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BPU: Commission meets for monthly meeting

The Brainerd Public Utilities Commission met for its regular monthly meeting Tuesday morning. The commission only took action on a couple items and closed the meeting at the end to conduct performance reviews for Superintendent Scott Magnuson and...

The Brainerd Public Utilities Commission met for its regular monthly meeting Tuesday morning.

The commission only took action on a couple items and closed the meeting at the end to conduct performance reviews for Superintendent Scott Magnuson and Secretary/Finance Director Todd Wicklund.

The commission will provide a summary of those reviews at its next meeting in May. During Tuesday's meeting, the commission:

Discussed the status of the city's hydro dam with Magnuson. Sunday, the difference in levels between the headwaters and tailwaters at the dam was 20 feet, he said, which is the optimum level for performance. Due to the deluge of rain the area experienced over the weekend, he said, the difference Tuesday morning was 18 feet, as the tailwater rose 2 feet.
Brainerd City Council President Gary Scheeler, council liaison to the BPU Commission, told the commission members he received a call recently from an Aitkin County commissioner. The commissioner wasn't sure what was happening with the hydro dam and was concerned recent flooding in the county could be attributed to the dam.

"I think this happens every year, especially from Aitkin County," commission member Dolly Matten said. "And I would encourage the county commissioners to come visit the dam and acclimate themselves to what we're doing."

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Magnuson noted the upstream impact of the dam extends about 9 miles, he said, to the Riverton area, which is still in Crow Wing County. The impact of the dam doesn't affect Aitkin County at all, he said.

Heard a monthly report from Magnuson. A contractor working on the Southeast 13th Street project broke a water main with a backhoe, he said, affecting five houses temporarily. For the South Sixth Street project next year, a lion's head water fountain near the historic water tower will need to be moved, he said. A driller on the airport utility extension project drilled through a sewer main last Thursday, he said, which required cooperation to fix. For both line breaks, the contractor will be charged for the repairs. At about 2 p.m. on Saturday, a contractor hit a primary electrical line on 10th Avenue, resulting in about 1,900 customers losing power for 2 hours.

Heard an update from City Administrator Jim Thoreen. The city of Brainerd won't be selling bonds to pay for the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport utility extension project until June 20, he said, so revenue from the sale won't be available until mid-July. In the meantime, Connie Hillman, the city's finance director, and Wicklund will work together to ensure the bills for the project are paid.

"Between the city and BPU we're figuring out how to cash flow this thing for the next probably two months, at least," Wicklund said.

Listened to a presentation from Sheila Haverkamp, executive director of Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation. She thanked the BPU Commission for creating an economic development rate in January which would help new businesses save money on electricity. The rate gives large electricity users a rate discount during their first five years as BPU customers. She gave the commission an update on recent business development in the area, including the FedEx location in the Brainerd Industrial Park and the different tenants coming into the Brainerd Industrial Center.

Received an update on the potential of a new logo for BPU. Talks about designing a new logo started casually about a year ago, Magnuson said. He presented a few different mockup options to the commission members, who instructed Magnuson to have the designer tinker with the designs and come back with a few options.

"We're contemplating changing to something really, really simple," Magnuson said.

SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or spenser.bickett@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .

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