Council bats eight in two-hour meeting

by Nick Wognum

What appeared to be a killer agenda was managed in just under two hours by the Ely city council last Tuesday.<BR><BR>There were eight requests to appear and slew of other items to consider as six men took their seats. Mike Hillman was absent. <BR><BR>The first request came from Robin Mathews, the chair of the Planning Commission, who was going to ask to have Hillman replaced as a council representative due to missing so many meetings. <BR><BR>But before Mathews could begin, Mayor Frank Salerno cut him off at the pass, asking if the commission had officially acted on the request.<BR><BR>Mathews said that a motion had not been approved by the board. <BR><BR>“The recommendation needs to go from P&Z and be forwarded to us for consideration,” said Salerno.<BR><BR>“We can do that,” said Mathews. “So if P&Z were to vote and be in favor of removing Mr. Hillman you would consider it?”<BR><BR>“Yes,” said Salerno.<BR><BR>After listening to a proposal from St. Louis County and the Cemetery Committee (see separate stories), the council took no official action on appointing two members to a search committee for a new executive director for the Ely Area Development Association.<BR><BR>The council did approve having city clerk-treasurer John Tourville work with the North American Bear Center on acquiring property to build a facility.<BR><BR>A request from Greg Mangold to have the city rescind clean-up fees assessed to a residential property where there had been a fire was tabled until the issue can be discussed with the city attorney.<BR><BR>A request for a small plot of land for a community garden was approved.<BR><BR>Morse Township supervisor Jack Willis asked to meet with city officials to look at ways to combine the city and township fire department equipment and personnel. <BR><BR>Council member Butch Pecha said he would meet with Willis along with a representative from the Ely fire department.<BR><BR>With the requests to appear out of the way, the council took action on getting out of an agreement with developer/building Lee Aultman to provide housing in Spaulding.<BR><BR>A grant application for funding for the project was ranked second in points by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency but received no funding.<BR><BR>“There was no funding for projects from MHFA for anything north of the Twin Cities,” said clerk-treasurer John Tourville. “It’s really alarming.”<BR><BR>With that news, the council voted to rescind the agreement that had been in place with Aultman and place the lots up for sale to the public.<BR><BR>Voted to pay Cheryl Anderson $22.44 per hour, an increase of $5.07 per hour, to take on retired fire chief Gary Klun’s responsibilities. <BR><BR>Klun was being paid $23.71 per hour and in negotiations with the union, the city agreed to pay Anderson an increase equal to 80 percent of the difference. <BR><BR>In other business the council:<BR><BR>• Did not approve requests from the All Class Reunion Committee to close Sheridan Street for an hour for a snakedance and to have a bonfire near Miners Lake. City officials will meet with the committee to clear up concerns that were raised.<BR><BR>• Approved purchasing a low boy trailer for $7,500 with the Ely Utilities Commission paying for half. The council also accepted the donation of a tractor from St. Louis County that could be used to pull the trailer.<BR><BR>• Took no action on alleged violations against a number of licensed liquor sales businesses.