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Mathisrud resigns as city planner

Ryan Mathisrud

The Park Rapids City Council on Tuesday approved Ryan Mathisrud's resignation as city planner, effective Oct. 26, in order to accept another position.

Mathisrud told the Enterprise he is moving to Thunder Bay, Ont.

City Administrator John McKinney voiced appreciation for Mathisrud's work. "We wish him well on his new venture," said McKinney, quipping that Mathisrud "had to leave the country to find a better place."

Fire Chief Donn Hoffman said that Mathisrud was "really good to work with," adding, "I hope we fill his shoes with somebody who can get done what Ryan did."

Noting that he will make it to at least one more city council meeting, Mathisrud thanked the city council for the opportunity to serve. "I've been here for almost four years, and I've formed so many connections to the people here and the place. It really has been an amazing experience. I've been able to participate in the exponential growth that you guys have been seeing over the last few years, and worked on such a wide variety of projects that I can't overstate how great an opportunity it has been, and how fun it has been."

During the citizen comment part of the meeting, Colin Perry thanked Mathisrud for his service. Florence Hedeen said she was "shocked" to learn that Mathisrud is leaving, adding, "I have really appreciated the kinds of work you have done with us."

Hedeen also praised Mayor Pat Mikesh's personal touch as mayor and expressed regret about his late withdrawal from the mayoral race.

Mikesh also thanked Tim Little for the work he has done for the city during the past 30 years. The city council had also accepted Little's retirement as full-time public works utility maintenance worker, effective on Nov. 30.

Prosecutor contract renewed

Jonathan Frieden, Hubbard County Attorney, asked the city council for a two-year renewal of the city's contract with his office.

The city contracts with the county attorney's office to prosecute violations of city ordinances, misdemeanors and forfeitures and to provide professional advice and legal services to the city.

Under the renewed contract, Frieden's office would continue providing these services at the current monthly rate of $5,629 during 2019, and would increase 3 percent to $5,798 per month in 2020.

Noting that the present two-year contract was negotiated by former County Attorney Don Dearstyne, Frieden said, "I think we provide a really good service in this contract."

McKinney told the council that he and Police Chief Jeff Appel met with Frieden to discuss "the contract and our experience with the work done," adding, "We highly recommend that you accept this one."

Council member Tom Conway's motion to approve the contract renewal passed without dissent. Randall, an assistant county attorney, abstained from the vote.

Gas detector purchase

The city council heard a request by Hoffman to buy a Sensit Gold gas monitor, calibration kit and remote unit for $3,505 from Heiman Fire Equipment of Ashton, Iowa. The monitor is used to detect carbon monoxide (CO).

"We've had a less-than-quality gas meter for quite some years," said Hoffman, saying that because its meter is untrustworthy, the city fire department has been using mutual aid to borrow more trusted devices from neighboring fire districts, such as Menahga.

"We're looking to replace that meter with a new one with a calibration kit and a remote unit that can go in with a firefighter to a fire scene, where they don't have to carry it."

The department's current, non-functioning meter is no longer supported by its manufacturer, but the Sensit monitor has been in use for more than 30 years and is still supported, Hoffman said. He added that it is the same detector used by local utilities and will likely be supported for years to come.

Hoffman said the fire department's main use of the monitor would be to follow up when a CO alarm is activated. "We would take this unit out there and verify that CO is a problem," he said. "At that point, we would ask them to leave the home until they can get a qualified contractor in there to do something about that."

He said it is standard equipment at a fire scene. "Every fire department in the state does this," he said, "basically because the contractors aren't willing to do it. It's a 'somebody's-got-to-do-it' job."

Asked whether the fire department has money in its budget for the purchase, City Treasurer Angela Brumbaugh said dollars are available in the department's small equipment fund and monies designated for the fire department.

Liz Stone's motion to approve the purchase passed without dissent.

Hoffman reported that repairs were done on the fire department's primary engine and ladder truck. "The primary engine budget numbers came in at around $8,000," he said. "The ladder, we don't have numbers on yet."

Both vehicles are back in service, he said.

Building permits, safety

In a written statement about permits issued during September, Mathisrud reported that there were 24 building permits totaling $1,222,510 in value. These included two new commercial structures, one public or quasi-public building, four commercial remodels or additions, 14 residential remodels or additions and three demolitions.

Year to date, the city has issued 137 building permits totaling $9,795,339 in value.

Mathisrud also reported that three plumbing permits were issued during September, including one new commercial permit and two for residential remodel or repairs, charging $124 worth of permit fees plus $350 for a new residential meter.

Year to date, the city has issued 53 new plumbing permits ($2,044), 10 residential meters ($3,496) and 11 commercial meters ($6,447).

Minutes of an Oct. 4 meeting of the city's Safety Committee noted that:

• A liquor store employee was injured during the last quarter and has not returned to work.

• Safety improvements at the liquor store included removing downspouts going through sidewalks that cause icy patches in the parking lot.

• Police Chief Jeff Appel discussed safety training completed by his officers and plans for active shooter classes and EMT training.

Other business

In consent items and general business, the city council:

• Approved payables totaling $125,164 and prepaids totaling $90,696.

• Authorized staff to advertise and interview candidates for the vacant utility maintenance worker and city planner positions.

• Approved full-time employment status for Police Officer Joshua Gabriel.

• Approved a wage adjustment and step increase for Public Facilities Superintendent Chris Fieldsend.

• Appointed election judges for the Nov. 6 election in the city.

• Approved a public facilities use permit for Julie Ann Nicklason with CHI St. Joseph's Health to use Lindquist Park on Monday, Oct. 15 for an infant loss ceremony.

• Accepted donations to the city totaling $6,972, including $2,500 from David and Sheryl Olsonowski for a bench in Pioneer Park. Various donors also contributed $1,050 to the Curly Leaf Pond Weed fund, $1,600 to the Aquatic Invasive Species fund, $1,226 to the city parks and $596 to the police K9 program.

• Executed a 10-year renewal of the city's hockey arena operation and maintenance agreement with the Park Rapids Hockey Association. Under the agreement, the city provides insurance for the association, which reimburses the city for the entire cost.

• Executed a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for the 2018 pavement crack and joint repairs and lighting upgrades at the Park Rapids Municipal Airport, costing up to $120,259. The agreement lists the cost participation breakdown as 87.7 percent federal share (up to $105,479), 6.5 percent state share ($7,809) and 5.8 percent local share ($6,971).

The next city council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at city hall.