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Lanesboro explores police options


Fri, Aug 22nd, 2003
Posted in Features

Sheriff Jim Connolly appeared before the Lanesboro City Council August 18th to share his suggestions for police coverage in the city of Lanesboro. Pointing out the unique situation caused by the influx of tourists in the city, Connolly suggested joint policing with the city of Preston. “For the same cost as hiring your own person, you could get more bang for the buck,” Connolly enthused. Preston is only eight miles from Lanesboro so even if the officer were in the other city, response time would be short.

“Pair and share are the going words today,” Connolly stated as he informed the council that it was working well in the cities of Harmony, Mabel, and Canton currently. Harmony and Mabel are paying $57,000 per year for seven days a week, nineteen hours a day police protection. Connolly went on to say that the police service was eight percent under budget for the year in Harmony and Mabel at midyear. Lanesboro has in its annual police budget $71,000, which provides around 2,920 hours of police protection for the year, much less actual protection.

Connolly agreed to provide neutral assistance on scheduling, dividing time, etc. if Lanesboro and Preston decided to share officers. He pointed out that Lanesboro would be contracting for services from Preston in his suggested scenario. At Connolly’s suggestion, the council voted to draft a letter to the Preston city council regarding the possibility.

Public Hearing on Street Vacations

Allen Haugen was the only person to address the council concerning the vacation of a portion of Fifth Street. Haugen’s concern was that two dying pine trees in the street would become his responsibility. The council readily agreed to remove the trees before vacating the street. The street vacation was requested because Bev Johnson is in the process of selling her home. While the physical street curves, the platted street was straight; as a result, Johnson’s house was built in the platted street. Property owners abutting the vacated street will gain additional property from this action.

A portion of Beacon Street near S and A Petroleum was also vacated. S and A needs to put in a cement loading pad in order to comply with updated requirements. Councilman Jerome Halvorson noted he had received comments from neighboring property owners who said they were “perfectly content” with the plan as suggested by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Art Center Update

In an effort to “get everyone on the same page,” Councilwoman Peggy Hanson presented a working draft for the art center to the council and asked for the council’s approval. Ken Graner of the EDA, Dave Ruen of the Commonweal, and Hanson developed the working draft to provide a list of expectations to help attorney Eric Galatz in his creation of a management agreement for the Center for the Arts.

The draft acknowledges the tenant art organizations will be solely responsible for artistic decisions. Use of the facility by other groups would not be allowed without the consent of the tenants. Eric Galatz was given permission to provide legal advice to both Commonweal and Cornucopia regarding state requirements for capital bonding projects or project lease agreements. The city plans to set aside $10,000 from its general funds to pay Galatz with the remaining salary coming from fund raising efforts.

The draft stipulates the first $35,000 raised by the fundraising entity hired by the city will be held to be used for city’s legal expenses for the development phase of the project. It also stipulates that construction will not proceed until at least a $500,000 endowment has been deposited in the bank. Additionally, a city indemnification fund will be set up so the citizens of Lanesboro will not have to cover the costs of any liabilities for the Center for the Arts.

The working draft called for official communication representatives from both the Commonweal and Cornucopia. Hal Cropp informed the council he would be representing the Commonweal and Holly McDonough claimed the position for Cornucopia. McDonough proclaimed that the document “created a common spirit to go forward” and urged the council to proceed. There are twenty months left to raise the rest of the needed funding.

Although the Root River Valley Friends of the Arts was not represented in the meetings, Dave Ruen and Hal Cropp assured the council that RRVFOA knew of the discussions. Lynn Bunge of RRVFOA stated from the audience that they were “just real excited to have Eric Galatz involved in the project.”

The council accepted the working draft and asked Tom Manion to contact Eric Galatz so the project could go forward.

Other Business

Further business conducted by the Lanesboro Council in their “short” meeting of the month included:

• giving the go ahead for an upgraded copy machine for city hall;

• clarifying the contract for the city administrator to allow potential administrator/clerk Bobbie Torgerson to continue to coach for the school and setting a start date within the month;

• setting the wage for Marge Drake (Rita Peterson’s substitute) at the base rate for the position;

• hearing Ryan Peterson joined the fire department.

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