Scandia Council hears update on ambulance service

Mary Bailey
Staff Writer

Lakeview EMS, owned by Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater, has been given the license to provide emergency medical service in Scandia.

Fire Chief Jim Finnegan made the announcement at the city council meeting on Tuesday, July 17, and introduced Lakeview’s emergency department medical director, Jon Muller.

Muller told the council that Scandia will have advanced life support service 24 hours a day. In the 300-mile area that includes Stillwater, North St. Paul, and Scandia, he said, four ambulances are on duty 16 hours a day, plus three ambulances between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The dispatcher can see where each truck is and sends the closest truck to the call.

Locating in Scandia instead of Marine makes sense, Muller said, because Scandia’s modern fire hall offers living quarters for the crew, the city has better cell phone coverage, and call volume is higher.

The living quarters agreement spelling out the responsibilities of each party will come to the council for approval soon.

Muller said the ambulance drivers have been welcomed by the fire department and eat at the Scandia Cafe.  “The people have been great,” he said.

Lakeview Hospital will be represented in the Taco Daze parade in September, Muller added. Taco Daze is Scandia’s annual celebration, held the first Saturday after Labor Day.

Cable TV

After hearing a presentation from Sara Chatwin of the Forest Lake Cable Commission, the Scandia City Council postponed a vote on pulling out of the joint powers agreement.

Chatwin said that Lakes Area Television (LATV) exists for all three member communities, Forest Lake, Columbus and Scandia.

She said the group has filmed public meetings since 1985. “We take it very seriously,” Chatwin said, using reliable people and equipment.

In addition to airing city council and planning commission meetings, LATV also promotes partnerships, as when the Forest Lake Area Chamber of Commerce worked with Scandia Heating and Plumbing, or when Meister’s Classic Car Show was sponsored by Autowerks in Forest Lake.

Chatwin said LATV10 films Taco Daze, MudFest, Scandia Elementary School and Gammelgarden events, reaching 4,500 households in the area.

A test to see whether meetings can be streamed live over the web was a success, she said, and may lead to video on demand, with meetings shown on the city’s own website.

In response to the criticism that there’s not a lot of LATV access in Scandia, Chatwin said she talked to Midcontinent Communications, the new cable service, and was told they intend to improve the infrastructure, buying new equipment and laying cable in certain areas.

“US Cable left things in not the greatest shape,” she said.

A fee review is being undertaken to see if underpayments were made in the past, she said.

Midcontinent needs a franchise to provide service in cities, and state and federal law require a 5 percent franchise fee, Chatwin explained.

Scandia returns all franchise fees the city receives from Midcontinent to the cable commission.  Scandia’s $7,920 is not a large portion of the $170,000 budget, she said.

Council member Sally Swanson said, “I don’t get cable.  Most of Scandia doesn’t.”  Chatwin’s written report to the city of Scandia says Scandia currently has 201 subscribers.

Swanson also asked why the city of Wyoming is not part of the cable commission. Chatwin said Wyoming has its own agreement with Midcontinent. One of her long-term goals is to invite Wyoming to join, she said.

Swanson concluded, “You are promoting our city.  [People from other communities] will come here, visit, spend money. But only 10 percent of us can see this.”

Mayor Randall Simonson questioned the value of a local TV station when people can create their own video productions.  “In your own home, you can do some of the very same things done by the TV station,” he said.

Chatwin responded, “That’s the beauty of a local access station. They can come to our station, fill out a statement of compliance, and if they want to produce their own show with our help, we can teach them. (Before lending equipment, LATV requires that people take a class and pass a test.)

Simonson recommended that the council delay their discussion until more information is available from the July 18 cable commission meeting.

Uptown Sewer

The council approved plans for adding an equalization tank and aerobic pretreatment unit for the sewer system that serves the community center, church and downtown businesses. These improvements are expected to cost $73,209.

The cost of the new pump tank is estimated at $25,564. Bids will be awarded in August.

Engineer Brian Malm from Bolton & Menk explained that these improvements, recommended in the 2011 master plan, could not be made until accurate flow information was available.

Now run meters have been installed and city staff have been collecting information daily.

An equalization tank installed at the drain field  will store the excess flows that occur on weekends and release them slowly.

The pump tank at Elim Lutheran Church, located in the middle of the church driveway, needs to be moved, Malm said.

Before moving the tank, the city will also ask the church for a public utility easement. The tank is currently on church property with no easement.

A pretreatment tank will use aeration to help process commercial high-strength waste.


The council approved a recommendation from the Scandia Park and Recreation Committee to install bike trail signs funded by The Friends of Scandia Parks and Trails.

Instead of marking all trail loops identified in the 2011 Trails Plan, the signs will mark a shorter route, starting at Hay Lake Park and including parts of Mayberry Trail, 205th St., Oxboro Ave. and Old Marine Trail.

The signs will be installed by city maintenance staff on city streets.

The entrance to Lilleskogen Park on Oakhill Road south of Scandia Trail has been littered with tree stumps and brush since the trees were cut to make way for a parking lot.  The stumps were dug but have not been hauled away.

Shared driveway

Council approved a private road so that Dawn and Gary Gillespie can sell 20 acres of their land-locked parcel.

In the General Rural zone, each lot must have frontage on a public street, to ensure access to emergency vehicles and prevent owner conflicts over private driveways.

The vote to approve the variance request was unanimous. The Gillespies must meet all conditions recommended by the planning commission, including improving the road before building permits are issued and having no more than two homes on the shared driveway.

Other business

•The council granted Taco Daze permits to the Scandia/Marine Lions for food vending, parade, and—new this year—an antique car show and bingo. As in past years, there will be golf carts and a trolley to shuttle people from the school and post office parking lots.

•Building Official Keith Wille said one new home permit was issued, to Lee Ann Thompson on 189th Street.

•Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Majeski reported a stolen vehicle on Manning Trail and two thefts from vehicles in the Bliss Addition. A boat motor stolen at the Copas landing was later recovered, he said, and vandalism occurred at William O’Brien State Park.

•Scandia’s fifth annual National Night Out celebration will be August 7.

•Fire Chief Jim Finnegan said June had nine fire calls, 14 medical emergencies and one dive call.