By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Police Chief Tracy Vetruba asked the council to approve the purchase of a covert camera system to assist in monitoring drug activity in the city of Howard Lake during Tuesday’s meeting.
The police department has set aside $1,000 for drug enforcement and would use additional money from the equipment fund to purchase the cameras. The cameras are not expected to exceed $1,450.
Over the past two years, the Howard Lake Police Department has received reports of 35 possible drug cases, and several have gone unreported, according to Vetruba.
The most recent incident occurred Feb. 28 when a man was arrested at a local apartment building for having six grams of cocaine.
The Howard Lake Police Department was assisting the Wright County Sheriff’s Office in carrying out a search warrant at the apartment for documents pertaining to a complaint when the man was arrested, according to Vetruba.
Over the summer of 2010, the police department received several reports about possible drug dealing at two trailer homes in Howard Lake Estates.
One of the residents and a frequent visitor were later arrested in North Dakota for possession of methamphetamine with intention to distribute, Vetruba said.
The main areas of concern for drug activity are at Howard Lake Estates and several apartment buildings.
The police department believes using a covert camera system would capture more drug activity and lead to more arrests, Vetruba said.
Zimmerman asked if Howard Lake receives any assistance from the Wright County drug task force.
The county task force does assist sometimes, but it depends on its caseload. It is usually busy with other areas of the county, Vetruba replied.
City Council Member Jan Gilmer asked if the police department needs permission from property owners to place cameras on their property.
The department does need permission, but if an undercover officer is entering private property, and the camera is trained on him, there is no need for permission, Vetruba said.
The city council unanimously approved the purchase of a covert camera system for the Howard Lake Police Department.
Council approves resolutions to apply for revolving funds
Howard Lake City Council approved resolutions to apply for the clean water revolving fund and the drinking water revolving fund to assist with the funding of the 2011 street improvement projects.
“These two resolutions are the first step in the process of applying for the funding of the project,” said city engineer Barry Glienke.
Glienke also noted the applications include language stating the city will repay itself for any costs already incurred before the loan is approved for the 2011 street improvement project.
Odds and ends
In other business, the city council:
• approved a resolution supporting a reduced speed zone on Wright County Road 6 near the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School.
• heard from city resident Darrell Knutson who first thanked the council for getting a grocery store in town again.
However, that was not the issue Knutson came to discuss. He was concerned about the city’s sewer and water fees and how they are assessed, he said.
He accused the council of overspending on the city’s infrastructure, and said now it is looking for ways to make up the deficit by putting extra meters on properties.
Knutson offered some alternatives to raising revenue for the city, such as using the building that houses the municipal liquor store for something other than a liquor store.
“It’s a historical landmark with a lot of possibilities,” Knutson said.
He also thought some type of concessions business at the beach front would bring money in for the city, he said.
Knutson claimed that the issue will soon cause outrage amongst the citizens of Howard Lake and cause them to leave.
“I wish more people would show up to fill the empty seats during city council meetings,” Knutson said.