WILMA TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS’ MEETING, WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 1, 2017
Chairman Glen Williamson called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance. Also present was Supervisors Mike McCullen and Gary Vink, Treasurer Patrice Winfield, Clerk Paul Raymond, Grader Operator Alden Shute, and Pat and Helena Story, Steve Menth and Bob Brewster from Arna Township. Glen began the meeting by reading his policy statement, “WILMA TOWNSHIP POLICY ON PUBLIC INPUT AT BOARD MEETINGS: Each speaker must give his/her name. Each speaker will have three minutes to speak. Speakers will wait until their agenda item comes up. The board may respond to speakers or take subject under advisement. The speaker will not engage in a dialogue with the board; the board’s response stands.” Mike moved to approve the guidelines; Gary seconded.
Paul read the record of the October board meeting. Gary moved to approve; Mike seconded.
ROAD REPORT: Alden did road grading and routine blading on Crooked Lake and Eagle Head Roads. Pete Anderson Road: Alden attended Arna’s board meeting for approval for the ditching and road building in the first half mile of the joint Pete Anderson Road and also for dragging the washed out gravel at the big culvert/bridge back onto the road. Arna’s board agreed to a ceiling of $3,000 total for the road; Alden said he has contacted Summerland Excavating to get a backhoe to ditch the first part of the road and repair the bridge/culvert area. If this costs less than $3,000 the balance will go to building up the first part of the road with gravel. The grader repairs are done.
Extending Schmedeke Lane Extension: Alden will have Hopkins create a cul-de-sac turnaround at the end of the road where the mud and debris pile is, just before the swamp. Eldon wants to make his own road off of the cul-de-sac into his land. Alden wants to excavate the ditch on the west side to drain north into the swamp; if we can’t do that we will need a culvert to drain the ditch to the east side of the road. Mike and Gary said it’s ok for the ditch to drain naturally to the north.
Two small oil leaks were visible again on the west side where Carlson Timber did their logging. Paul took photos of them and contacted the MPCA and Greg Beck, who said,“I did visit the site and did not find anything that resembles an oil spill, but did confirm that what you found was most likely the tannins in the wood debris.” Jason Moran, MPCA said, “The MPCA has verified that there was no oil spill. It appears that water has contacted wood chips and other natural debris and the tannins (natural/organic material) in the wood has leached out and discolored the stagnant water in the area. This does not pose an environmental hazard and no action is required.” Gary and Mike said there definitely was an oil spill, but Carlson Timber buried it.
Steve Menth trained as backup grader operator today with Gary Vink who showed him the roads that we maintain.
Potlatch/Timberline logging and hauling on Mayfield Road: After several notices and back-and-forth letters, Potlatch did pay the escrow for using Mayfield Road. Their logs are still there and Alden said they may not get them out until the road freezes, and then he will inspect the road with them.
OLD BUSINESS: Town Hall and Fire Hall Roof Repair: Project was completed at budget by Beaver Roofing from Moose Lake, Steve Vogel, $3,580. Mike wants to climb up into the attic of the hall and see if there has been any new water leaks with the rain and snow we’ve had since the repairs, and if the insulation is soaked and ineffective from before. Paul said he will help to hold the ladder.
Pine County Board of Commissioners’ Special Meeting: Report by Glen, only officer to attend: Pine County Courthouse, Tuesday, October 24, 2017, with speakers from the Central Minnesota Council on Aging. The theme was: “Preparing for the Age Wave”: By 2030 the number of citizens over 65 will double, 20% of the population. There will be more people over 65 than all of K through 12. Glen reported on the serious implications of so many elderly and their special needs and the increased costs, with fewer young people to support and care for them. Glen shared fliers on the meeting. The second part of the evening was an open session with the Commissioners. County Attorney Reese Frederickson will work with townships to enforce misdemeanor offenses if towns have adopted ordinances. He has forms for towns to sign up for a joint agreement, costing $175 per visit. More talk about broadband internet and how Pine County is very behind the rest of the state and country, except for far southeast Pine County. The next township/commissioners meeting will be |January 30 on Public Safety, with Sheriff Nelson and Attorney Frederickson.
Pete Anderson Road Bridge: Wilma retained former MAT Attorney Kyle Hartnett to be paid by Mike Goetz. He wrote: “Based on my review, it is my recommendation that Wilma Township take no action in this matter and leave the determination of the public’s right to use the Road to the courts in a claim brought by those wishing to use it. The Town Board does not have the authority to resolve a dispute between the property owner and the public wishing to use the northern portion of the Road. The Town Board should instead focus on its duties as the road authority. Whether the public has acquired a right to continue to use the northern portion of the road, or if such use constitutes a trespass, can only be resolved by the district court. There are several cases where members of the public have asserted a right to continue to cross private property based on common law dedication. It would be up to those members of the public interested in securing the public’s right to use the access, and to prohibit the Owner from blocking such use, to hire an attorney to bring the matter before the district court for a decision”. Kyle said our resolution “Can be used by anyone bringing a claim to use the Road to show the intent of the Road and its history.” Bob Brewster represented Arna Township since the bridge is in Arna. He explained the difference between a township road and a public right-of-way on a road no longer used. He said that original road orders, including Pete Anderson Road, were recorded with the County Auditor, but that after WWII all platted roads had to be recorded with the County Recorder. He said he heard Wally Gustafson of MAT claim that all township road orders were thrown out and invalidated by the State, and only roads recorded with the County Recorder are valid roads. Paul said that the landowners plan to file in district court and that decision will determine if the public can use the road and bridge by common law dedication, since it has been used for 90 years. He also said the landlocked landowners can petition Arna to allow access to their land across the river and towns must grant easements to landlocked land by law. Bob said they do have access from the north through New Dosey. Paul said the road does not reach the river or their land from New Dosey. Bob said even if the courts rule that the road is open public access they will still need DNR permits to repair the bridge. Paul had revised our resolution to make it more of a position statement by the board affirming our determination to keep all public rights-of-way open for public use. He asked the board to read it and pass it. Mike said one of the big reasons he serves on the board is to protect the rights of citizens to use all of our public rights-of-way on old township roads. Glen said the board will not pass the new resolution at this time and will not rescind the original resolution, but will table this issue until next month. It is not a township issue but up to the landowners to pursue their rights in court, he said. Kyle Hartnett did not ask for any payment for his services yet.
Pine County Township Officers’ Meeting: Was October 28, Hinckley, 9 a.m. Paul, Glen and Gary attended. Paul gave a report: Commissioner Steve Hallan serves on the Central Minnesota Council on Aging who spoke at the Commissioner’s meeting with township officers. He spoke of the value of the Meals on Wheels program for shut ins and seniors, and the danger of funds being cut for this program. County Attorney Reese Frederickson said Pine County charges more crimes than other counties because they are more proactive. Meth is still the worst drug problem although about 17% is opioid’s and heroin. Sheriff Steve Nelson said we need safety awareness and public input about problems or offenses. They’re working on many burglary cases and many repeat offenders annoy the community. Kelly Schroeder said sales in the county are much higher than expected, but they’re still at 92% ratio of assessed values to sales. They are focusing on farm transitions to keep more farms within families rather than sold to big corporate farms. The recycling sheds have been replaced with compartment dumpsters and are more efficient. DNR Officer Brett Grundmeier said still no chronic wasting disease in our area, but they will aggressively test deer during hunting season. No deer or elk heads can be brought into the state. Herd of wolves south of Hinckley killed calves; farmers cannot shoot wolves but can call in the DNR trappers. There is protection from deer for high-value crops and extra permits will be granted to cull the herds. Ron Osladil said all the clinics and pharmacy are now in the new Essentia Pine Medical Campus. Rick Osleen represented Representative Rick Nolan. He said of the 15,000 bridges in Minnesota, 10% are defective. Half of our roads are 50 years old or older. Broadband is a priority and Rep. Nolan supports a bill similar to the REA during the 30’s to spend $20 billion to bring internet to every rural area. They got $3 million in funding to reimburse farmers for livestock depredation and want states to set wolf protection laws, not federal. 25 wolves were trapped east of Pine City. Lyle Johnson is leaving as District Director. He said the summer short courses will change to 12:30 to 5:30, with no meal. Black Bear Casino will not be used, but will be at the DECC in Duluth. He stressed the importance of attending district and state MAT conferences and meetings. Glen chaired the meeting and also made a big plea for officers to attend the state conference, and that scholarships of $300 will be given to any officer. Assessor training will no longer be subsidized since the requirements are changing, but we can keep our assessors until 2022.
Wilma Fall Fest: Was the same evening (Oct. 28), with a pot-luck dinner and the Procrastinators Band. Glen said many people said it was our best Fall Fest yet.
NEW BUSINESS: Snowplowing Fees 2017-8: Due tonight. 2017-18 snowplowing fees due by Nov. 1, 2017: $75/season; driveways over 700 ft.: $100. Full-time residents only. Special plowing $100/hr. Driveways 1,000′ up to ½ mile: $175. Driveways over ½ mile: $350; Must have turnaround space. No closed gates. Glen moved that the deadline be extended one more day; Mike seconded.
MAT Annual Conference: Will be Thursday to Sunday, November 16 – 18, 2017 in Rochester. The 2017 Annual Conference theme is “Sustainable Water: The Foundation of Minnesota’s Environment, Economy, Health and Well-being.” Wilma Township has many lakes and rivers and all property owners get water from wells, and not many years ago the DNR tried to make Wilma a toxic waste dump. Glen, Toni and Paul are attending. Wilma may receive $900 in scholarships from the County Townhip Association, since so far no one else has indicated interest, despite a long speech by Glen and another one by District Director Kyle Johnson encouraging township officers to attend.
Township Issues: Pat and Helena Story asked to speak about their concerns about how the FEMA blowdown issue was handled, and discrepancies he found in the FEMA payments to the town. He asked if Wilma ever asked Fudally Tackle for a IC134 Form before we paid Fudally the money we got from FEMA? The form states: “This Contractor Affidavit must be certified by the Minnesota Department of Revenue before the state of Minnesota or any of its subdivisions can make final payment to contractors.” He found a paper from MAT stating: “Before a town can make final payment to a contractor on a contract which required the contractor or subcontractor to employ employees for wages, it must obtain a certified IC-134 form from the contractor. Minn. Stat. § 270C.66. The form is called a “Withholding Affidavit for
Contractors” and is used to make sure contractors and subcontractors working for public entities have satisfied the requirements related to income tax withholding. Department of Revenue does not need an IC-134 form from contractors performing maintenance services (such as mowing, road grading, or snowplowing) or from those who only supply materials. The Department focuses on contractors, even sole proprietors, who supply labor as part of a construction or rehabilitation contract for a public entity”. Glen questioned if this applied to blowdown cleanup, since this is not construction. He also said that in over a decade of MAT short-courses and trainings, he’s never heard anyone saying Supervisors must get the IC-134 form from contractors. He said we learn new things all the time and we want to be compliant and totally legal.
Pat had other concerns: He said officer training could be made more effective if everyone would file a simple written report on the object of the training; a summary of what details will be covered; written outcomes and application of training; and the cost of the training.
Pat said the problems the town had 6 years ago with the blowdown could be mitigated if the board adopted an Emergency Contract Process and Procedures and Purchasing Policy for any future emergencies and would get agreement letters annually from willing responders who can contract with the town for blowdowns, road repairs, water diking, etc. The board should report the expense and get IC-134 forms from everyone who responds. He says each board member should have specific duties and expectations, e.g. Gary for roads, Mike for taxpayer advocate for hunting and fishing rights, Glen for chairman and legal issues.
Schmedeke Lane: Pat asked why this road has been a continuing issue for 20 years? Mike explained how it was built on private land based on the original surveys, which in fact were wrong but which have authority, so there were a lot of county issues with this road, especially when the county decided to extend the road. Eldon had to purchase land he thought he owned, and the extension was built closer to the true surveyed section border. The county received an easement from Eldon to extend the road and promised to build it to a certain length, but they stopped short of this length because of the swamp north of the road. They paid Wilma $10,000 to bring this road extension up to township and county specs at Eldon’s insistence, and later dumped even more county gravel on the extension. Mike said we just recently discovered a statement from the county acknowledging that they did not build the road to the full promised length and the Wilma Board went out and walked north and said the road could have gone another 300 feet at least before hitting the wetland pond. The Board voted to extend the road as far as possible and to create a cul-de-sac at the end of the road, which hopefully will bring the Schmedeke Lane saga to an end.
Paul said he has served with all three Supervisors since they were first elected and he can vouch for their integrity and honesty and commitment to the taxpayers and the town’s best interests. They can’t be accused of collusion since they don’t always even get along. They hold each other accountable to avoid conflicts of interest and violations of the open meeting law. Glen said we are a small town and we don’t have all the legal expertise and knowledge of cities with full-time employees. We try to get the best training offered to do the best job possible to serve the people, but we make mistakes. The blowdown is an example, but that was handled with our attorney so any conflicts of interest were corrected and resolved and we all learned from this and it has never happened again.
Treasurer’s Report and Claims: Claims and bills for November total $6,726.15 and she requests a transfer of $7,000. Gary moved to approve the report and to transfer the funds; Glen seconded. Gary moved to adjourn the meeting; Glen seconded. Meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.
Paul Raymond, Clerk _________________________________________
Attested to by Glen Williamson, Chair_____________________________