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Thomsen bids farewell to Park Rapids City Council

Interim City Administrator Betty Thomsen thanked the city for the opportunity to serve again, after coming out of retirement in September to fill a vacancy in the city's top staff position.

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Betty Thomsen presents a parting gift to the city at her last Park Rapids City Council meeting on Tuesday, helping Mayor Ryan Leckner hoist a motivational poster saying "Teamwork: Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean." (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

The Park Rapids City Council Tuesday swore in three officials who were re-elected on Nov. 3.

Taking the oath of office were council members Liz Stone and Bob Wills and Mayor Ryan Leckner.

In related business, the council assigned members’ committee, board and commission duties for 2021. The only change from last year is that Erika Randall will replace Tom Conway on the Heartland Transit Advisory Board. Also, Stone expressed interest in serving on the Armory Arts and Event Center board, but as a member of the community and not a city council representative.

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City Clerk Margie Vik, far left, administers the oath of office to Park Rapids City Council member Liz Stone, Mayor Ryan Leckner, and council member Bob Wills (all standing) on Tuesday at city hall. The three were re-elected on Nov. 3. Seated with them are council member Erika Randall, interim administrator Betty Thomsen and council member Tom Conway. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

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Council members also thanked interim City Administrator Betty Thomsen for her service since last September. It was Thomsen’s last council meeting in the administrator’s chair before permanent hire Angel Weasner, who was also present, takes office on Jan. 18.

Thomsen also served as Park Rapids’ city administrator from 2000 to 2004. In parting, she presented a framed motivational poster to the city and read a statement thanking Leckner and the council for the opportunity.

“I have truly enjoyed every minute of my time,” she said. “As someone who loves a challenge and likes to drive home results, I can honestly say you have not let me down. The best of luck to all of you on the staff as you continue to improve the city. It is a place I am happy to call home.”

When Thomsen observed that it was the last time she would attend a council meeting, Conway quipped, “How many times have you said that?”

Randall told Weasner that she has big shoes to fill. “It’s been incredible, the amount of things that have gotten done with Betty here,” she said. “We have benefited immensely.”

Leckner told Thomsen, “I remember making that phone call to you to ask you to come, and I thought, ‘She’d never be crazy enough to come back.’”

After the laughter died down, Leckner added, “She wanted to do it for the city. That’s what she said. … It’s her community. She said she wanted to step up, and she really did.”

In consent items and general business, the council:

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  • Set 2021 city council meetings for the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

  • Appointed Conway as acting mayor for 2021.

  • Designated the Park Rapids Enterprise as the council’s official newspaper.

  • Designated the city’s official depositories for 2021, including Citizens National Bank, Northwoods Bank, the Minnesota Municipal Money Market fund, RBC Financial Group, Northland Securities and TruStar Federal Credit Union.

  • Designated the authorized signatures on the city’s accounts in 2021, including Leckner, Conway, Thomsen (until Jan. 17), Weasner (starting Jan. 18), Vik (checks only) and treasurer Jeremy Jude (investment funds only). Also authorized to receive account information were city auditors Steve Wischmann, Caroline Stutsman and Dustin Opatz.

  • Authorized the city fire department to apply for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and approved $9,430 in matching funds, if the grant application is successful, to purchase 25 sets of self-contained breathing apparatus.

  • Approved a septic system inspector contract with Winterberger Inspections.

  • Amended the city ordinance regarding rental inspection fees. The amendment sets annual fee for short-term rental permits at $100, or $50 on Oct. 1 or later.

  • Approved the resignation of full-time city clerk Margie Vik, effective April 2, and authorized staff to advertise and interview for the position. Randall thanked Vik for giving such a long notice, hinting that if the hiring process moves quickly, she may have an opportunity to work with her successor.

  • Approved converting existing part-time hours into one additional full-time clerk position at Rapids Spirits, as recommended by the city’s personnel committee to address the store’s staffing challenges. Randall noted the change will increase the cost of benefits and should have been requested before the annual budget was finalized last month.

  • Hired Dallon Free, Joyce Mikesh and Tina Jenkins as full-time Rapids Spirits liquor store clerks. Free has been part-time since 2013 and will become full-time effective Feb. 15. Mikesh, a part-time clerk since 2014, and Jenkins, who started part-time in 2020, will both go full-time on Feb. 1. All three employees will receive no change in pay, except being eligible for full-time benefits and subject to a 60-day probationary period.

  • Hired Austin Thelen as a full-time public works mechanic-maintenance worker effective Jan. 12, at a Step 1 pay scale of $21.10 per hour. Council member Liz Stone recused herself from this matter due to a conflict of interest.

  • Gave full-time police officer Tyler Farden a wage adjustment, effective Jan. 27, to the four-year step at $29.18 per hour.

  • Re-appointed Nancy Newman to the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

  • Re-appointed Laura Grisamore and Rod Nordberg to the city’s Arts and Culture Advisory Commission.

  • Re-appointed Sally Wizik Wills as a city representative on the library board.

  • Approved a health care saving plan account policy for non-union employees of the city police department. The policy calls for non-union police employees to contribute 2.5 percent of their gross wages into the HCSP account, the same as the department’s union employees.

  • Approved a $3,100 expense to have Davis Electric repair a light pole and head on Henrietta Avenue, by the Park Rapids Enterprise building.

  • Approved a $2,695 expense to have Elite Fence and Deck repair fencing at the intersection of Fair Avenue and Industrial Park Road.

  • Approved a $33,810 transfer from the liquor store fund to the police fund to pay for police officer body cameras.

  • Approved the purchase of a 16-foot enclosed trailer for the fire department out of donated funds, to be added to the city’s fleet of vehicles. Fire Chief Terry Long told the Enterprise that it cost approximately $3,000.

  • Paid Revize LLC $1,500 for annual website and content management systems tech support and unlimited software and module updates.

  • Paid Lexipol $6,368 for one year of law enforcement policy manual updates, daily training bulletins and supplemental manual subscriptions for the police department.

  • Paid Tritech Software Systems $5,434 for annual software maintenance for the police department.

  • Paid the Paul Bunyan Task Force $3,500 for the police department’s annual membership fee.

  • Paid SSL, Inc. $20,000 for property value assessing services for the first half of 2021.

  • Paid Oaks Fence LLC $2,400 to replace fencing at the city’s softball fields.

  • Paid Swanson’s Repair, Inc. $3,158 for repairs and pump/service testing on the fire department’s engine and ladder truck.

  • Paid In-Depth Inspections $1,500 for their November-December 2020 retainer.

  • Paid MN Mechanical Solutions $87,210 for work on the well and water treatment facility improvement project.

  • Paid TKDA $10,895 for work on Part B of the municipal airport’s terminal area taxilanes project.

  • Approved contract change orders to the city’s well and water treatment improvement project: a $9,177 increase for an additional well casing and screen material for Well 10, and a $4,737 increase for additional underground raw water ductile iron pipe for existing Well 9 and to modify effluent piping to install check valves in a horizontal position.

  • Approved prepaids totaling $1,195,619.

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26 at city hall.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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