Akeley City Council responds to pond complaints

Mike Hubner from the water/sewer department reported that most of the complaints were untrue and unfounded.

The Akeley city hall/senior center will remain closed to the public until further notice, but office staff will be available to help by phone .

Concerns about the operations of the Akeley sewer ponds made by an anonymous caller were addressed at the Aug. 11 Akeley City Council meeting.

Mike Hubner from the water/sewer department reported that most of the complaints were untrue and unfounded.

Hubner said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency monitors wastewater ponds and came to do an inspection. Hubner said there were a few items missing in records from the previous operator, but current records did not have any issues. Warm water has led to more algae growth that is being addressed and around dikes on the ponds a little fill is needed to compensate for erosion.

The sewer pond area is marked authorized personnel only. Mayor Brian Hitchcock suggested putting a security camera there.


Excavating permits required

The council discussed a resident who had excavating work done and tapped into the city water service without city permission.

Hubner suggested the resident have the site re-excavated at his cost or a statement from the excavator that the installer would warranty his work in writing and take full responsibility for the work that has been done. The customer will need to pay water connection, permit and other fees and all related costs.

Council member Dan Riggs said anyone performing excavating work in a city in Minnesota should know they need to get a permit from the city and at that time would have been informed of the correct procedures to follow.

Warren Scout will issue a one-year warranty for this hookup and the property owner will pay the subcontractor for work and pay all fees and permits as outlined in the city ordinance.

In other action, the council:

  • Heard that the first installment of $23,438 has been received from the American Rescue Plan. City Clerk Kristi Kath said the primary use for this money is infrastructure . The city also is receiving Small Cities Assistance Program funds. The ARPA funds are for expenses between incurred between March 3, 2021 and December 31, 2024 and must be used by 2026. The city also received the first installment of Small Cities Assistance funds, having been granted a total of $16,843 with the second installment due in December. This funding is for construction and maintenance of roadways in cities with a population less than 5,000.

  • Acknowledged donations of $5,000 for the community project fund from the Lions and donations from the ARCC, shelter, Lions and Enbridge for the National Night Out.

  • Approved updating the Akeley Police Department Allegations of Misconduct Policy as presented.

  • Heard from Municipal Liquor Store manager Lacey Hitchcock that she has been working some 12-hour days, using overtime to make sure cleaning and stocking is done. The council approved raising the pay of the janitorial custodian wage to $15 per hour instead of $12 per hour. Hitchcok said cleaning at the liquor store will be about 10 hours a week. She said the Nevis Municipal Liquor Store pays $20 per hour for a similar position.

  • Learned that Marv Vredenburg talked to the county about putting a “No Campground Access” sign at the end of the park where people are entering near Crow Wing Lake Drive by mistake. The council approved Vredenburg going ahead with getting the sign, which the city will pay for.

  • Approved replacing two electric pumps at lift stations at a cost of $24,575, as recommended by Huber.

  • Heard an update on the Akeley Community Projects Committee Report from Chuck Andress. He requested the city provide information on water and sewer in the area behind the Paul Bunyan statue. A helicopter pad installation issue with DNR is being worked on. Work on the pier has been completed and the piling pulled out.

  • Approved paying an invoice from Moore Engineering for environmental technician and senior project manager services totaling $1,457.

  • Mary Schwartz presented information about flashing “your speed” signs on trailers in Akeley to reduce speeds. Two signs on Hwy. 34 and two signs on Hwy. 64 were discussed and will be addressed during the budget work session.

  • Set a budget work session for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24 at city hall.

  • Heard from Hitchcok that Kristin Fake needs to address her concerns with a League of Minnesota issue with the League of Minnesota, not the council.

The next council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8 at city hall.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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