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Backus Fire Department issues amended fire contracts

The Backus City Council on Monday, April 7, approved an amended fire contract for townships.

The fire department discovered an error in a spreadsheet that resulted in billing amounts that were inaccurate. Backus Fire Chief Jason Smith said the townships that have already paid should be pleased because the error primarily resulted in lower contract fees.

The amended contracts were sent to townships that normally contract with the Backus Fire Department. The department is returning contracts to those townships that have already signed. Those that had not yet returned signed contracts are being asked to destroy the original, faulty contract.

Smith also introduced the council to the possibility of starting an Explorer program in Backus. He said the Boy Scouts of America originally founded the Explorer program to get students ages 16-18 to help fire departments. Since then, the program has gained a life of its own.

Pine River has an Explorer program, and the Backus Fire Department will consult with Pine River to decide if the program is right for the city. The council expressed approval of the program, though nothing has been finalized.

The council also heard from Gail Leverson of the Cass County Economic Development Corporation. Leverson told the council that the cities of Backus and Longville are still being considered for Small Cities grants, though they are currently considered marginally competitive.

Leverson said the city is only marginally competitive because Backus has a significant balance in its revolving loan fund that has not been re-loaned. Leverson told the council that the city could contribute an additional $45,000 from the revolving loan fund (on top of a current $5,000 contribution) toward the Small Cities loan project. Leverson said doing so could increase the city’s likelihood of being approved for the final project.

Leverson explained that the money would go directly toward covering the actual costs of completed projects. This money would be paid out first.

The council approved the additional contribution.

In other business Monday, the council:

• Approved the purchase of a chemical storage shed, a locator for the new sewer lines leading to Pine River, and an ADA compliant automatic door.

• Decided to waive penalties for unpaid water bills by people who have not had running water because of freeze ups that may be the city’s responsibility.

• Agreed to hire Mayor Kurt Sawyer for removal of trees from hazardous locations throughout the city, pending review of legality.

• Agreed to submit a preliminary application for improvement grants on the municipal airport.

Travis Grimler can be reached at Follow him at and on Twitter @PEJ_Travis.