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ATV owners volunteer to police their own

By Staff | Aug 11, 2008

A group of 10 Blue Earth all-terrain vehicle (ATV) owners told the city council they are willing to try and police their fellow riders who break the law.

They also will support a much larger fine for breaking the rules.

The group was in attendance at last Monday’s council work session, which was devoted entirely to the problem of local ATV riders breaking the local ordinance.

“The problem isn’t with you folks,” Mayor Rob Hammond says. “It is with the ones who don’t have a permit and don’t follow the rules.”

One ATV owner at the meeting says he has stopped other riders several times and told them to get down to City Hall and purchase a permit.

“I have also stopped them when I see them breaking the rules,” the rider says. “I even followed one guy three miles out of town to his house and told him what he did wrong.”

Those rules include stopping at every intersection, only going 10 miles per hour, and taking the shortest route in or out of town.

“Our biggest problem is with kids, and drivers who think they can ride all over town,” Hammond says.

The current fine is only $30. Council members and ATV owners all agreed it needs to be higher.

“Fine them big time and word will get around fast,” one ATV owner says.

City Attorney David Frundt says an administrative fine needs to be kept below $120.

“Any higher and it will become a court fine, which the city doesn’t collect, the court does,” he explains. Court fines start at $140 Frundt added.

Police Chief Dean Vereide says he has not had a large increase in complaints, but did say his officers have issued quite a few tickets, and have revoked one permit.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord was the person who first brought up the problem, especially with the amount of ATV traffic through city parks. However, Gaylord was not at Monday’s meeting.

The council agreed with Frundt that changes are needed in the language of the ordinance, and the fine amounts need to be raised.

The changes will be presented at the next regular meeting.

In the meantime, the council thanked the ATV riders at the meeting for their interest, and urged them to continue to try and educate their fellow riders.

They also informed the owners how they can file a formal complaint with the police so that a fine can be levied on those who break the law.

During the regular meeting that night, the council approved a proposal from the streets committee to proceed with a street improvement project.

The project includes three blocks of Eighth Street, and two of Moore Street, between Eighth and Tenth.

The motion called for doing an engineer’s estimate of costs and an improvement hearing, before actually proceeding next year.

The council narrowly passed another motion that dealt with deferred assessments for persons 65 or older, or retired with disabilities.

Attorney Frundt said the change in language in the ordinance was necessary to conform to state statute.

Councilmen Dan Brod and Les Wiborg voted no, while Mayor Hammond and councilmen Rick Scholtes and Dick Maher said yes so it passed 3-2. Councilmen Gaylord and John Huisman were not in attendance.

Brod and Wiborg were on the losing side of another motion during the meeting.

Wiborg questioned one of the bills to be paid, which was for mileage for one of the recent city administrator candidates, Alfred Vacanti.

“We didn’t say we would pay mileage, and we didn’t pay it to the other candidates,” Wiborg says. “I don’t think we should pay this — it’s just wrong.”

He made the motion to not pay it, and Brod seconded it. The two voted yes, but Maher and Scholtes voted no so it failed on a tie vote.

Mayor Hammond did not vote.