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Shedd, Majerle new additions to city council

Jodi Summit
Posted 5/29/19

TOWER- The Tower City Council, on Tuesday, unanimously appointed two new members, approving Mayor Orlyn Kringstad’s recommendations of Mary Shedd and Sheldon Majerle.

Shedd, a retired U.S. …

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Shedd, Majerle new additions to city council

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TOWER- The Tower City Council, on Tuesday, unanimously appointed two new members, approving Mayor Orlyn Kringstad’s recommendations of Mary Shedd and Sheldon Majerle.

Shedd, a retired U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist had run for a council seat in November, losing by a slim two-vote margin. Majerle, who is also retired, currently sits on several city committees and is a former council member and acting mayor. Both are active volunteers in the community.

Two other candidates were also in the running, Josh Zika and Cynthia Spicer. Kringstad admitted the choice was difficult, and the two other council members agreed.

Councilor Steve Abrahamson noted that Zika would bring a background in maintenance and waste water issues. Spicer is a newer city resident but has expressed interest in city affairs.

Kringstad noted these two would be good additions to city committees and could choose to run for office next year.

The appointments fill seats left by the recent resignations of Kevin Fitton and Brooke Anderson, both of whom were up for re-election in 2020.

“We were fortunate to have really great candidates apply,” said Councilor Rachel Beldo.

Reorganization

Once the two new councilors took the oath of office, the council approached the normally mundane task of reorganizing city committees and commissions.

Kringstad’s motion to move this piece of business to an earlier place on the agenda, during the old business, was met by resistance from City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith.

“It’s a special meeting,” she said. “We can’t change the agenda. It is new business.”

Kringstad rebutted Keith’s claim, and other council members concurred. The issue was already on the agenda, and Kringstad noted he had asked it be placed on the agenda under old business.

“I don’t want any part of that,” Keith said.

The council approved a motion to move the reorganization to the old business portion of the agenda.

The reorganization, usually completed in January, had been repeatedly delayed due to confusion created by unauthorized alterations made by Keith in the committee and commissions roster from previous years. The council also had to address vacancies left by the resignations of Fitton and Anderson.

Kringstad noted the council still needed to review and correct the terms for many of the appointments that had been changed without council approval, but this would be done at a later meeting.

Among the changes approved Tuesday night were:

 Rachel Beldo was appointed as acting mayor.

 Mary Shedd was appointed to the Charter Commission, Forestry Board, Planning and Zoning, and as alternate to the Joint Powers Recreation Board and Employee Relations committee.

 Majerle, who already has a seat on the Charter Commission as a resident, was appointed to the Tower Economic Development Authority, Tower Breitung Wastewater Board, Public Utilities Commission, Liquor Commission, and Lodging Tax Board.

Josh Zika was named to a seat on the Public Utilities Commission, pending his acceptance of the role.

The council also voted to reinstate Marshall Helmberger to the Tower Economic Development Authority, to a term ending in 2019. “By law we need to put Marshall back on TEDA,” said Kringstad.

City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith said the council only needed to appoint the open council seat for TEDA and needed to leave the appointment for the two other open spots to the TEDA board itself. Keith noted the city had received applications for the two openings.

“Marshall had a term that went through 2019 and that term was changed to 2017,” Kringstad said. “Due process was not followed, and therefore by law we need to put Marshall back on for the balance of his term.”

Keith again noted that the TEDA board wanted to fill both the open seats.

The council voted, unanimously, to place Helmberger back onto TEDA, and appointed Majerle to the authority’s open council representative position. The TEDA board is expected to make a recommendation to the council to fill the single remaining open seat.

The council tabled any changes to the Gundersen Trust Board due to confusion over the actual makeup of the board. Additionally, former Mayor Josh Carlson, who has served as a council representative on the trust board through the end of 2018, had been switched to a “resident” seat without council authorization.

Majerle also said the council should look at having the required composition of the board changed, to allow more members who are not city of Tower residents. Right now only one seat is termed at-large, and that is filled by the clerk-treasurer. In fact, the Gunderson Trust Board is, by its defining court documents, to be comprised of two council members, two members of the city’s forestry board, and three at-large members. The makeup of the board was another unauthorized alteration to city records, apparently made by Keith.

“We would have to have the language in the trust changed,” said Majerle, who has been a longtime member of the trust board. The change would allow the board to seat members with more experience in investing the monies that the board is charged with overseeing. Profits from the investments benefit the city, but in recent years, the city has earned almost nothing from the approximately million dollars in trust funds.

The council also tabled any appointments to the city’s grievance committee pending legal clarification.

The council appointed Majerle as the council representative for Hoodoo Point, to act as a liaison between the campground managers and the council, as needed.

Open meeting

law violation

The council acknowledged receipt of an advisory opinion from the Minnesota Department of Administration that concluded the Tower City Council had not complied with the Minnesota Open Meeting Law when it closed meetings to consider employee misconduct allegations after it had decided to hire an investigator to look into the allegations.

“It is important that we bring this out,” said Kringstad. “The city council was in error here.”

Timberjay Publisher Marshall Helmberger had requested the opinion after the council, acting on the advice of their city attorney, had continued to hold closed sessions to discuss allegations regarding Keith. Helmberger argued that the law required those discussions be held in public, and the Commissioner of Administration agreed.

In other business, the council:

 Approved a request from Good Ol’ Days to close the adjacent street for Fourth of July and a request from the Tower-Soudan Lake Vermilion Events Board to use the harbor for an event on July 6.

 Set up a working group of Shedd, Kringstad, Keith, and Jodi Summit to review changes needed for the city website.

 Reviewed but took no action on a draft agreement for Advance Life Support service between the ambulance departments of Tower and Virginia. The agreement would allow for the addition of a paramedic from Virginia to join the EMT crew from Tower when doing transfers from the Virginia Hospital that require the support of a paramedic. Virginia would bill Tower $600 per joint run. Tower would handle the billing. The agreement still needs to be approved by the state director of emergency services.

 Approved a pay estimate for the Nordic Group for $130,5123 for the work being done on the harbor trail project.

 Reviewed a map that showed city-owned lands and the eight city-owned parcels along the East Two River that are currently for sale. Keith said the previous council had put the parcels up for sale, and designated the proceeds to pay down the harbor project debt. The parcels, if all sold, would generate about $240,000 in income for the city.

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