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Council looking into mosquito control

As mosquito swatting season approaches, city officials are again looking to reduce the number of bites.

Talk of mosquito control was before the Brainerd Safety and Public Works Committee at its meeting Monday.

It’s been an annual topic for the past two decades as the weather warms up and the pesky insects come out.

“The topic becomes big in June when they’re out. Then it’s too late,” said committee member Gary Scheeler. “So we’re talking about it now.”

“There’s a lot of pros and cons (to mosquito control),” said City engineer Jeff Hulsether.

Should the city choose to pursue some type of control, Hulsether said, it could be getting a little late in the year to pull together a program for this year, given the time required to decide on a scope and budget.

The committee members agreed they would not support spraying for the pest.

Committee member Mary Koep suggested city officials identify trouble spots and implement a trial program that doesn’t include spraying.

But just what the program will be is the question.

Some committee members were hesitant about hiring a consulting firm to make a recommendation since it would have a financial interest in the matter.

Instead, the committee will ask representatives from the University of Minnesota Extension, Central Lakes College and the Department of Natural Resources to give suggestions on products, use, cost and effectiveness.

In other council news:

-The Crow Wing County Historical Society and Museum will receive a $300 donation from the city. The council approved the donation, with council member Mary Koep voting against it. In past years the council gave between $200-$500.

Koep said she couldn’t support the donation because of other unexpected expenses the city is facing, like the closing of Wausau Paper.

“(The donation) shouldn’t be a priority for city funding when we are short,” she said.

Councilman David Pritschet disagreed.

“One of our priorities is Brainerd’s identity,” he said. “This plays into that.”

-Railroad quiet zones will once again be looked into by the Safety and Public Works Committee. Should quiet zones be implemented, there would be restrictions on train whistles as the engines drive through town. It would come at a cost, however.

The price tag is why the idea fell aside previously, said city engineer Jeff Hulsether. Baxter city officials led the effort about five years ago, he said, when they were told by railroad officials that each railroad crossing would require construction work. That work included things like double gating so cars and people can’t go back and forth and a pedestrian-designated crossing.

Brainerd has six railroad crossings that would need work.

Koep said she was concerned about possible liability to the city should something bad happen at the crossings.

The committee agreed to approach the railroad to start a dialogue about quiet zones and possibly get a representative to appear before its next meeting.

-A request for a proposal from Obermiller, Nelson Engineering from Alexandria and Fargo was selected to evaluate the city hall heating venting and air conditioning system at a cost not to exceed $11,000. The funds will come from the capital improvements fund.

-The Brainerd Police Department will use $2,500 in drug forfeiture funds to replace its existing ballistic helmets for the four team members, as well as protective eyewear. Current helmets are at least 10 years old. The new helmets are lighter, more comfortable and provide protection capabilities that are not deteriorated or expired, according to a request written by Police Chief Corky McQuiston. None of the team members have adequate departmental-issued protective eyewear, he wrote. The current balance of the drug forfeiture fund is $16,800.

-The council approved hiring the following temporary summer positions, as included in the 2013 budget: GIS intern at $10 an hour; engineering intern at $12 an hour; two street and sewer department temporary laborers at $10 an hour (400 hours for each laborer position).

-The city council approved a wage and longevity schedule resolution for street and sewer union employees. The longevity schedule is effective as of January 2013: 2 percent of hourly wage after eight years of service; 3 percent after 12 years of service; 4 percent after 16 years; 5 percent after 20 years.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at