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Gruba cites conflict of interest, resigns from joint powers ambulance board

by Nancy McReady

At first appearance it seemed as though a dozen Fall Lake Township residents were in attendance for the June meeting. It turned out that most of the people in the audience were members of the Ely Area Ambulance Service.

Their presence was due to concerns by the township board about improvements needed to the ambulance building.

Supervisor Rod Gruba said a space is needed for training purposes and for housing the ambulances. He said an additional building is being discussed.

Both Supervisors Eric Hart and Craig Seliskar said they want to be on the same page as to what the township will be liable for. There needs to be transparency as this is a huge investment.

“Lake County taxes for ambulance services in Two Harbors and Silver Bay,” said Gruba. “We would have to ask for more funding for our ambulance.”

Taunya Teska-Erickson from Buhl formerly worked as an EMT for the Buhl Fire Department and Ambulance. She said since the Buhl Fire Department gave the ambulance over to Essentia she now drives to Ely and works for the Ely Area Ambulance Service.

Teska-Erickson said, “The ambulance service sees all the negative but rarely sees the positive we do.”

Seliskar asked Gruba if the hospital was talking to the ambulance service, and if the hospital wants the ambulance back to then contract out.

“No one wants this,” said Seliskar. “We would lose control.”

Ivette Reing from Cook is a grant writer. She said she is willing to write for a grant for the expansion.

“We stand together,” said Reing. “We have your best interests at heart. The hospital does not.” She suggested having a meet and greet to show the public the ambulance building.

There is already $650,000 in grant monies available for an ambulance building. Previously Fall Lake, Morse, Ely and Winton spent $460,000 to buy the building.

Seliskar said the Ely Area Ambulance Service has the board’s support, and Gruba said the response time is great.

Hart agreed. He said his family had to use the service. “We want you to know how much we appreciate you.”

Scott Kellerman said the Ambulance Service is looking to create a foundation, but it will take a while for an endowment.

Gruba asked Seliskar or Hart if they would consider being on the Ambulance Joint Powers Board. He said is also on the ambulance non-profit board and it presents a conflict of interest.

Hart said he planned to attend the next Joint Powers meeting and he would take over Gruba’s position. Gruba then resigned and Hart was approved.

Dean Barrett reported that Kathy Braun will be working at the transfer site two days a week and Rich Hyrkas will work one day a week. This is through the summer schedule of the site being open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

The board approved the transfer site to be closed on holidays and would be open on the next business day.

Barrett said it has been busy on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The bins have been bear-proofed, but the road still needs some filling.

He asked about obtaining a cell phone booster at the site as the signal is very poor. Seliskar suggested getting a land line. Clerk Cheri DeBeltz will check with Zito and then with Frontier.

There has been no resolution on receiving reimbursement from Lake County for steaming culverts.

On road issues, state funding is needed for Sunset Road improvements. Gruba said the route has been flagged.

Also on Sunset Road, Seliskar said landowners need to be contacted about ditching in some areas.

The Cloquet Line will have chloride applied next week. The road will have to be watered and graded before the application.

Board members will check with the fire department and other sources about watering. It was noted that gravel will have to be hauled to cover the timber in the road.

Seliskar said Hegfors wanted to widen a portion of a road off Snowbank Road, but the road-right-of way is 33 feet. There was a question if the Forest Service owns the land.

The board accepted the estimate for culvert replacement from Hegfors.

Emily Seliskar asked if funds could be used to buy some playground equipment or have a basketball hoop installed at the Town Hall. Hart said he has a hoop he would donate.

In correspondence:

• Received a thank you from Northwood Partners.

• A notice was received from Central MN Council on Aging for a free workshop on ending social isolation and loneliness.

• Received the ECR newsletter.

• Received the Ely-Winton Historical Society newsletter.

• Received a notice from Lake County that public input is wanted on Lake County’s 2023 Hazard Mitigation Plan.

• The next Ambulance Joint Powers meeting will be held on Monday, June 12 at 4 p.m. at Winton.

• The full Lake County Board of Commissioners will meet at Fall Lake on Tuesday, June 20 at 6 p.m.

• The next Morse/Fall Lake Fire meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 21 at 6 p.m.

• The next regular township meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 11 at 6 p.m.

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