Greenwood Connections Administrator Laura Ahlf discussed the complaint process and chain of command with the Menahga City Council on May 12, following an investigation into the administrator.

“We don’t have anything in the bylaws for this, so that was something that the board thought would be a good idea,” Ahlf said.

In Ahlf’s report to the council, Greenwood Connections board member Lyn Pinnick states, “I want to go on record as expressing my concern that the city administrator initiated and conducted an investigation into the nursing home administrator without the board’s knowledge or that of the board chair. To this date, we have received no information regarding this matter, which included the police. As the board responsible for evaluation of the administrator, it seems highly concerning that we received no notification and have received no information regarding the outcome of the investigation, which apparently included a police report.”

The Greenwood Connections board approved a complaint process policy, which states, “To file a complaint specifically against the licensed nursing home administrator, a completed, dated and signed complaint should be submitted to the chairperson of the board. If the complaint is about care or treatment that the complainant or a family member did or did not receive, the complaint should be filed with the Office of Health Facility Complaints at the Minnesota Department of Health.”

The new policy goes on to say, “If it has been decided that a violation may have occurred, the complaint may be forwarded to the city attorney to gather facts, documentation and interviews. A board member liaison will be assigned to assist the attorney with the investigation. The city attorney will submit his final report to the full board for review. When the investigation is complete, the board may vote to dismiss the matter or take informal action, which may include letters of agreement, letters of education and letters of reprimand.”

Ahlf said the Greenwood Connections Board is her direct supervisor, “so should the board receive that complaint? The city council is over that board. A complaint really shouldn’t go to (City Administrator) Curt (Kreklau) if Curt is not my supervisor.”

City attorney Ryan Fullerton of Pemberton Law Firm said he had a chance to look at the complaint process, saying it was “critical” but also “needs to allow complainants to come forward through multiple different avenues.”

“I think the communication is really key. It seems to me that’s what the board is really looking for here. They want to be in the loop, and we can solve that pretty easily by ensuring that any designated person who gets a complaint gets that to the right place,” Fullerton said, adding the policy must be clearly communicated with Greenwood Connections staff and residents.

He pointed out the city’s liaison to the city-owned nursing facility is the city administrator.

Fullerton said he couldn’t discuss details about the current investigation.

Mayor Joan Liimatta was absent.

In other business, the council did as follows:

  • Authorized Public Works Supervisor ROn Yliniemi to spend no more than $10,000 on two pickups at a Vercon auction. The motion passed on a 3-1 vote, with council member Art Huebner opposed.

  • Learned from Police Chief Adam Gunderson that calls have been down. He speculated that it was related to fewer people out at night because the bars are closed due to COVID-19.

  • Learned from Fire Chief Dave Kicker that there are currently no training or live burns due to COVID-19. The council authorized the sale of an old fire truck through sealed bids, with a $3,000 minimum bid, pending delivery of a new pumper truck.

  • Authorized City Administrator Curt Kreklau to purchase accounting software, called Asyst, from Central Square Technologies at a cost of $15,444 and annual fees of $2,034. This program replaces Banyon, which city staff said has not been functioning properly over the past year. The motion passed 3-1, with council member Tim Ellingson opposed.

  • Authorized council member Karol Andreasen to negotiate with companies for a new liquor store sign, spending no more than $7,000.

  • Learned from Ehlers Inc., the city’s financial advisor, about an opportunity to refinance two general obligation bonds at lower interest rates. The potential savings in interest was estimated at $64,494 and $10,520. A motion to refinance the higher bond ($1,980,000) failed to allow more time for discussion.

  • Received a $10,000 annual sponsorship request from the West Central Economic Alliance, a non-profit focusing on economic development in Wadena County and surrounding communities. A motion to pay failed, deadlocked at 2-2. Kreklau argued there was “definitely value and activity in it for the city” and said he would invite Executive Director Katie Heppner to a future council meeting.

The council is holding a special meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 21 to authorize the Ahlf to apply for the federal Payroll Protection Program. The next regular meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 9.