Jeff Phillips takes oath of office in Baxter

The newest Baxter City Council member was sworn in Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Jeff Phillips stands at the council desk and shakes hands with Kelly Steele.
Jeff Phillips shakes hands with Kelly Steele, Baxter assistant city administrator, after she administered his oath of office Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, at Baxter City Hall as council members Zach Tabatt, left, and Mark Cross, look on. Phillips was appointed to the council to fill out the term vacated when John Ward left the council after being elected to the Brainerd School Board.
Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — New Baxter City Council member Jeff Phillips took his oath of office Tuesday, Feb. 7, as he joined the council.

Phillips, an education assistant at Forestview Middle School, was appointed for the open city council seat previously held by John Ward.

Ward was first elected to Baxter City Council during the 2020 election, and in 2022 he ran for and won the election for a special two-year seat on the Brainerd School Board. Four applicants were interviewed to fill Ward’s seat and Phillips was chosen following interviews with each candidate.

Phillips is a retired staff judge advocate attorney for the U.S. Air Force. He also worked as a municipal police officer in Charleston, South Carolina, and a streets maintenance employee with Apple Valley.

Council members Connie Lyscio, Zach Tabatt and Mark Cross welcomed Phillips. With a brief agenda Tuesday, Cross noted not all the meetings in front of Phillips will be so short. Mayor Darrel Olson said it was nice to have all hands on deck with a full council again and echoed the other members by noting he looked forward to working with Phillips.


Phillips was appointed to the Long Range Planning Commission and Joint Powers Wastewater Board and will serve as an alternate to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Baxter City Council members pose for a photo with Brad Chapulis at city hall.
Baxter City Council members Zach Tabatt, left, Connie Lyscio, Mayor Darrel Olson, Brad Chapulis, city administrator, with council members Mark Cross and Jeff Phillips pause for a photo to recognize the city administrators years of service.
Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Another milestone was recognized Tuesday as Brad Chapulis, Baxter city administrator, was honored for 25 years of service.

“This is from the International City County Management Association in honor of 25 years of service in local government.” Olson said.

The award recognized Chapulis for “significant contributions and achievements in the advancement of public government administration.”

Chapulis, who appeared surprised to receive the recognition at the council meeting, stood up with the full council for photos with the award.

In other business, the council:

Approved a lawful gambling permit for Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity to conduct a gambling raffle event Feb. 18 at Jack Pine Brewery in Baxter.

Approved retail sales of fireworks for Fleet Farm and Menards from May 1 through April 30, 2023.


Appointed Robert Bray to public works maintenance ll at grade 5, step 3 of the pay scale.

Appointed Christopher Jansson to parks and trails maintenance at grade 3, step 2 of the pay scale.

Approved Bill Ludenia Appraisals to complete the Whiskey Creek appraisals not to exceed $3,750.

Adopted the assessment rolls for the 2023 Knollwood Drive improvement project.

Approved the sale of a decommissioned 2017 squad car.

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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