Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, December 15, 1997

Fire chief only bidder on rescue truck


Two problems came up for the Lester Prairie City Council last Monday regarding a bid on a rescue truck for the fire department.

Mayor Ed Mlynar said the first problem was only one bid was submitted. The second problem was that the bid was submitted by Fire Chief Jerry Pawelk.

Per state law, the city must request bids for items over $25,000, and Mlynar was unsure if the city could accept a bid if it was the only one.

Secondly, Mlynar said, although he is not paid, as fire chief Pawelk is a public official and questioned if it was even legal for him to bid.

A special council meeting to settle the issue has been set for tonight at 8:30 p.m. with City Attorney Kerry Olson, the city council, and the rescue truck committee.

Mlynar said he wanted the meeting because if there was legal wrongdoing, the charge could be a gross misdemeanor, and the council and truck committee could all be charged.

The bid submitted for the rescue truck was in the amount of $140,803. It was to be built by American Fire and Rescue in Goshen, Ind., for which Pawelk's company, North Central Ambulance Sales and Service, is a distributor.

Members of the truck committee who were at the meeting expressed concern the price of the truck would increase and a delay in ordering would delay delivery.

Mlynar said he understood delivery could be delayed, and added the bid on the truck was good until Dec. 20.

Four other companies requested bid specifications: General Safety Corp., Wyoming, Minn.; Custom Fire in Osceola, Wisc.; Forstner Fire Apparatus, Madelia, Minn.; and Heiman Fire Equipment in Lyons, Wisc.

City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk said one company submitted a no-bid and three others did not respond.

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