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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Board forms new committee to make park improvements

Stephanie Ukkola
Posted 7/28/21

BREITUNG- The Breitung Town Board established a recreation committee to make improvements to the Breitung playground/rink area at their meeting last Thursday.Chairman Tim Tomsich said that there is …

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Board forms new committee to make park improvements


BREITUNG- The Breitung Town Board established a recreation committee to make improvements to the Breitung playground/rink area at their meeting last Thursday.
Chairman Tim Tomsich said that there is an outdoor recreation grant program from the Department of Natural Resources that could be used to fund new boards for the skating rink, which are in very poor condition. The township received funding from this grant program in the past to build the trail between the Soudan baseball field and the skating rink. Tomsich said the grant amounts usually fall between $25,000 and $250,000.
The grant application deadline is at the end of March, meaning the current hockey boards would need to last another season. Other needs were identified, such as new mulch at the playground, and other ideas included a separate rink for young skaters, a gazebo, a horseshoe pit, pickleball courts, or gardens. The board named Stephanie Ukkola to chair the committee. Breitung residents who are interested in serving on the committee or would like to submit ideas should contact Stephanie at 218-410-6001 or at
The Breitung Town Board will lease their squad car to the city of Ely until October. Ely normally uses three cars, but one had blown an engine and a replacement squad will not be ready until October or November. The Breitung board added a 1,000-mile-per-month limit or 3,000-mile maximum. The car will also stay parked in Breitung and only be picked up if needed. The agreement includes a 56-cent per mile gas rate. “Our needs would have to take priority,” said supervisor Chuck Tekautz.
The board established an interview committee for the hiring of a new Breitung Police chief. The committee includes supervisor Chuck Tekautz, clerk Dianna Sunsdahl, fire chief Steve Burgess, and fire captain Trevor Banks. The interview committee will do initial interviews; then the full board will conduct a second interview. There are two applicants for the position. At their last meeting on July 13, the board opted to conduct full board interviews on July 22, but then canceled them in the interest of privacy for the candidates.
Water plant supervisor Matt Tuchel gave an update on how the drought has affected the Tower-Soudan water supply. Tuchel said outgoing water usage is higher than normal for this time of year.
“We haven’t been this low on our draw down since 2005,” he said. “The well is down to 35 of 62 feet. We’re pushing all-time low levels. We do have another well as an emergency backup, but the water quality isn’t as good.”
The board authorized Sunsdahl to work with Tuchel and Tekautz to establish a water conservation directive if necessary. Residents are asked to voluntarily limit their water use to preserve fresh water levels and quality.
Tuchel said that the water discoloration residents may have noticed “is a direct reflection of usage and drought. The water plant is maxed, it can’t pull out the inorganics that are coming though.” He said that the new water facility, when built, will be able to do that job better.
Other business
In other business, the board:
• Will submit a pre-application to IRRR for $162,500 for the Breitung trail renovation between the wastewater ponds and McKinley Park Campground. Some McKinley Park revenue will be used to meet the 25- percent match requirement.
• Heard that five blight letters were sent out and four of the issues have been resolved already. Tomsich will check with the county to see if a recreational vehicle on Church St. has the appropriate permits.
Selected Jola and Sopp Excavating of Eveleth with a low bid of $435,780 for the sewer improvement project.
• Will take a $200,000 commercial loan from Frandsen Bank in Tower for the gap in funding with a plan to pay it back within a year.
• Agreed with the Soudan Water Board that it is necessary that the water pipes be placed deeper or be better insulated to resolve recurrent freezing issues on 4th Street.
• Will put down 600-700 yards of gravel for $3,500 on Junction Road to the water tower. “It’s so worn down, there’s nothing left to grade,” said maintenance director Tom Gorsma.
• Approved the addition of another member to the Breitung Fire Department, pending a physical and background check.
• Called for propane bids.
• Put a 2003 GMC Envoy out for bids. The vehicle was acquired as a police forfeiture. Bids will be opened at the next meeting, Aug. 19.
• Signed a new contract with Metro Sales for the rental of a new copy machine at a lower rate.
• Rejected a proposal from Rick’s Tree and Stump removal of Duluth to remove two dying trees on 4th Ave. for $3,600. Gorsma will find other tree services to offer proposals.
• Board members will individually review the blight ordinance, suggest changes, and bring it back to the next township meeting to make updates.
• Heard that a portion of McKinley Park’s electrical is overburdened and an electrician will be working on the issue.
• Heard concerns from residents that a rental cabin on Echo Point may not be paying lodging tax, has up to 12 cars at a time, and that the occupants may be overtaxing the sewer. Supervisor Greg Dostert will follow up.
• Received a thank you from Rolf and Laurie Anderson and their family for the township’s work on the Community Picnic and Old Settlers Picnic.
• The next board meeting will be Thursday, Aug. 19 at 12 p.m.


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