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Akeley council approves residency for pot bellied pig Tilly

Tilly the pot bellied pig may call Akeley "home."

Tilly's nannies, Heather, 5, and Danielle, 7, White waited patiently - with a couple of giggles and pokes - as the Akeley Council waded through the agenda Wednesday evening.

They learned a bit about city audits, repairs needed on the big lumberjack, replacing parts for a lift station and ATV traffic before the deciding moment arrived.

In May, a motion to amend the city ordinance to allow pot bellied pigs failed on a tie vote. But a subsequent motion to table the issue pending further investigation and a full quorum (Cliff Johnson was absent) earned approval.

Tilly was allowed to stay at Tania Sorvisto's (mom) residence in the interim.

"I've checked with other cities," mayor Scott Vettleson said this week, including Park Rapids. "They don't allow pot bellied pigs."

Jon Johnson agreed with the findings.

But council member Jennifer Mitchell, who'd championed the pig's citizenship last month, said many cities and the USDA consider pot bellied pigs to be domesticated animals and private pets. The Minnesota Department of Tax Revenue, she said, charges sales tax for their food. "In the government's eyes, they're not considered farm animals."

"I see a lot more dogs than pigs running around," Cliff Johnson remarked, noting lizards and birds are more disease-ridden than pigs. "I have no problem with this if it's licensed and kenneled."

Mitchell's motion to change the ordinance to include pot bellied pigs as domesticated animals earned approval on a 3-2 vote, with Vettleson and Jon Johnson opposed, Mitchell, Cliff Johnson and Troy Hegg voting affirmative.

Hegg requested vaccination records be presented at the next meeting.

Tilly is expected to make a guest appearance at Paul Bunyan Days.

In other action, the council:

-Scheduled an "executive" closed session at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18.

Vettleson refused to divulge the reason for the meeting but it's ostensibly to address the $2 million civil rights lawsuit filed by Kristy Barsch against the county and city of Akeley.

Barsch claims she was sexually assaulted by former Hubbard County deputy Greg Siera last summer. (Siera is a former Akeley police chief.)

Barsch, a rural Akeley mother of two, names Siera, Akeley police chief Eric Klein and Akeley reserve officer Travis Carlson in the suit, alleging "conscious-shocking conduct" in her alleged assault and the subsequent investigation, which resulted in no criminal charges being filed against Siera.

-Learned liquor store earnings in May totaled $6,003 with a net income of $7,491 year to date.

-Tabled a decision on Paul Bunyan statue repair.

Vettleson said he's been unable to contact the Krotzer family, who hold a copyright on the statue's image. "But not maintenance," Vettleson said.

Vettleson advocated repainting the bottom of the statue where paint is peeling.

"We won't change the statue," he said, "or affect its artistic integrity."

But Cliff Johnson was reluctant to approve such a measure.

Vettleson asked Jon Johnson to seek quotes on painting from a local body shop.

The issue was tabled.

Dean Krotzer, contacted after the meeting, said the family holds a copyright on the statue and written permission would be required if someone else were to work on it.

He said the statue is in need of repair before it's painted. Krotzer indicated he was going to contact Vettleson on the matter.

-Reported the SAFE Parks children's activities program will begin June 15 and will run from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the park. Brandy Vredenburg will coordinate activities.

The council approved a $500 donation for the program.

-Approved spending $3,500 to $4,000 to replace rusted pipe at the campground lift station at Frank Thelin's request.

The council also reviewed suggested maintenance on the city's main lift station but took no action.

-Learned the city will possibly receive $4,900 in FEMA funds to repair road damage on Crow Wing Drive, Hulet and Second and the campground.

-Heard a complaint regarding ATVs racing on Crow Wing Lake Drive.

-Approved, without discussion, the 2008 city audit.