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Nevis advertises for full-time officer pending county decision

Nevis is advertising for a police officer, fearing county commissioners will deny the city's request to contract with the Hubbard County sheriff's department to provide a deputy on a full-time basis.

The cautionary measure was approved at Monday night's council meeting, the position subsequently posted with the Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) board.

By Wednesday, five candidates had applied.

Discussion on supplying a deputy is expected at Wednesday's county board meeting.

The measure met strong opposition from commissioner Dick Devine in May. Dist. 1 commissioner Don Carlson, who supports the initiative, said he's heard resistance from other board members, as well.

"The city is making a good offer," Carlson said. Denying the request "doesn't make sense."

The terms of the proposal call for a city cost of $65,000 per year, with Nevis to provide the existing squad car, equipment and, possibly, office space.

The county would provide an officer on a 40-hour per week basis, uniforms, insurance and gas for the squad car. The city would be responsible for part-time officer costs.

Sheriff Gary Mills presented the proposal to the county board, advocating approval.

More and more counties may be taking on the responsibility of law enforcement once shouldered by cities, Mills told commissioners.

Remer, for example, in Cass County is asking for coverage by deputies without reimbursement for the service.

"We're covering our bases," Nevis mayor Ray Melander said of posting the position prior to the board's decision, citing the busy summer season ahead.

In other action, the council:

n Approved termination of a reciprocal law enforcement agreement with Akeley, initiated in 2004.

"It's been a one-way street entirely," Melander said of Nevis' law enforcement presence in Akeley "It's been a contributing factor to losing our officer," he said of Craig Kritzeck. "He complained on several occasions about being in Akeley."

n Adopted a refund policy of 75 percent for building permits.

Building permit holders must submit a written request for the refund within 30 days of the application date. Twenty-five percent will be retained for administrative costs.

The policy, based on state code, came on the advice of building inspector Guy Sharpe.

Deputy clerk Becky Bistodeau also presented a compilation of guidelines for completing permit applications, including required information and a fee schedule. The guidelines have been in place, but not formally defined.

n Addressed questions on an ATV route through the city to reach trails.

Larry Benham of the Bunyan ATV Trails Club questioned if a speed limit was in place, noting Akeley's is 15 mph, "but not always enforced."

The consensus has been they are not warranted if people are behaving, Karl Dierkhising said.

Benham indicated the club will be paving approaches on CSAH 2 in the near future.

n Will establish dates for use of the "dump," allowing city residents to unload leaves and brush twice a year.

n Approved, by unanimous consent, an $856 cooler for the municipal liquor store.

The net sales are half of last years, at $14,140 through May.

"Business is picking up," manager Kathy Plumley said of profits rebounding from negative territory.

Dave McCurnin questioned the money spent on upgrades in recent months, suggesting special events and marketing tactics be employed to generate business.

On-sale liquor sales have dropped, $73,590 to date this year compared with $87,518 a year ago. A lackluster economy, strict DWI laws and the smoking ban were cited as culprits.

But off-sale profits are up, with $74,984 in income through May compared with $69,312 in 2007, an 8.2 percent increase.

n Approved a request to purchase uniform shirts for the Nevis Fire Department at a cost of $1,200 to $1,500.

"Discussion on this began at Terry Lindow's funeral," fire chief Kerry Swenson said of the late firefighter. "We arrived looking like a bunch of misfits. We should be identifiable to the public."

n Approved purchase of lights, siren, a radio and paint for the used pumper truck purchased from the Department of Natural Resources. Estimated cost is $6,000.

"We will have less than $10,000 in it," Swenson told the council.

n Approved council salaries of $1,000 annually, to become effective Jan. 1, 2009.

The current base salary is $695 for the mayor, $610 for council members with $30 per special meeting.

Clerk-treasurer Carol Fridgen said salaries generally total near $1,000 by year's end. The last increase was more than eight years ago.

"This will be the talk of the town," Paul Schroeder cautioned, voting in opposition.

n Set a $500 purchasing limit for city department heads without full council approval.