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BE revisits two issues

By Staff | Feb 10, 2019

The Blue Earth City Council meeting last Monday, Feb. 4, often resembled a Judge Judy courtroom on TV.

The council heard testimony on two items that had been discussed the month before and were being brought up again, with the council having to decide what to do in each case.

One issue had to do with designating two dogs as potentially dangerous, the other concerned whether to reduce a very high water and sewer bill for a resident.

The council denied one request from two citizens concerning dogs, but granted the other one about a water/sewer bill.

At a previous meeting, the council had designated two dogs as potentially dangerous after a complaint from a person walking a dog past the property where the two dogs were. Last Monday night the council held a second Potentially Dangerous Dog Designation Hearing for the same two animals from last month’s hearing.

This time the dogs’ owners were present to try and convince the council their animals were not dangerous or vicious, but were in fact docile and friendly.

Mindy Nagel, owner of Tia, and Jesus Lopez, owner of Armani, had prepared statements about the incident for the council, as well as letters from neighbors and friends saying there has never been an issue with either dog.

They also suggested the situation in question, which caused the council to vote in favor of the designation, was not as bad as had been stated. They felt the fact the owner of the other dog involved in the incident had not taken her dog to the vet nor reported it to the police for three days proved it had not been a big deal.

The other dog’s owner, Jean Redman, was also at the meeting and said she had been walking by the house with her dog when Nagel and Lopez’s dogs came out of the house and went after her dog. One of them had her dog by the neck, she stated.

The council discussed the situation at some length, questioning both parties involved, and eventually decided not to change their original decision to designate both animals as potentially dangerous dogs.

Mayor Rick Scholtes said whether the two dogs actually harmed the smaller dog was not the question.

“If a dog is loose, not leashed, and leaves the owners property and goes up to a person or another pet, it can be designated potentially dangerous,” Scholtes said. “They don’t have to actually attack any person or animal.”

The mayor also pointed out that any animal designated as potentially dangerous will only have that designation for one year, if there are no further incidents during that time.

There is also a list of items that have to be performed by the dogs owners. That includes posting a sign saying there is a potentially dangerous dog on the property.

The other item the council heard testimony on was a request from a resident to forgive an extremely high water and sewer bill.

The council had discussed the request at their last meeting, but the resident was not present and the council had taken no action.

Katherine Loken was at the meeting, along with her attorney, Ray Beckel, of Southern Minnesota Reginal Legal Services (SMRLS) in Mankato.

Loken’s water bill usually showed around 2,000 gallons used each month, but one month had spiked to 220,000. The city’s charge for sewer is based on the amount of water used, and the bill just for sewer was over $1,300.

Loken and her attorney said they were not sure what caused the amount of excess water usage. They did say a new water softener had been installed and it could have caused the problem. The Lokens also have a toilet in the basement which is not used, but they did not know if it had run excessively or not.

Eventually the council voted to forgive the overage and just charge the usual average monthly amount.

“I just want you to know this is a one time pass,” councilman Glenn Gaylord stated before the vote. “Make sure this issue is fixed because if it happens again, I will vote no (to a reduction).”

In other business at last Monday night’s meeting, the council:

Passed a resolution officially ordering to go ahead with street improvements for the West Industrial Park slated for this summer. The council had held a public hearing on the project at their last meeting and their had been no objections.

Took a look at the street system portion of the Comprehensive Plan being worked on by the city staff.

Discussed beginning of the hiring process for a new Blue Earth Wine and Spirits manager, with the approaching retirement of current manager Craig Wells.

Both councilmen Gaylord and John Huisman volunteered to be on the committee to do the interview process.

Heard an annual report concerning the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) during the work session before the regular meeting.

Economic development specialist Mary Kennedy gave the report which covered all of the activities during the 2018 calendar year.