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A lesson on marijuana and THC legislation shared in Pequot Lakes

Pequot Lakes City Council gets update on THC, splash pad, park grant, official city flag

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PEQUOT LAKES — Pequot Lakes Police Sgt. Ryan Franz educated the city council on recent legislation that makes it legal in Minnesota to sell certain edibles and beverages infused with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the cannabis ingredient extracted from hemp.

“Every regional group I’m involved in … this has been a topic that has come up,” City Administrator Rich Spiczka told the council at its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 2, adding cities don't quite know what to do with it.

“They passed it without a lot of oversight,” Franz said after giving an overview of the legislation regarding cannabinoids.

“Most municipalities are unsure of how to best proceed and what steps are best so some are in the ‘wait and see’ realm, while others are attempting to pass ordinances banning the sale of these items,” Spiczka wrote in a memo to the council.

Franz said many municipalities are waiting for bigger cities to tackle the topic. He doesn’t feel the need to enact any moratorium now, though the legislation will present challenges.

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It won’t change how police do their job, Franz said, adding he’s come across people in the past month who claim marijuana is legal.

“Well, it’s not,” he said.

Smoking marijuana is still illegal. But when a certain amount of THC is put in food, like brownies or gummies, and ingested that way, it’s legal, Franz said.

NISSWA — Nisswa’s recycling survey garnered 417 responses with nearly 80% indicating they want the recycling center to remain behind the fire hall.

The Nisswa City Council also addressed the topic at its last meeting, specifically the impacts for police/public safety, planning and zoning and municipal liquor operations.

“It’s certainly going to be a learning curve,” Franz said, noting he expects more guidance from the state level in the next year.

In other public safety news, the council approved the police liaison officer agreement with the Pequot Lakes School District for the 2022-2023 school year.

The school district, which has approved the contract, will pay $5,956 per month for nine months (September-May).

The Pequot Lakes Fire District reported five calls in Breezy Point, one call in Jenkins, one call in Jenkins Township and four calls in Pequot Lakes in July.

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Police had 273 calls for service in June.

Splash pad update

“Obviously, we have a hole in the ground out there,” Spiczka said about the splash pad being constructed in Trailside Park.

All work that was the city’s responsibility is done.

On Monday, Aug. 8, Commercial Recreation Services, the company constructing the turnkey splash pad, was to start installing the splash pad features - three vertical risers, 11 geysers and four safe swaps for feature upgrades.

More on the Pequot Lakes splash pad
The hope is that the splash pad will be ready for use for at least a few weeks of the summer.
City receives necessary funds and materials, so construction will start in Trailside Park
Jenni Gonczy believes Trailside Park is the perfect place for this amenity in the town she's loved since she was a child.

That is expected to take a week, and then concrete and electric work will be done.

The goal is for people to be able to use the splash yet this season.

Jenni Goncy, fundraising coordinator, said the splash pad account tipped over the required $154,000 fundraising mark.

Park grant

The council agreed to have Widseth engineering firm write a grant proposal for an Outdoor Recreation Grant Program for roughly $14,000.

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If awarded, the city could receive up to $300,000 toward projects.

The park commission wants to use the grant for a picnic shelter as the primary improvement, and a bathroom and potentially a parking lot as secondary improvements.

The park commission consensus was to save the city’s 2022 franchise fees to use toward the grant.

The application is due in March 2023, and - if approved - the project would have to be done the next year.

Official flag

Jeanie Haurum, who owns Northern Treasures in Pequot Lakes, approached the council again about adopting an official city flag and endorsing a flag design contest.

Her idea is to spearhead a public campaign and contest to create a flag for the city to adopt, possibly with a red color and the iconic water tower bobber on it.

She proposed having five judges to choose the flag design.

“I think the more people we get involved in this, the more fun it’s going to be,” Haurum said.

The council approved the idea.

Read more Pequot Lakes City Council news
Pequot Lakes resident Jack Schmidt commends city's choice for police chief
City council learns about apartment complex, new home construction plans; talks about take-home squad policy
Mike Davis takes over Pequot Lakes Police Department; he and his family are well-known in the area
Pequot Lakes High School junior will be nonvoting council member for one year
Personnel committee interviewed six finalists after chief Eric Klang - chief for 11 years - became Crow Wing County sheriff
2023 city levy is set at $2,241,200, which is $387,475 higher than this year’s levy
Zoning specialist and fire chief retire from those positions; police chief will become Crow Wing County sheriff

In other business Aug. 2, the council:

  • Appointed election judges for the primary and general elections this year.
  • Received various donations, including donations for the library and $1,000 from Aundra Erickson-COUNTRY Financial and $338 from Community Action of Pequot Lakes, both for holiday lights in the park. Lucky’s Tavern and Merritt Jewelers each donated $100 to the city’s National Night Out event.
  • Rezoned a 12-acre tract of land on Evenson Road from agriculture to forest management.
  • Discussed agreement among the city, Loon Lake Township and the city of Jenkins to pursue paving Ninth Avenue and Myers Road to allow for continuous pavement from County Road 114 to Highway 371.
  • Agreed to allow staff to complete a license agreement with the Pequot Lakes School District for the district to convert Olson Road right of way into parking. Basically, the city would own the road right of way and lease it to the school district.
  • Was reminded that next month’s regular meeting - 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6 - will be the last on the current schedule. Starting in October, the council will meet at 6 p.m. the first Monday of the month (Oct. 3).

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com . Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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