By Steve Altenburg
Tower MN At the regular city meeting held December 13th the council approved a job posting seeking a seasonal worker to assist with snow removal and other various tasks. Depending on snowfall and workload the position would not exceed 32 hours per week. In the past the city has had approved part time helpers for snow removal to assist when there have been large storms that require extra effort to clean up.
The final budget and levy for 2022 was discussed and new clerk treasurer Michael Shultz had a mostly completed budget ready. Shultz stated that incoming bills over the next couple of weeks will help create a more accurate budget for 2022. At the December 1st special city meeting to address the 2022 budget five department funds had no budgets and the detailed budget printout was missing a lot of financial information. It appears that Shultz has been working diligently to update the city's financial information in order to present a final budget which must be approved before the end of the year along with the levy.
A unanimous vote approving the purchase of a 2010 John Deere grader from the County for $60,000 was also passed at the meeting. The purchase will occur in 2022 based on funds availability as recommended by the clerk/treasurer. The grader or its equal has a value of $80,000-$90,000 or higher. The grader will replace the 40-year-old grader the city currently has which needs repairs greater than its value and may have other unknown repairs needed.
In other city business
· The police contract final draft will be voted on at the next City meeting. It likely would have been passed at this meeting but a question of whether the city is obligated to continue payment under section eleven of the contract that nullifies Breitung Township of performance or obligation due to strikes, walkouts, labor troubles, etc.
· A request to spend $3,000 for five ambulance members to attend the annual Arrowhead EMS conference was approved.
· A final payment for a delinquent utility bill was approved for 511 Main Street. The property was sold in 2009 but the City failed to collect the over $400 from the property owner. Instead, the debt was wrongfully saddled onto the new property's owner who paid $270.00 to date on the bill. The City agreed to drop the penalties, fees, etc., and the property owner agreed to pay the $158.45 of the original prior property owners bill to clear this item from the city's books and audit.
· Diana Sunsdahl was appointed to fill a vacancy on the TEDA board unanimously. Sunsdahl is a Main Street business owner and clerk for Breitung Township.
· No action was taken on Ordinance 1 Water as the final draft has not been fully amended to reflect the recommended changes.
Christmas spirit prevails with civil Board meeting
by Jessica Hannine
This evening meeting was the height of civility and cooperation, reasonable discussion, chuckles, cooperation, and action. Very little contention, it was almost like Christmas was in the air. Honestly though, it was a meeting that gives a civic minded individual hope. With the meeting opened the mundane was quickly moved passed. The claims report (having been a sticking point before) was quickly asked and answered. A highlight note was that Supervisor Barb Lofquist again brought up the use of township debit cards to simplify the process and eliminate unnecessary taxes paid as unwarranted rewards acquired. Though brought up the discussion went no further.
The conversation was civil, but payroll continues to be a revisited issue due to the unclear nature of the ADP charging and billing system. The service is significantly expensive (charging over $2000 yearly/subject to additional actions needed) and the clarity of the charges is questionable. The previous salary questions have been resolved and Supervisor Sue Drobac apologized for her misunderstanding of the PERA withholdings issue. Supervisors Drobac and Lofquist again raised the idea of returning to the CTAS in house payroll system, but after Treasurer Fazio Cited the positives (provides a checks and balance, legal advice for tax filing, new user training, direct deposit, and prepared W2s) of the ADP service the vote failed to pass the motion. Another payroll issue discussed was a cost of living increase of 5% for the board to begin January 2022, this passed.
In the public comment a representative of TAAS spoke about what they are doing to correct the financial and any other concerns raised by the ESRB report. He seemed to feel as though the informational meeting with Fire Chief Allen Lewis was directed at TAAS. Supervisor Lofquist tried to quelch this idea, thanking him for the service of TAAS and reiterating all the small services are suffering and it is time for a different approach to care. One that will include TAAS and support them as well as better serve the community. Also discussed was if the current ambulance board is the seed to the process of regionalization; if they should be seeking a professional assessment of value and need.
Other items of interest: the broadband survey has been removed from the website and results (371 returned) tallied there were no big surprises including the desire by most to have high speed available. The grants applied for to support this effort have been held until early 2022 but seem likely to be awarded, said Chair Mike Ralston. Supervisor Lofquist has continued to work on the water issues facing the township. Her research has lead her to a system called Brass Master (state recommended) instead of a reverse osmosis she has requested and awaits quotes from local plumbers on installation of the system.
Clerk Deb Spicer presented the board with hours (38.75) that she felt she should be paid for services (including opening and responding to mail, answering the phone and sending emails) in addition to her regular hours. Spicer had emails that she felt supported her position, however the board never had agreed to this nor did she get their support now. The motion died. Clerk Spicer insists on a very short and specific list of required duties (by state statute) that she will perform. Clerk Spicer also brought up the printed public packets which she feels are a waste, the suggestion was made to send out a blast email and/or post on the website so individuals attending may print their own set, Clerk Spicer told the board that was not part of her duties and one of them was welcome to do that. In the discussion Clerk Spicer also reminded the board that with election duties coming she would have less time to get even her statutory duties.
The fire department had a few request for support of the board who agreed to pay for the renewal of their pager app, a flat rate pay of $20 each hour for 911 calls, and four new sets of turn-out gear up to $3200/each. There is interest in starting an auxiliary type group to help support the area fire departments and the investigation into the Everett Bay explosion has begun.
The Tower-Soudan Histori-cal Society is pleased to announce the award of a $285,618 Minnesota Histori-cal and Cultural Heritage grant for the Tower Historic Fire Hall Exterior Rehabilitation. The grant, awarded through the Minnesota Historical Society, fills the funding gap for the $425,000 masonry project.
TSHS has also secured $140,000 for the masonry project through the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Downtown Streetscapes Program, Tower Economic Development Authority, Minnesota Power Foundation, Mortenson Family Founda-tion, Frandsen Bank and Trust and individual cash donations. MacDonald and Mack Architects, a Minneapolis architecture firm specializing in historic preservation and stewardship of existing structures of all ages, will oversee the 2022 project.
Tower's Historic Fire Hall tells the story of Tower as the first mining town on the Range, and offers the Tower-Soudan-Lake Vermilion residents, seasonal residents and visitors a look into the social history of early iron ore mining in Minnesota.'The building housed the city hall and jail, in addition to the fire department. It was used as a community center for social activities for many years after city hall and jail were relocated in 1935. It was sold to a private party and leased to businesses after the Civic Center was built in the 1970's. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in the theme of social history.
This past 2021 summer, the TSHS completed the roof replacement on the Historic Fire Hall located at 504 Main Street in downtown Tower. The original doors and windows were restored in 2019. The exterior restoration project is a continuation of achieving the goal of the TSHS to develop and offer the community an updated year-round facility wherein you will learn about Tower and Soudan's vital role in the development of the iron mining industry that has had a lasting impact on our region and helped to shape our cultural identity.
It will also tell the story of the early days when the Tower Harbor was a transportation hub and bustling commercial center with a hotel, outfitters, and a boat builder. Steamboats ferried train passengers to logging camps and resorts which were only accessible by water, thus pioneering Minnesota's resort and tourism industry on Lake Vermilion in the early part of the 20th century several decades before tourism became an important industry throughout the state of Minnesota.
TSHS plans to further develop the Historic Fire Hall into a
history education and event center, and offer an outlet for local artisans, making it a unique destination-shopping/educational experience. The TSHS will continue to sponsor a variety of community pop-up events. The monthly Charlemagne's Attic Sales, History Talks on Main Street series and tours of the jail and city/fire hall will continue throughout summer 2022.
TSHS is currently requesting donations to install restrooms in the Historic Fire Hall so more public events can be held in the building. Please consider making a cash donation, tribute or memorial donation, or annual pledge. Multi-year pledges to support preserving the fire hall and sharing the history of our area can be made by contacting Nancy Larson at 218-750-7514 or Louise Gately at 515-229-8757, or at email@example.com
TSHS is a 501(c)(3) organization that operates the Historic Train Depot Museum and Visitor Information Center at Tower's western entrance; and is restoring the Historic Fire Hall History Education Center. Donations of any size can be mailed any time to the Tower-Soudan Historical Society, PO Box 465, Tower, MN 55790 or through PayPal by linking to our website at towersoudanhs.org.
Also In This Issue:
Tower-Soudan Singers, Frosty spread Christmas cheer on Main Street
Creepy fun at NE Range Community Theater
Those Were the Days!