Thief River Falls City Council Meeting

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Thief River Falls City Council met at the depot Tuesday evening, February 4th, 2020.

City business included approval of a gambling application for TRFAHA’s mega raffle, along with the approval of the election judges for the Presidential primary election 2020 and the permit for beer in the park for the class reunion.

Mayor Holmer presented to the council his report on his White House visit. The Mayor thanked Bergan Travel for arranging his trip to DC and was able to get to and from without a glitch, a 26-hour round trip.

The Thief River Falls Airport has not heard yet from the Department of Transportation on confirmation of their pick of Denver Air. A decision should have been in the middle of January, as Boutique service ends in May.

A certificate of support to the Thief River Falls food shelf was presented Tuesday evening by Alicia Hunt Executive director.

The food shelf has filed an application for financial assistance with the USDA-rural development. The purpose of this application is to provide grant funds that will be matched at a rate of 45% for the food shelf to complete construction needed to make the environment and building more energy and cost efficient.

Hunt said, “we serve 26 towns, over 300,000 pounds of food that has gone through the food shelf last year. We have been fund raising, we need funds to match the grant money, and we have $21,000 in our checking account at this time.” 

The food shelf is required to provide evidence to Rural Development of significant community support for the proposed project. All local government units are being contacted to provide support and providing the certificate of support does not require financial support.

The Thief River Falls City Council signed their Certificate of Support of the Thief River Falls Food Shelf.

 

VenuWorks took over management of the Ralph Engelstad Area and the Huck Olson Arena as of January 1st. Complaints voiced include a messy, unkempt facility which forces hockey coaches to clean the locker rooms before their team could use it.  Also Locker rooms that are being left unlocked.  Alderman Curt Howe voiced his complaints saying, “I am mad! They promised us that things would be taken care of like they have been in the past when we ran the arena. This is an embarrassment, this is one of the nicest arenas around and it’s a complete hole, we should be ashamed! When the city personnel ran it, it was clean, now the locker rooms smell, and there are unwashed floors. One woman told staff that it was icy on the sidewalk, they handed her the salt, and a gentleman talked to them about snow, and they handed him the shovel to go take care of. This place is giving us a black eye.” Howe also voiced other complaints, “during the biggest night when there were 3,049 people, they ran out of taco meat, they had other things to serve but the start of the 3rd period they closed the concessions and beer sales. We have sections for girls and boy’s hockey, girls and boy’s basketball all coming to the Ralph and we ought to be embarrassed.”

There was more discussion from all council members, and in the end this will go to the committee of the whole along with VenuWorks to find out what is going on, the city of Thief River Falls has 90 days from January 1st to accept or rescind the contract.

 

Councilman Brown brought to the city council that there are a lot of businesses and citizens wondering about the handicap and two-hour parking downtown.

“Not everyone is getting tickets, there is favoritism on marking cars and were trying to find answers,” said Brown. “there are vehicles in snow banks downtown, people parking in handicap spots that aren’t supposed too. This is a safety concern and we need to come to a conclusion to solve the problems.”

Police chief Wittenberg joined the conversation with the council. “handicap parking can be used by a person who is picking up the handicap person and can only be used for 2 hours,” said the chief.

The chief also informed the council that a number of letters were sent out this last spring about messy yards, and as of now there are 9 that have citations of the 50 letters that were sent out that have court proceedings coming up.

The council will continue to work with the police on the issues of parking downtown.

 

Councilwoman Prudhome wanted verification of residence from councilman Don Sollum.

Prudhome said, “I don’t want to be policing, but people are seeing Sollum at his new home which is in my ward. If Mr. Sollum is living in a different ward that he was elected too, things need to be taken care of.  If he reports to Angie Phillips directly on where he is living.”

Sollum said he is spending four nights a week in his ward. Narverud said, I trust Sollum and if he moves, he will tell us, his tenure is almost up, and I accept his word.

Councilman Sollum then brought up that Prudhome is missing committee meetings and city council meetings.  “Prudhome is not fulfilling her duties”, said Sollum.

Prudhome has requested to be moved off of some of her committee meetings because of her teaching and attorney business. “I’m not retired, I’m an assistant attorney, I have court obligations. “I’ve been pretty firm for the last 2 years that I can’t make meetings at 4 or 4:30pm. I would gladly do this by telecom like Sollum had done in the past, but I was denied.”

“When we take a position we are sacrificing, we are helping run this city, there are sacrifices and if you can’t make these meetings, then you shouldn’t be here, you must represent,” said Sollum.

City Attorney Sparby said, “there are no statutory rules, once a person is elected there is no requirement, no provision for chronic absenteeism, it’s a voter issue.”

 

  In the next month there are some important meetings coming up. The MnDOT/city council joint meeting will be held on February 10th at noon in the Depot. Along with the 2020 Public Improvement Hearing also on February 10th at 5:30pm and the next city council meeting will be held on February 18th at city hall chambers.

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