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Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 18, 2005

Lakedale say it won’t wait for city, will provide open video

By Dave Cox
Correspondent

Frustration with the way its application has been handled led Lakedale Telephone to vow to begin providing open video service (OVS) in Montrose without waiting for city approval.

Gene South of Lakedale, speaking during the open forum portion of Monday’s meeting, outlined the steps his company has taken during the past seven months to work with the city to secure an OVS franchise.

The steps included workshops to explain how the OVS will work and appearances at council meetings.

During the process, the city hired attorney Bob Vose, who specializes in this area of law, to represent it.

Vose and Lakedale had conflicting opinions on the law that covers the proposed franchise.

Vose advised the city to impose an application fee, which Lakedale grudgingly agreed to pay.

South told the council that Lakedale respects and wants to work with the city, but expressed frustration over an e-mail message written by Vose concerning Lakedale’s application.

South said that all of Lakedale’s dealings with the city had been conducted in an open and informal manner and that Lakedale tried to fill out the requested application truthfully and completely.

The e-mail from Vose was objectionable because it stated that the matter should be treated like a court proceeding, and only information included on the application should be included, even though all of the required information had been provided to the city previously, South said.

Then the public hearing that had been scheduled for April 11 was rescheduled for April 25. South said that he received this information via e-mail, and Lakedale was not given the courtesy of a call to confirm that it was available on the new date.

Vose told the council that Lakedale received an OVS franchise from the FCC on April 7.

“We have the franchise in hand. If we have to go through the pain of the rescheduling process with Mr. Vose, we will start rolling out video tomorrow,” South said.

Council Member Sharon Knodel asked why Lakedale was in a rush. South explained that Lakedale has shown good faith by going through the process required by the city, but said that for competitive reasons it is in Lakedale’s interest to move forward.

City Administrator Barb Swanson said the public hearing was postponed because city staff had the wrong dates and had to move back the hearing to provide proper notice.

Mayor Charlie Nelson said that it was his understanding that the two lawyers were going to work together to resolve the situation.

“Items brought up during open forum requiring a decision are not decided at this time. We hired an attorney to give us advice and we should follow his advice,” Nelson said.

The council approved a motion to table the issue on a vote of four to one, with Nelson, Beaton, Knodel and Petersen in favor and Mattson opposed.

The open forum drama continued when Bob Chantland of 350 Buffalo Avenue asked to be heard.

Chantland had filled out a request to be included in the open forum, but had left the form on the table.

Nelson told Chantland that the forms were to be handed to him or to the city administrator if the council was to address them.

“We are not going to talk about those items, they are all public information and are available at city hall,” Nelson said after reading the list of items on the form.

The items on the list were job descriptions, payroll, city finances, the Emerson Ave. drainage project, interest charges and Wright County delinquent taxes.

Chantland asked what the time limit was for the open forum, and Nelson responded that it was at the discretion of the chairman.

Chantland continued to press for answers to some of his questions, and when Chantland did not relent, Nelson closed the open forum and then recessed the council meeting and walked away from the table.

“The taxpayers expect you to act more like a statesman than a small town thug and bully,” Chantland said.

The meeting was reopened after a break, and later in the meeting after Chantland had left the building, Nelson addressed the open forum issues.

“During the open forum, any citizen can bring issues before the city. It is not for controversial issues that require decisions that may require us to get more information, and it is not a venue where people can come in and chastise the council and run their own agenda. It is for the city’s agenda,” Nelson said.

Odds and ends

• The council approved a planned unit development and preliminary plat for a five-unit development, Ridgemont Townhomes.

• LaTour Construction was awarded a $67,395 contract for a storm sewer line adjacent to the treatment plant that will be funded by trunk area fees.

• Nelson requested enforcement of rules governing erosion controls citing the state of silt fences in the city.

• The council accepted the resignation of Ron Carlson from the park and recreation commission.

• The council accepted the resignation of Steve Petersen who served for 29 years on the fire department.

• Nelson asked staff to write a letter to the sheriff’s office requesting enforcement of four-wheeler violations in the city.

• The council directed staff to have the former Carolyn Salonek property surveyed so the city can prepare to sell the parcel.


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