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Deer River, Minnesota

01/24/22 - Council Minutes



I. Call to order 6:00 P.M.


II. Present - Mayor Steve Geving, council members Pat Richards, Barb Serfling, Dan Graf, and Sharon Geving. Also present, Assistant City Administrator Sarah Nelson, Police Chief Brian Castellano, and guest Ara Anderson.


III. Pledge and Prayer


IV. Minutes - After discussion, motion by Pat, second by Dan to approve the January 10th regular meeting minutes as written. MCU. Motion by Pat, second by Barb to approve the January 11th working session meeting minutes as amended. MCU. Motion by Pat, second by Barb to approve the January 18th special meeting minutes as written.

V. Bills - After discussion, motion by Pat, second by Dan to approve payroll, the bills in the amount of $297,988.02 and inter-fund loans to cover negative fund balances. MCU


VI. Attorney - Andy was not present.

Police Dept.

VII. Police - Brian started with the December calls for services, which were at 201 in 2021 compared to 175 in 2020; 24 of the calls in 2021 were assists. The year of 2021 had a total of 2,422 calls for service compared to 2,343 calls in 2020 and 1,767 calls in 2017.


Brian informed the council that the police department has three applicants for the upcoming eligibility list/full time Police Officer position. There were originally five applicants but one applicant withdrew and another didn’t meet qualifications. The interviews for these applicants will be January 26, 2022 starting at 5:00pm.


Two part time officers, Dusty Snyder and Pat Richards, resigned from the police department. Brian thanked them for their years of service to the Deer River Police Department and to the citizens of Deer River. Pat had a total of 39 years of service.


Brian is hoping to fill both part time police officer positions at this upcoming interview process. If they aren’t both filled, he is going to have to take applications to fill the open part time positions.


Brian wanted to remind the resident drivers to please give public works plenty of room when they are cleaning up the snow. It is best to avoid driving in areas where they are cleaning up snow.


Brian talked to Sarah about putting his unused 151 comp hours and 59 vacation hours into the Health Care Savings Plan (HCSP). Sarah let him know that we aren’t able to put it into the HCSP because it would have to be worded in the employee policy, which it is not. Pat mentioned that we should change the employee policy to include that wording when contract negotiations are underway. Sarah also let Brian know that he would be able to be put into Deferred Compensation instead. After discussion, motion by Pat, second by Barb to let Brian take 1/3, a total of $2455.60, of his unused earned comp and vacation as a pay out and to put 2/3, a total of $4,911.20, into his Deferred Compensation account. MCU


Motion by Pat, second by Dan to accept the police report. MCU

Fire Dept.

VIII. Fire - Chief was not present


IX. Administration - Ara Anderson thanked the council for having him and introduced himself. He works for Deer River Schools and is here to give the council an update on what he is working on for the community. He has been working with Smart North, a nonprofit out of the cities, on a tech hub and what that would look like in our community. Smart North works on making the North the ‘most livable and equitable’ region in the country by leveraging technology. Ara wants the students in this area to understand that you can stay in the area and still have a good workforce with the use of technology. The tech hub that is presented would be a community let and managed structure, supported by Smart North. The key elements of the community tech hub would be a technology hub, opportunity hub, wellness hub, and community tech hub. This can be an afterschool program for students, where they can learn 21st century skills and technology, learn about different career paths, have networking opportunities, have access to mental health, a food pantry and apparel bin, and be able to help support local businesses and residents with technology. All of this will also be open to the public. Ara is hoping the doors will be open by the fall of 2022 in the Goodall Resource Center. There are several partners behind this project including Deer River Schools, Essentia Health, Smart North, Itasca Community Television, Forward Health Foundation, Mobility Mania, Get Learning, Boys and Girls Club, The Clubhouse Network, and more. Steve mentioned that the city would put their information on the website when everything gets started. Sharon mentioned that this is well needed for the community. Steve asked what the students thought about this project. Ara said that they are kind of neutral on it right now. He is going to pull a group of students together and see what type of skills and technology they would be interested in putting in this space and involve them as much as possible. Ara thanked the council again for their time and told them to get a hold of him with any more questions that they may have.


Sarah mentioned to Sharon that there was a newly elected training put on by the League of Minnesota Cities that was coming up on February 4th and 5th in Plymouth, MN. They asked if there was another one coming up because she wasn’t able to make this one. Sarah told them that there would be training after elections this year.


Motion by Dan, second by Barb to accept the administrative report. MCU


X. Other - Dan wanted to welcome Sharon to the council and he looks forward to working with her.


The Mayor appointed Pat as the Vice Mayor. Pat accepted. Motion by Dan, second by Barb to approve the appointment. MCU


Steve asked Brian how the squad was running. Brian told the council that it has to go into the shop for the brakes, shocks and regular maintenance.


XI. Adjournment - Motion by Sharon, second by Pat to adjourn. MCU. Meeting adjourned at 7:01 PM.


Respectfully submitted by, Sarah Nelson, Assistant City Administrator.


Approved by the City Council at the regular meeting on February 14th, and signed by Mayor Geving.


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