yellow RIbbon Committee
Craig Meyer — Planning Commission Liaison, Highway 8 Taskforce, Council liaison to Fire Department
Mark Anderson — Green Lake Association, Park Commission Liaison, alternate to Joint Sewage Treatment Commission, Personnel Committee and Fire Department council liaison
Marie Rivers — Acting Mayor, EDA, South Lindstrom Lake Association, and Tourism Bureau
John Pechman — Tourism Bureau and Municipal trustees for Volunteer Fire Relief Association
- adopted all city fees with a few alterations, including an increase in sewer and water rates. A comprehensive list of the fees can be viewed at city hall.
- designated the Chisago Lakes Library as the official polling place for 2021 elections
- accepted the annual report of Fire Chief Zach Reed who stated the department had experienced an extremely difficult and stressful year due to the pandemic. Reed said the department had been challenged by being called in to assist North Metro and Twin Cities fire departments during the civil unrest in May. As a result, he said, the department is looking into purchasing personal safety equipment such as body armor for future similar events. Reed also discussed upcoming equipment needs. He reported fire calls were up to 86 from 77 in 2019, with an average loss of less than $10,000. The busiest times for fire calls are 3 to 4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. with the busiest day for fires being Saturday.
The department has been operating with 20 members, five short of a full roster; however five applicants are currently being considered. Reed said that three members may retire in 2021. The average age of Chisago City firefighters is 47.6 years with 12.7 years being the average length of service.
Highway 8 reconstruction
- A considerable portion of the meeting was devoted to a presentation of projected plans to improve Highway 8 by County Engineer Joe Triplett. The major point raised by Triplett related to the overall concept of the highway rebuild, which extends from Forest Lake to the west side of Chisago City. Planning involves the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and Federal Highway staff as well as Chisago County and local units of government. The question planners face is whether this section of Highway 8 is going to look like a throughway (like Highway 169) or more like a parkway (like Highway 96).
Triplett said planners are seeking local perspective and more methods for obtaining public input will be sought in the face of Covid. He said that the pandemic has put highway planning behind by six months but they still hope to begin highway reconstruction work in the spring of 2024.
The city engineer requested that questions and input the county receives from the City of Wyoming be shared with Chisago City so that both cities have the same information. He expressed concern about the possible need to acquire additional right-of-way outside of the highway right-of-way and also asked whether current and future developments in the area had been taken into consideration.
In other business:
- accepted a proposal from Abdo, Eick & Meyers, LLP, to perform a compensation study for all city positions at a cost not to exceed $21,500. Finance Director Cassie Gemuenden reported such studies are generally done every five years. Chisago City has not done a compensation study since 2003. The study will assess the duties of each position, update job descriptions and classifications and do a comparison of similar positions in other cities.
- approved a request for placement of “deaf child” signage on 242nd St.
- accepted the donation of a park bench along Stinson Ave. near the day care and bank. Dorothy Chrun and other neighbors raised money for the bench in memory of a neighbor who was an avid walker. The city will install the bench and the required $300 concrete pad.
- Enthusiastically accepted the application of Joseph Yetman as a returning member of the City Parks Commission. Yetman served as a youth member of the commission while in high school and then as a full voting member before leaving Chisago City to complete his education. He has now returned to the city and is eager to rejoin the park board. “I truly have a servants heart and have no shortage of passion when it comes to parks and recreation,” Yetman said in his application.
- approved a two-year lease agreement with the Chisago Lakes School District for 1,800 square feet of equipment storage space and use of common areas in the city’s Public Works Building by school district maintenance staff. The school has leased the space for a number of years. Rent is $18,600 a year, paid in monthly installments of $1,550.