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Lanesboro Council occupied with Church Hill contract and Police Chief concerns


Fri, Jan 10th, 2003
Posted in Features

The January 6th meeting of the Lanesboro City Council began with the swearing in of newly elected Mayor Steve Rahn and Council members Joe O’Connor, Kevin Drake, and Jerome Halvorson.

The new council jumped into the city’s business as Church Hill Properties developer Dan Anderson addressed the council to clarify his position on the contract between the city and his company.

"I haven’t hired an attorney yet, and I don’t think I have to," Anderson said. He went on to inform the council that he felt he was not the one holding up the show. Anderson told the council Church Hill Properties "was ready perform" its part of the contract, but the city is responsible for the demolition of the annex, the first step of fulfilling the contract.

Anderson went on to state that since he at no time refused to comply with the terms of the contract, he felt the city had no right to terminate the contract. Anderson also informed the council that he hadn’t wanted to tear off the annex; rather he had originally merely asked that the alley be vacated.

Attempting to clear up the misconception that he had done nothing on the project, Anderson recounted his investments of time and money—securing the building from intruders, replacing the roof, gutting the interior, and searching for funding. Declaring his intention to continue to move forward, Anderson told the council that he is "hopeful" they will be building condominiums in the property by this fall with funding from individual investors.

Since Mayor Rahn and Councilman O’Connor were new to the situation, the council decided to put the topic on the agenda for a future meeting. City Manager Barb Hoyhtya will provide Rahn and O’Connor with the contract, maps, and minutes of previous meetings in an effort to bring them up to speed.

Police Chief

The new police chief Stuart Stotts was sworn into office. City Manager Barbara Hoyhtya suggested an open house to welcome Chief Stotts to the community. Stotts told the council he appreciated the offer of an open house and went on to inform the council of his planned open door policy that would encourage citizens to come in and discuss concerns with him.

"I hope that the council will support me in my programs and help restore the integrity of the police department," Stotts told the council.

Stotts stressed the need for increased security and confidentiality for both hard copy and computer files. He also told the council of his plans to complete an inventory of the department, to write a police department policy manual, and to formulate a drug program to coordinate with the current D.A.R.E. program taught by the sheriff’s department.

Asserting that he was not interested in embarrassing anyone, Chief Stotts brought up his concerns with the job description the council sent him. He had received one job description and then read another one in the newspaper that included things like a one year probation, the fact that he can’t take the vehicle home, and that he is required to meet a response time of ten minutes, and the need for a mentor.

"I came in with thirty years of service. I served as chief on three departments. I am not John Tuchek!" declared Stotts. Chief Stotts went on to say that, while he understood the council’s concerns, anytime he was in the police vehicle it would be on police business and it would make responding to calls much easier if he could take the vehicle home.

"I’m asking for a little understanding and consideration for my career," Stotts concluded.

Mayor Rahn responded that he didn’t feel Stotts needed a mentor, pointing out that Stotts’s experience qualified him to mentor others. Joe O’Connor urged the council to allow Stotts to take the police vehicle home, "If we have people in life-saving roles, we need to give them the chance to do their jobs," O’Connor said.

The council chose to waive the need for Stotts to be mentored and allowed him to take the squad car home with him. The council retained the one year probationary period.

Administrative Matters

The council made several appointments and adopted meeting schedules. Kevin Drake was appointed acting mayor; Associated Bank was named the depository; The Republican Leader/River Valley Reader was named the legal newspaper. Meeting dates for the council will be at 6:30 p.m. the first Monday of the month with a possibility of a second meeting to be held at 5:30 p.m. the third Monday of the month (if necessary).

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