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Berrini re-elected, Morse levy unchanged

Morse election judges Mary Ann Lekatz, Muffin Nelson, Patty Niskala and Tricia Schreffler finish up the counting of the ballots Tuesday night.

Town of Morse supervisor Bob Berrini was re-elected Tuesday, receiving 48 of the 49 votes cast. Berrini was first elected in 2005.

The annual meeting followed with clerk Nick Wognum and treasurer Mary Ann Lekatz serving as moderators before a small crowd.

Lekatz went through the 2022 financial report including total township funds dropping from $467,821.72 to $329,808.13 at the end of the year.  A large part of that, $126,719.46 was for the purchase of four parcels of land along the Taconite Trail.

Berrini explained the township received grants for the purchase and is working on a permanent easement with the DNR.

Berrini also noted the decrease in funds was from purchasing a building for the ambulance. Morse, Fall Lake and the City of Ely each put in $150,000 to buy the building with Winton contributing around $11,000. Berrini said each entity (except Winton) along with the hospital also put in $60,000 to help keep the ambulance afloat.

Roads were a big part of the discussion with township resident Bill Erzar saying roads in Romberg Acres don’t need to have chloride applied. He also said the roads should be centered in the road right of way.

Berrini said the township paid $10,000 to have the roads in Romberg surveyed.

Township resident James Devine said he would be in favor of keeping brushing work done. Berrini said he had five or six calls from people who complained about brushing done in front of their houses.

Lekatz explained there are three more years of payments on the fire truck. She said the proposed levy for 2024 is $181,036.43 for the General Fund and $184,693.73 for the Road and Bridge fund.

Berrini said the levy has remained unchanged for many years.

Citizens present Tuesday night voted to keep the levy the same for 2024.

Erzar discussed the adoption of county road specifications for township roads in the mid 1990s. He said there should be 66-foot right of ways and that the roads should be located in the middle of the road right of ways. He said on Hallmark the road is located on the edge of the right of way. Erzar said he would like to see 18 foot road widths.

Cersine asked when the Romberg Acres plat was approved. Erzar said it was likely in the 1960s. He said the roads were built when it was surveyed and developed.

Erzar said the annual meeting in the 1990s where the county road specifications were adopted, the minutes did not reflect that.

Erzar asked for less salt and more sand in the mixture used in the winter.

Erzar also asked about the broadband service for his area.

Berrini said the township has talked to Treehouse and Midco about providing service in Romberg Acres, even putting up $10,000 for a grant application for Midco.

Erzar said he might as well put two tin cans on a string for how bad his internet service is right now.

Berrini said the township also looked at partnering with Frontier in the past.

Wognum read a letter from the Highway 169 Task Force, thanking the township for supporting pursuing Congressional earmarks for monies to improve the highway.

Erzar explained at milepost 267 by the state park entrance east of Soudan, a rise in the grade would be removed to create a passing zone; the next would be the west corner of Robinson Lake at Camp Lake Road on the bad corner instead of cutting to the lake right away the railroad grade would be used to make the corner less sharp and staying away from the lake and the public landing on Robinson then at Wolf Creek Pass that section would be elevated, banked and corrected along with turn lanes to Wolf Lake Road; then past Wolf Lake Road to the east the sharp corner and rise would be flattened, filled and banked. The cost was $13.1 million and now is $14.3 million. Erzar said this is the third try for the CDS spending. He also advocated for increasing the gas tax.

In other business:

• The voting hours of the township election in 2024 will again be from noon to 8 p.m.

• March 12 was set for the annual meeting and election in 2024.

• Berrini noted the local board of appeal and equalization will be held on April 25 at 9 a.m.

• Berrini said the board is looking to meet with the county on putting more land up for sale for development.

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