GREENWOOD TWP- There is a new “neighbor” living near the Everett Point public boat landing, and it is an unwelcome guest. A large patch of Japanese Knotweed, an invasive species, was …
GREENWOOD TWP- There is a new “neighbor” living near the Everett Point public boat landing, and it is an unwelcome guest. A large patch of Japanese Knotweed, an invasive species, was discovered by Supervisor Barb Lofquist, who was working as boat inspector, looking for aquatic invasive species at the boat landing, earlier this summer. She used a plant identification app on her phone to identify it, and quickly realized it was invasive. The patch is located on private property as well as in the power line easement.
The patch is about 30 feet long, and 10 feet high, she reported, and it looks like bamboo. It is only the third identified patch of Japanese Knotweed that has been found north of Duluth.
“This plant kills everything around it,” she said. “It can grow through walls, foundations, and sidewalks.”
This type of knotweed spreads easily and can grow from pieces of stem as short as half an inch as well as rhizomes that are left on the ground, and by seed. The plant can grow a foot and a half in a single week. An Asian member of the buckwheat family, it originated from lava fields in Japan and can grow straight through rocks.
Lofquist contacted state and county officials, who confirmed the identification, and told her that professionals would be hired to remove the plant, setting a timeline for 2024. After speaking with County Commissioner Paul McDonald, Lofquist said the removal would be done this year, and the county has hired Prairie Restorations out of Duluth for the job.
“Cutting this plant is not advised while it is actively growing,” Lofquist said. “My biggest concern would be someone cutting or mowing it, then transporting the cuttings elsewhere.”
Professional removal involves using chemical treatments prior to frost.
Two members of the Greenwood Community Recreation Board spoke during public comment, asking for cooperation from the board with their work to maintain the recreation areas at the town hall. Jarri Ankrum talked about the regular maintenance that their volunteers do, including spring cleanup and fall/winter prep work, weekly garbage removal, cleaning the pavilion, watering trees, and more.
The group is at a standstill with the town board over access to the storage shed, where recreational materials like bocce ball sets are stored.
“Please work with the people of Greenwood to make a safe place to play,” she said.
Jet Galonski noted that people renting the pavilion are not informed there are bocce and other games available in the locked shed.
“You guys need to take care of all that stuff,” he said, “unless you let us do it.”
Lofquist asked the board to purchase a lockbox, so the keys could be more readily accessed by approved users, as well as installing an outdoor security camera on the shed to monitor for vandalism, but her motion died for lack of a second.
Supervisor Sue Drobac told Ankrum they would get her a key to the shed.
Supervisor Rick Stoehr said there had been three incidents of vandalism on town hall ground this past year, including breaking the basketball hoop, damage done to some contractors’ equipment that was parked in the lot, as well as items stolen from the recreation storage shed.
“Vandalism can be solved with a security camera,” noted Lofquist. “It’s a proven fact.”
Chairman John Bassing said he would like to see the board pass a policy on use of security cameras before taking any action on installing them.
“The cameras were used for not good purposes previously,” he said.
After the meeting, Ankrum said she was concerned that four new sets of bocce equipment, along with other yard games, donated to the township after the first sets were stolen, were also missing, but that she did not have access to the shed to inventory any missing items.
Clerk JoAnn Bassing said she and Stoehr both have keys to the shed, and are available to provide access. She said they will also post a notice on the website, with information on how to get access to the supplies.
The board approved a new member for the fire department. Kenna Villebrun is already a trained EMT and is planning on completing the required firefighter training classes. Chief Jeff Maus reported the department spent around $1,000 on repairs to fireboat two. The department has also stopped renting oxygen bottles at a cost of $90 per month since they already owned their own bottles. The department cleaned and marked the dry hydrant by the tennis court.
Maus asked the board to terminate one employee from the department who had not attended any trainings or meeting the entire year, and who had not responded to multiple requests to contact the chief. The vote was 4-1, with Skubic voting against. Department guidelines call for the dismissal of any member who is absent, without being excused, for six months in a row.
In other business, the board:
• Heard from Treasurer Jeff Maus, who asked to board to consider moving more of the township’s reserve accounts into higher paying short-term CDs, which are currently paying over five-percent interest over short term periods. The township previously moved $250,000 in reserves into a CD, but Maus said they should consider moving other funds not needed in a short-term period, identifying over $200,000 in potential reserves that are not needed in the short term.
• Passed a formal resolution earmarking unused township ARPA dollars (COVID relief funding), totaling about $99,000, for its broadband fund. The township hopes to use this funding to expand broadband into areas of the township not currently part of the funded Bois Forte broadband project. Bassing said the Greenwood portion of the project is still in the planning stages, but that most of the work on the Vermilion Reservation has been completed.
• Set the hourly rate for cleaning services at the town hall at $32.50 per hour. The township will be hiring a person to do cleaning every other week.
• Will contact Benchmark Engineering to look at the blacktop job done at the town hall about three years ago. The blacktop is already showing signs of wear, with weeds popping through cracks.
• Accepted the low bid for propane from Superior Fuel, at $1.299, with $0.899 for the first fill. The township owns their propane tank. A total of five bids were received.
• Accepted the single bid for snow removal at the town hall from Vermilion Property Services. The bid covers snow removal once two inches of snow is on the ground, at $300 per visit, which includes shoveling and snowblowing. The fee is a bit higher for snow totaling five inches, at $350 per visit. This bid is about $20 higher than the previous year.
• The board approved uploading audio recordings of meetings to the township website. The website can host between six and 12 months-worth of meeting at no additional charge, Clerk JoAnn Bassing said.
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