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Wells wonders how to replace USC cop

By Staff | Apr 20, 2015

At the Wells City Council meeting last Monday, Chief of Police Jim Ratelle addressed the council about Rick Herman’s retirement.

Herman is United South Central’s police liaison and resource officer and has been for some time.

“We’ve talked with Dr. (Jerry) Jensen to see what his plans are. He was hoping that maybe the City of Wells and the USC school would split an officer. Bringing another officer on the team full time would be costly,” said Ratelle.

Ratelle discussed with the council the different options Wells and the USC school may have to fill Herman’s shoes.

“If we decided to just do regular patrols of the school, we noticed that the resource officer’s duties are quite plentiful right now,” says Ratelle. “Currently, most of those duties are administrative, and [if an officer was shared], we would not be responsible for that.”

“We would be responsible for dealing with criminal behavior, fights, damage to property, truancy issues and filing those reports,” says Ratelle.

“We need to talk with our county to see what they might be able to do to help us,” says Ratelle.

Mayor Ron Gaines asked Ratelle about Blue Earth Area School’s standing contract with the county in regards to their officer.

“Right now, a deputy is covering the three Blue Earth Schools; the high school, middle school, and elementary school. Asking them to come over here may be stretching things a bit too far,” responded Ratelle.

City administrator Robin Leslie asked if Blue Earth Area’s agreement with the county was grant funded.

The police chief responded by saying that their agreement is partially funded.

“A lot of times, with those grants, the grant will cover the first three years and Wells would have to commit to the fourth year,” said Ratelle.

After being asked by council member John Herman what the cost of the grant was, Ratelle responded to the question by saying that specific grant would be $12,000.

“The safety levy at the USC school is around $25,000 so the difference the school has is put toward other security measures such as cameras, surveillance, and other necessary costs,” says Ratelle.

Council member Steve Burns inquired whether the difference in the school levy costs could be put towards getting a new officer. Ratelle mentioned that hiring a full time officer would cost around $80,000.

Ratelle’s advice to the council was to take a step toward meeting with the County Board and making a proposal for the original grant of $12,000.

“It’s also up to what the USC school and their School Board wants to do, too. I know they want to have an officer in there, but we need to know what the school is willing to pay for that officer and if they’re looking for something similar to what they have now,” said Ratelle.

No final decisions were made.

In other business at the City Council meeting:

Mayor Ron Gaines also declared April to be?Child ?Abuse Prevention Month for the city of Wells and for the Faribault and Martin County Human Services.

Street foreman, Mike Pyzik addressed the City Council to update them on projects around the city.

Pyzik mentioned the airport tarmac apron is in need of repair and should be looked at. He called in city engineer Travis Winter to take a look at it, and Winter agrees.

City administrator, Robin Leslie announced that the Faribault County board approved to pay half of the costs slated to demolish the Frank Brothers property. “This is an eyesore in our town and we already have inquiries for reuse of the property,” says Leslie. Demolition was scheduled for April 14.

The USC school is hosting a Color-a-thon Fun Run on April 26 at Half Moon Park. Participants will be throwing colored chalk along the 5K and one mile routes as well as raising funds for different field trips and school events throughout the year.

The council approved the request for police presence and barricades to close fourth Avenue SW?and seventh Avenue SW with special instruction for participants to be wary of the ball fields when throwing their colorful chalk dust.

The council also approved the FUSION?Youth and Family Blast’s request to use the basketball court areas in Half Moon Park on Friday, Aug 7.

Wells’ Kernel Days requests have also been looked at by the council and approved. Kernel Days are scheduled for mid-August.