Crime down, fires the same, in BE
Blue Earth police chief Tom Fletcher and fire chief Roger Davis each gave their 2017 reports to the Blue Earth City Council last Monday night.
Fletcher reported there had been 3,981 calls that the police office responded to in 2017. That was a 13 percent drop from the year before.
While the chief said many categories on his list were down from 2016, some were up.
“We had 98 more investigations in 2017,” he noted. “And 94 more ordinance enforcement, 23 more fraud cases and 21 more alarm calls.”
Fletcher said the busiest day for the police last year was on Mondays, when they had 731 calls for the total year. the second busiest was Saturday with 586, and the least calls came in on Sundays, at 490.
“Fridays and Saturdays remain the busiest days for actual crimes, with Thursdays next,” Fletcher reported. “The slowest crime day was Wednesdays.”
The department had 103 traffic stops, 22 criminal complaints and 109 arrests during the year.
Fletcher also went over the community events the department was part of, including National Night Out, Bike Safety Day, and teaching a Community Ed class called “Home Alone,” for kids.
Fire Chief Roger Davis reported his department answered 75 calls for the year. That was down from the 82 calls in 2016, but was identical to the 75 calls in 2015.
Davis also listed all the calls by type and by location. The most number of calls, 16, were classified as extrication and rescue.
The report showed 65 of the calls were to Blue Earth or surrounding cities and townships, while 10 were on I-90 freeway.
Six of the calls were for mutual aid given to other departments in Elmore, Wells, Winnebago, Frost, and Northrop for the big elevator fire there.
“We had 313 man hours of assisting in Northrop,” Davis reported. “And we had about $1,500 in damage to equipment, but we are getting that all taken care of.”
Davis reported that he had been re-elected to a two year term as chief, and Jim Wirkus to a two year term as captain. Ashley Bleess has one remaining year on his term as assistant chief, and Ryan McGuire one more year on his term as lieutenant.
Davis also brought along his three newest recruits to the meeting to be introduced to the council. They are Brady Hanevik, Graham Berg-Moberg and Jose Rios.
That brings the total number of Blue Earth firemen up to 30. There were no resignations or retirements in 2017.
In other business at the meeting, the council:
Took a look at the numbers for the Blue Earth Wine and Spirits store, especially when it comes to customers on Sundays since they opened on Sundays last year.
“Sundays have been OK,” liquor store manager Craig Wells told the council. “We have been averaging around 75 to 80 people per day. But I feel it could be taking away from Saturday sales.”
Sales on Sunday have been around the $2,000 mark. However, it jumped to nearly $6,000 on one Sunday that being Christmas Eve. There were 209 customers in that day.
“I think one thing that has hurt us is Walmart closing,” Wells said. “I think we had a lot of out-of-town people here shopping at Walmart, then they would drop in here to make some liquor purchases.”
The council looked at possible changes in hours, including perhaps closing at 8 or 9 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
They decided to have staff put together a proposal and bring it to a future meeting.
They also discussed having just one clerk on duty on Sundays, to save on employee costs.
One citizen at the regular meeting, Ann Hanna, spoke during public comment time and said she felt it might not be wise to have just one person there, due to safety concerns
Agreed to the list of prices for the lots in the new housing development, which were recommended by both the HRA and EDA boards.
The prices range from $17,500 to $29,750. That price includes the land cost as well as the assessments for the utilities and streets.
The council discussed possible covenants and restrictions, such as size of house and number of garage stalls.
“I don’t think we want to be too restrictive,” city administrator Tim Ibisch said. “We have looked at not allowing manufactured homes.
The council did not take any formal action on any kinds of restrictions.
Ibisch said any funds from sales of lots would be put into the debt service fund.
Heard a report from the city engineer concerning all of the projects set for Blue Earth.
The production of the plans for the 13th and Moore Street project is well underway.
The plans for the Safe Routes to Schools are about 90 percent done. The plan is to send them to the state next week for review.
The contractor on the housing project plans to begin work on the sewer lift station in late February.
The wastewater treatment plant project has work continuing during the winter. There was a contractor meeting scheduled for later in the week, when they will learn more.
Heard a report from city attorney David Frundt concerning a house on the corner of 10th and Nicollet.
The owners are interested in giving the house to the city, Frundt said.
“They have given us permission to enter the house to inspect it,” Frundt said. “Then we can go on from there, as far as accepting it or not. There is an issue with the house involved in probate.”
Ibisch said this could be one house they may have to decide whether to demolish it or whether it is worth fixing it up.
Discussed the new contract with Community Economic Development Associates (CEDA) and learned the new CEDA person will be starting this next week, on Jan. 23.
Discussion centered on the amount of that person’s time which will be shared with the County EDA, as well as where the CEDA person will have an office.
Ibisch handed out the first part of a new Comprehensive Plan for the city he has been working on, called “Vision of the City 2030.”