Newly elected council member John Ward was welcomed to the Baxter City Council Tuesday, Jan. 5, during the first meeting of the year.

“First I’d like to welcome Councilman Ward to the council,” said council member Connie Lyscio. “It will be fun to have him on board and I have no doubt he is going to bring so much to us and I’m feeling very blessed and fortunate that he is here.”

Lyscio also said she wanted to recognize the city’s new K-9 named Timber, who is currently in training.

“I’m really filled with hope for this upcoming year,” Lyscio said, noting she was proud of the Baxter residents and establishments and all those doing their best to stay safe. “I’m just really hopeful that ‘21 is going to be a knock it out of the park kind of year.”

Council member Zach Tabatt seconded the note on Ward. Tabatt also said he was impressed with those giving blood Tuesday and while the American Red Cross was behind by an hour, donors said they were willing to wait to give blood. “It was good to see people doing the right thing for the rest of society these days,” Tabatt said. “It was nice and positive and hopefully 2021 is looking better.”

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Ward thanked the council members for the warm welcome.

“I am very much looking forward to serving with all of you and with the city staff,” Ward said, thanking staff members for helping him with training and getting up to speed with issues. Ward also thanked Baxter Police Sgt. Dave Timm for helping with Santa on Christmas Eve. Ward said a lot of Baxter and Brainerd children got a big plus out of that.

“Looking forward to serving and looking forward to moving forward in 2021 just as everybody has said,” Ward reported.

Council member Mark Cross continued those sentiments and asked for patience with 2021 and for people to not do too much too soon.

Mayor Darrel Olson noted while Ward is new to the city council position, he is not new to the community and worked for the city as he represented the area at the state Legislature in St. Paul.

“We do welcome you,” Olson said.

Since Tuesday marked the first meeting with the council members sworn in, Olson said he also wanted to take the opportunity to thank voters for returning him to office.

“Probably not all of you are happy with that,” Olson said, getting smiles from the council at the Zoom meeting. “... I will try to do my best to represent you. I love this city. I love representing it. I love everything about the city.”

Olson welcomed anyone who thought he was running amok to reach out to him via a phone call or email. “I would certainly want to hear from you,” Olson said.

At the last meeting in December, Olson said he asked people to remember The Salvation Army and its Day of Caring Dec. 17 where donations are doubled..

“This community rallied like gangbusters, just unbelievable,” Olson said. “And actually we were expecting, we were preparing for, you know, worst case scenario and what that was going to entail as far as staff was concerned and giving out to the community members in need. Not only did we make it we were $15,000 over.”

Olson thanked the community members for reaching and exceeding that goal. Olson serves on the local Salvation Army Board.

The council then met in closed session to discuss labor negotiations.

In other business, the council:

Approved an agreement between the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Central Lakes College, and the city for student supervised pre-internship training. The occupational skills program, according to background with the city, provides post-secondary employment of soft skills training for people with mild to moderate disabilities. The student may work 12 hours per week with the park division, Jan. 12 through May 13.

Authorized executing the 2021 Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. contract of $35,000 for economic development services.

Established annual appointments:

  • Tabatt — parks and recreation commission.

  • Olson — planning and zoning commission, Brainerd Fire Advisory Board, Joint Powers Recreation Board, Northland Arboretum Board.

  • Ward — planning and zoning commission alternate, Long Range Planning Commission, Joint Powers Wastewater Board.

  • Cross — Utilities Commission, Architectural Review Committee, Joint Powers Wastewater Board. Cross is also acting mayor.

  • Lyscio — Community Behavioral Health Hospital Advisory Board, The Center.

Established the Brainerd Dispatch as the official newspaper at a cost of $12.70 per inch for legal notices. The minimum contract is for $5,000 in legal notices in 2021.

City depositories include Bremer Bank, Moreton Capital Markets/US Bank, PMA Financial Network Inc., Stifel, Nicolaus and Co., Wells Fargo Securities.

Set the mileage reimbursement rate to 56 cents per mile per IRS regulations.

Approved the transfer of on-sale intoxicating liquor and Sunday liquor licenses from Rome Inc, doing business as Boomers Pizza, which was sold to Pie Eyed Inc., doing business as Dough Bros. from Jan. 6 to June 30.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at