March 31, 2011 at 8:18 a.m.

City council interviews eleven applicants for appointment to vacant seat; Sheppeck gets nod

City council interviews eleven applicants for appointment to vacant seat; Sheppeck gets nod
City council interviews eleven applicants for appointment to vacant seat; Sheppeck gets nod

An investigator with the Chisago County Sheriff's Department and a 1998 North Branch High School graduate-- Cliff Sheppeck- has been appointed to fill the vacant North Branch City Council seat.

Mayor Amy Oehlers appointed Sheppeck after a motion by Council member Theresa Furman, naming Bob Streater to the remaining year of Larry Erickson's term, failed on a 2-2 vote.

State statute allows a mayoral appointment in the event of the council being deadlocked. (The council had also heard an initial motion from Council member Ron Lindquist to appoint Adam Anderson, but this didn't get a second.)

Sheppeck, Streater, Anderson and eight additional applicants were interviewed by council members in open session Monday night, lasting nearly two hours. Five questions were posed to each applicant seated at microphones and each had about two minutes' time to respond.

Sheppeck told council he has a young, growing family and he wants them to experience a vibrant and positive community. As a native of North Branch he's also demonstrated a commitment to the city. He said he gets to inter-act with the public regularly through his law enforcement job, which gives him a useful perspective he'll bring to city business and he knows he can work well as part of a team.

The meeting agenda was slim, to accommodate the applicant interviews. But council also approved contracting for engineering services with WSB consulting engineers, for one year.

Mayor Oehlers noted "the whole point" of seeking out a contract versus having an engineer on staff (Julie Dresel's last day is April 1) is for cost savings. WSB has consulted on prior projects for the city and is most prepared to step up and requires the least amount of time to understand the city's infrastructure profile and needs.

Council member Lindquist had first made a motion to go with Bonestroo and Associates but that died on a tie vote.

The third finalist engineering firm the council considered was Hokanson Anderson.

Council member Kathy Blomquist remarked it was interesting that out of eight engineering firms that responded to a Request for Proposals, only these three firms presented costs potentially less than having a staff member serve as city engineer. Blomquist also hoped that WSB will offer efficiencies in combining bidding of paving and other regional engineering projects.

Council was ambivalent and did not support the wording of a sample resolution to express the city's official opinion on Sunday liquor sales legislation. No action was taken on any city position regarding the pending legislation.

Lawmakers in St. Paul are considering allowing sales of liquor on Sunday. Council member Furman said having the city muni open for Sunday liquor sales "is fine" but added, if the effort isn't cost effective the city shouldn't feel compelled to open the store. Council agreed.


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