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Fall Lake board hears from new Lake County commissioner Baltich

Judge Nicole Hopps swearing in Joe Baltich to his new District 1 commissioner position for Lake County on Nov. 13.

by Nancy McReady

Ely Echo

Joe Baltich attended his first Fall Lake Township meeting as the newly elected District 1 Lake County Commissioner.

Baltich narrowly won over Jack Nelson in the Nov. 7 election. He will be Fall Lake’s first representative on the county board in 50 years.

After sitting through a full agenda of township business, Supervisor Eric Hart congratulated Baltich.

Baltich said he was glad to fill this position and said the township will now have a voice at Lake County.

“We need to have someone representing us,” said Baltich. He said he would be the squeaky wheel making noise at county meetings.

“It’s quite a job to drive down there,” said Baltich. “But it’s worth it. I’m used to that drive with the school bus.”

Baltich recapped discussions from his first Lake County meeting. He said there is a healthcare program with a social worker to help elderly to remain in their homes, and the Inflation Reduction Act has money available to fight against climate change.

Cindy Smyka, director of the Ely Area Tourism Bureau was also in attendance. She spoke about a new joint powers lodging tax agreement with Lake County. Monies for the 1% event tax included in Lake County’s lodging tax for Fall Lake and the Stony River area has added up. Smyka suggested brainstorming for events to be held in the township.

Treasurer Don Stocks mentioned helping out Baltich’s Stone Stash with an event grant, but the event would have to take place in Fall Lake Township.

The board of supervisors approved the amended lodging tax agreement.

Sheriff Nathan Stadler discussed the Lake County’s use of three garage stalls at the town hall. The county uses the garage for the snow plow, pontoon boat and other equipment.

A $500 a month rental fee had been suggested which seemed high to Stadler. After further discussion, the board agreed the use of the garage space with gravel floor would remain as it has been, without a rental fee.

The township received information about the 2023 Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) grant application. Project manager Jeff Goetzman suggested Fall Lake Township submit a grant application for the Sunset Road realignment.

Baltich said LRIP had been discussed at the county meeting and there were projects mentioned in the Silver Bay area. He said the township needed to submit their application by the county’s next meeting at the end of November. Applications are due Dec. 8.

Supervisor Rod Gruba said land has been donated to the township for a better Sunset Road access. The board approved a resolution requesting Lake County sponsor the grant for Sunset Road improvements.

In other road issues, Supervisor Craig Seliskar said the USFS suggested requesting funding for the Discover Lake access road.

And of course, the Cloquet Line came up in need of grading. The road still needs some drying out for grading, as do several other township roads.

Dean Barrett told Baltich to check out the potholes on the 13 Corners Road, a county road. He uses this road in coming to the town hall and to the transfer station. He said the holes in front of Marlene Skube’s house are deep and you end up driving into her driveway to avoid them.

Barrett said the transfer station has been busy with people filling two bins with cardboard and recyclables. The brush pile has been growing and needs to be burned. This will be done once we get adequate snow on the ground.

Seliskar said culvert replacements were completed on Sunset Road and Shady Lane. The township roads would be graded this coming week.

In another road issue, Ed Seliskar requested access to his property on Locust Lane. The board recommended entering in an agreement with property owners and have the county approve opening this lane for unmaintained road access. There is gravel blocking the lane that needs to be moved. It was suggested donating the gravel to the ATV and snowmobile clubs, or possibly having the gravel crushed and mixed with clay for township road maintenance. The board will look into this.

Hart said the ambulance meeting had been canceled, and he asked Baltich if anything had been said at the county meeting about Fall Lake’s ambulance funding. Baltich said there was no discussion about that.

In correspondence:

• Received requests for several organization. $300 was approved to Team Borealis, $700 approved to End of the Road Archers, $700 was approved to NRE Swimmers, $1,000 was approved to the Ely Hoop Club, and $500 was approved to the Ely Winter Festival.

• Thank yous were received for funds given to the Ely Track Club and Ely Area Senior Center.

• A thank you was received from Sunset Road property owners for replacing the culvert.

• Received the Ely Community Health Center newsletter. Their request for a donation was denied as the township’s rec funds are for recreation.

• Received the increased membership dues letter from RAMS. The board approved paying the $360 membership.

• The next regular township meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m.

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