Baxter City Council members settle back into council chambers for the first time since the pandemic started

‘I’m just glad to be back in the building. It’s good to see everybody in person. This has been an adjustment tonight just ‘cause I’ve been so used to being behind the computer screen, so glad to see everyone is here and healthy,” said Zach Tabatt, Baxter City Council member.

Baxter City Council members Connie Lyscio (left), Zach Tabatt, Mayor Darrel Olson, John Ward and Mark Cross, meet June 1, 2021, with Brad Chapulis, city administrator, Kelly Steele, assistant city administrator, and Brad Person, city attorney. Screenshot

Memorial Day, recognizing an area student and adjusting to meeting in person again were top of the list for Baxter City Council members as they closed out their first meeting in city hall in about 14 months.

Council member Connie Lyscio attended the Memorial Day program in Brainerd, which was once again in-person as well as virtual this year as public gatherings resume following the pandemic.

“For me personally I was overwhelmed. I shocked myself just with the gratefulness, not only for the service and those that were lost. It was just an awakening and it was so positive and it’s only going to get better from here on out.”

RELATED: Baxter City Council meets in person for 1st time since emergency declaration with pandemic 14 months ago
Council member Zach Tabatt pointed out the accomplishments of Meryl Tigenoah, a 2021 graduate of Brainerd High School, who was recently accepted by a host of elite colleges and universities across the country, including Ivy League schools. It’s great to see someone local going off to great things, Tabatt said. Lyscio pointed out Tigenoah also attended Baxter Elementary School.

‘I’m just glad to be back in the building,” Tabatt said. “It’s good to see everybody in person. This has been an adjustment tonight just ‘cause I’ve been so used to being behind the computer screen, so glad to see everyone is here and healthy.”


Council member John Ward asked to bring up three talking points at the next workshop, an update on written policies for city business, looking at regional health, and the children’s museum. The rest of the council was fine with topics.

Council member Mark Cross echoed the other council member comments, saying it was good to be back together.

“Things seem to be getting back to normal,” Cross said.

"I’m just glad to be back in the building. It’s good to see everybody in person. This has been an adjustment tonight just ‘cause I’ve been so used to being behind the computer screen, so glad to see everyone is here and healthy."

— Zach Tabatt, Baxter City Council member.

Mayor Darrel Olson also was struck by the Memorial Day event even after being a regular there for the ceremony. “We attend these every year and it still is sobering,” Olson said, adding he read an article recently that pointed to those veterans, still teenagers themselves and many who had never left their city, let alone their county of residence, only to find themselves on a troop ship going overseas.

“It had to be unbelievably traumatic and all those young guys that never got a chance to have families, never had a chance to have grandkids, never had a chance to be married and enjoy the things that go along with that,” Olson said.

It’s sobering and there is much to be thankful for, Olson said, adding he knows people are, yet it’s good to have at least one time of the year to remember those sacrifices, it should be on a more regular basis than that.

With the heat, Olson said expectations are for a packed Whipple Beach. Olson alluded to Baxter Police activity. In May, Baxter investigated an altercation with numerous people, adults and juveniles, involved in a fight regarding a social media post.


“When you get in the water with all those people, play nice, because it’s going to be crowded,” Olson said.

In other business, the council:

Met in closed session for labor negotiations.

Accepted a $400 donation from the Baxter Lions for the triathlon.

Accepted a $200 donation of hand sanitizer from Walmart.

Approved the Bolton & Menk proposal for engineering services for a city trail pavement management program not to exceed $9,800.

Scheduled the annual storm water public information meeting for 7 p.m. June 15. There will be a short presentation and opportunity for public feedback on the Municipal Separate Sewer System permit and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program.

Appointed Edward Volkl and Elizabeth Spigarelli to season park attendant at $13 an hour.


Approved a grant application to Sourcewell for Community Solutions match funds. The grant of $10,000 has matching dollars provided by the Region Five Development Commission. A Baxter event will partner law enforcement with children from the region across diverse cultures for a fishing event on Gull Lake in August. If successful, the city reported the event could be applied toward other activities to connect law enforcement with diverse populations.

The city reported, “in the late summer of 2020 local law enforcement was contacted by members of Sourcewell, Region 5 Development and Initiative Foundation regarding the development of a working group to address issues related to tensions that have developed between certain groups and law enforcement. From that concept the Region 5 Justice System Consortium was developed.”

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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