Three longtime Pequot Lakes firefighters retire

Council also accepts quote for the splash pad to be installed in Trailside Park; fundraising efforts continue

Pequot Lakes City Council Feb. 8, 2022 pej
The Pequot Lakes City Council listens to Pequot Lakes High School student Joselyn Rinio, Superintendent Kurt Stumpf and high school Principal Aaron Nelson at the Feb. 8, 2022, regular meeting.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal

PEQUOT LAKES — Three longtime firefighters resigned from the Pequot Lakes Fire Department, and the city council thanked them at the regular meeting Tuesday, Feb. 8.

Resignations include:

  • Bob Peterson, 47 years. Peterson served as captain and was secretary for all but about three of those years.
  • Neil Casanova, 46 years. Casanova served as captain and chief.
  • Dave Szymanski, 29 years. Szymanski served as assistant chief, captain and training officer.

Public safety

Firefighters had five calls in January, including three to Pequot Lakes and two to Breezy Point.

The council received the 2021 annual fire report, which listed 21 firefighters, 90 total calls and 132 total hours of service.

By location, 43 calls were in Pequot Lakes, 16 in Breezy Point, six in Poplar Township, five each in Jenkins and Loon Lake Township, four in Jenkins Township, three in Moose Lake Township and none in Pelican Township.


Calls included eight mutual aid calls in noncontracted areas.

By type, calls included 14 structure fires and 14 grass fires.

Police reported 204 calls for service in December, and provided a 2021 annual report.

Splash pad

The council accepted a quote for $130,246 from Commercial Recreation Specialists to install a turnkey splash pad at Trailside Park.

The city received one quote from five vendors contacted.

Jenni Gonczy, fundraising coordinator, said the effort received an anonymous matching donation of up to $25,000 and various fundraisers have been held and are planned, including penny wars at the schools involving all grades, engraved pavers at the splash pad and more.

The goal is to build the splash pad this spring. The council previously gave the project the go-ahead provided no city levied funds are used.

The proposed splash pad would consist of three vertical risers, 11 geysers and four safe swaps for future feature upgrades, according to January park commission meeting minutes.


In other business Feb. 8, the council:

  • Heard from Pequot Lakes High School Principal Aaron Nelson and student Joselyn Rinio regarding vacating Olson Street to allow for more school parking.

The school is looking at a one-block stretch between West Lake and Woodman streets.
Rinio said she struggles nearly every day to find a parking spot at the school.

“Adding more parking spots to our district would have a benefit for students, teachers and our community,” she said, noting the community parks at the school for games, concerts and other programs and events.

Nelson said as part of a district facilities study, future needs when considering enrollment will be assessed.

Superintendent Kurt Stumpf also attended the meeting, and said the district won’t do anything before it considers needs for the next 10-plus years.

The council supported the district’s work, and was impressed that a student attended the meeting.

  • Approved a liquor license for Farias Enterprises LLC, doing business as Baraja’s Mexican Bar & Grill, for an establishment on Front Street. The Mexican restaurant formerly operated there and is open again. In between, the former Pestello’s location operated as Pestello’s Pequot Pub and Grill before being vacant.
  • Agreed to issue a $176,000 bond through 2030 to buy a plow truck. Council member Scott Pederson was opposed.
  • Agreed to pursue a promotional video for the city after hearing from Jacob Blaeser, of BlazeAir Productions in Pequot Lakes. The council budgeted $10,000 for such a video. Blaeser proposed completing the video by April to kick off summer.

Mayor Tyler Gardner abstained from voting because of his friendship and business dealings with Blaeser.
Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

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 or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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