Greenwood supervisors reject October meeting minutes

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2017 — Following the Pledge of Allegiance to the United Staes flag, and a roll call of all members present the Greenwood Town Board of Supervisors traditionally approves the minutes of any meetings held during the previous month. At its regular meeting on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, the board of supervisors would not approve the October minutes. “I won’t vote to approve the minutes as submitted. Jeff Maus made serious allegations at the meeting and I asked for a transcript to be a part of the minutes,” Supervisor Mike Ralston said as he explained that the comments were read from a written sheet. “Until I see a transcript, I won’t vote to approve,” he added. Supervisor Carmen DeLuca agreed and said that he would also like to see a copy of Maus’ statements. A motion to approve the October minutes failed, 4-1, with Board of Supervisors Chairman Dr. John Bassing casting the lone vote for approval.

Representing the Vermilion Penguin Snowmobile Club, Steve Lenertz, and Mike Indihar made a presentation to the town board seeking its help in obtaining tax forfeit land from St. Louis County on which to build a workshop for the club. The Vermilion Penguins currently owns and maintains four trail groomers and grooms 62 miles of land trails and  60 miles on Lake Vermilion. The trails cross portions of land that are state, federal and privately owned and the club also grooms the Iron Ore Trail spur connecting Tower and Lake Vermilion to the Taconite trail, Lenertz and Indihar reported. They explained that the club has been in contact with St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina who suggests that the club work with Greenwood Township to obtain the land. The county will consider leasing the township land for Vermilion Penguins “Public Purpose” according to Rukavina, Indihar told the board. “We could consider a twenty year lease with the county,” Indihar said. The Penguin’s request received favorable response across the town board. “We will bring this up on the agenda of our next meeting,” Chairman Bassing said.

The board of supervisors also listened to a request from Norene Butalla, representing the Greenwood Recreation Board, asking the town board to consider building a ice skating rink and seek Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) grant money to drill a well and install a winterized pump near the new pavilion. This would provide potable water at the pavilion in the summer and water to make ice at a skating rink, Butalla said.

Barb Lofquist was opposed to any further development of the pavilion site. “I believe only seven parties have used the pavilion this year,” Lofquist said.

Mary Richard, a long-time supporter of a township ice rink, suggested that it would only take a fire truck and two guys to create an ice rink. Richard also asked the town board to consider returning 911 addressing responsibilities to St. Louis County. It is a unnecessary expense for the township and Greenwood is the only township which handles its own 911 in the county according to Richard.

Mark Drobac asked the board if he could obtain a list of equipment publicly owned by Greenwood Township.

Maus told the board of supervisors that he had contacted Breitung Township to see if that township’s used hockey ice rink boards could acquired and be used in Greenwood. He reported that he learned that those boards might be beyond repair and suggested that the township consider building new ice rink boards.

Supervisor Ralston reminded everyone that he promised to install an ice skating rink last spring, and as hunting season winds down, and the temperature drops he intends to fulfill his promise.

Township Clerk Sue Drobac reviewed all of the township’s correspondence with the board of supervisors. Drobac reported that both State Senator Tom Bakk, and State Representative Rob Ecklund wrote to say that they would not support any legislation to include Greenwood township within the Cook-Orr Healthcare District, putting that issue to rest for the 2018 legislative session.

Covering several items on the agenda, Supervisor DeLuca reported on the maintenance activities he completed during the previous month. These included installing updated Fire Department retiree plaques in the town hall; installing two outside water faucets with ones approved for potable water; and installing a new mailbox at the town hall. He also reported that the airboat engine has been repaired, but still needs work on its exhaust pipe. DeLuca reported that Eric Hietala “did a heck of a job for the modest charge.” Heitala also recommends that we run the engine at least once each month because it has an aircraft engine, DeLuca said.

Supervisor Mike Ralston asked the town board to consider hiring a part time maintenance person. Currently Deluca has been handling the maintenance work. “There are things that need to be done, but I am not in favor of hiring full time,” Ralston said.

“I prefer to use contract work,” Chairman Bassing said and moved to advertise for people interested in completing “handyman” work. The motion, however, died with any support.

Two areas on the township’s agenda proved to be somewhat controversial: supervisor spending and filling the Assistant Fire Chief and Administrative Assistant positions.

Chairman Bassing raised the subject of supervisors spending. The town board has not specifically authorized any spending by any member of Greenwood township except for Clerk Drobac and Fire Chief Dave Fazio, who have each been authorized to spend up to $1,000 on any given project. This is in conflict with policy suggestions made by the Minnesota Association of Townships, Bassing said. Recent expenses made by Supervisor DeLuca should have first been presented to the Clerk, Bassing said.

DeLuca made a motion to authorize up to $1,000 by the supervisor handling maintenance work, presently DeLuca himself. The motion received verbal support from both Ralston and Supervisor Paul Skubic. During discussion of the motion DeLuca offered to stop handling the maintenance responsibilities. “If I am not trusted, I just will stop handling maintenance,” DeLuca said.

Ralston withdrew his support for the motion noting, “If this is going to cause this kind of problems, I’m not in support, any longer.” A audience member also expressed frustration with the issue. “You appointed Carmen to do this work,” she said.

“If you don’t do the little repairs they will become big repairs—a $1,000 is not a lot of money,” Skubic said adding that he will support the motion following the withdrawal of Rahlston’s second. A vote on the motion to authorize spending, up to $1,000, by the supervisor in charge of maintenance passed 3-2. Deluca, Skubic and Supervisor Larry Tahija voted for the motion.

Turning to filling the open fire department positions, Assistant Fire Chief and Administrative Assistant, Chairman Bassing announced that the board has only received one application for Assistant Fire Chief. “I have an application from Jeff Maus,” Bassing said. Howard Ankrum reported, on behalf of Fire Chief Fazio, who was absent with work, that the fire department had received applications from Mike Indihar, who is returning to the fire department, and applied to be the Assistant Fire Chief and a new member, Tammy Mortaloni, applied to serve as the Administrative Assistant. Both were recommended by the fire department at its last meeting Ankrum said.

Maus objected and said that he was at the last fire department meeting and had a tape of its proceedings. He said that he did not hear any discussion about the candidates Ankrum announced. Ankrum affirmed that the information he presented about the two candidates was indeed correct and was a part of the fire department meeting minutes.

“Advise of council wants us to move on this,” Bassing said referring to a memo he received from township attorney Mike Couri. The board of supervisors elected to not move forward on the issue. No motion was made and it is expected that the town board will again address filling the fire department positions at its next meeting.

In other action, the Greenwood Board of Supervisors:

• Accepted the October Treasurer’s Report:

Total Ending Balances:

— $310,989.33, checking account balance

— $513.04, reconciling item

— $251,499.47, long term investments

— $226,698.26, savings accounts

Total of all accounts: $789,700.10

• Approved paying $8,762.97 in bills

• Accepted a $15,000 donation from Bois Forte Reservation

• Accepted a $210 donation from North Country Quilts

• Approved adopting a new joint powers agreement for the Vermilion Trail board, without Breitung Township, which elected to not join in on building the trail

• Appointed Lee Peterson to serve as Greenwood Township’s representative to the Vermilion Trail

• Approved moving the township’s web hosting to Tech Bytes from Cold Snap Technology

• Set the Greenwood Town Hall as the township’s designated polling place for the upcoming March, 2018 township election

• Authorized the printing of election ballots, once the fillings close, for the 2018 township election.