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Nevis will continue music festival next year

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entertainment Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

In coming years, Nevis may become renowned as home to a unique music festival.

This week, the Nevis Council gave Terrapin Station owner Brian Skinness a green light on future events in conjunction with Muskie Days - decreeing a beer garden will be set up in the park and no band will be playing in the liquor store during the music fest.

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This summer's event saw an impressive line-up of blues, jazz, reggae, bluegrass, folk and more, engaging imaginations with unique names - Flea Bitten Tramps, Two Many Banjos and Enchanted Ape among them.

The council, however, took exception to liquor store manager Lisa Kamrowski's decision to hire a band to play during the event.

In June, the council approved consumption of alcoholic beverages in Muskie Park during Muskie Days, but no beer was sold in the park, only on liquor store grounds during the event. Many people hesitated to leave the liquor store perimeter with beverages.

"The council gave its blessing for the two-day festival but did not approve a band for the liquor store during that time," mayor Paul Schroeder said.

The band playing inside the liquor store posed a conflict, he said. "The city should be supportive of the C&C," Schroeder admonished. "I know the time and effort Brian put into it. I'd like to support the music festival."

"You never asked for a band," council member John Plumley told Kamrowski. "Don't you think it correct to ask the council?"

Kamrowski indicated she did not think it necessary. "Part of my job is to listen to customers," she said. "They wanted a band they could dance to. I think it brought more people in. It was a benefit to Muskie Days. I'm making this town money," she said of liquor store profits of nearly $21,000 in July.

Last year, liquor store earnings remained in negative territory through mid-summer; this year's earnings to date are over $30,000.

"During bigger events, if there's a question, it's in your best interest to ask," Schroeder said.

Council members Tom Haag and Heidi Schmeichel agreed.

"The festival is off to a great start," Schmeichel told Skinness.

Schroeder also took exception with plans for a customer appreciation event at the liquor store during the triathlon today (Saturday).

"The two don't match at all," Schroeder told her. "This is not the perception I want as race director."

But later in the meeting, Schroeder complimented Kamrowski's work and recommended a $1,000 raise following the end of her probationary period, action to be taken next month.

Schroeder also praised city employees as "personable and friendly," suggesting they receive a 1 percent raise next month "instead of just saying thank you."

In other action, the council:

n Discussed a proposal from the C&C regarding purchase of property north of Pleasant Street, Paul and Amy Schroeder the current owners, to be used as a sliding hill and, eventually, build an amphitheater.

The C&C would purchase the property and make improvements, subsequently conveying it to the city, which would maintain it and be responsible for insurance.

Schroeder said the market valuation of the piece is $17,000; they will sell it for $15,000, indicating support for its use for physical activity and as a venue for social events.

"It seems an ideal situation for the city," Skinness said. The C&C has not computed actual costs for the amphitheater, he said, and a range of possibilities exists. At this point, "it's a matter of intent.

"It could become an icon for the town," he said.

Trees would have to be removed for the sliding hill.

Maintenance supervisor Don Umthun questioned the opinions of affected property owners and the impact on city finances. "It's a yearly cost we'd have to budget."

Schroeder suggested it could become a venue for Muskie Days events.

Plumley and Schmeichel both expressed support for moving forward.

"Whatever we can do for the community," Schmeichel said, "I'm 110 percent for it."

n Reviewed police department options. These include renewing the contract with Hubbard County at $73,034 per year, which has not been approved by commissioners.

This proposal calls for no shared vehicle costs, no price increase during the duration of the contract and Nevis could keep the $3,000 set aside for a vehicle. The sheriff's office would retain ownership of the vehicle.

Option two is a proposal from a deputy to work 24 hours a week at $15 an hour, but this would require the purchase of a vehicle.

This would be at an estimated cost of $40,358, but there would be "unseen expenses," including $30,000 for a car.

The question of retention, given the city's history of officers leaving, was raised. But "the council would have more control over the officer's hours and coverage."

A third option is "do nothing," drop the county contract and not hire an officer.

Or the city could hire a full time officer at $17.50 an hour.

"I want to make sure the city is getting bang for the buck," Schroeder said, noting the current deputy is not spending 40 hours in Nevis due to paperwork that's completed in Park Rapids.

n Set a budget work session meeting for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16.

n Considered a suggestion from former mayor Jim Hukki to develop a brochure promoting Nevis as a nice place to live, not simply visit.

n Agreed to donate $400 to the Uff da! Days committee for shingling the roof of the liquor store deck.

n Will consider an increase in Nevis Fire Relief Association benefits of $50 or $100 per year in September.

The fund has a $50,000 surplus, Umthun told the council.

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