The Crosby City Council balked at a proposal that would have it cover $45,000 of the cost associated with moving a force main sewer pipe during the Highway 6 tunnel construction this past summer, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported Oct. 16.

Serpent Lake Sanitary Sewer District officials proposed covering half of the $120,000 cost -- what remained after the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation awarded a matching grant to the district -- while billing the four cities utilizing the sewer system for the remaining $60,000. The sewer district proposed billing the cities based upon usage, and the city of Crosby accounts for 75%.

Council member Robyn Wolfe, who represents the city of Crosby on the sewer district board, said she believed the district had enough money in its reserves to cover the cost. Council member Jim Traylor said at the least, he thought it would make more sense for each city to cover the remaining cost equally, given all benefit from the system and the force main itself has nothing to do with usage.

The denial is the latest twist in what has been a testy subject between the sewer district and the city of Crosby. District officials learned they would be required to move the pipe for the tunnel project after the first of the year, when the budgeting process was already complete. Concerned about the project’s potential to drive an increase in rates for users of the sewer system or thwart another planned capital project, the sewer district board at first refused the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s directive it must move the pipe. The IRRR grant alleviated some of those concerns, although district officials indicated at the time they intended to pass along part of the cost to the benefiting cities.

BREEZY POINT

Expanding nature trails is part of the plan on five lots recently purchased from the city of Breezy Point by the Pelican Lakes Conservation Club, the Echo Journal reported Oct. 10. The lots are located within the Breezy Point Business Park subdivision on County Highway 4. The conservation club indicated a desire to clean up storm damage on the property while also expanding trails and increasing signage for nature sites. The club also intends to donate $10,000 to the city’s park fund to assist in replacing the dock at the boat landing on Pelican Lake.

LITTLE FALLS

A dustup over the removal of a board member at the Morrison County Animal Humane Society led to the resignation of the shelter manager, the Morrison County Record reported Oct. 13. The Rev. Robert Bellin was recently removed from the board and barred from the facility as a volunteer. Bellin said it was because the board didn’t want him asking questions about finances he found suspect, while Executive Director Michael Fox maintained Bellin was difficult to work with and assumed the organization was corrupt from the beginning of his involvement. Bellin’s work as a volunteer also made a number of other volunteers leave, Fox alleged.

Shelter Manager Renee Kono resigned due to Bellin’s removal, stating she never saw him act inappropriately and believed the move was self-serving on the part of the board. Another volunteer stated she left because of the action against Bellin and removed the Humane Society from her will.

MORRISON COUNTY

An insurance coverage decision and an ongoing lawsuit combined to force Morrison County to decide whether it will independently fund a basic care program for people with special needs for a year, the Morrison County Record reported Sunday, Oct. 20. The county board earlier voted to withdraw from the South Country Health Alliance, and a lawsuit is stalling the state’s procurement process for health plans. In the meantime, the program serving 130 people in the county may not be funded without a $100,000 allocation from the county. The program allows people with special needs who do not have a care plan through Medical Assistance to get one, and it provides assistance in navigating health care and preventing emergency room visits for the population. The Morrison County Board expressed disappointment the Minnesota Department of Human Services had yet to provide a solution to the problem, also faced by Todd and Wadena counties.

ROYALTON

A Royalton police officer was fired following a number of allegations investigated by the city, the Morrison County Record reported Oct. 13. Officer Tom Franklin faced complaints, including harassment, sexual harassment, improperly accessing public records and being outside city limits for extended periods. The Morrison County Attorney’s Office had also expressed concerns regarding some of the officer’s traffic stops. The sexual harassment complaints originated from employees at a local business, and the council also received information concerning a restraining order against Franklin.

A session normally closed to the public to discuss personnel issues was opened at Franklin’s request, and he used it as an opportunity to respond to the report. Much of his response focused on the traffic stops and drug arrests. Franklin said he tried to address the concerns raised by the attorney’s office with his former supervisor, but was not given the support he needed to do so. He said he asked for additional training to refresh his skills, but did not receive approval.

“I, like everyone else in this room, am not perfect and am guilty of making mistakes in my personal life,” Franklin said, according to the Record. “I am deeply sorry for allowing one of those mistakes to carry over into my professional life.”

The council voted unanimously to terminate Franklin for conduct unbecoming of a police officer. Franklin worked for the Royalton Police Department for more than 10 years.



-- Compiled by Chelsey Perkins, community editor. Perkins may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter @DispatchChelsey or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dispatchchelsey.