City to survey residents on need for resource officer

By Robert Willams

Editor

Frazee Chief of Police Tyler Trieglaff initiated further discussions on putting a school resource officer at Frazee-Vergas High School and the city council agreed to survey residents on both the need and potential costs of hiring.

“In the grand scheme of things, I’d say we are on step two of five if things move forward,” Trieglaff said. 

The Frazee-Vergas School Board will be discussing the issue in a working session on Monday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m., in the district conference room No. 331. Discussions will focus on what the school administrators expect.

Discussions have already been had between police and the public safety and personnel and finance committees.

“What it comes down to is money,” said Trieglaff. “The school threw out a number, which would pay about 64 percent. They would buy days of service from us. We would cover uniforms and fuel and that. That’s one of the possibilities.”

Trieglaff and city administrator Jordin Roberts discussed surveying the public and will do so. That survey can be found in this issue of the Forum and the next.

“Number one, it’s about safety and security,” Trieglaff said.

A fight was reported at the school on Monday, Sept. 19.

“We were needed,” Trieglaff said. “Would it have stopped a fight like that, maybe.”

Councilwoman Nicole Strand, who also works at the school, noted it would have been far more helpful to have a police presence to deter and/or stop the fight.

Underwood is the latest area school to add a resource officer. Otter Tail County Deputy Carla Doll, a 7-year veteran in the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office, began the school year in the role.

The timeline for placing an officer in the school, if approved, is dependent on finding a qualified officer and the money. Grants are also being explored.

“Funding is the big thing,” said Trieglaff.

The position would eventually have other duties relative to school resource programs, such as talking to driver’s education classes, health classes, D.A.R.E training and such.

According to Trieglaff, of the 11 school days so far this year as of Monday, Sept. 19, there have been eight calls to the school.

The police department collected information from students last spring with most of the kids reporting they were in support of an officer on campus.

Service reports

The Frazee Police Department had 94 calls in August, 11 for traffic. Rescue had five calls during the month, five in city limits. 

The fire department responded to nine calls, three for fires, one mutual aid, one hazmat, two landing zones for life flight and a missing person.

“I only break it down so you can get an understanding of how varied our calls can be,” fire chief Nathan Matejka said.

The department had firefighter candidate testing. Four probationary officers were taken on with council approval. The officers are Joshua Wolf, Brandon Nelson, Thomas Trudeau and Nicholas Geiselhart. 

Delinquent fire calls

The city reviewed delinquent fire calls and submitted to the county auditor accounts for collection and property assessment. Outstanding bills amount to $10,245 and will be assessed to property owners’ taxes or sent to the Minnesota Department of Revenue for collections taken out of individual income taxes, if applicable, if unpaid by January 1, 2023.

Public Works

Superintendent Larry Stephenson reported the water treatment plant treated 4,547,000 gallons of water in August; 81.5 pounds fluoride and 881 pounds chlorine were added. The waste water plant pumped 2,260,000 gallons for treatment and discharged 9,069,000 gallons for the month—total for the year is 40,431,000 discharged.

Hwy 87 assessments

Improvement of infrastructure, including the replacement of watermain and sanitary sewer items on the Highway 87 project between Maple Avenue West and Second Street Southwest came in at a total cost of $1,306,413.67.

The city will pay $936,130 with the remaining $239,308.78 to be assessed against benefited property owners over a 15-year period. The city clerk and engineer will calculate the amount to be assessed to every assessable lot, piece or parcel of land within the affected area without regard to cash valuation.

The council will meet at 6:01 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 17, at the Frazee City Hall to consider, and possibly adopt, the proposed assessment for the project. Written or oral objections will be considered at the meeting. See the public notice in the Sept. 27 issue of the Frazee-Vergas Forum for more information.

Easements

The Frazee-Vergas School District has approved a quit claim deed of a 66-foot stretch of the end of North River Road that runs behind the school from Highway 87 past the ballfields to County Road 29. 

“I just look at it like we’re getting stuck with the bill to improve this road,” councilman Mark Kemper said. 

Public Works Superintendent Larry Stephenson noted there will be a need for Class 5 fill and grading.

Usage of the road has increased due to more parking added behind the school. Discussions continued on further necessary upgrades, including potential asphalt.

“I think the school would have to be a big part of that when it comes to that,” said Stephenson.

Thoughts on paving the road were unlikely, according to Mayor Ken Miosek and Stephenson.

“I believe the intent from the school is to give you guys the easement,” said fire chief and school board member Nathan Matejka. “If and when the city should ever decide to do something with that road is completely up to you. They just wanted to give you the easement so you had the ability if you wanted to.”

A future improvement project would be assessable to the property owner, which is the school, according to city engineer Kris Carlson.

The quit claim deed allows the road to be owned by one entity, the city, to allow for any future upgrades. The road will remain gravel for the time being. Full plowing during the winter of the stretch from the ballfields to County Road 29 is still under discussion.

• An electric easement was approved for Otter Tail Power Company to run underground electric lines as part of the ongoing highway 87 project near 2nd Street Southwest. OTP will make an easement payment of $300.

• Matthew Hagelin of Great River Energy was present to answer questions of an easement for a transmission line project by the water treatment plant and the Erie northwest substation in Height Of Land township. The project will construct a new Erie substation and connect a double circuited line to the substation near the water treatment plant. Timeline for the project includes transmission line construction to begin this fall and continue into spring of 2023 when full energization is planned. 

Animal ordinance update

City administrator Jordin Roberts presented the updated ordinance to section 5-5-2 of the Frazee city code regarding animals in the city. The main changes were households can have three animals, any combination of cats and dogs, rather than two.

Residents can now have up to four chickens in city limits. Roosters are prohibited. There are other restrictions such as the premises must be located in R1 or R2 residential districts and have a lot area of at least 5,000 square feet and chickens must be kept in a coop or attached run at all times.

Clarifications were added on pets that are kept in cages or terrariums for long periods of time, such as snakes, hamsters, etc.

Dog case ending

A dangerous dog case that began in 2021 has nearly reached a conclusion. Last November, residents shared accounts of being attacked by the dog while walking or biking on a public sidewalk located between the elementary school and high school.

After more attacks were reported, the dog was taken to the pound where it remains. 

The owner will be notified that ownership will be vacated unless all terms are met in 10 days, which includes pound fees and other stipulations such as continuing liability insurance in a single incident amount of $300,000; proof that said dog has been sterilized and has current vaccinations; and a yearly registration fee of $200. If these conditions are not met the pound will be notified the dog has been abandoned.

Wannigan Park tabled

After failing to pass a resolution on the land purchase for Wannigan Park of 174.55 acres, the proposal was tabled for September and was again tabled after information volunteered by the Frazee Community Development Corporation (FCDC) was not received.

“The FCDC was presenting a summary of their financial assets and their capacity should, four years from now, the city need to purchase it, that they could have the wherewithal to step in and take it from us at that point,” said vice mayor Mike Sharp.

Those financial statements have not been provided since the August council meeting.

Total cost for the purchase is $810,000, that is planned to be paid for by grants and donations. The city would be the current guarantor of those grants, but the council wanted to see more information on the fiscal viability of the project should those grants not be awarded.

“It was tabled originally and I would be in favor of leaving it on the table until they get the information that we requested and they agreed to provide to us,” said Sharp.

Donations

Bethlehem Lutheran Church donated $50 to the Frazee Police Department.

Island Lake Property Association donated $125 to the Frazee Fire Department.

West Central Initiative

Rich Schara of West Central Initiative made Frazee one WCI’s 82 visits to communities supported in nine counties. Schara’s presentation was on the basics of what role the non-profit regional development organization plays in aiding communities, along with a 2021 annual review and strategic framework for the next five years.

Since 2017, WCI has facilitated over $96,000 in grants, COVID relief funds, small business relief grants and childcare emergency funds in Frazee, along with over $60,000 in business loans.

Since 1986, WCI has invested $4.7 million in grants in Becker County and over $4 million in loans.

As part of a fundraiser, WCI is also donating two apple trees to each community.