At the Backus City Council's September meeting, Cass County Deputy Jason Brogle was present to receive feedback from both the council and residents on what they thought was a brazen and growing crime issue in the city.

Just a month later, Brogle returned to give the council feedback on the sheriff's department's efforts and results.

At the Monday, Oct. 5, council meeting, Brogle gave an account of the calls since the September meeting:

  • 30 verbal warnings for various issues.
  • 6 citations for driving after revocation, suspension or cancellation.
  • 3 arrests, two for probation or condition of release violations and one felony drug and gun possession charges.
  • 1 possession of controlled substances.
  • 1 DWI arrest.
  • 2 parking issues.
  • 1 abandoned vehicle towed.
  • 1 motorist assist.
  • 2 child protection calls.
  • 2 attempts to locate people for warrants.
  • 1 fight call which turned out to be children screaming.
  • 2 suspicious person reports.
  • 2 suspicious vehicle reports.
  • 1 welfare check.
  • 2 thefts of gasoline, including one from the church..
  • 1 public assist for an alarm.
  • 5 medicals.
  • 5 offender checks.
  • 1 report of a break-in of a garage.
  • 1 call for protesters.

Many of these occurred as a result of "saturation patrols" Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 27, when deputies increased their presence in town following the September meeting.

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"You guys gave me a good ear full, and we listened," Brogle said.

"It's gotten pretty quiet here," Mayor Kurt Sawyer said.

Brogle said the thefts and other issues reported at the September meeting have not been permanently solved. The conditions that made those responsible congregate in Backus, specifically in relation to housing, still exist. However, efforts will continue to try to keep the law enforcement presence visible.

"We are going to keep doing them at random," Brogle said.

Most council members agreed that they had seen significant improvements in town, including absence of certain individuals connected to past issues and less suspicious activities.

In other business Monday, the council:

  • Rescheduled the November council meeting to Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 6:30 p.m. to allow the council to canvass election results at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Denied a request by one resident to allow an inoperable vintage pickup truck to remain in their yard as decoration in accordance with city ordinances. The ordinance bans abandoned vehicles on properties to avoid creating homes for undesirable vermin and due to toxic chemicals related to old vehicles. It is not related to aesthetics.
  • Approved a municipal lease for a Bobcat with attachments, which may be used for cleaning city streets, sidewalks and the airport. The lease is for a $56,971.19 lease at a rate of 3.59% for a piece of machinery with payments of about $641 per month.
  • Agreed to reach out to Cass County and the state to get an idea of the valuation of trees that may need to be removed as obstructions in the municipal airport's approach path. The Risks, property owners with eight to 13 trees that may need to be removed as obstructions, requested a $1,000 per tree reimbursement, which the council considered unrealistic due to the precedence it would set.
  • Approved up to $18,835 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act expenditures to be spent on bathroom updates, a new laptop, a secure and sanitary drop box and other updates for the city. The purchases will be submitted for reimbursement under the CARES Act.
  • Agreed to review possibly extending sewer and water to additional residents on Point Road. The council will need to set up a meeting to gauge interest of residents there, prepare a preliminary estimate and ultimately decide once they have more information. Jeff Ledin, of Short Elliott Hendrickson engineering firm, suggested the city shoulder some of the cost of the project with sewer and water reserves because more customers on those services is good for the city.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.