The Park Rapids City Council approved a resolution on Jan. 26 regarding the Respect Minnesota pledge.

Moved for approval by council member Erika Randall and passed unanimously, the resolution contains seven “whereas” statements echoing the tenets of the Respect Minnesota pledge but no “be it therefore resolved.”

The pledge’s five tenets read:

  • I support free speech and a safe environment for everyone.

  • I will listen, be inclusive and look for common ground.

  • I will respect others, our natural environment, and local communities.

  • I will respect the cultural heritage and history of the Indigenous people.

  • I will be accountable for my words and actions and abide by the law.

The pledge concludes, “Let’s move forward together.”

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Kathy Ross, outreach director with Respect Minnesota, presented a slide deck and video clips promoting what she described as a “grassroots effort” that started among the labor groups involved in the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project.

She said the conversation started during the project’s planning stage, asking, “What can we do to make sure that everyone feels respected during this process?”

Joe Kramer with Operating Engineers Local 49 presented a long list of labor and civic organizations that have signed onto the pledge, including Enbridge, contractors on the project, cities and Chambers of Commerce in the pipeline corridor.

He said as workers are onboarded for the project, they view a video about Respect Minnesota and sign the pledge.

Ross called it “a message that people are ready to embrace,” even beyond the Line 3 project.

Randall asked for confirmation that the initiative started within the workforce.

“Absolutely,” Kramer said. “Yes, that’s exactly where it started from.”

He said union membership said, “How can we just lower the temperature a little bit and make it a safe environment for everyone, no matter what side you are on on this project.

“We’re not asking you to take sides on it. We’re just asking to find common ground and just be a safe environment, because we all know, in the past few months here … We need it. I think this is more important than ever, right now.”

“When I hear that it’s really the members of the union, the employees, the workers that are asking people to take this pledge,” Randall said, “at the end of the day, they’re not the ones that are involved in all these decisions and all these fights at the top; they’re just out there trying to do a job, and they want to be treated with respect.”

She added, “I appreciate that they also are taking a pledge to be respectful to people who have strong opinions about it.”

Board and commission vacancies

In a consent item, the council approved advertising for open city commission and board member positions. These include county and city resident seats on the Airport Commission, Parks and Beautification Board and Urban Forestry Commission, as well as city resident seats on the Planning Commission.

According to a list of appointees’ terms expiring at the end of 2020, incumbents who declined to be reappointed include Scott Johnson, Airport Commission, 3 years; Liz Smith, Parks Board, three years; Richard Bradow, Planning Commission, four years; and Cheryle Wilke, Urban Forestry, three years.

Two additional, three-year seats on Urban Forestry have been open for some time: one since Jan. 1, 2017, the other since Sept. 11, 2020.

In consent items and general business, the council:

  • Heard Rapids Spirits Manager Scott Olson report that public works employees painted surfaces at the liquor store that hadn’t been painted since 1995. “It looks kind of nice in the back,” he said.

  • Paid Deitchler’s Repair $8,428 for emergency repairs to a city plow truck.

  • Paid Banyon Data Systems $1,490 for PSN internet-pay eBills and module support.

  • Paid Flaherty & Hood $3,748 for professional legal advice.

  • Paid TKDA $7,263 for work on the municipal airport terminal area taxilanes project.

  • Received a thank-you note from the Hubbard County Food Shelf for a $377 donation collected at the municipal liquor store in December.

  • Received, with appreciation, a report by City Planner Andrew Mack on the planning office’s 2019-20 activities, which Mack has said he plans to present as an annual report going forward.

  • Discussed Weasner’s suggestion to hold finance committee meetings on a regular basis, and Mayor Ryan Leckner’s suggestion to hold council workshops at a regular time each month.

  • Appointed City Administrator Angel Weasner as the city’s responsible authority for records management.

  • Re-appointed Paul Albright to the Park Rapids Arts and Culture Advisory Commission.

  • Approved payables totaling $17,847 and prepaids totaling $97,542.

  • Permitted the destruction of aged documents per the state’s general records retention schedule.

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9 at city hall.