The Tower News

Since June 4, 1900 - News About the Greatest People in the World - Our Own!

 P.O. Box 447, Tower, MN 55790


  Phone: 218-753-7777

 Fax: 218-753-7778

March 15, 2019






 Chaos and Grit

Cyber woes plague Mayor Kringstad


Opening the Tower City Council's Monday March 11 meeting Mayor Orlyn Kringstad expressed dismay that he was unable to successfully utilize his computer printer to print out a response to accusations of mayoral misconduct levied against him by ambulance Director Steve Altenburg. Utilizing his inability to print his response, Kringstad asked the city council to consider tabling item number four on the agenda, "Mayoral Misconduct Investigation" and to place Cyber Security on the agenda as new business agenda item No. 10.9.
The city clerk had already struck an agenda item set to discuss Employee Misconduct, off the evening's agenda and added the Pine Street re-alignment proposal as new business on the agenda. These charges of Employee Misconduct are believed to have been levied by Kringstad against City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith in an earlier closed meeting. However, there has been no confirmation, in spite of two separate requests for the city to acknowledge an investigation against Keith. This story, however, was leaked by the Ely Timberjay causing the Teamsters Union, representing Keith, to threaten legal action.
The short-handed City council, Brooke Anderson was absent, provided unanimous approval to accepting the agenda as amended with the two changes the mayor sought.
Making it clear, while addressing his troubles,  "There is no allegation or accusation what-so-ever. I simply don't know what's happening" Kringstad said, explaining that he has been experiencing trouble with his City of Tower email account, hosted by Tech Bytes:
"An email would come into my computer and you could tell by the highlighting and the blue dot, I use Outlook, that the email was unread, and I wouldn't get to it right away but as I was watching it and then suddenly the email would open and the blue dot would go away-and the email was read."
The mayor asked permission, from the city council, to contact  the administrator of the city's email account system Tech Bytes, LLC. Kringstad was seeking IP addresses for the computer devices which have contacted Tech Byte servers to see the access logs to determine who might be accessing the Mayor's email.
"It's been quite clear, specifically from the Apple Care guy, expert tech support, that my email, is being opened and read," Kringstad said, "It's illegal."  Reporting that he had screen recordings Kringstad said, "I would like to know who is opening and reading my emails and also anyone else that may have knowledge of this. This is something that is prosecutable," Kringstad warned.
The Mayor moved, and Abrahamson supported a motion to permit Kringstad to contact Tech Bytes. The four members of the city council present unanimously approved Kringstad's request to investigate his emails.

Greenwood voters deny town board $250,000 levy: say $150,000 is plenty

by Anthony Sikora

Four or five Greenwood Township voters were ready the minute the levy question was presented to Greenwood Township voters at the March 12 Annual Meeting. The clearly organized group was ready and passed, following lengthy discussion, a $150,000 levy in response to the Greenwood Town Board of supervisors request for approval of a $250,000 levy.
The meeting began amicably with support from both sides of the room selecting Mike Indihar as moderator for the evening meeting. Carmen DeLuca, who was on the day's election ballot to retain his seat as a township supervisor made the nomination to hand Indihar the meeting gavel. His motion was supported by his challenger for his seat on the town board in the election, Dr. John Bassing. The 49 township voters present quickly voiced their unanimous support in selecting Indihar, who then called the meeting to order.
In spite of the congeniality at the onset of the meeting tensions were clearly evident on occasion. Greenwood remains a township where citizens are divided by vastly different views of what they expect of township government.
The township quickly accepted the agenda for the meeting and dispensed with the reading of the 2018 Annual Meeting minutes and gave unanimous support to their approval.
Township voters approved utilizing an abbreviated form of Roberts Rules of order to govern procedure of the meeting.
Greenwood Town Clerk Sue Drobac read the board of audit report noting that each account of the township was fully in balance at year end.
Township voters unanimous-ly waived reading of all receipts and disbursements.
Pam Rodgers reviewed the 2018 Treasurer's report as previously detailed in The Tower News and Mike Ralston presented a report detailing the need to adjust the 2019 budget upwards from the numbers set two years ago. "We have a need for reasonable budgeting and setting a realistic levy," Ralston said, "The levy we approve tonight will be collected two years down the road."
Rodgers demonstrated how the township would continue to slowly spend down its reserves from a projected 2019 year-end balance of $521,708, represent-ing 1.47 times expected annual expenses, to a 2022 projected ending reserve of $501,884, (1.45 times expected expenses) by keeping the levy at a flat-line $250,000. "This campaign ad, published in the Timberjay, was meant to mislead you as taxpayers," Rodgers said, holding up a sheet of newsprint.
"The township will be below the suggested balance," (1.5 X annual expense) if the township only sets the levy at $150,000, each year over four years, Rodgers explained.
Ralston said that the town board's goal is financial stability. To get the township to a point where the budget only experiences small cost of living increases and the levy does not fluctuate greatly from year to year.
 The question of the levy was given over to township voters. The rush to make a motion by the those wanting to keep the levy at $150,000 caused Moderator Indihar to seek a slight pause to determine where he was at on the agenda. He was immediately challenged by Jeff Maus who suggested that "game playing" would not be tolerated.
As soon as he determined that the township, as a whole, did not approve the budget he then called for a motion to set the levy. The budget is set by the town board which governs township finances. The levy is set by town voters.
Lee Peterson was immediate with his motion to set the levy at $150,000. Support was provided by Richard Leciejewski.
"It's more important this year to reduce again-we don't need that much in reserves," Maus said.
The town board maintained that continuing the levy at the current rate would reduce the reserves by another $100,000 to $424,000.
"I think we need a $200,000 levy," DeLuca said, proffering a middle ground for township residents to consider.
Bassing said that the township needed a capital expenditure plan and to further reduce its reserves.
"What's wrong with having rainy day funds?" Dave Wallin asked.
Healthy debate continued until the issue was discussed thoroughly. The vote of paper ballots was called and township residents polled 27 in favor of setting the levy at $150,000 and 22 stating a preference for establishing a different number with their vote against the motion. The motion passed and the 2020 levy was set.
In other action, the township voters:
· Set the 2020 Annual Meeting for the second Tuesday, after the first Monday, March 10, at 8:15 p.m., following the township election
· Narrowly approved, 20­25, entering into a new three-year commitment to increase the township's Tower Ambulance per capita contribution by 25 percent each year to a 2022 rate just under $30. These funds are specifically earmarked to replace the ambulances assuring that state-of-the-art equipment is ready for Lake Vermilion emergency health care patients
· Approved donating $250 to the Lakeview Cemetery Association in Tower following a request made by Pam Lundstrom
· Approved advising the town board to avail itself of as much training as it can
· Verbalized equal support for and against, returning Public Input to an early position on the agenda, instead of at the end as is current practice
· Verbalized equal support for and against making the Timberjay the official newspaper over determining the official newspaper by current practice of awarding the business to the lowest bidder
· Verbalized support for obtaining lists of volunteers to maintain the township campus over paying part time help to undertake those responsibilities
· Conducted lengthy debate, but made no determination on developing an irrigation well at the west end of the township campus.
Fire Department Year reviewed
Assistant Fire Chief Indihar reviewed the Greenwood Township Fire Department activities over 2018 for Chief Dave Fazio who was in St. Paul lobbying the Minnesota legislature for funding. Firefighters collectively spent 2,288 hours serving the township. Much of the time is spent in training, Indihar reported. Fire department members responded to 43 fire calls, 15 rescue events, 133 emergency medical calls, in addition to conducting 17 meetings and 13 drills and availing themselves of hours of outside training.
There are 22 firefighters and 11 emergency medical responders servicing Greenwood Township presently. The department placed a "snowbulance" snowmobile rescue ambulance unit into service in 2018 and made considerable upgrades in communications by acquiring used radios at favorable pricing, Indihar reported.

Bruce Swieringa elected supervisor in Township of Vermilion Lake

With 45 votes, Bruce Swieringa was elected supervisor for a three-year term in Vermilion Lake Township. The incumbent supervisor, Robert Pratt, received 13 votes.
Steven Lotz, running unopposed, received 54 votes for the office of treasurer and Crystal Alaspa, with 56 votes, was elected clerk for a one-year term. She also was unopposed in her bid for election.
A total of 59 voters visited the polls.
Fourteen citizens attended the annual meeting which followed the counting of the ballots. The citizens set the 2020 levy at $36,000.00, an increase over the 2019 levy, which was $30,700.00.
Holdovers supervisors are Phil Anderson and Sarah Schmidt.

Also In This Issue:

Incumbents re-elected in Greenwood Township

Small voter turnout in Tuesday's election in Breitung Township

Those Were the Days!