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Suit filed against Preston City Council for violation of open meeting law


Mon, May 24th, 2004
Posted in Features

Six individuals have filed suit in Fillmore County District Court against the Mayor of Preston and four city council members for violating the Minnesota Open Meeting Law.Ken Tschumper of Caledonia, Robert and LaVonne Hellickson, Trudy Schomer, and Brian and Dawn Schomish of Preston, claim that on six occasions beginning on November 13, 2003 and continuing through April 5, 2004, the Preston City Council held closed meetings where the public was improperly notified of the specific grounds for the meeting.Named in the suit are Preston Mayor David Pechulis and council members Jerry Scheevel, Heath Mensink, Steve Knoepke, and Pat Gartner.The Minnesota Open Meeting Law states that before there can be a closed meeting, “the public body shall state on the record the specific grounds permitting the meeting to be closed and describe the subject to be discussed.”Many of the notices issued by the city of Preston calling for a closed meeting merely state that the meeting will be closed to discuss pending litigation.The Journal has learned that there has been recent correspondence between lawyers for the city of Preston and the city council spelling out procedures for how a meeting should be closed.The suit calls for a permanent injunction restraining the Preston City Council from violating the Minnesota Open Meeting Law in the future.In the suit, the plaintiffs claim that the Mayor and city council intended to not comply with the law and ask the court to fine each defendant $300 for each of six violations. They also seek up to $13,000 in reasonable attorney fees. Attorney Tom Manion of Lanesboro, who is representing the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview that they believe that there are broader issues at stake than improper notification.“This is just the start,” Manion said. “We believe that during discovery we may find that there are other legal issues with some of the closed meetings.” Manion intends to depose the defendants under oath. In a February 16, 2004 editorial, this author questioned whether the city council had violated the open meeting law by making policy - a decision to amend an ordinance - in closed session on January 26, 2004.At that time an amendment to the Interim Moratorium Ordinance had been prepared by the city’s attorney without a public hearing or open meeting discu .....
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Fillmore County Planning & Zoning Commission: Possible compliance inspection of septic systems strikes a nerve

Mon, May 24th, 2004
Posted in Features

Former Fillmore County attorney Matt Opat fired off what he viewed as faults and weaknesses in the proposed ISTS amendment during its public hearing on Thursday, May 20 at the Fillmore County Planning Commission meeting.

Under ..... 
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Preston City Council Report: Hwy 52 project pushed back to 2005

Mon, May 24th, 2004
Posted in Features

Because of delays in purchasing right of ways for the Highway 52 project, the letting of construction bids will not proceed until sometime around December 2004. That was the message from MnDOT project manager Craig Lenz to the Preston City Council Mo ..... 
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Lanesboro City Council Report: Car show coming to Buffalo Bill Days

Mon, May 24th, 2004
Posted in Features

Bryce Dawson of Preston presented his plan for a car show in conjunction with Buffalo Bill Days to the Lanesboro City Council at their regular meeting May 17th. Dawson proposed a judged car show to be held at the Sylvan Parking lot on Saturday of the ..... 
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Gang of One

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

I have been Fan Shen’s colleague in the RCTC English department for the past five years, but never knew much about him until this past week when I read his book Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard, published by University of Nebraska Press last month ..... 
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Judge Benson tells county he will not reconsider on Slabaugh zoning case

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

In a letter to Fillmore County Attorney Brett Corson dated May 7, Judge Robert Benson has denied a Fillmore County request to file a Motion for Reconsideration in the Slabaugh Zoning case. The county’s only other legal option would be to appeal the j ..... 
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The Talk of the Town

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

What does a retired English teacher, a German immigrant and an Angus beef farmer have in common? This is not the set-up of a joke, just a partial composition of the Bluff Country Toastmasters Club.

Paul Walsh, the teacher; Hanna ..... 
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Fillmore County Commissioners prepare to sell county farm

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

County Surveyor David Knutson reported his findings in regard to the county farm’s borders, and parcels the county wishes to maintain. Approximately 464 acres (including two old demolition sites) will be offered to the public through a bidding proces ..... 
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Lanesboro City Council grants retail sales permit at special meeting

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

At a special meeting on Monday, May 10, the Lanesboro City Council, by a 4 to 1 vote, approved granting a permit to Jennifer Wood to operate a retail home business on her premises at 203 Sheridan. Council member Jerome Halvorson was the lone dissenti ..... 
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