The Forest Lake Times http://forestlaketimes.com The Forest Lake Times covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for Forest Lake, Minnesota. Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:07:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Fairview Health Services prepares for Ebola http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/fairview-health-services-prepares-for-ebola/ http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/fairview-health-services-prepares-for-ebola/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:51:39 +0000 http://forestlaketimes.com/?p=59188 Lisa Kaczke

Sun Current Newspapers

Fairview has begun preparations at its clinics and hospitals in light of recent cases of Ebola in the United States.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from someone who has Ebola, or from exposure to contaminated objects like needles. The virus can’t be spread via air, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include a fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising, according to the CDC.

The Ebola outbreak this year is the largest in history, with 8,973 total cases reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the CDC. Of those, 4,484 people have died of Ebola. Three cases, one of which was fatal, have been confirmed in the United States as of Friday, Oct. 17, according to the CDC.

In addition to reviewing Ebola symptoms with staff, Fairview Health Services has developed a screening tool to be used to determine if additional precautions need to be taken, according to Fairview Health Services spokeswoman Jennifer Amundson.

Fairview staff is being asked to increase vigilance in asking for a patient’s travel history if the patient has a fever or symptoms that are consistent with Ebola, according to Amundson. Triage tools have been developed to help staff determine the next step depending on the answers to questions regarding the patient’s symptoms and where the person has traveled.

If a patient has a suspected case of Ebola at Fairview, the patient would be isolated immediately, and infection prevention and infectious disease experts, as well as the Minnesota Department of Health, would be consulted immediately, according to Amundson.

Fairview staff has trained in the use of equipment to protect themselves from hazards and the supplies to do so have been made readily available, according to Amundson. Fairview employees are also going through refresher classes on how to put on and remove hazmat suits.

If a person is having a medical emergency, they should call 911. They should call their clinic if they are worried and have questions about symptoms. The clinic can guide them about what to do next, based on their answers to the screening tool Fairview has in place, according to Amundson.

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Fire departments examine costs, savings http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/fire-departments-examine-costs-savings/ http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/fire-departments-examine-costs-savings/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:48:23 +0000 http://forestlaketimes.com/?p=59184 Submitted photo Forest Lake firefighters fight a house fire on a cold day. Many Minnesota departments are looking for cost saving measures similar to ones used at the Forest Lake Fire Department, which shares services between Forest Lake and Columbus.

Submitted photo
Forest Lake firefighters fight a house fire on a cold day. Many Minnesota departments are looking for cost saving measures similar to ones used at the Forest Lake Fire Department, which shares services between Forest Lake and Columbus.

Eric Hagen

ABC Newspapers

Six Lake Minnetonka area fire chiefs have been brainstorming about how they might band together in a fire district to share services.

The communities of Maple Plain, Loretto, Long Lake, Mound, St. Bonifacius and Excelsior have yet to make any decisions and may include Hamel in a prospective partnership called the West Lake Fire District.

In Anoka County, the communities of Ramsey, Bethel, Nowthen and St. Francis are discussing a shared fire services plan that could mean a joint department or a formalized agreement on sharing resources.

Ramsey Fire Chief Dean Kapler, whose department already provides full-time service to Nowthen and administrative support to St. Francis, said everyone must look beyond “their own little kingdom.”

“I think if we drop our guard a little bit and just look at the benefit of the people we’re serving, there’s some true benefits,” Kapler said.

In Forest Lake and Columbus, the communities have been cooperating in a joint fire department for 45 years. Each city provides two members to a fire department committee to help govern department decisions. Fire Chief Gary Sigfrinius said that both cities save money by operating a joint department; Forest Lake pays about 80 percent of the operating cost, consummate with the area and calls for service it takes up compared to Columbus. Sigfrinius believes the committee fosters compromise and cooperation between the towns.

“For those 45 years, it’s worked out pretty well,” he said.

Sharing equipment could help fire departments avoid duplicating purchases of expensive major pieces, Maple Plain Fire Chief Dave Eisinger said.

For example, Maple Plain has a stick ladder truck that can be used in areas where space is tight. Mound has a bucket truck that needs more room. When Mound needs to replace its bucket truck, surrounding departments could share in the expense.

“We know we’ve got to do something because of the changing dynamics of fire service,” Eisinger said.

Most firefighters

are volunteers

About 2,000 of the 20,000 firefighters in Minnesota are career firefighters, according to Bruce West, state fire marshal and former Elk River fire chief. Although often referred to as volunteers, most do get compensated. Career firefighters are rare beyond the state’s largest cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and Rochester, but there are career firefighters elsewhere, including three communities in Anoka County.

Forest Lake has a mix. Though Sigfrinius and one fire inspector/firefighter are full-time, the rest are paid on-call or have other city duties as well (for example, the city employs a couple of building officials/firefighters). In Wyoming, even Fire Chief J.J. Hastings does not work full-time at the department. The reason only 10 percent of the state’s firefighters are career is the cost.

“Firefighting is very expensive,” Hastings said.

Hastings used Wyoming as an example. The department currently has 27 active firefighters. Each one of them has to have their own specialized set of fire gear, plus spares. Vehicle cost, training cost and recruitment cost each add additional dollar signs to a town’s fire budget, to the point where Hastings only considers a firefighter recruit a good investment if he or she spends five years or more in the department.

West does not anticipate many more communities switching to mostly full-time firefighters because it is difficult to afford, especially for smaller communities. He said he could see cities having duty officers, meaning paid-on-call firefighters who are assigned specific times to a fire station, but cities are going to have to get creative to find a way to bring on volunteers.

Grants less frequent

The Federal Emergency Management Agency gave the Norwood Young America Fire Department over $300,000 five years ago for a water tanker truck.

Grants like this from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were more common after the 9/11 terroristic attacks and formation of this new federal division, but have become more infrequent since the lowest point of the economic recession hit about five years ago, according to West.

In the next 10 years, West expects, the biggest budget challenge for departments will be needing to replace aging vehicles and equipment.

“As the economy downturned, departments were asked to do more with less or maintain what they had,” he said.

Hastings said that while the Wyoming City Council is attentive, it’s not uncommon for him to hear from people who think that all of the training and equipment costs are too much. In reality, he said, fire department expenses are more important than ever, what with an increasing number of calls for service and trickier fires to fight. For example, the Wyoming firefighters are often tasked with fighting car fires on Interstate Highway 35. New car builds can lead to faster, hotter fires in vehicles that are harder to cut through, Hastings said.

“Most citizens aren’t aware of the need or the (department’s) capability until an emergency happens,” he said.

Sigfrinius said the cooperation between Forest Lake and Columbus has resulted in savings for both cities as well as better service.

“Columbus, for instance, gets a full suburban fire department for 20 percent of the cost,” he said.

The city of Eagan was able to buy a $500,000 fire engine in 2012 without needing to borrow from the bond market because it puts about $400,000 into a fire apparatus capital equipment replacement fund every year, according to Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott. This fund currently has about $800,000 in it.

Scott said grants “were plentiful immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, but have begun to dry up since then.”

Pensions

All firefighters can form nonprofit fire relief associations.

A small percentage of homeowners’ insurance premiums go into a state coffer to help fire relief associations pay retirement benefits. Municipalities also make required or voluntary contributions. In Wyoming, the department recently held a fundraiser for the pension during Stagecoach Days.

Mound Fire Chief Greg Pederson said pension isn’t really used as a recruiting tool.

“After five to 10 years of service, it’s more of a retention tool,” he said.

Pension starts to become more of a factor in the Forest Lake department after 10 years. Then, firefighters are partially vested in the pension plan, getting fully vested after 20 years. The pension can’t be drawn until a firefighter turns 50, and Sigfrinius said it’s a way of encouraging firefighters to “look down the road” at future reward – though he noted that most of them stay for more altruistic reasons.

Wyoming’s pension plan is set up similarly to Forest Lake’s, and Hastings agreed that the money was far from the most important reason firefighters stay on. Instead, he said, it’s a variety of cultural factors and the sense that they’re part of something meaningful.

“The job is important,” he said.

Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Chief Nyle Zikmund said most fire relief associations were “very healthy” in 2012, according to the state auditor’s report. Net assets were $459.53 million and accrued liabilities were $448.45 million.

But Zikmund added that, with 684 relief associations in the state, “you’re going to have a few people that have messed up.”

Poor investment performance or a city council not planning for a number of retirements could negatively impact a pension fund, according to Zikmund. How this impacts firefighters and the city depends on what type of fund is set up.

If a defined-benefit plan goes too deep in the hole, a city could be required by state statute to make a contribution to the relief association. In a defined-contribution plan, everyone gets an equal share of the state and municipal contributions and prorated shares of investment earnings, so firefighters in these plans are more affected by the economy, according to Kapler.

The Eden Prairie Fire Relief Association received the largest 2012 municipal contribution, at $695,910. The Eagan Fire Relief Association came in next at $409,943.

The state auditor’s report showed that 22.1 percent of the 16,490 active firefighters in Minnesota are at least 50 years old, and 4 percent were 60 and older in 2012.

Zikmund said, due to a shortage of daytime volunteers, the state changed the law three of four years ago to allow firefighters to come back, after collecting, to start another pension, which is why there are still so many firefighters over the age of 50.

“We are living in a historic time of change,” Zikmund said.

Linwood Fire Chief Darryl Ballman and Scandia Fire Chief Mike Hinz could not be reached for comment. This article is the second part of a series on fire department issues.

Editors Adam Gruenewald, Jessica Harper, Sue Van Cleaf, Jeff Hage, Theresa Malloy and Eric Hagen researched and wrote for this article series. Ryan Howard contributed to the local portions of this story.

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Kidnapping suspect convicted http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/kidnapping-suspect-convicted/ http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/kidnapping-suspect-convicted/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:46:58 +0000 http://forestlaketimes.com/?p=59180 A Brooklyn Center man who assaulted a man in Forest Lake earlier this year has been convicted of attempted murder, first-degree assault and kidnapping.

Boon Wa Thao, 40, will be sentenced on Dec. 22. He was first arrested on March 19, five days after Forest Lake police were called to the 23400 block of Itasca Avenue Court north to help a man whose face had been cut with a knife.

Thao

Thao

According to court records, the St. Paul victim of the crime told officers that he’d gone to Vadnais Heights to meet a coworker earlier in the day on March 14 (the police call was made around 10 p.m.). However, when he got in the woman’s van, he saw that her husband, Thao, was in the back seat. The man told police that Thao accused him and Thao’s wife of having an affair and said he wouldn’t let him out of the van unless he paid Thao $5,000. When the victim tried to leave the vehicle without paying, Thao threatened to kill him. Police later learned in interviews that Thao had a handgun with him at the time.

Thao reportedly ordered his wife to drive the van to Forest Lake. When they were on Itasca Avenue Court, the victim jumped out of the van and tried to run, but he was chased by Thao, who reportedly brandished a large knife and struggled with the victim, causing a 6- to 8-inch cut to the bone down the man’s left jaw line. The victim eventually escaped and was given aid by a local homeowner.

Thao was later arrested, and police seized multiple weapons of various kinds from his home and vehicle. During an interview with Thao, officers reported that he admitted to the kidnapping incident.

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Leaves of fall http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/leaves-of-fall/ http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/leaves-of-fall/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:44:20 +0000 http://forestlaketimes.com/?p=59174 FR fall colors

Fall colors are out in full force in the area, including on 165th Avenue NE, Columbus City Park and the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area.

IMG_3209

IMG_3235

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Wyoming council tells a tale of two names http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/wyoming-council-tells-a-tale-of-two-names/ http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/wyoming-council-tells-a-tale-of-two-names/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:43:07 +0000 http://forestlaketimes.com/?p=59170 Earlier this fall, Wyoming City Council members voted to change the name of Gatzow Park to Railroad Park. If that name sounds familiar to Wyoming residents, that’s no surprise.

The park was named Railroad Park until it was changed in 2010. The reversal by the council only four years later left some residents puzzled by the reasoning behind the switch. Park Board Chairman Frank Storm explained a little about the history of the park and its two monikers.

The park is located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Viking Boulevard and U.S. Highway 61. The site was a train stop for the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad on the route from St. Paul to Duluth.  When the track was vacated, the land became one of the city’s parks.

In 2010, Sheldon Anderson was mayor. Roger Elmore, Russ Goudge, Linda Yeager and Joe Zerwas were members of the City Council. Storm was on the Park Board in 2010; Elmore was council liaison to the group.

Storm recalls Anderson proposed renaming Railroad Park to Gatzow Park. Park Board minutes for April 5, 2010, confirm this. Storm also said Anderson proposed spending $25,000 in development funding to go along with the name change.

Railroad Park was renamed Gatzow Park at the July 20, 2010, council meeting, based on the recommendation of the Parks and Recreation Board. Neil Gatzow was city mayor from 1986 through 2001. At the time, Goudge remarked that it would be a fitting honor for the former mayor for his contributions to the town.

At the same 2010 meeting, the council authorized a contract with Statewide Health Improvement Program to contract with a park planner to work with the park board on projects related to promoting the city’s parks and other activities.

A SHIP grant provided money for the study, but the proposed development of the half-acre park would have cost about $350,000, according to Storm. Grant money was available for the study, but money to even partially develop the park did not pan out.

The Wyoming Park Board was dissolved at the beginning of 2014 with the aim to reorganize and improve its effectiveness. Storm said he left the board about two years earlier but was approached by Mayor Eric Peterson and Elmore to help reorganize it.

Since that time, the board has been working on by-laws and a mission statement. Tying up loose ends has also been a focus, including the fact that nothing has been done with development of this specific park.

Storm explained that promised funds for a pavilion in the park never materialized after the name was changed. After waiting four years for the development dollars that were supposed to accompany the name change, the board recommended giving of Neil Gatzow Park back its original name of Railroad Park.

At the Sept. 2 council meeting, council members approved the renaming by a 4-1 vote. Linda Yeager voted against the name reversal, saying the park name was changed in recognition of Gatzow’s community service.

To date, Wyoming has not had a policy for naming parks. According to Storm, this is likely to change.

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2014 Forest Lake Area Voters Guide http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/2014-forest-lake-area-voters-guide/ http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/2014-forest-lake-area-voters-guide/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:42:43 +0000 http://forestlaketimes.com/?p=59117 Forest Lake mayoral candidates

Brian Hile

Age: 43 

Hile

Hile

Occupation: No response.

Previous political/community experience: Ran for city council unsuccessfully in Plymouth in 2010, ran for mayor unsuccessfully in Forest Lake in 2012

What is the biggest issue facing Forest Lake in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

I have a lot of plans for this city. I want to build a live bait store with rental boats so people and families can fish on the lakes. During the winter, live bait rental would also have a small, rentable house with a heater that people can sit inside to ice fish. I want to put in sidewalks for everyone and create other street improvements that would improve driver and pedestrian safety.

The city should build five large apartments that would be owned by the city to supplement the budget. Part of it could go to pay for the YMCA, reducing taxes. The apartments could also have retail space to bring more business to town. Two near Highway 35W would be luxury apartments that could be rented for $1,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, and the other three would be near the Washington County Government Services Center and would be for seniors and those with disabilities, who could pay with financial assistance.

We also need to build more houses and townhomes to bring more residents to town, but we also need to bring in more businesses like Best Buy, Costco and Sam’s Club. We need more residents and more jobs.

What are your thoughts on the city using public funds to bring a YMCA to town?

It sounds like not a good idea. Wyoming has been attempting to get a YMCA there. I feel it would be wise to share the costs between both cities. There is available space in between Wyoming and Forest Lake on Highway 8 and Highway 61. If they are going to build a YMCA, I would recommend they add a shelter for the homeless where people could stay if they paid 30 percent of their income. I heard that the YMCA does similar things in other states and think it would be good in Minnesota. We already have multiple fitness clubs in Forest Lake, and two of them are 24 hours. Why do we need more fitness clubs? They probably want a swimming pool, and I agree, but increasing taxes to bring them to town is not a good idea. Residents of Forest Lake work very hard for their funds for their home and their families. It’s not right to take money away from them. If I become mayor, I would make some changes and also will find other ways to get funds for the YMCA other than taking money from residents.

Stev Stegner

Age: 50 

Stegner

Stegner

Occupation: Self-employed printer

Previous political/community experience: Mayor of Forest Lake (2007-2010), current president of the Forest Lake Lions Club, current president of the Forest Lake Lake Association, volunteer with Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau

What is the biggest issue facing Forest Lake in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

My vision for Forest Lake is a community where folks feel safe, can raise a family and have those kids go to college; then those children want to come back and raise their families. To make this happen, we need more good paying jobs. I have a plan to bring more jobs to Forest Lake. I have been self-employed in Forest Lake for over 25 years. The benefit of working in Forest Lake is that you get to talk to people every day about what is happening around town. It is like having my own coffee club, except people show up one or two at a time and chat with me. Intelligent growth is critical to the long-term success of our community.

Bringing in more businesses to our community will be important to lower the tax burden of our residents. The right businesses bring good paying jobs into the community, and residents can work in our community rather than commute to the Twin Cities. When they work here, they spend more money here, creating the need for businesses to expand or open new businesses, which creates more jobs. We will spiral our community into success.

What are your thoughts on the city using public funds to bring a YMCA to town?

My wife and I donate to the Lino Lakes YMCA every year, even though we are not members. We believe in the mission of the YMCA, but those donations are our choice. We could choose to give money to our children or any number of other organizations, but we choose the YMCA (among others); that should speak very clearly about my personal views. Using city funds to finance a private organization should be a community decision. There should be a vote by the residents of Forest Lake. If our current mayor and council think it is a good idea, they should drum up support in the community and have the community vote on it. Having a YMCA is not the core function of government; it is an amenity in our community. As recently as this year, the City Council denied the waiving of a $50 fee for the Cub Scouts in our community because they cannot “give” to a private group. Months later, they give $9 million to the YMCA.

Any expenditure in excess of the entire yearly budget of the city should be voted on by the community.

Forest Lake City Council four-year candidates

Ed Eigner

Age: 69 

Eigner

Eigner

Occupation: Operations manager for Culligan Bottled Water

Previous political/community experience: Served on Forest Lake Planning Commission

What is the biggest issue facing Forest Lake in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

I believe the biggest issue the city of Forest Lake has to deal with over the next few years is two-fold. We have to figure out a way to retain the businesses we already have and also be able to attract new businesses to our community. Business is the economic engine which provides the revenue to allow a community to prosper and grow. We can no longer rely on just property taxes to foot the bill for all the goods and services our citizens want and need.

We need to change our reputation as being unfriendly and too expensive to do business here compared to our surrounding communities. I would suggest we have a task force which would work with businesses who are trying to relocate due to growth or displacement and work together to remove some of the barriers which may prevent them from locating in Forest Lake. This same task force could work with current businesses in an effort to prevent them from relocating elsewhere.

What are your thoughts on the city using public funds to bring a YMCA to town?

I have two issues with the use of public funds to build a YMCA. First, the city should have held a referendum like Elk River did. Elk River was supposed to be the model for this project. Their citizens were allowed to vote by means of a referendum. They voted in favor and used referendum bonds to fund the project. They also retained ownership of the building until the bonds are paid off.

The second issue I have with this project is that the city agreed to a very poor deal. Why should the city pay two thirds of the cost plus donate the land? If they truly wanted to protect the taxpayer, they should have taken the time to negotiate a better deal. The land and the YMCA are not going to disappear overnight, so why rush into such a poor deal?

Michael Freer

Age: 45 

Freer

Freer

Occupation: Chief human resources officer

Previous political/community experience: City Council (2011-present), Planning Commission and Human Rights Commission member; 13 years as a volunteer baseball coach

What is the biggest issue facing Forest Lake in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

Our city faces infrastructure needs with our sewer system and our roads.  As one example, we need 20+ lift stations for our sewer system replaced at a cost of $300,000 to $600,000 each. Living in Minnesota, we all know how difficult it can be to keep our roads in good shape. With the amount of spending the city has done over the last two years, we may not be able to keep our AA+ credit rating and bond for these types of infrastructure projects. To solve these issues, the city will need to work with county, state and federal agencies to find funding so we can keep the cost to our residents affordable.   

What are your thoughts on the city using public funds to bring a YMCA to town?

The City Council should have a referendum on projects that are about the size of the annual city budget unless it relates to infrastructure or public safety. The city should have placed the YMCA project on the November ballot.  No one is against the YMCA itself, and it will be a great asset to our community. However, the process used to bring the YMCA to the city should have involved the entire City Council.  Bringing the YMCA should never have been a contentious issue. It should have united our community.

Susan Young

Age: 60 

Young

Young

Occupation: Consultant at an environmental and engineering consulting firm

Previous political/community experience: Township and city planning commissions, professional experience in administration of city services, City Council member (2003-present), appointed to Fire Board, Planning Commission, Human Rights Commission, Yellow Ribbon Committee, MOST FL, YSB, Airport Board, FLAAA, I-35 Task Forces, Rush Line Corridor Task Force, Personnel Committee, volunteer soccer coach, SHEP, Girl Scouts.

What is the biggest issue facing Forest Lake in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

Our biggest challenge is to engage and energize our residents and businesses to actively participate in the myriad functions that make a city a community. Forest Lake has a tremendous location at the top of the Twin Cities that allows residents to commute to jobs in either of the Twin Cities. It is human to come home from work and stay isolated in our homes. A community is vibrant when we come out of our homes, walk in our neighborhoods and parks, participate in school PTAs, the Rotary, the VFW and Legion, take and teach classes in Community Ed, lead a Boy or Girl Scout troop, eat at the great home-grown restaurants, help to plan one of our fantastic festivals, jump in the lake to raise money for a cause, attend City Council meetings or participate on a volunteer board. There are one-time opportunities to build parks and plant rain gardens. There are short- and long-term opportunities to mentor youth or mentor emerging businesses. The city has open houses for residents to comment on comprehensive plans, park plans, budgets and other projects. Our website is rich with information.

What are your thoughts on the city using public funds to bring a YMCA to town?

I voted to fund capital costs of the YMCA. The Y will pay the remainder of the capital costs and all of the operating and maintenance costs for 30 years. The Y will have more than 100 full- and part-time jobs and a payroll of $2 million per year in addition to the construction jobs. Every family in Forest Lake will be able to use the facilities at least six times a year. Youth can use the gym after school and weekends, organizations can use the common rooms (with kitchen), and the splash pad will be available to any Forest Lake family on summer weekends. The Y will provide direct benefits to all residents (not just Y members) and will retain and attract families to our city. More families in our city will attract the businesses to serve them, generating more jobs and bringing more families. Persons from other places who become Y members will see the benefits of our community, spend money and time, and someday live here. The city has a strategic plan that is a picture of future growth and development of our community. The Y is one piece of many needed to complete the puzzle.

Forest Lake City Council
two-year candidates

Michael Kuehn

Age: 56 

Kuehn

Kuehn

Occupation: Equipment operator, volunteer firefighter, certified arborist and state tree inspector

Previous political/community experience: Ran for City Council unsuccessfully in 2010

What is the biggest issue facing Forest Lake in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

Taxes, lift stations and making the city more attractive to businesses.

I would stop the unnecessary spending of public funds. Let the people decide what to spend their tax money on.

What are your thoughts on the city using public funds to bring a YMCA to town?

I’m all for a new YMCA, but let’s not jump into this so quickly. We just built a new city hall complex, the sewer system needs extensive and costly work and the schools are knocking at the taxpayers’ door for more money. What are our priorities? Let me hear from you, and that’s the way I’ll vote.

Richard Weber

Age: 43 

Weber

Weber

Occupation:  Sales representative for GlyEco Inc.

Previous political/community experience:  Prior commander and current e-board member of the Forest Lake American Legion, former youth ministry and couples volunteer at church

What is the biggest issue facing Forest Lake in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

One of the biggest challenges facing the city is there are no checks and balances with regard to city spending, and it has divided this city in major ways. One is given great responsibility on the council, which affects city government and all of its citizens. I believe the council should live within a set limit. Spending has to have a top tier amount or the council becomes separated from the people it serves. I’ve knocked on a lot of doors, and many citizens have told me they’ve lost their voice in the city and their voice should be valid more than just every two years. I welcome the responsibility of the many decisions which will come from being a council member and I’ll treat your hard-earned tax dollars with respect. You will have a voice once again. Under a council I sit on, any single spending item (other than city infrastructure) above the total annual city budget ($9 million) will automatically go to a referendum. A re-instituted checked and balanced city government will move this city forward responsibly.

What are your thoughts on the city using public funds to bring a YMCA to town?

In growing up on some pretty tough streets in St. Paul, I remember the YMCA as a safe place to play sports with my friends. While no one is disputing the value of a YMCA in any community, I think the process in which it came here was extremely flawed. In giving away a million dollar area of land, plus bonding $9 million dollars ($12 million after interest), this has brought more taxes to many Forest Lake businesses and families already struggling on a tight budget. This is added to the city center taxes, which are coming soon, and the vote for the upcoming school bond may raise them even more. In addition, most families won’t be able to pay the $100+ dollars a month to join this facility. All of this while completely shutting out two members of the City Council who had no voice in the negotiations whatsoever. The end doesn’t justify the means in Forest Lake. Our priorities should have been to use public funds on our crumbling infrastructure first.

Columbus City Council candidates

Mark Daly

Mark Daly

Daly

Age: 50 

Occupation: Electrical contractor

Previous political/community experience: Member of the Columbus Planning Commission and Public Works Committee

What is the biggest issue facing Columbus in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

The freeway district development is currently the biggest issue for our city. As a member of the Planning Commission, I am directly involved in problem solving on this important issue. Specifically, the intersection of Interstate 35E and Highway 97 corridor properties is city-owned, so selling off this property would bring a significant tax revenue and less debt to Columbus.

Do you believe the city is employing a good system for street assessments? Why or why not?

Our city has in place a good system for street assessments. One example of this is that a majority vote by the residents of each road determines whether the road will be blacktopped or not.

Bill Krebs

Age: 54 

Krebs

Krebs

Occupation: Auto repair shop owner

Previous political/community experience: City Council member for the last four years, liaison to tree board, Rice Creek Watershed District and personnel committee, helped in building the city’s maintenance building

What is the biggest issue facing Columbus in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

After talking to our residents, maintaining our rural atmosphere and continuing to keep reasonable residential tax rates are the priorities in Columbus.

I would deal with them by continuing to support new business in the commercial freeway corridor, which will help hold the line on future tax increases to homeowners.

Do you believe the city is employing a good system for street assessments? Why or why not?

Yes. The citizens of Columbus have the choice to vote on whether to improve (blacktop) their roads or not. The City Council merely implements the wishes of the residents.

Columbus mayoral candidate Dave Povolny and council candidate Jessie Messina did not submit responses.

Linwood Township treasurer candidates

Vicki Erickson

Age: 52 

Erickson

Erickson

Occupation: Accounting specialist

Previous political/community experience: Linwood Township treasurer for more than 10 years

Why are you running for office?

I have lived in Linwood for 20 years and have served as treasurer for more than half of that time. I enjoy my position and have formed many new and lasting relationships while serving the township. This is a tight-knit and wonderful community that I enjoy raising my children in. It is a community that I not only adore living in, but also working for. I believe that serving as the township treasurer is one small way I can give back to a community that has served my family and me so well.

What is the biggest issue facing Linwood in the next few years, and how would you help deal with it in your position?

No response.

Carrie Luedtke

Age: 34 

Occupation: Human resources professional, formerly an accountant

Previous political/community experience:  Girl Scout leader, Boy Scout activity coordinator, Linwood PTA treasurer, Linwood Fire Auxiliary treasurer and Linwood Fire Auxiliary president.

Why are you running for office? 

I am running for treasurer of Linwood Township because I think it is important to be involved in the community in which I live. The role of treasurer fits with my professional background and my personal interests. I have a two-year accounting degree, a bachelor’s degree in business and have worked as an accountant for over 14 years.

What is the biggest issue facing Linwood in the next few years, and how would you help deal with it in your position?

The biggest issue I think Linwood is facing in the next few years is updating practices and taking advantage of technology. My extensive professional experience in this role provides me with the background and knowledge needed to help improve these practices and bring efficiencies to the township office.

Linwood Township Board Seat D candidate (unopposed)

Michael Halliday

Age: 46 

Occupation: Insurance salesman

Previous political/community experience: Former Park Committee member, Town Board supervisor (2007-present)

Provide a statement on your governing philosophy and what you hope to accomplish:

As the incumbent, I will continue to be accountable for township spending. The annual tax levy has been consistent every year that I have been on the town board. As time gets tougher and costs increase, I think it is important to continue to try new ideas and implement methods that help the township become more efficient. It is also important that a supervisor is approachable and open to suggestions from residents. I think it is a privilege to be given this opportunity as a town board supervisor.

I also have been a big supporter of the recently formed HR committee. As one of the members of that committee, I think it is important to make sure we have systems in place to hold employees accountable for their job duties but also have a way to give accolades for a job well done. The HR committee has been working hard to make sure employees have what they need to do their job and to help clarify job duties to make the township run smoother and more efficiently.

Linwood Township supervisor seat A candidate Robert Millerbernd did not submit responses.

Scandia mayoral candidates

Dan Lee

Dan Lee

Lee

Age: 58 

Occupation: Hobby farmer, artist

Previous political/community experience: Lions Club International (11 years), Park and Recreation Committee (two years), Economic Development Association (assistant treasurer one year-new), City Councilman (two years), City Council liaison to Park and Recreation Committee (one year)

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

The biggest money challenge would be the roads. In the next five to 10 years, our city will need to find over $5 million. Other issues would be zoning for density issues, both residential and commercial. Our aquifer is under heavy use, and we need to protect and manage our part, since most places are a well and septic system. The budget is always a balance between spend now or later and having the wisdom to do both. Paying for it could be done through tax levy, franchise fees, assessments, bonding or a combination of all. The nice thing about that is many cities have had the same problems, and with help from the League of Minnesota Cites, the county and the state, we can see what worked for other cities and tailor it to what will work for us.

How should the city deal with development and growth?

Working with the EDA has been a fantastic venue to explore zoning changes and commercial investment and attraction to our town. There are challenges to being a relatively new city, like possible septic/sewer system, cable and water. Our new EDA not only give us access to many knowledgeable people and council, it legitimizes our ideas and vetting for submission to the City Council. If we can streamline and expedite the permitting process, it would go a long way to keeping Scandia an attractive place to work, live and give our children hope of being able to live here, too. The most important and fragile concept is retaining our rural character; once lost it would be difficult to ever return. By keeping the commercial and density housing in the city proper, one could retain Scandia’s rural charm. Working close with the planning commission and making this a priority could make the question of rural character part of the decision making process.

Sally Swanson

Age:  51 

Swanson

Swanson

Occupation:  Senior paralegal

Previous political/community experience: Scandia Parks and Recreation Board member (2009-2011), Friends of Scandia Parks and Trails Board member (2009-2014), Scandia City Council member (2011-present), Scandia Economic Development Authority president (2013-2014)

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

As in many other cities, we are faced with aging roads that need significant work and in many cases reconstruction. In the past four years that I have been on the council, we have implemented a new road fund and have identified the most “at-risk” roads. I would like to continue as a part of Scandia’s leadership to implement a road financing policy that is sustainable and the most equitable to all our residents. We must continue to provide high quality public services at affordable rates through common sense leadership. My leadership qualities and experience in areas of finance will help me guide the City Council as mayor. I will not make promises I cannot keep, but I will work hard to find solutions, listen to all members of the public, and always represent Scandia with the utmost respect for the office, staff, and most important, our residents.

How should the city deal with development and growth?

While I support our rural heritage and love the natural beauty of Scandia, I do see the need for some lifestyle housing and commercial growth in Scandia. If we can make our tax base more diverse by supporting our existing businesses and potentially bringing in new business, we can keep taxes low and maintain our lifestyle. While on the council for the past four years, I have often heard that Scandia is just not affordable for young families who really want to be here because of our excellent elementary school and the many natural amenities available. We also have an aging population and not enough senior housing options available to keep these residents in Scandia. This can be remedied by smart growth in and around the town center area. Scandia is very cautious about growth, which is not a bad thing, but it should not be feared. I want to see Scandia prosper for everyone without disrupting the natural beauty and peace we all enjoy here. I believe that I am the person who can get that done and would love to prove it to you as the next mayor of Scandia.

Scandia mayoral candidate Randall Simonson did not submit responses.

Scandia City Council candidates

Darrin Gould 

Gould

Gould

Age:  48 

Occupation:  Machinist 

Previous political/community experience: None

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

The biggest issue I feel that is facing the city of Scandia is the deterioration of roads.

The next issue facing Scandia is growth management. I would like to limit growth and keep Scandia the same rural community that it is today. If you didn’t grow up in Scandia, you moved to this area because you wanted open space and the small town feel atmosphere, while still being close to the metro area. We don’t want Scandia to turn into Blaine or Woodbury. 

How should the city deal with development and growth?

No response.

Robert Hegland

Age: 72 

Hegland

Hegland

Occupation: Semi-retired investment manager and financial planner

Previous political/community experience: Precinct chairman

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

Taxation and ever-increasing government. The city is essentially a business and should be run as such.  Expenditures need to be justified with cost/benefit/analysis for capital expenditures. It also makes plans and expenditures based on outside influences and not actual population statistics.

How should the city deal with development and growth?

The city has no development and growth. Its population has increased approximately 7 percent over the past 15 years. Neighboring Forest Lake is over 40 times that. Contributors to that limited growth (and lots of residents prefer limited growth) are restrictive elements such as a 68-page architectural guide and onerous permitting requirements for seemingly simple construction.

Dustin Hegland

Age: 34 

D. Hegland

D. Hegland

Occupation: I work as a consultant in the Information Systems Management Field.

Previous political/community experience: No response.

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

I’ve seen our property taxes increase as incomes aren’t increasing and home values are dropping. Even with all this, our City Council continues on as if it is business as usual. These ideas must stop, and every expense must be scrutinized.   

How should the city deal with development and growth?

The city should stimulate growth by keeping taxes low and getting rid of regulations that make it difficult to open or run a business. Business, agriculture, and development thrive when there is less regulation, not more.

Robert Pilz

Age: 43 

Occupation: Self-employed wildlife educator

Previous political/community experience: No response.

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

Roads. The transportation infrastructure is in a state of emergency. With many roads constructed poorly and some not even paved at all, we’re in for some major capital funding problems over the next 20 years.

There is going to be many pains and crabby people in the community, but taxes are going to have to increase and other growth is going to be needed to help offset the desire to keep Scandia an A+ city with a rural feel.

How should the city deal with development and growth?

We are going to have to embrace growth in both residential and business developments. Our small businesses are integral to our community; they need our support and help to succeed, and we need them just the same. To achieve our necessary revenues to bridge the infrastructure demands, we’ll need business tax increased through growth, not demand on our existing businesses. Many livelihoods are on the line. The same goes for residential growth through permits and property tax revenues. We need to loosen the grip on land use requirements and home-based business ordinances.

Jim Schneider

Age: 57 

Schneider

Schneider

Occupation: Building official for Chisago County

Previous political/community experience: Scandia City Council, 14 years in a zoning office, involved in development throughout city and other communities.

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

I think the biggest issue facing the city right now is the roads. We have blacktop roads that need to be repaired and maintained. There are many roads that are beyond simple maintenance and require major renovation for various reasons. The struggle is where the funds for this work will come from. People have been assessed once for these projects and like me are not willing to be assessed a second time.

Years ago when this work was done, a contingency should have been set up for maintenance but was not. Now, our challenge is to work in ways to use the city’s money more wisely to be able to put more towards these road projects.

How should the city deal with development and growth?

As far as growth of the city, it is hard to expand any large housing projects without city sewer or water. The residential projects will have to rely on septic systems and wells, which limit the potential growth of the city. This is not all bad, as it fits into the plan for keeping Scandia rural. In my opinion, if there is to be any commercial growth, the rules will simply have to be loosened up.

Michael White

Age: 69 

White

White

Occupation: Retired

Previous political/community experience: Watershed manager, Scandia Park Board Committee member, City Comprehensive Plan committee member, Watershed Comprehensive Plan committee member, Friends of Park member, lake association member, Chair of Lakes Area TV station, Vietnam-era veteran, Scandia Marine Lions Club member

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

Preserving Scandia’s rural atmosphere and landscape and protecting the lakes, rivers and streams. We need to get greater input from residents, practice intelligent planning and reduce the cost of government.

How should the city deal with development and growth?

No response.

Wyoming mayoral candidates

Linda Nanko Yeager

Age: 58 

Yeager

Yeager

Occupation: Retired chemist

Previous political/community experience: Wyoming City Council (2009-present), council liaison to the Economic Development Authority, Rush Line Corridor Task Force member, Wyoming Area Library Society member, science outreach volunteer with Experiment with a Chemist, founder and chair of the board of directors of the Friends of the Giese Memorial Library

What is the biggest issue facing Wyoming in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

Like many cities, Wyoming faces the challenge of paying for road and infrastructure maintenance and improvements while at the same time attracting and retaining businesses. Also, there is a lack of long-term planning to address expansion of our commercial/industrial base and cost-saving options on services the city provides. City government must meet these challenges in such a way that folks can afford to live or own a business here. I will continue to promote responsible spending and keeping taxes as low as possible because Wyoming needs to be affordable for all.

Do you believe the city is employing a good system for street and/or utility assessments? Why or why not?

The current system of holding repeated referendums in hopes of a “yes” vote and doing nothing in the meantime is not working and is only delaying much needed work.

While no system is perfect or painless, partial assessment is fairer and best able to address the concerns of the greatest number of people. It would allow the city to stretch its tax dollars and complete projects on a timely basis while maintaining the current levy. It is also how the majority of cities pay for their road improvements.

Partial assessment addresses the concerns of those who might never be assessed for road reconstruction because they live on county/state roads, unimproved roads (assessed 100 percent if improved) or on newer roads in no immediate need of reconstruction for many years. It addresses the concerns of those who believe everyone should pay because everyone drives on the streets, and it addresses the concerns of businesses since they pay higher taxes and need the city to remain affordable.

In addition, partial assessments are fixed. Once paid, a property wouldn’t be assessed again for road reconstruction for decades. Without any assessment, the levy will have to increase to pay for future projects.

Eric Peterson

Age:  57 

Peterson

Peterson

Occupation:  Artist/website designer, real estate broker

Previous political/community experience: Mayor of Wyoming (2011-present)

What is the biggest issue facing Wyoming in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

Our biggest issue facing our city is our failing streets. In 2012, the city of Wyoming established a street replacement fund (a dedicated savings account), with the intention of being able to systematically replace failing streets throughout our city without assessing property owners. We have a question on the ballot this year to start moving forward, utilizing the street fund to make bond payments. The city will bond for the project this coming year. A yes vote will allow us to make the payments on the bonds entirely out of that street fund, without assessing the homeowners or increasing the taxes. A no vote will force the city to assess affected property owners at least 20 percent of project cost.

Do you believe the city is employing a good system for street and/or utility assessments? Why or why not?

The system we are currently trying to implement for street replacement is a good one. This system is simply a savings account, one that is already built into current property taxes in the city. Saving is a fiscally responsible thing to do for any ongoing project. This program shields the homeowners and businesses from potentially financially crippling assessments, looking out for those on fixed incomes and those still struggling from underemployment during the recession.  Improved streets will also show potential businesses and residents that we take pride in our city, emphasizing an already wonderful city in which to live, grow, and work.

Wyoming City Council candidates

Roger Elmore

Age: 59 

Elmore

Elmore

Occupation: Advertising/graphic design

Previous political/community experience: Wyoming Town Board Supervisor (2003-2008), Wyoming City Council member (2008-present), liaison to the Wyoming Park Board and Wyoming Planning Commission

What is the biggest issue facing Wyoming in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

There are several large issues the city needs to deal with; however, our current roads issue takes precedence at this time. Our goal is to complete this task while keeping the overall tax burden minimal.

Do you believe the city is employing a good system for street and/or utility assessments? Why or why not?

In 2012, the city implemented a levied “road fund.” On Nov. 4, the residents of Wyoming will be asked how they’d like to pay for road repair and reconstruction. Should they answer “yes” to the bonding referendum question, those bonds (loans) will be paid entirely out of that levied road fund with no additional tax implications or charges to the homeowner. Should residents answer “no” to this question, we’ll implement our assessment policy, charging each homeowner living on the affected street a percentage of the cost of that repair, while the city uses levied dollars from the road fund to pay its percentage. Keep in mind: Both options of financing road repair require the city to bond.

Both solutions offer a viable financial solution to a growing problem. The city intends to move forward with road reconstruction as well as addressing associated infrastructure issues in 2015.

Lisa Iverson

Age: 48 

Iverson

Iverson

Occupation: Sales and marketing

Previous political/community experience: President of the Wyoming Area Business Association, co-chair of the Suicide Prevention Committee, chair the Bowl for Life event, past School Board member, committee member on the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau Taste of the Lakes, past chair of the Wyoming Stagecoach Days

What is the biggest issue facing Wyoming in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

The city’s current policy to spend heavily now in case of rapid and significant growth in the future is our biggest issue. In the past four years, the city has increased pay to the top two administrators by 17 percent, to over $100,000, doubled staff, purchased six new squad cars, tried to purchase the Riverbank building, and spent $11,500 on a special election for a road referendum.

We have had a 14 percent compounded annual total expenditure growth rate over the last three years. This total expenditure increase is by far the largest among any city in the area. This city expenditure information is published by the State of Minnesota and shows that other cities such as Forest Lake, East Bethel, Lindstrom, North Branch, Hugo, Chisago City, and Lino Lakes total expenditures increased from -1 percent to only 4 percent annually during this same period.

I propose we spend according to current residents’ needs and as we grow increase spending accordingly. I would put a stop to the endless spending, allowing for expenditures that are investment worthy and financially sound. I would also implement a round table panel of business owners and residents as a collective voice of our community.

Do you believe the city is employing a good system for street and/or utility assessments? Why or why not?

Currently, the city does not have a good system in place for streets and utility assessments. The past two years, the council has continued to place resident against resident on this issue. In 2012, they raised taxes for a street replacement fund and continue to do so each year. At the end of 2014, the balance will be $1.4 million dollars. With the defeat of last August’s special election for the road referendum, the council should have come together as elected officials (and teammates) to revise a new plan and get started on our much needed road repair.

Claire Luger

Age: 36 

Luger

Luger

Occupation: Teacher

Previous political/community experience: Current Wyoming Park Board member, current Wyoming Economic Development Authority member

What is the biggest issue facing Wyoming in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

The biggest issue currently facing Wyoming is its quality of infrastructure and how that affects our ability to attract businesses. Wyoming has great potential for building its business base, and it is important that we have a healthy business atmosphere so that we can derive revenues necessary to support the need of our community, lower our residents’ taxes, and ideally provide local jobs. However, we can’t attract businesses if our most basic and visible services seem lackluster or poorly maintained. We must be willing to invest in our streets and buildings in an equitable way for all of our taxpayers because this will help spur investment in our residents. As a member of the city’s park board and economic development authority, I understand that this concept is a priority for our community and regularly work with others to facilitate this ideal.

Do you believe the city is employing a good system for street and/or utility assessments? Why or why not?

Yes, by and large the city does employ a good system, and the majority of residents with whom I’ve spoken feel the same way. That said, it is the city’s responsibility to equitably balance the ongoing maintenance of a city with its residents’ needs and to ensure a balance of the local quality of life with the ability to fund it. Generally speaking, I don’t think it is a problem to use assessments to pay for targeted repairs or expansions in our infrastructure. However, it may be that we plan citywide repair and maintenance programs that are intended not only to benefit homeowners but to attract new businesses and residents. In that case, we should approach it as a citywide expenditure and proceed with a responsible and common sense approach in order to benefit all members of our community.

Independent School District 831 School Board candidates

Karen Morehead

Age: No response 

Morehead

Morehead

Occupation:  Retired 

Previous political /community experience: 15 years on the Forest Lake School Board, member of the Forest Lake Rotary, chair of the Forest Lake Park Board, vice chair of The Education Foundation of the Forest Lake Area, board member on East Metro Integration District

What issue would you most like to address as a member of the School Board?

Right now we must address the needs of our facilities. I also am a big believer in local control and I would like to see more decisions made at the local level. Common core standards would be one example. I would like to expand our community partnerships. We must continue to encourage community involvement in our schools and our decision making. We are making great progress with our strategic planning committee and facility task forces, and I would like to see it continue.

What are your thoughts on the School Board’s bond referendum for facilities improvements?

We owe it to our students and our community to find a way to work together to repair our aging buildings. We’ll have to work harder to get our message out. Many factors affected the May vote, but ultimately I believe the last bond referendum was too large a number, and I don’t think we were able to break it apart enough to fully understand all the projects. We will be working with another facilities task force to relook at the facilities and come up with a plan that we hope will create a better trust of our district, a clearer message, and will be able to accomplish our facilities problems. Meanwhile, interest rates and construction costs continue to rise while the facility needs are still not met.

Luke Odegaard

Age:  27 

Odegaard

Odegaard

Occupation:  Auditor for Land O’Lakes and a licensed CPA

Previous political/community experience: Facilities Task Force member (2012-present)

What issue would you most like to address as a member of the School Board?

The state funding formula for all schools is complicated, not always predictable, and wholly inadequate, as evidenced by the number of districts with local operating levies. Many of these levies are not for extra programming or activities, but rather are required to merely fund day-to-day operations. Local legislators need to determine the funding levels required to adequately run a school district. I would like to work with our local legislators to come up with proposed changes to simplify the funding formula to ensure our district receives adequate funding from the state. This would help ensure the continuity of wide-ranging programming and opportunities for students in the Forest Lake school district.

What are your thoughts on the School Board’s bond referendum for facilities improvements?

Having been a member of the Facilities Task Force since 2012, as well as a graduate in 2006 that used school facilities quite extensively, I can personally attest to the fact that the buildings and facilities in our district require significant upgrade and repair. These are public buildings owned by our community. The public school system, including funding for operations as well as major facility repair and upgrades, is our responsibility. Whether you have children in schools, had children in schools, or never had children, everyone benefits from a thriving public school system. I benefited from a great education in Forest Lake, attended a great college, obtained a great job, and now I am actively contributing to programs like Social Security to help benefit those who were helping fund my education in the public school system. We need to address these facilities needs in a comprehensive manner in order to provide current and future schoolchildren with safe, secure, and reliable facilities in which to learn.

Jill Olson

Age: 44 

Olson

Olson

Occupation: Site director

Previous political/community experience: Parent volunteer for 12 years, previous treasurer and president of Lino Lakes Elementary PTO, Citizens United for Public Schools member, Forest Lake Boys Lacrosse Booster Club member

What issue would you most like to address as a member of the School Board? 

Facilities. 

What are your thoughts on the School Board’s bond referendum for facilities improvements?

Forest Lake is no different from many other school districts asking for bond money. Our schools need boilers and new roofs. Our elementary schools could be safer. Our high school is very old and could use some updates, and our athletic fields, pool, etc. don’t compare to other districts. Our kids deserve better.

ISD 831 School Board candidate Jerry Wellman did not submit responses.

House District 39A candidates

Bob Dettmer

Age: 63 

Dettmer

Dettmer

Occupation: Teacher, coach (retired), United States Army Reserve, Chief Warrant Officer CW4 (retired), Wrestling Official for the Minnesota State High School League

Previous political/community experience: Minnesota State Legislator in House of Representatives (2007-present), teacher, coach of various sports for 34 years, VFW Post 4210 and American Legion Post 225 member

What is the biggest issue facing residents in your district in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

I will continue to support legislation that promotes job growth and initiatives that help small businesses grow and succeed, which will in turn provide jobs and strengthen our local and state economy.

I will support legislation that will help promote affordable higher education in Minnesota and the student state education grant program.

I will support legislation that will promote K-12 education reform and equitable funding for our schools. As a teacher and coach for 34 years, I know firsthand that Minnesota has a long history of excellent public and private schools. Providing adequate and fair funding has to be among the state’s highest priorities. Perhaps more important than anything is for children to have a parent or parents actively involved in their child’s education. Nothing can replace parents as the ultimate education mentor, and no government program can achieve the same success rate.

I understand the importance of taking care of our veterans, and I will continue supporting legislation that will make Minnesota a veteran friendly state, like a veteran’s business job tax credit and legislation that promotes veteran-owned small business aimed at making sure men and women who serve our country are employed when they return home.

What is your governing philosophy?

I believe that limited government is the best government and that free enterprise is the best path to prosperity for all Minnesotans. We need to make government better, not larger.

I support reducing taxes, spending and regulation to create business opportunities for our hardworking families and businesses. I understand the way to turn the economy around is to put Minnesotans back to work in long-term private sector jobs. Bigger government and more spending is not the answer.

High taxes can be crippling to Minnesota families and keep small businesses from moving to our state, or force them to leave. Small businesses should be using funds to increase wages, retain employees or hire new ones, not fund unrestrained government spending.

I believe that parents are responsible for their children’s education and that parents, teachers and local school boards can best make decisions about that education. I recognize the sanctity of human life and the central role of the traditional family in our society. Having been an Army Reservist for 25 years, I understand that peace is best maintained through a strong national defense.

Tim Stender

Age: 38

Stender

Stender

Occupation: Carpenter

Previous political/community experience: President of the Carpenters’ Local 68, delegate to North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, delegate to St. Paul Building Trades Council

What is the biggest issue facing residents in your district in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

Income inequality is the worst it has ever been for the middle class. In the ’60s, the CEO made 20 times what entry-level workers made. Now it is more like 300 to 1. This will eventually destroy the middle class. Part of this is allowing large corporations to “cook the books” and get away with what no citizen ever could. Medtronic is, on paper, moving HQ to Ireland. The GOP doesn’t think we can blame them for that. I whole-heartedly disagree. Medtronic built a wildly successful company in Minnesota’s excellent business and family-friendly state and now are rigging paperwork to duck paying their fair share. I say unless the entire executive team of Medtronic is moving their families to Ireland, we need to close this loophole.

What is your governing philosophy?

If we lose our middle class, we won’t have a strong community. Too often, the GOP puts business and corporate interests above yours. I want to see safe and effective public schools, followed by affordable secondary education after high school. We need to continue Minnesota’s excellent record of being business friendly while paying our citizens a living wage. No one who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty, period. We need to fulfill our commitment to our police, teachers and firefighters and protect their pensions; these folks are the backbone of our society. I believe in equal pay for equal work.

House District 32B candidates

Bob Barrett

Age: 47 

Barrett

Barrett

Occupation: Director of market research and marketing analysis at the Hazelden/Betty Ford Foundation

Previous political/community experience: House District 32B State Representative (2011-present), former member of Chisago Lakes School District Community Finance team, former church treasurer, vacation Bible school director and Child Care Team director, current student mentor at the Chisago Lakes Middle School, local youth sports official

What is the biggest issue facing residents in your district in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

One of the largest issues, caused by one-party control of government, is wasteful state government spending. Wasting taxpayer money has a direct and extremely negative effect on local problems that need to be solved.  A great example is the $89.5 million senate office building that was included as part of the 2013 tax bill. This money would have been much better spent to equalize state funding for low-funded school districts like Chisago Lakes, Forest Lake and North Branch.

Democrats snuck a provision in the 2013 tax bill giving the city of Minneapolis millions to help pay off their library bonds. No committee hearings were ever held on this legislation. This money should have been used on reducing the high cost of doing business in Chisago County that has forced many businesses to move to Wisconsin.

Instead of spending money on priorities like roads and bridges, money is being diverted to expensive mass transit projects. The state spent over $400 million dollars on an Obamacare bailout. How many miles of crumbling roads and how many deficient bridges could have been repaired had this money been better spent? My solution is simple. We need to better prioritize state spending.

What is your governing philosophy?

The foundation for my governing philosophy is that the United States of America is a truly great and exceptional nation. I believe that “to whom much has been given, much is required.” I know that, as a great country, we have and always will support this belief by helping those who are in need, especially the elderly, our veterans, our children and those with physical and mental challenges.

In order to provide this help in the most effective way possible, we must use limited resources wisely. Relatedly, we can’t think that money alone will solve all the problems our country faces. Rather, in my private sector job I have found that most often financial resources have a much greater chance of being used effectively if they are supported by a healthy amount of elbow grease, a strong attention to detail, and a high willingness to be creative in solving problems. Government needs to goes the extra mile to accurately understand problems it faces while figuring out what the best solution is for these problems. Your tax dollars need to be spent effectively, not wasted.

Laurie Warner

Age: 59 

Warner

Warner

Occupation: Homemaker

Previous political/community experience: Duluth City Council member (2004-2008)

What is the biggest issue facing residents in your district in the next few years, and how would you deal with it?

The biggest issue in Chisago County is to provide the best quality of life. We need to have great education for our young people, and that means finding ways to support our schools. I was in full support of paying back the $2.2 billion that Republicans borrowed from the schools. I am a strong supporter of all-day kindergarten and lowering tuition at state universities. There is more work to be done.

To have the good life in our county means we need a healthy, clean environment. This means our air and water must be free from toxic silica sand caused by silica sand trucks rolling through our community and the mining in Scandia. We need a moratorium on this mining and transporting until we can establish safety and environmental protections.

We need to expand the infrastructure for high-speed Internet/broadband services so people can work from home with higher productivity. Businesses would be able to utilize our great workforce. For the huge portion of our residents that work in the Twin Cities, improved roads and better public transportation services are very important. We need all of these and more to improve our quality of life in Chisago County.

What is your governing philosophy?

Although a lot of people complain about the government, the truth is we count on it for much of our daily life. Our government is actually us. It is a democracy in which we can all participate to secure the common good.

So my governing philosophy is to listen to what the people say and represent the majority in the best possible way that I can. I believe that there is no problem too big that it can’t be worked out across the aisle. We can’t have gridlock while our citizens are waiting for answers and help. If the situation requires, we must find a way to compromise. Shutdowns of our government, for example, are not acceptable.

I would encourage people to learn more about the very important things that government does besides building roads and bridges, and urge them to become more participatory.

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St. Peter’s food drive http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/st-peters-food-drive/ http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/st-peters-food-drive/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:39:08 +0000 http://forestlaketimes.com/?p=59114 NW food shelf

Submitted photo

The students of St. Peter’s Catholic School participated in a food drive Oct. 1. The students brought in non-perishable food items and loaded more than 1,300 pounds worth into a trailer for Community Helping Hand this morning.

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Linwood supervisors question procedures http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/linwood-supervisors-question-procedures/ http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/linwood-supervisors-question-procedures/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:37:57 +0000 http://forestlaketimes.com/?p=59112 At its Oct. 14 meeting, the Linwood Township Board discussed recent information oversights that concerned some of the board members.

Supervisor Carol Searing made a request that supervisors receive copies of the draft minutes much earlier than the beginning of the board meeting. Supervisors need time to read the minutes before being asked to review these at the meeting, she said, remarking that errors are being missed. She insisted that the board should not be approving minutes that are wrong.

In a separate memo to the board, Township Accountant Pam Olson called attention to a number of errors in at least two agendas’ payment-of-bills sections involving both amounts and check-run numbers. There were several questions about lack of receipts for specific expenditures. It is possible to use date and amount to secure receipts, and Searing offered to do so for one substantial Wal-Mart receipt.

Supervisor Mike Halliday was more emphatic.

“I want to know who spent it,” he said. He also referred to the unresolved problem with incorrect or incomplete time cards. “We’re going to get nailed (by the auditor) because required and established procedures are not being followed,” he said.

Payment of the Oct. 14 bills was authorized with the exception of one to Envirotech, for which more information is needed. Approval of the minutes for the Sept. 23 meeting was tabled until the next board meeting. Clarification and corrections of recent past board meetings will be determined at the board meeting on Oct. 28.

Linwood Township had received two tax-forfeit properties that had to be put to public purpose. One was designated as a park in the Fawn Lake area. At the request of the state, the board deeded the other one (Lot 1, Block 2, Paradise Point, Unit 4, Anoka) back to the Department of Revenue. At the recommendation of Attorney Mike Haag, supervisors approved the transfer.

Under road and bridge business, the board approved a contract of $12,053 with Knife River Corporation for the township’s 2014 street maintenance project. A decision about vacating a section of 205th Street was tabled until the next Town Board meeting.

Fire Chief Darryl Ballman reported that Oxford Township is still working on proposals for mutual aid in the area. Nine new candidates are being interviewed for the Fire Department. Six can be accepted to bring the total number up to 35 firefighters. The old engine in Duxbury has a bad pump. Whether or not the department keeps it depends upon whether they can pay for repair. There were 13 responses in October; nine were medical and four were to fires.

Supervisor Ed Kramer announced that the township is the recipient of a 2014 Recycling Enhancement Grant from Anoka County recycling funds. The board approved the purchase of a Kubota tractor, at the cost of $29,000, to work in the recycling program. Funds for the purchase are from the recycling funds.

The board renewed the interim use permit for the cell tower located in south of Viking Boulevard near Country Store.

Township mailings are to be directed to Kelly Kramer. She asked for permission to have these delivered to the Forest Lake Post office. The email and U.S. mail parts of communication needs to be fine-tuned so that no one is left out of mailings, she said.

In other business, the board:

–Reminded residents of the Moonlight Walk in the Linwood School Forest 6-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24.

–Learned from Bob Millerbernd that the installation of the carp barrier at the south end of Martin Lake has been completed.

–Denied an application for an interim use permit to keep pigeons.

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Going public http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/going-public/ http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/going-public/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:35:21 +0000 http://forestlaketimes.com/?p=59109 NW forum

Submitted photo

Forest Lake council and mayoral candidates answered questions on local issues Oct. 14 during the Lakes Area Business Association candidate forum at Forest Lake City Hall. Pictured, from left, are Ed Eigner, Michael Freer, Michael Keuhn, moderator David Engelking, Stev Stegner, Richard Weber and Susan Young.

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Candidate forum coming up http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/candidate-forum-coming-up/ http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/10/22/candidate-forum-coming-up/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:34:18 +0000 http://forestlaketimes.com/?p=59107 The candidates for Forest Lake City Council and mayoral seats will talk about local issues at the Forest Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s candidate forum at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23 in Forest Lake City Hall (220 Lake St. N.). For more information, call 651-464-3200.

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