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Nevis adopts official complaint form

Nevis residents now have an official avenue to air their grievances.

The council adopted a formal citizen complaint policy this week, with a form to complete as opposed to verbal grumbles.

The policy states complaints relating to activities and responsibilities of the city must be written and signed; verbal irks expressed via telephone or in person will no longer be accepted.

Anonymous complaints will be considered invalid and no action taken.

Once action relating to a complaint has been taken, the council may decline to address the same complaint within a three-month period.

The complainant will be notified of action taken.

Maintenance supervisor Don Umthun expressed some good-natured trepidation with the complaint form's areas of "concern," many of which - parks, cemetery, water and sewer, streets, maintenance - are under his jurisdiction.

In other action, the council, with Nevis civics student Collin Huckbody serving as honorary mayor for the evening:

• Learned a $110,000 grant has been approved for the purchase of an emergency communication radio system for the Nevis Fire Department.

The Aid to Firefighters grant will be administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The department will be expected to match approximately 10 percent of the amount.

Fire chief Kerry Swenson expects the system to be up and running in the next 18 months. He said several other departments have applied but did not receive the funding; he was pleased with the news.

The fire department is planning on a fundraiser during the July 11 pig races to purchase a new set of Jaws of Life.

• Reviewed the 2009 audit report, Don Zierke of Miller McDonald reporting the city was under budget in the general fund by $14,572. The city budgeted $322,788 in disbursements and spent $308,216.

Zierke noted the city should have a cash balance to cover five to six months but has slightly less.

The largest single source of the general fund's receipts (which totaled $293,112 in 2009) is realized from property taxes ($159,597), but the city will lose $8,588 in 2010 due to unallotment of market value credits, Zierke told the council.

• Reported a liquor store net income of $336 in April, this compares with $1,450 for the same period a year ago.

Liquor store manager Mark Peterson reported on- sale profit is improving. April's international cuisine night (Polish) drew a good crowd, he said.

"South of the border" will be the theme Wednesday, May 19 with patrons invited to bring a Mexican dish to share "or just show up for the fun."

A "library" has also been started at the muni, with people invited to swap used reading material.

The council approved extending the liquor store to the parking lot for summer and fall events with the perimeters roped.

• Approved Dave Niesen to serve as planning and zoning consultant on an as-needed basis at $40 per hour.

He serves as a consultant in Park Rapids and Frazee, Perham and Pelican Rapids.

• Agreed to purchase a temporary "Halvorson Beach" sign to be placed on the roof of the bath house at an approximate cost of $110.

"This is a stopgap measure until (the monument) is in the budget," mayor Dave McCurnin said.

The designation of "beach" as opposed to "park" was at the suggestion of Paul Schroeder.

• Learned the city has been awarded a grant of up to $3,000 for a handicap access ramp to city hall.

• Discussed a resident's concern with all the fire trucks leaving town to respond to a fire, the city and other townships somewhat vulnerable.

Swenson explained a variety of trucks is needed because some of the larger vehicles are unable to navigate narrow driveways.

Generally eight or nine of the department's 17 firefighters show up when there's a call.

In the event of a request for mutual aid, "we don't empty the hall," he said. "We bring what's requested."

"We have to rely on mutual aid," Umthun commented. "Akeley has been wonderful in responding."

"The only way to survive is via mutual aid," Swenson said.