Feb. 12, 2007

Leading the way to safety

LP police earn first place award - again

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

For the third time, Minnesota Safe and Sober law enforcement liaison, Brad Kollmann came to Lester Prairie to present a first place award to the police department for the Safe and Sober Challenge.

The award includes a $3,000 grant from the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety.

This was the third time, and the second consecutive year, the department has won a first place award. It has also won a second place and a third place award in previous years.

“This award represents a team effort, and this department’s commitment to improving traffic safety,” Kollmann said.

He added that while Minnesota’s traffic death rate is the lowest since World War II, there is still work to do. About 500 people die each year in traffic accidents in Minnesota. Most of these people are 16-24 years old.

Kollmann said the Safe and Sober program is important because 30 percent of those crashes involve alcohol, and failure to wear seat belts is a factor in 60 percent of the fatalities.

“This is an extraordinary police department,” Kollman said, noting that Lester Prairie was one of only 10 law enforcement agencies in the state to earn a first place award.

Lester Prairie Police Officer Mark Thiry coordinates the program for the department.

Awards are based not just on enforcement, but on proactive efforts, including education.

The department’s participation in National Night Out, the Lester Prairie citizens academy, and the DARE program are among the factors that contributed to the award.

Thiry said the award will be used to purchase squad car equipment.

No more time for former hotel property

The council sent the matter of the former hotel property at 100 Maple Street South to court.

A court order for repair was served on owner Cory Schmidt Oct. 14.

The order covered repairs that were needed to correct hazardous conditions on the property. The deadline for completing the repairs was Dec. 14.

Schmidt appeared before the council Dec. 11 and stated that he planned to renovate the structure and convert it into an apartment building.

During that meeting, the council expressed frustration at the fact that, despite numerous attempts by the city to contact Schmidt, it did not receive any response from him until just prior to the court-ordered deadline for completion of repairs.

In spite of this, the council put off judgement on the property until February, with the understanding that Schmidt would complete the ordered repairs to eliminate hazardous conditions.

Schmidt also agreed to bring a sketch plan of his proposed modifications to the planning commission in January, and a final plan to the council Monday night.

City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk said Schmidt failed to appear at the planning commission meeting.

She added that she spoke to him by phone prior to Monday’s meeting and was told that he would be unable to attend because he would be out of town on business.

Pawelk also said that the building inspector visited the property Feb. 2 and took photos that showed the building had not been secured with plywood over the windows.

The council decided to forward the matter to the court, since all items covered by the court order for repair have not been resolved.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• approved the purchase of a 4-by-8-foot sign for the compost site from Herald Journal Sign and Graphics.

• approved the city audit for 2006. The major change involved changing the sewer and water funds from a cash basis to an accrual basis.

• approved the transfer of funds from the general fund for the purchase of water meters. The city will need to convert all water meters in the city to the new radio-read meters to facilitate monthly billing. Approximately 500 meters still need to be installed. The funds will be reimbursed from the water revenue fund.

The council tabled a discussion about a water rate study and rate increases until its March meeting.

• approved a sediment and erosion control ordinance.

• approved a commercial plumbing ordinance.

• approved the date for the local board of review, Monday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m.

• approved the sale of a confiscated vehicle, a 1995 GMC Sierra. The vehicle will either be sold back to the previous owner, who would be responsible for all costs, or at public auction.

• approved increasing compensation for planning commission members from $15 to $20 per meeting, and park board members from $10 to $20 per meeting.

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