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BE Council learns about plans for a special 9/11 ride

By Fiona Edberg - Staff Writer | Jul 11, 2021

The Blue Earth City Council breezed through business at their latest meeting, which took place on Tuesday evening, July 6. Public comments were the main source of discussion at the meeting, which progressed with impressive efficiency.

Blue Earth Area Schools superintendent Mandy Fletcher opened public comments.

“I am here as a citizen, not as a superintendent,” Fletcher first clarified.

Fletcher then presented an idea to the council regarding a meaningful way to observe Sept. 11 this coming fall.

“I came across a 9.11 kilometer bike ride done by a community to commemorate 9/11 on social media,” explained Fletcher.

“That day in history is ingrained in my own memory; I thought it would be neat to do something of that nature to recognize that day,” she added.

She hopes the bike ride can take place this Sept. 11, and asked for the council’s permission to chart a bike path.

“I have been meeting with Dave Kittleson and Jenna Schmidtke to put together the bike ride,” shared Fletcher. “This year is the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and it is on a Saturday, so it seems fitting.”

Fletcher plans to commence the bike ride at the Fairgrounds at the time the first tower fell.

“We will also have a 5k run for folks who don’t want to bike,” added Fletcher. “It will start when the second tower collapsed.”

The event will include several speakers.

“We will kick off the ceremony at the Faribault County Fairgrounds with a speaker who volunteered to help clean up after the towers collapsed,” explained Fletcher. “We will close with a veteran who served overseas and whose life has been impacted by the events of Sept. 11.”

The council had a positive response to the proposed event, which Fletcher hopes to make an annual occurrence.

“This is a fantastic way to remember an important event in our country’s history,” said council member John Huisman.

Minnesota State representative Bjorn Olson was next to address the council regarding his involvement with the House of Representatives’ transportation and local government committees.

Olson was most eager to share news of a recent bill passed by the transportation committee.

Olson explained he saw a discrepancy between funds larger cities were receiving for local projects and funds received by smaller cities. He was pleased to share the results of his advocacy for small cities with the council.

“$18 million from a general government fund will be evenly distributed among small cities in the state by population,” shared Olson.

Faribault County, which is made up of several small cities, will be receiving $250,000 in funds. Blue Earth, whose population makes up a large amount of Faribault County, will receive a significant portion of those funds.

Mayor Rick Scholtes then asked, “Will this be a permanent allocation of funds?”

Olson clarified funds are currently being drawn from a gas tax, which he is against. He feels this unfairly targets commuters from rural areas who typically have a smaller income.

“We want to reallocate funds from auto parts sales,” Olson explained. “We are trying to increase the percent of the tax on auto parts that is allocated toward city streets to provide permanent funding.”

“For now, we will take the general government fund money for this year while continuing to work on an equation that will provide cities with permanent funds,” Olson added.

The council also addressed several proposed amendments to city ordinances, which comprised a large portion of the meeting’s agenda.

The council approved amending the language in an ordinance regulating the use of crossbows within city limits to provide more clarity to citizens. The clarification was requested by police chief Tom Fletcher.

City attorney David Frundt explained, “Hunting with crossbows will be okay by permit in locations that aren’t too far into residential areas, and in private lands around town.”

As Frundt clarified, this language will still allow the City Deer Hunt to occur by permit.

The council also discussed an amendment to the ordinance clarifying the number of pets allowed within city limits.

The proposed amendment constitutes keeping four or more dogs or five or more cats within city limits as a kennel. It further clarifies citizens are not allowed to keep or maintain a kennel within the city.

The council voted to have a second reading of the amendment at the next meeting.

Other business at Tuesday night’s meeting included: 

• The sale of a Golden Spike Business Park lot to Ertman Trucking for the price of $24,350. The council voted to approve the development agreement and purchase agreement with Ertman Trucking. They will need to wait to approve the ordinance for the sale of the property until later.

• The purchase of four tax forfeited properties in Blue Earth. Two of the properties will be purchased by the city of Blue Earth and two will be purchased by the Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The council moved to approve the purchase with the amendment of one typo in the motion.

• The progress of various construction projects around Blue Earth. City engineer Wes Brown shared underground crews are working to install utilities on Walnut Street; depending upon the time this takes, the project may take another month.

Brown added crews are installing utilities on 10th Street in a week or so. They will progress to Nicollet Street when they are finished.

• Adopting a new safety management program from the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association for local employees. The program currently in use by the city costs less, but cannot meet the needs of Blue Earth’s larger staff size. The council approved the purchase of the new training program for a $21,300 annual charge, which will be split between city departments.

• Preparations for the upcoming Giant Days celebration. Main Street will be blocked from Fifth Street to Seventh Street on Friday morning, July 9, and the blockage will extend to Eighth Street at 5 p.m. The barricades will be taken down by 7 a.m. on Monday morning, July 12.