The McGregor City Council met on Jan. 7 to discuss a variety of ongoing business in that area.
Sheriff Dan Guida began with his “police officer stuff.”
Guida informed the council of his intention to begin regular patrolling of the city. Currently, he plans on spending 10 to 20 hours a week in the McGregor area.
While this hasn’t cost the city anything yet, Guida requested McGregor use the funds for its inactive police department to instead financially assist the sheriff’s office. The office will provide its service free of charge until an agreement is reached.
The McGregor presence, said Guida, is on a volunteer basis, and the assignment is given to officers interested in working in that area.
Guida emphasized that the sheriff’s office was focused on public safety and reactive enforcement.
“We’re not going to come in heavy-handed and start writing tickets and arresting everybody,” said Guida. “That’s not what our officers are doing. They want to provide public safety.”
Guida also spoke about the planned Enbridge pipeline, which is expected to begin construction this summer.
“[The sheriff’s office] is not pro- or anti-pipeline,” said Guida. “We’re going to be neutral from the sheriff’s office’s view. We’re going to be pro-law ... I hope both sides are professional.”
A pipeline demonstration from Enbridge was given in Hill City earlier this month, and will be in Aitkin on Jan. 30. Guida encouraged McGregor to inquire into receiving a demonstration as well.
Guida also gave his first-year report, and spoke of the department’s upgrade to smart phones, active shooter training at local schools and his appreciation of being permitted to use the airport for other training.
Looking forward, Guida noticed a trend of emotional wellness issues around the county.
“Our welfare checks are through the roof,” said Guida. “Our suicidal calls are through the roof – these situations are volatile. We’re trying to figure out the best way to take care of people.”
Lastly, Mayor Dake Olson brought up his complaint of drivers failing to stop at the major four-way stop sign in McGregor. Guida replied he “would work on it.”
The city has been struggling to find volunteers for the McGregor volunteer ambulance service, which prompted a lengthy conversation about potentially hiring out the service to other ambulance companies, or finding other ways to strengthen the volunteer staff.
At this time, the mayor is awaiting further discussion with nearby ambulance companies, and looking for anyone willing to work on the service.
• An online bill payment option was approved. Payers can now use the new online option, mail-in a payment, pay in person or utilize an email option.
• The council discussed revenues and pricing for community center use. A motion to raise the price of kitchen use by $25 was approved.
• Icy conditions on the road up to the overpass from the school were brought to the attention of the council.