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Joint Pequot Lakes/Breezy Point fire department finalized

Starting in July, both cities will have ownership and input regarding fire district operations.

Pequot Lakes fire and rescue truck
A Pequot Lakes fire and rescue truck.
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PEQUOT LAKES — Creation of a joint fire department between Breezy Point and Pequot Lakes is in the final stages.

The Pequot Lakes City Council approved a joint powers agreement for the joint fire department at its regular meeting April 5. A night earlier, the Breezy Point City Council did the same.

Starting in July, both cities will have ownership and input regarding fire district operations.

The joint department will be called the Pequot Lakes Fire District. The agreement will become effective May 9, and the fire district July 1. The fire district will then be responsible for contracted fire coverage for Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point.

A joint powers fire board will operate and manage the fire district. The board will include six people: the two mayors of each city; two citizens, one each appointed by each city; and two council members, one each from each city council.

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Each city council also will appoint a council alternate.

Pequot Lakes Mayor Tyler Garder will chair the board; Breezy Point Mayor Todd Roggenkamp will be vice chair. Council members on the board are Pete Clement, Pequot Lakes; and Rebecca Ball, Breezy Point.

Alternate council member for Pequot Lakes is Scott Pederson.

Pequot Lakes is seeking a citizen representative. Breezy Point appointed resident Joseph Stroinski.

The board will meet at least once a month for the first year, and then at least quarterly.

Each city will own its current equipment for 10 years, after which the fire district will be the owner. Pequot Lakes owns three engines, three tankers, a rescue vehicle and two utility vehicles among other equipment.

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In other fire department business, the Pequot Lakes City council approved the 2022 fire protection agreement with Nisswa to cover the Inland Trails area of Pequot Lakes for $1,952, which includes $1,843 for fire department operating costs and $109 for the Firemen’s Relief Association.

Firefighters had four calls in March, including two to Breezy Point, one to Moose Lake Township and one canceled enroute.

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Police

The council hired Derek Johnson as a full-time police officer contingent upon successful completion of background and pre-employment screening.

Four candidates were interviewed.

Police had 142 calls for service in February.

Water/wastewater operations

The council hired Andy Schwartz as the city’s water and wastewater operations manager.

Schwartz currently works for the Pine River Area Sanitary District, which Pequot Lakes had a contract with for wastewater operations.

The council agreed to end that contract and provided notice of such about five months ago to explore best options for the city moving forward. The council ultimately agreed to hire its own manager.

Council member Cheri Seils was absent April 5.

In other business April 5, the council:

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  • Approved the farm lease agreement contract for 2022 for bare land at the end of Larsen Parkway and to maintain cutting of the spray fields. Swenson Aggregate has been the lease holder for the past many years.
  • Discussed how to spend two distributions of $126,620 each in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
  • Appointed Stacey Paulbeck through 2024 and Shannon Wheeler through 2022 to the Library Board.
  • Discussed replacing the city’s forcemain, which is the main large pipe that carries wastewater from town to the ponds on the east side of Highway 371. The main is more than 60 years old and needs to be replaced.
  • Heard from three people during the open forum: Brad Moser, former Pequot Lakes Housing and Redevelopment Authority maintenance employee, who expressed concerns about the HRA and board; Joe Klatt, who owns Snarky Loon Brewing in Jenkins, who asked the city to change its ordinance to allow the brewery to participate in events in Pequot Lakes, like Fourth of July and Bean Hole Days; and Jeanie Haurum, who owns Northern Treasures, who proposed an official Pequot Lakes “flag” for the city and retailers to have as an attraction. She showed a possible prototype.

Gardner said while the council has been trying to focus more on the HRA, it’s difficult because “once an HRA is established it’s its own beast.” City councils appoint board members and determine what funds to levy for HRAs, but from there it’s up to board members to manage the HRA correctly, he said.
He said the city can look into a possible ordinance change and flag.

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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