Support the Timberjay by making a donation.

Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Fire department again on the agenda in Greenwood

Jodi Summit
Posted 12/15/22

GREENWOOD TWP- The state of the Greenwood Fire Department was again the focus of the township’s regular monthly meeting.Long-time fire department members Mike Indihar and Tom Mortaloni spoke …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Fire department again on the agenda in Greenwood


GREENWOOD TWP- The state of the Greenwood Fire Department was again the focus of the township’s regular monthly meeting.
Long-time fire department members Mike Indihar and Tom Mortaloni spoke about maintenance work that had been performed in the past few years. Lack of maintenance on department equipment has been a focus of the town board the past few months as well as one of the issues that led to the termination of the former chief and assistant chief.
“We have other jobs,” said Indihar, “We don’t work full-time here. We get things done as quickly as we can do it.”
Indihar also noted that the department used to work with a mechanic who did regular maintenance on the equipment, but after that individual retired, the former town board didn’t take any action.
“We didn’t get support,” he said.
Indihar noted two of the main fire trucks had passed their DOT inspections, and department members had done numerous repairs on the fire boats.
Indihar also said that many department members do not trust the new fire chief Jeff Maus.
“People are showing up at fire department meetings to see what is going on,” he said. “We don’t feel safe with Jeff Maus.”
Mortaloni said the time he had spent working on the fire department equipment was basically volunteering for the township.
“I work at Minntac,” he said. “I don’t care about the $10 an hour. We are responding to calls because we care about our township.”
Town board members again requested that fire department members keep maintenance logs in all the apparatus, detailing mileage in and out, maintenance checks, and any service needed.
Maus said he had realized that not all of the department members were given the instructions to maintain the logs, and the department was working on getting this and other information to all the members.
Maus also told the board that Mortaloni had done a “heck of a lot of work on our equipment and we really do appreciate that.” He added that the board needed to be informed, and one way would be reviewing vehicle logs. Members had been detailing such work on run reports, but those aren’t readily available for review by the town board.
The board voted to raise the regular hourly rate for fire department members from $10 to $15 for training and meetings. The cost would be an additional $3,500, he said, based on 2022 training and meeting hours submitted by members. Members are required to attend at least 12 meetings or trainings a year, plus respond to a certain number of actual calls, to qualify for the annual pension.
They also approved a request from Maus to change the meeting schedule to include twice-a-month training meetings starting in 2023 and squeeze any regular business required into the training meetings. The board agreed to bring in outside instructors for up to 12 meetings a year. The other 12 meetings would include truck maintenance, work in the hall, reviewing the standard operating guidelines (SOGs), and training of township equipment. The outside trainings cost $500. The township has a grant that would cover $3,000 of the cost of these classes.
“We do such a wide breadth of stuff,” Maus said. “We need to spend more time on training.”
Maus said he wants to focus the training on things that are the highest risk events.
Maus said the department is starting to use a software program to computerize run reports and other department business. The software is available at no charge through the state fire marshal. This will allow the department to easily access all the information from both fire, medical, and rescue calls, instead of having to sort through hundreds of paper reports.
The fire department is still looking to fill open positions and recruit new members. The board approved changing the job description for the administrative assistant to open it up to someone who is not a trained fire fighter.
The board discussed the issue of terminating two fire department members who had stopped participating, one about eight months ago, the other for over a year. The board decided to send registered letters to determine if these members intended to continue their membership, and then would consider termination at the January meeting. The department will also be notifying four department members who did not meet the requirements for earning their pension for 2022.

The board appointed Maus and John Bassing to work on the budget for the 2024 levy which will be voted on at the March 14, 2023, annual meeting. Maus said that township spending is running about $90,000 lower this year than the previous year. Maus also asked the board to consider adding in a capital replacement fund for fire department equipment and levying a specific amount each year to build up the fund. He said the department will be creating an equipment replacement plan. He noted the cost to replace the two engines on the big fire boat will be between $50,000 and $60,000.
Interim Clerk JoAnn Bassing asked the board to consider upping the hours for the clerk position from the current 12 hours a week.
“Former Clerk Sue Drobac found the job couldn’t be done and resigned,” she said. “The next clerk only did some of the duties, just those specified in the statute, and not what the board needed.”
Bassing said she had put in many extra hours when she first took over the position.
“This isn’t about my running again,” she said. “I am not sure if I am.”
JoAnn said the board needed a competent and conscientious person for the position, and they needed to pay for the hours that are required to do the job.
Drobac said the board needed to review the duties required for both the clerk and treasurer before making a decision.

Other business
In other business the board:
• Heard from Interim Treasurer Jeff Maus that the new CD rate for township reserves will be paying 4.75-percent interest and will pay out approximately $23,000 in interest to the township over the two-year term. “This basically pays the treasurer salary for two years,” Maus said.
• Agreed to pay a conciliation court order of $170 plus the $80 filing fee to Tammy Mortaloni, who had filed a claim against the township for a total of $1,053. The claim was for late payment of wages when she was working as deputy treasurer. The court found that most of the delay was understandable, but not all. Town board members explained the delay was due to a processing error by the payroll firm the township uses, and the township was not notified that the payment they had entered did not go through. The township had notified Tammy of the reason for the delay.
•  Heard the McGrath report on ambulance services should be completed by the end of December.
• Heard an update from Supervisor Rick Stoehr on the heating system in the town hall and fire hall. Cleaning and repairs are underway, and one of the furnace units is not working and will need to be replaced at a cost of $6,258. The board also approved installing additional hanging power cords in the fire hall, so that cords are not running on the floor.
• Heard that the board is still working on getting quotes for a new website provider.
• Heard that Interim Clerk JoAnn Bassing will be posting regular office hours now that she is retiring from her dentist job.
• Made $100 donations to both the W.C. Heiam Foundation and the St. Louis County Fair.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here