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Baxter council agrees to close portion of street for winter event

BAXTER — A request to close a portion of Oakwood Drive for a February special event was approved Tuesday.

The request to temporarily close Oakwood Drive came from Community Action for a Feb. 2 Camp Vanasek special event. Mayor Darrel Olson questioned if the event required a road closing from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 2 saying the Shadowfest winter celebration event doesn’t appear to have a lot of exposure.

The city was told an event will take place in the softball field across Oakwood Drive and closing the section of Oakwood in front of the camp would provide for safety of participants. The group was also granted permission to snow plow and use the Whipple Beach parking lot. The council was told the event was open to the public and included winter volleyball, broom ball, ice bike racing and mutt mushing, among others with activities beginning at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 2.

In other business, the council:

Received a request from David Pueringer to end what he termed a duplication of licensing. Pueringer questioned the city’s licensing of group homes, saying the state licenses and inspects the properties at higher standards.

Baxter charges $50 every two years for the rental license fee and hasn’t been charging or doing the inspections at group homes because the state filled that role.

Tuesday council members said they were in favor of keeping the registration and licensing and in favor of doing inspections. Council member Mark Cross said the state inspects the operations while the city looks at the building, such as operating smoke detectors, egress windows, hand and guard rail standards, proper fire walls and electrical ground fault locations. Baxter requires the registration and inspection of all rental properties in the city. Chief Jim Exsted told the council having an accurate database of group homes was important should there be a catastrophic event.

Approved the purchase of two Ford police squad cars to replace two 2007 For Crown Victorias with more than 100,000 miles each. The council voted to see if the local dealership could match the state bid and if not to proceed with the state bid. Council member Jim Klein asked if staff looked into a lease program to see if it was advantageous. Administrator Gordon Heitke said research hadn’t gone deep enough yet to make a recommendation.

Approved the same officers for the Economic Development Authority with Cross as president, council member Rob Moser vice president and council member Todd Holman treasurer.

Tabled a discussion on vacation of utilities easements for Woodland Office Park until Feb. 19.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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