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Akeley to discuss hiring part-time police officer

Following a rash of incidents in the past few months - a bank robbery and house arson among them - the Akeley Council agreed to convene a special meeting Tuesday to discuss hiring a part-time police officer.

Council member Brian Hitchcock made the suggestion, following citizen complaints. "We have already charged the community," he said of this year's budget, which included a part-time officer's salary.

Police chief Eric Klein resigned in January after being placed on administrative leave. Sheriff's deputies have subsequently patrolled the city.

Mayor Jen Mitchell agreed. "I'd be happy with looking at that," she said, suggesting hiring on a seasonal basis.

Later in the meeting, residents on Crow Wing Lake Drive expressed strong complaints about speeding along the road, specifically Memorial Day weekend.

The residents suggested the incidents have increased due to lack of police patrol.

In a related matter, former part time police officer Dave Grantham cautioned the council that open police files could set the city up for liability issues.

Mitchell said she'd spoken with the League of Minnesota Cities who'd advised her to simply forward the files to the sheriff.

Two people can box the files and take them to the county, she said.

But Grantham indicated standard police procedure was not followed on some of the incidents, such as the damage to the Paul Bunyan statue. If files are not closed, the city, he said, could be liable.

The meeting to discuss hiring an officer will convene at 5 p.m. Tuesday at city hall. The council will also discuss road bids and proposals.

In other action, the council:

n Learned the Akeley Regional Community Center has applied for a $32,000 grant with USDA Rural Development to re-roof the former school.

Larry Holm told council members the ARCC would be responsible for $8,000 of the amount, the loan amortized over 30 years at 5 percent interest, $43 per month.

Holm said the ARCC is fiscally sound, the used clothing store earning $40,000 and rent amounting to $20,000 last year.

"We could have it done before winter," he told council members of the project.

He requested the mayor's signature on a certificate of support, which will be forwarded to Rural Development.

n Reported a loss of $1,544 at the municipal liquor store in May, but a net income of $5,334 year to date.

n Reported council members were to meet with state officials Friday to discuss the city's role in the Highway 34 project.