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Donation of plants and gazebo set for Berrywood Park

BAXTER — A donation of replacement plants and a gazebo from Crow Wing Power’s Green Touch program will put the equivalent of $1,000 into Berrywood Park.

Tuesday, the Baxter City Council noted the donation and earlier ones were the start of the Berrywood Park flower garden. This donation is part of a four year project started in 2012. The spot started as a walking trail rest stop behind the ball fields at the park. Crow Wing Power previously donated $1,000 for flowering plants, landscape mulch and landscape paver blocks.

The gazebo is expected to be 10 feet by 10 feet and will be completed this year. In previous years the Girls Scouts have assisted with the project. This year, area Boy Scouts are assisting on the installation, which is planned May 18. The council waived the permit fee for the gazebo construction and members expressed appreciation for the enthusiasm for the community from the parks commission, donors and volunteers.

In other business, the council:

Approved a special event permit for Mills Fleet Farm fifth annual Baxter 4K run on May 31.

Appointed seasonal park attendants Elizabeth Gregory, Alyssa Gregory, Della Gramer, Corey Nelson, Tom Graumann and Madeline Gregory.

Approved paying $2,905 for the Whipple Lake recreational facility kitchen and picnic pavilion project to St. Croix Recreation. The council also approved $1,526 for the Berrywood Park picnic pavilion project.

Approved advertising for the open city planner position.

Heard a presentation from John Bowen, Crow Wing County emergency manager, on methods to handle a disaster event, including approaches to handle communication, rescue and cleanup should the area experience damage from a severe thunderstorm, tornado, wildfire, train derailment, long-term power outage, or similar event. Bowen said the county is a resource for the city in the event of a disaster. He provided the city with examples of incident management structures and action plans from other communities, including Wadena. Bowen noted the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., was larger but the same strength as the tornado that hit Wadena.

Twenty-one tornadoes were reported in Crow Wing County since 1950. Last year, a tornado carved a path by Hill City. In August, a table-top disaster exercise with the Minnesota National Guard is planned using a scenario of an event affecting the Baxter area, Bowen said.

Reported a consensus on the performance rating after a recent review of Administrator Gordon Heitke. The council found Heitke had a solid performance with many positive comments for balancing day-to-day service with special projects by pulling all the pieces together and handling contentious issues.

“A great performance and we look forward to more,” said Council member Todd Holman.

Met in closed session to develop an offer for a property purchase.

Discussed changes to the personnel policy, including a suggestion for city employee uniforms. Council member Jim Klein said he didn’t begrudge uniforms but the city better nail down the details. Council members had questions about costs and reimbursements. Council member Rob Moser said he could see it at some time down the road. Heitke said the city could gather more data from other cities regarding costs.

Approved the ordinance for sale of outdoor alcohol sales addressing security and noted language for the requirement for a 2-foot landscape buffer on a concrete pad now allows planters with vegetation as a screening option.

Mayor Darrel Olson noted the passing of former Congressman Jim Oberstar. Oberstar did a lot for Baxter, the area and the nation, particularly in transportation, Olson said. Olson also praised staff members for the hours of work to update the personnel policy and with legislative updates and construction projects.

Council member Mark Cross was absent.

RENEE RICHARDSON 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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