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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

New fire chief sworn in for city of Ely

David Marshall is a 17-year veteran of the volunteer force

Keith Vandervort
Posted 5/5/21

ELY – New Ely Fire Chief David Marshall took the oath of office this week, administered by Interim Mayor Chuck Novak Tuesday night at the City Council meeting, and began his duties as both …

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New fire chief sworn in for city of Ely

David Marshall is a 17-year veteran of the volunteer force

Posted

ELY – New Ely Fire Chief David Marshall took the oath of office this week, administered by Interim Mayor Chuck Novak Tuesday night at the City Council meeting, and began his duties as both department leader and secretary.
The council’s negotiating committee met with Marshall late last month to review the position’s pay and job description. As recommended, the council agreed to pay Marshall a flat $700 biweekly with no hourly pay for calls and training.
“The former chief got paid a salary plus got paid to be on fire calls and training,” Novak said. “This (new pay agreement) ends up being a wash for us if not actually a budget plus, so we thank Mr. Marshall for his offer.”
The negotiating committee also discussed the fire chief’s job description and possible revisions. According to the meeting minutes, the position was last reviewed in September 2010, when former chief Tom Erchull took over as department leader. The chief’s job description continues to include the duties of Emergency Management Director, currently maintained by Ely Police Department Sgt. Gorge Burger. The city’s employee relations committee will review Marshall’s revisions later in May.
Marshall will also continue his duties as department secretary, and the position will remain open, allowing future department leaders to fill the position depending on any revised management plan.
Chief Marshall will return to the city council on May 18 with a slate of recommended officers.
“He has some ideas on how to get current in the department as far as pay for the various officers,” Novak said.
Council member Heidi Omerza, who also sits on the negotiating committee, highlighted the importance of communication with the department.
“It was a delight to see right away that we already have fire department meeting minutes in our (council packet) and I appreciate that,” she said.
“We forgot what they look like,” Novak added.
Later in the council meeting, Marshall provided an update and described recent response calls.
“We had a call to Pioneer Apartments for an elevator that was stuck due to a partial power failure,” he said. “There was a resident in the elevator in excess of 30 minutes, in the dark. He was grateful for our help and assured us he would be a stair climber from now on.”
The department also responded to a compressor malfunction at the Ely Ice Arena on the ISD 696 campus that resulted in the charging of the sprinkler lines, Marshall said. Ely firefighters responded to a mutual aid call last Friday from the Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service for a grass fire on Wolf Creek Pass Road.
“It was about a half-acre in size,” he said. “We sent personnel and three trucks to that scene.”
The new fire chief also described a variety of recent department training sessions and upcoming training topics to be covered.

Liquor license transfer
Eric St. Martin, owner of Ely Liquor, is outgrowing his building at 438 E. Sheridan St. and wants to move to a larger location.
He recently changed the name of the popular off-sale liquor store from Lakeshore Liquor, and has fond memories of growing up in the building in the 1970s when his grandparents owned the store.
“I’m bursting at the seams and I need more room,” he said.
His request for a liquor license transfer for his business was approved. He will soon be doing business down the street at 1406 E. Sheridan in the former Family Dollar building.
With the liquor license transfer hurdle cleared, St. Martin had another issue and looked to the council to help him.
“I’m not quite ready to write a sizable check if there is going to be another liquor store approved very close to my new location,” he said. “Are we really ready to add a fourth or fifth off-sale liquor (store) in the city of Ely? Will this be a rubber stamp or will you have a discussion on it?”
St. Martin was referring to the proposed renovation and expansion of the former Shopko building by Zup’s Brothers Inc. with plans that include the addition of a new off-sale liquor store at the expanded food market. An enlarged meat processing area, new pharmacy, and dry goods availability will also be included in the expanded store.
“As we discussed with you,” Novak said, “the city is not in a position where we have any limits on liquor licenses. If we deny a liquor license, it has to be from a legal standpoint.”
St. Martin asked about the possibility of “closing” the availability of off-sale liquor licenses.
“Since it was open and with liquor there were no restrictions, no one entertained the idea that we would put a limit on licenses. It never came up as an idea that we would address,” Novak said. “The city has a Liquor Commission to address those issues. I agree that too much competition kills everybody. What if another hardware store comes to town? What would that mean to our long-term businesses here?”
Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski will have more information on the issue at the next council meeting.

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