BAXTER — Baxter City Council member John Ward returned to the council chambers following cancer treatments and thanked the community for the outpouring of support.
On his CaringBridge site, where Ward has chronicled his treatment journey since July, he said he has key tests Oct. 20 to see if the cancer has spread. Ward is scheduled for surgery Nov. 2.
Ward had a little bag of his Ward’s Warriors silicone bracelets. An earlier order of 200 was nearly gone in two days, he stated on the CaringBridge site, but more were ordered.
“We once again are overwhelmed by the amount of people who are willing to wear those bracelets in support of my journey,” Ward posted. “Thank you.”
Council members Connie Lyscio, Zach Tabatt, Mark Cross and Mayor Darrel Olson all said they were glad to see Ward again at the council table.
“I just want to say thank you to citizens, various citizens, for the outpouring that my wife and I have received through this journey that we are on,” Ward said at the meeting. He reported the chemotherapy and radiation treatments are now complete with a procedure coming up on Nov. 2 and then with hopes to get needed heart bypass surgery eventually.
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“So we are a third done on a big journey but the outpouring has been unbelievable with calls, cards, well-wishes and many forms of prayers, support,” Ward said. “So I want to thank the area citizens and I also want to thank the council — all of the council, mayor and staff — for covering my backside.”
Ward said it’s never easy for a group when a member is missing, no matter who they are, and the council has done a tremendous job. Ward also encouraged people to be active and involved in homecoming activities Friday, Oct. 8, with recognition of many individuals and a Saturday celebration for retired coach Ron Stolski. And, lastly, Ward noted there are two meetings to get feedback from the public on proposed road projects in the city at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday.
The 6 p.m. meeting will include a presentation and public hearing on the Highway 210 and Inglewood Drive railway crossing project. The 7 p.m. meeting will include a presentation and public hearing on the 2022 Foley Road, Isle Drive and Forthun Road improvements.
In other business, the council:
Is recognizing longtime Brainerd High School Warriors football coach Ron Stolski with a mayoral proclamation with Saturday, Oct. 9, as Ron Stolski Day in Baxter.
Stolski’s retirement celebration is 2-5 p.m. Saturday at the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd and he will be honored during the pre-game activities at the BHS Homecoming game Friday.
Mayor Darrel Olson noted Stolski’s 389 career football wins, the second most of all time in Minnesota. Stolski was head coach in Brainerd for 45 of his 58 years in coaching. The proclamation also notes Stolski’s work as athletic director and his dedication to the communities and youth. Olson also noted Stolski is a Baxter resident.
Approved an agreement to pay up to $82,890 to AE2S for work related to the water treatment plant instrumentation and control services in three categories, filter and equipment rehabilitation, treatment modifications and control hardware upgrades for communication modules in the circuit boards semiconductors. The total estimated budget for the project is $2,182,550.
One of its four filters in the city’s water treatment facility failed last year. In July, in a joint meeting with the city council and Baxter Utilities Commission, city officials looked for ways to affordably overhaul and upgrade its water filtration system to handle a high influx of water, steadily flowing and peaking during summer months, decades into the future. The local watershed has high concentrations of ammonia, iron and arsenic, among other contaminants, and requires the facility to filter and refilter the water supply. This stresses the current treatment plant, which isn’t built to handle such a heavy workload in an efficient manner.
Approved the purchase of K-9 equipment for K-9 Timber with forfeiture funds. The police department noted for Timber’s active duty work, she will need a tracking harness, outdoor kennel and Bluetooth heat/alarm system for a cost of $2,100 as well as items for upcoming narcotics training like a scent box, ball popper and magnet boxes for a cost of $700. The council approved using $2,800 from the drug forfeiture fund for the purchases.
Awarded the Whiskey Creek land surveying services to Widseth with costs not to exceed $4,975. Among tasks are completing a certificate of survey and preparation of both the preliminary and final plats. The work is needed to close on the purchase of about 13 acres of land off Excelsior Road in the former golf course that is owned by Good Samaritan. The cost is covered in the city’s $500,000 acquisition budget, which is funded with a city match and grant dollars from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.
Scheduled a public hearing for certification of delinquent utility bills, invoices and abatements for 7 p.m. Nov. 16. After the public hearing, the council typically considers adopting a resolution to certify the outstanding delinquent balances with accrued interest and fees to the following year’s property taxes.
Renewed the Sourcewell Health Partners health insurance contract for 2022. “Based upon anticipated claims year-to-date, city per member per month claims for the year, and the city’s longevity in the Sourcewell insurance pool, an 8.3% and 8.4% premium increase for single and family coverage, respectively, is being recommended by Sourcewell for 2022,” the city reported. “ … The increase compares to a 1.3% increase last year, a 6.6% increase in 2020, a 7.3% increase in 2019, a 14% increase in 2018, no increase in 2017, 15.1% and 6.9% increases in 2016 and 2015, respectively.”
During open forum when anyone may address the council for items that are not on the agenda, the council heard from Tom Bercher, who is requesting his property zoning be amended or changed and that he receive a timeline from the city regarding whether officials would be willing to look at the issue, put it on the agenda and make a decision.
Bercher said his property is zoned commercial/industrial and with the zoning he cannot do anything but pay taxes on the land without sewer and water. Bercher said he’s lost the option to sell the land to interested buyers. The land is served now by a septic and well system. Bercher suggested the city allow commercial building construction with the stipulation that once sewer and water is available, they have a certain time to hook up to the system. Right now, Bercher said, it makes no sense to put sewer and water in the location when nothing is out there.
Olson said they would consult with staff and find out in the near future.
Met in a lengthy closed session to discuss land acquisition related to discussions with BNSF Railway.