By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Howard Lake City Council approved a memorandum of understanding between the Howard Lake Police Department and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District for a new school resource officer during Tuesday’s meeting.
Full-time Howard Lake police officer Darek Szczepanik will be working at the HLWW schools part time. The school has budgeted $15,000 to cover the hours that he will be working at the schools. Howard Lake will cover his patrol hours in the city with part-time hours.
Howard Lake Police chief Tracy Vetruba said the school district’s contribution will not completely cover hours Szczepanik works at the school, but will cover the replacement hours, so there will be no additional cost to the city.
The city hired a new part-time officer to backfill the hours vacated by Szczepanik.
During the council meeting, Vetruba administered the oath of office to Dale Flom, the city’s newest part-time officer.
According to Vetruba, Flom is currently a Wright County Sheriff’s deputy.
According to the memorandum of understanding, there are two primary goals for the school resource officer. One is to create a safe and secure learning environment for students and staff by dealing with safety, security, and enforcement issues within the community.
The second goal is to identify mutual problems, intervene in the early stages of delinquency, and make presentations to classes and the community related to law enforcement and safety.
School/city committee formed
The school superintendent and city staff from Waverly, Winsted, and Howard Lake have been discussing improving communication of the four jurisdictions in hopes of having a more efficiently-run government for the taxpayers.
The council approved formation of a committee with two members from each jurisdiction, to review school and city issues.
Council Member Pete Zimmerman and Mayor Rick Lammers volunteered for this committee.
The first meeting is expected to take place in October, according to City Administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp.
City to correct lawn problems
Resident Ron Babatz came before the council to inform them that, even with all his efforts and following watering recommendations, his lawn is still not filling in as it should following the 12th Street construction. He said this is due to substandard fill used by the contractor.
According to Babatz, his lawn has been hydro-seeded three times, and he followed the watering recommendations each time. This has been costly to him, considering the amount of time and water he has used.
Babatz said he had been before the council previously with his concerns about this issue and would like it to be resolved.
The council asked city engineer Barry Glienke where he was in addressing this issue. Glienke stated that the contractor the city hired for the 12th Street construction “is unresponsive.”
Glienke said there is a $60,000 retainage from this project, and the city can use it to complete the project. He also said there were about 12 lots affected by this problem.
To complete the project, the city would hire landscapers to replace 3 to 4 inches of topsoil to make sure it is not a soil problem that is keeping the grass from growing.
The council voted to exercise the city’s right to use the retainage to fix the problems left by the contractor.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved the report on the liquor store, presented by liquor store manager Aaron Demarais.
The liquor store posted a net loss of $8,530 for July, bringing the year-to-date net loss to $51,667.
Demarais said the liquor store will be selling T-shirts and sweatshirts on a pre-order basis.
• approved the police department report.
• approved a tobacco license for Howard Lake Foods, the new grocery store opening soon.
• discussed an update on the bonding for the Terning Trails and Dutch Lake Preserve improvements.
The council decided to postpone bonding for this project until their second meeting in September because this allows the city to get its financial rating first. This will save the taxpayers money by lowering the interest rates for the bond.