City Council hears review of 4th of July plans

MONDAY, MAY 22, 2017 — Members of the 4th of July committee, Julie Johnson and Randy Semo, appeared before Tower’s city council Monday evening to provide an update on the planned activities for the upcoming holiday and seek the city’s support on logistics. “Eight thousand dollars in donations have been collected, and they are still coming in,” Ms. Johnson reported. Following a review of the schedule of activities, events and details of the annual parade the business end of a successful 4th of July was considered. The 4th of July committee was seeking the city’s commitment on providing liability insurance to cover all aspects of the event as well as provide portable bathroom stations throughout the Main Street area.

In addition the committee asked the city to work with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to close Highway 169, and reroute traffic off the highway before the parade and for an extended time following it. Many people are still milling about and visiting with family and friends, according to Mr. Semo. It is hoped that the city can negotiate a longer period of time which the highway can remain rerouted so the community can gather safely. A final committee request was to have the city procure ample sawdust for the popular Sawdust Scramble. Mayor Carlson and the city council unanimously assured the 4th of July committee that the city would take charge of the requests.

Ms. Johnson reported that the committee had formally organized as the non-profit Tower-Soudan Lake Vermilion Area Events Board and is seeking Internal Revenue Service 501c3 status which, once achieved, will allow the board to accept tax-deductible donations. The board is planning to utilize different committees to manage local Little League Baseball programs and Tower-Soudan Hockey Day in addition to the Independence Day activities. It is hoped that Hockey Day can be expanded into a three-day weekend event, Ms. Johnson told the city council.

People have been working diligently on this year’s 4th of July. The committee and many volunteers have already put in a lot of hard work hosting fund raising events. Raffle ticket sales are ongoing. The cost of a typical  Tower-Soudan 4th of July celebration exceeds $15,000 and people are encouraged to show their support by making their donations and buying a raffle ticket soon.

Tower Ambulance Service Supervisor Steve Altenberg appeared before the council to update the progress the service was making towards its July goal to implement paid on call ambulance staff. The service is ready to commence advertising to fill two positions. One position requires candidates to be qualified Emergency Medical Responders or new emergency Medical Technicians at an on-call pay rate of $9.00 per hour. The second opening requires candidates to be qualified, and experienced Emergency Medical Technicians at an on-call pay rate of $13.00 per hour. It is expected that potential employees can maintain a five minute, or less, call response.

The city council unanimously accepted the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board grant totaling $125,000. It is expected that the grant will be used to make a low interest loan to Orlyn Kringstad for his Tower Harbor Shores condominium development project on Tower’s harbor on the East Two River.

The city council voted to instruct the city clerk to phone potential suppliers and obtain quotes on supplying propane to the city over the 2017–2018 winter season. Como Oil & Propane supplied the city with propane over the past winter. Alderman Kevin Fitton reported that he had been investigating propane prices and he found that the $1.19 per gallon was the highest price being charged with the lowest price point being at 95 cents. “Como was the highest at $1.19,” Fitton reported. Alderman Dougherty advised the city to stick with Como because they were local. “They are right here and they spend a lot of money in town,” Dougherty said.

Alderman Fitton asked how propane much does the city use? “That’s hard to say,” City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith replied. She explained that all city employees, and the city council, can purchase propane at the same price as the city.

The city council approved a request from the Tower Breitung Waste Water Board to enter into a lease agreement with the city for property upon which the lift station will be developed. It was decided that the city will lease the site ”for one dollar for the duration of the Tower Breitung Wastewate Board.” Clerk Keith reported that the board wanted a formal lease, “In case we have a renegade city council in the future.”

In other action, the Tower City Council:

• Agreed to push back, until July 30, the deadline for Standing Bear Marina to complete repairs to its docks

• Tabled a decision on selling the “old Tower dump” property

• Tabled any action on the Dougherty Financial letter of intent regarding its financing a bond on the city’s Harbor Drive road infrastructure

• Approved the transfer of Federal Aviation Administration entitlements to the Walker Municipal Airport