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Pequot Lakes: Police looking into body worn camera purchase

Pequot Lakes resident Jack Schmidt talks to the city council about snow-covered fire hydrants as Mayor James Tayloe and council member Mimi Swanson listen Tuesday, May 7. Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal

The Pequot Lakes Police Department is considering buying cameras officers wear to document contact between officers and citizens, or body worn cameras.

Police Chief Eric Klang told the city council Tuesday, May 7, it must allow for public comment at a regular council meeting regarding body worn cameras, and then allow public comment and input when developing body worn camera policies. No one at the May 7 meeting commented on the idea.

The department would buy a single unit for the newest squad car, and then would buy six more cameras in 2019 and 2020 using forfeiture funds.

Police reported 255 calls for service in March.

The fire department reported seven calls in March, including fire alarm canceled enroute to Breezy Point, natural gas leaks in both Pequot Lakes and Jenkins, traffic control canceled enroute in Jenkins Township, child rescue on playground in Breezy Point, smoke alarm canceled enroute in Pequot Lakes and personal injury accident in Breezy Point.

Missing council member

Council member Jerry Akerson was absent. He hasn't been sworn in or attended a meeting this year for personal reasons after being re-elected last November. He hopes to return with the June meeting.

In other business May 7, the council:

• Heard from resident Jack Schmidt, who spoke during the open forum about city fire hydrants being covered by snow in the winter. He shared photos with the council, and said the city needs a policy of common sense: When hydrants become blocked by snow, the street department should clear them out. The council will talk about the issue at its June meeting.

• Heard from resident Maury Graham, who spoke during the open forum to thank Public Works Director Jason Gorr for good grading on North Sluetter Road and to again implore the council to pave the road, as he has done at numerous council meetings. He asked why the council hasn't considered issuing bonds for road improvements.

• Adopted the Pequot Lakes Community Library's strategic plan for 2019-2021 after a 10-month planning process.

• Heard an update on the city's Wellhead Protection Plan.

• Adopted a resolution requesting Crow Wing County administer the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act for the city after the county Soil and Water Conservation District said it would no longer do so. The council authorized Widseth Smith Nolting engineering firm to administer the Wetland Conservation Act until the county agrees to do so.

• Approved an ordinance amendment to expand the offsite sign overlay district to include property Brandon Andersen, owner of Lonesome Cottage, owns, for possible outdoor signs. Council member Mimi Swanson was opposed.

• Agreed to reclassify lots in the Briggs Addition to Pequot to non-conservation and be offered for sale together by Crow Wing County; to do the same for lots in the Brunes Addition to Pequot and be offered for sale to the adjacent property owners to the east by Crow Wing County; and to do the same for land on Pow Wow Point and be offered for sale by the county.

• Directed the planning commission to review the maximum height for flag poles in the city. An applicant had requested an 80-foot flag pole but the city's maximum height for a structure is 25 feet.

• Approved a preliminary plat of The Range, a proposed planned unit development consisting of 15 single-family residential building sites and one commonly owned greenspace lot on 12.4 acres along Little Walnut Lane.

• Learned the council may see a proposed road improvement plan at its June meeting.

• Acknowledged Gorr's successful completion of his six-month probationary period as public works director.

• Adopted a resolution for the Trailside Building lease agreement for five years with the Pequot Lakes Chamber of Commerce for $775 per month.

• Agreed to close a block of Patriot Avenue from Main to Sibley streets from 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Aug. 3, for a street dance sponsored by Community Action of Pequot Lakes.

• Agreed to allow Community Action to build a 9-foot selfie bobber water tower structure near the Cole Memorial Building for photo opportunities.