Park Rapids City Council appoints Conway to vacant seat

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After the last regular council meeting, the City of Park Rapids posted a public notice of a vacancy on the city council to seek any and all individuals who were interested in representing the residents of Park Rapids. Those interested were to submit a letter of interest and a resume to the Park Rapids City Clerk.

At Tuesday night's regular Park Rapids City Council meeting, Thomas J. Conway, Jill Johnson and Thomas G. Petschl stepped forward to address council members regarding their interest in serving on the council.

Conway, who has a bachelor's of science in personnel management, served in the U.S. Army and completed a master's of business administration, told the council that after 20 years as a human resources manager for Georgia-Pacific Corporation he accepted the position of human resources manager at Lamb Weston/RDO Frozen in January 2016.

"I found Park Rapids to be a very vibrant little town, a lot of community activities. We just love living here and want to be a part of the community so when the opportunity arose I thought it would be an opportunity to support the community," he said. "I don't have any pre-program plans and I may be a bit naive as to the workings of the community I thought I'd take a shot at it."

Johnson has worked most of her career as a physical therapist at the local hospital and school. She and her husband also opened an independent bookstore downtown in 2001.

"We moved here in 1980, planned to stay for five years and here we are 37 years later. We raised our family here and spent most of our working career here," she told the council. "It's been exciting to watch our community grow, to see the downtown develop and our parks and recreation develop and I would like to be a part of the further growth in our community. I'd like to have a voice in what the council is doing."

Petschl, who has expressed his interest in becoming a member of the city council before, reminded the council that he currently serves on the Park Board, Library Board, Housing Redevelopment Authority and Planning Commission.

"I worked for a multi-million dollar company most of my life. I handled 100-plus employees. I worked with municipalities, businesses, individuals. All of the knowledge in life lessons learned throughout those years before retiring are stored in my brain but get processed through my heart," he said. "This has provided me the passion and conviction to work hard for the city, citizens and business community of Park Rapids; as I have done on the boards of commissions, past and present, that I was appointed to by the city council at my request. This is the same passion I would bring to the city council."

After all three interested parties were given a chance to speak, there was some discussion amongst the councilmembers regarding an appointment.

"I got some feedback from the community about this position and some recommendations so based on that I would recommend that we appoint Mr. Conway to the council," Councilmember Erika Randall said.

Councilmember Liz Stone added, "I got a lot of input as well from community members and those that contacted me spoke very highly of Thomas Conway and I feel confident that he would be a good choice."

The motion to appoint Conway was made by Councilmember Randall, seconded by Councilmember Stone. The council unanimously voted to appoint Conway to the seat, which was left vacant after the death of late Councilmember Dick Rutherford.

Conway took the oath of office, which was administered by City Clerk Margie Vik, he will serve on the city council until Dec. 31, 2018.

Park Rapids City Council also did the following:

• Approved payables in the amount of $48,755.07 and prepaids in the amount of $438,834.54.

• Approved a backhoe operator's license to Range Enviromental Drilling to work in the City of Park Rapids in 2017.

• Approved a Minnesota Lawful Gambling application for exempt permit to the Park Rapids Wrestling Club to conduct a raffle on March 10, 2018 at the Park Rapids American Legion Club.

• Approved a Minnesota Lawful Gambling application for exempt permit to the Osage Sportsman's Club to conduct a raffle on June 10, 2018 at the Hubbard County Fairgrounds.

• Approved a resolution accepting donations made to the city totaling the amount of $1,545.21.

• Approved the purchase of 13 Glock handguns for the Park Rapids Police Department in the amount of $5,317 from Keeper's Inc.

• Adopted resolutions approving Tom Petschl to serve on the Library Board, Nancy Newman to serve on the Park Rapids Planning Commision and Laura Grisamore to serve on the Park Rapids Arts and Culture Advisory Commission.

• Approved the $1,816.80 purchase of a steering rack replacement from to Park Rapids Ford for a police squad car.

• Approved the purchase of cabinets for the city hall copy room, not to exceed $3,000.

• Approved a $8,208 payment to Apex Engineering Group for professional services regarding the fire hall expansion.

• Approved a $10,041 payment to BHH Partners for professional services regarding the city hall council chamber project.

• Approved $15,182 to TKDA for professional services regarding the airport master plan and another $2,118 to the same company for professional services regarding the 2016 apron and taxiway rehabilitation project.

The next regular Park Rapids City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Park Rapids Library lower level.