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Faulty recorder in closed meeting prompts look into new equipment

A faulty recorder that didn't tape a closed session Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) Commission meeting last July has prompted officials to look into getting a better recording system for meetings.

A faulty recorder that didn't tape a closed session Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) Commission meeting last July has prompted officials to look into getting a better recording system for meetings.

A light was first cast on the issue after open record requests for the July recording by Brainerd resident Jeff Czeczok.

That's when BPU officials realized it wasn't there, said Todd Wicklund, BPU finance director.

Wicklund explained the situation to commission members Tuesday at the regular meeting.

"Either the digital recorder batteries were low (I thought I had replaced them that morning) or that when I pressed the record button it did not stay in the record mode," he said in an email to the Dispatch.

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Wicklund continued, "Once the meeting started I assumed the recorder was working and I did not double check to see if it was actually recording. Knowing state law regarding closed meetings I would never deliberately not record a closed session, in fact I have a permanent record of every other closed session except for this one particular meeting."

Because of the mishap, BPU staff are now looking into a different recording system that could be tied to a new phone system in the board room, as well as not be reliant on batteries and have multiple speakers for better quality.

Commissioner Mark O'Day said once the better system is brought in, the commission should record all meetings, not just closed ones.

At the July 30 closed session meeting, commissioners met to discuss the initial draft of letter of intent to buy the hydro dam from Wausau Paper.

It lasted about 50 minutes and no formal action was taken after members came out of closed session, Wicklund said.

In other commission news:

Elected new commission officers for 2015. Lucy Nesheim was unanimously voted in as president and Mark O'Day as vice president.

Outgoing commission member Don Sievek's chair is still yet to be appointed.

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