Chairman Glen Williamson called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance. Also present: Supervisors Mike McCullen and Alden Shute, Treasurer Patrice Winfield, Clerk Paul Raymond, Road Manager Alden, Doug Witta, Stefanie Williamson, Kim Felton, Angie Anderson, Jim Bredesen, and Sara Hejney.
Clerk’s Report of August Board Meeting. Paul read the record of the August meeting; Mike moved to approve; Alden seconded; passed.
ROAD REPORT: Tamarack Pine Drive: Alden gave a report on Tamarack Pine Drive project. Alden said that project is still on-going. He has worked on shaping the road to make it full width. He cannot yet complete it with red-rock gravel because the gravel supplier didn’t get back until after Labor Day.
Grader issues: The batteries were low and Alden had to recharge them and clean the connections. Alden said he can’t change a belt on the grader, but has a friend from Hopkins who can, and he asked if he could authorize the man to do the work? Do we have to consider him a contractor and demand insurance? Alden said John Deere would charge far more; the man would get the same pay as Alden, $30/hour. Mike said hire him as an advisor and there should be no problems.
Eagle Head Culvert: Beavers have been plugging the first culvert again and Alden had to have the culvert cleaned out by Hopkins. He shot two beavers.He wants to have a grate that can prevent it; the existing ones aren’t doing the job. Doug said that Dave Fornengo, Jr. made some heavy-duty grates out of rebar for New Dosey that seem to prevent beaver’s plugging the culverts.
Kenny Peterson Road: Terry Koscielniak bought the 80 acres from Joe Vink on the north Kenny Peterson Road far beyond the .26 mile of road we maintain and claim for gas tax. Alden asked what exactly Terry had meant when said he still wants to build up the road and asked if the town could work with him. Does he want us to put a few loads of pit run down and he will do the same? He had said that he wanted to investigate the abandonment of the road for no maintenance. Mike said the people retain access rights to all former township roads and rights-of-way that have not been vacated. Alden gave him the number for our attorneys, Couri and Roupe, but he will have to pay them.
NEW BUSINESS: District 7 Director Mike Miller Fired: September 2: From MAT: “Township officers in MAT District 7: Mike Miller has resigned from his position as Minnesota Association of Townships Director for District 7, effective August 11, 2022. In addition, the MAT Board of Directors censured Director Miller.” Details are in Township Insider.
Statement from Mike Miller: “Thank you for your support over the years. I truly believe in township government and support every township officer that gives back to the communities they live in. The Pine County spring and Fall meetings always were informational, educational and entertaining, especially your county attorney. I really thought MAT should be open and transparent when conducting meetings, the same or similar as the townships we are representing. MAT will always side with itself before a township or townships. In the five Years I was a District Director, the board was divided between directors that believe townships come first and MAT comes second. Jane, Tammy, Mel, Vance and Jim and myself fall into the category of Townships first. I will continue to help townships moving forward just not with MAT.” There was an update today from MAT: “District 7 Director update: “Township officers in MAT District 7: It has come to the attention of MAT, that a County Unit in District 7 intends to hold an unauthorized election on October 13th, 2022, for the position of MAT District 7 Director. Township officers in District 7 are advised that this election is invalid and not an action sanctioned by the Minnesota Association of Townships. MAT’s Board of Directors will decide the means and time for the replacement of the District 7 Director.”
MAT Annual Conference: Will be October 14 and 15 at River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud. Glen said he cannot attend, but Paul said he has registered to attend. Two days instead of three as in previous years. Pine County Township Officers’ Association Meeting: Will be at the Hinckley Community Center on, Sat. Oct. 22, 9 a.m.
Appointed Election Judges: For the General Election November 8. The Board appointed Patrice Winfield, Stefanie Williamson, and Tracy Riley as judges pending their getting the training. Patrice, Paul and Tracy attended in-person judge training and Stefanie can take the online training. Discussion on pay for the head judge? Is Paul serving as clerk or as a judge? He said to just pay him the regular judge pay.
Wilma Fallfest: The annual Fallfest celebration will be, Saturday, October 22. We will have karaoke this year. Stefanie said that Angie and Tracy Riley have joined the committee.
Free Blood Pressure Check Clinic: Cloverton Town Hall, Saturday,September 24, 10 am to 1 pm.
Annual Legal Seminar: Couri & Ruppe have scheduled another free legal seminar for Saturday, September 10, 2022 in Aitken, 9 am to 4 pm., or Sept. 17 in Rutledge. Alden said he would like to attend the Rutledge session. Paul will reserve for Alden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public concerns about No Parking Signs: The Board of Supervisors had Paul ask the county to not put up any No Parking signs on Tamarack River Road, and this was done. Mike talked with Mark LeBrun after our last meeting and said Mark was upset that someone stole the No Parking signs they had put up, but this was before Mark got our letter. We did not hear back yet from Mark LeBrun, but he has been in Europe recently, so may respond soon.
Mike had said he had several anonymous complaints about people parking on the road and his only concern is for public safety because as Chief he would have to respond to any serious accidents caused by cars coming over the hill and slamming into parked cars and he is responsible for the safety of our citizens. Glen had said that we cannot make policy based on anonymous complaints and that people need to come to meetings like tonight and express concerns on the record. Sara Hejny said she came to the meeting to go on the record that she has had many close calls with trucks and tractors on the east side of the road that she has almost hit, including after Country Store and More opened. The previous owners had almost weekly garage sales, and Sara said she complained to Gary Vink about the danger of cars parking on the east side. Doug said he has almost never seen cars blocking the road or posing a danger for motorists.
Kim said she feels that the board owes Mike an apology for the anger directed at him at the last board meeting, after how hard Mike has worked for our township and how he works to protect our citizens and respond to all medical calls without discrimination. Glen said he quit the fire department because he could not respect Mike as chief after Mike had gotten the FEMA grant for tree removal 11 years ago while Mike was also a Supervisor. Mike said he only approached FEMA when we could not get anyone to remove all the blow-down trees on our township roads. Glen said the township had to hire our township attorneys to deal with this conflict of interest and Mike said he also had to hire an attorney to defend himself and paid $650. Paul spoke in Mike’s defense and said anyone who joins the department must have complete respect for the chief and the chain of command for safety in our responses. The issue has come up with others who want to join the department but who have disparaged the Chief. Paul said we have many very professional and well-trained firefighters and responders who do have great respect for Mike and his training and skill and knowledge and leadership capabilities and Paul shares their respect.
Stefanie said she believes Paul subjectively edits the meeting reports and leaves some comments out and slants the reports. Paul said he has been clerk since 1994 and every one of our meeting records are approved by the whole board and he has never before been accused of inaccurate or slanted reports. He said he tries to be as accurate and objective as possible in recording meetings. He is always open to amending the record at the request of the board. Stefanie said Paul did not print the alleged racial slur that Angie accused Mike of, and didn’t record every comment the many people at the last meeting made. She said Tracy Riley has been recording our meetings. We had a recorder but Glen has misplaced it. Mike moved that we purchase a new digital recorder and record all our meetings. Glen seconded; passed. Paul said he could type exact transcripts of our meetings, but the records would be dozens of pages long.
There were several comments stating that the stop-sign issue was settled at the last meeting and that we need to put this behind us and try to get along with each other as a township. Patrice and Kim both said we need to do this. Paul said he has been attending town board meetings for 31 years and has served with many different board members since 1996 and we have had differences and disagreements and sometimes heated arguments, but we have always healed as a town and we need to do this now, without people trying to divide us and cause anger and resentments.
Treasurer’s Report: (Attached) Patrice said total bills for June are $5,670.76, and she needs to transfer $5,600.00. Mike moved to approve her report and to transfer the funds. Alden seconded; passed. Alden moved to adjourn the meeting; Mike seconded; passed. Meeting adjourned at 9:00.