TRF hires forester

by April Scheinoha
As the city of Thief River Falls continued to clean up after a heavy snowfall, the Thief River Falls City Council discussed how a job transfer may affect the snow removal process.
At its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 3, the council approved the Teamsters internal transfer of Brian Benitt, public works maintenance employee, to the position of forester/parks maintenance. Benitt will be paid $25.86 per hour for his new full-time position. After six months, he will be eligible for a salary of $26.36 per hour. Per the union contract, Benitt will have 30 days to transfer to his former position if he wishes to do so.
The position has been vacant for several years since the retirement of Myles Olson. Forestry duties have since been handled by the Streets/Sanitation Department.
Benitt will work in the Parks and Recreation Department in his new position. He will continue to handle mosquito control for the city, and he will work in parks/arenas maintenance when not handling forestry responsibilities. There has been a vacant parks arenas/maintenance position in the department.
Mayor Brian Holmer said he was concerned that the city would lose a snowplow operator during snow removal season. He added that he was getting more complaints now about snow removal than about trees.
Parks and Recreation Director Joe Amundson noted that Benitt wouldn’t start in his new position until Streets/Sanitation Supervisor Randy Konickson is ready for such a transfer.
The job description also stated that Benitt can be assigned to any other department, if needed, by the parks and recreation director.
City Council approved the transfer of the Rusty Nail on-sale intoxicating liquor license to 16 penny doing business as the Rusty Nail, effective Feb. 1. Geno Kalinowski is purchasing the Rusty Nail.
The council approved an ordinance amendment for sign standards in zoning districts. It removes percentage limitations from the current ordinance pertaining to signs advertising the city or city facilities in the park zoning district.
The ordinance formerly stipulated that “up to 33 percent of the sign surface may be used to display an event.” It also indicated that “up to 20 percent may be used to display the insignia or name of any nonprofit organizations and educational institutions sponsoring the sign.”
The amendment also eliminates the sentence, “Letters or characters may not be changed more often than once every two hours.” That restriction is already included in the city’s dynamic sign ordinance.
The city plans to install an electronic sign outside of the Huck Olson Memorial Civic Center and Ralph Engelstad Arena. The sign will promote the activities of any civic or charitable cause associated with Huck Olson Memorial Civic Center and Ralph Engelstad Arena. At a December meeting, the council accepted a $65,932 bid for the sign. The city will deduct $2,590 if it installs the contractor-designed footing for the sign, which will be located along Third Street.
City Attorney Delray Sparby administered the oath of office to Holmer and Council Members Jason Aarestad, Jerald Brown and Don Sollom. Holmer, Brown and Sollom were reelected to their respective seats. Aarestad defeated Council Member Jim Strandlie, who had been serving the remainder of the late Ken Schmalz’s term.
City Council approved appointing Brown to serve as acting mayor in the absence of Holmer for calendar year 2017.
The council approved City Council committee assignments for calendar year 2017. The following assignments were made:
Utilities Committee – Holmer, Sollom, and Council Members Josh Hagen and Rachel Prudhomme
Parks and Recreation – Brown, Hagen, Aarestad and Council Member Curt Howe
Public Works Committee – Holmer, Howe, Sollom and Council Member Steve Narverud
Administrative Services/Public Safety Committee – Aarestad, Brown Narverud and Prudhomme
Budget/Finance Committee (ad hoc) – Holmer, Hagen and Prudhomme
Long Range Planning/
Annexation Committee (ad hoc) – Holmer, Brown and Narverud
Personnel/Labor Committee (ad hoc) – Holmer, Brown and Hagen
Sollom presented Holmer with a late Christmas gift. After the last council meeting when the two of them disagreed about purchasing new chairs for council members in Council Chambers, an unidentified council member presented Sollom with a tuning fork. Sollom said the gift was presented to him in order to have a better tone at meetings. He indicated he will try.
Sollom soon presented Holmer with earbuds for “the right music for the right tune to conduct your personal business.” Sollom then asked Holmer to start on a new foot. Hagen joked that he wanted to see them hug, but Sollom said they wouldn’t get that close.
The next council meeting will be held Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.