Weather Forecast


City approves use of Pavilion for Polar Plunge

The polar plungers still have a home.

The Detroit Lakes City Council approved allowing the Boys and Girls Club to use the Pavilion during Polar Fest for the Polar Plunge next month.

Executive Director Pat Petermann said last year's event brought about 1,000 people to the Pavilion area, 231 plungers in Lake Detroit and raised $60,000 for the club.

While Holiday Inn has offered to host the event, as well as Cormorant, Petermann said he'd like to keep it in downtown Detroit Lakes if possible.

The issue for the city has been that the Pavilion is a seasonal facility, so opening it up and heating it for the week surrounding the plunge -- to warm it up ahead of time and a day after for cleanup -- is damaging to the building.

The city has committed to renovating the Pavilion because the 100-plus-year-old structure has seen better days. When that happens, the city will likely not open for the Polar Plunge because of the damage it does to the building, but since that hasn't happened yet, the council agreed to let the Boys and Girls Club use it this year.

The Boys and Girls Club, like it did last year, has agreed to pay the heating bill for the week, which is about $500.

Alderman Dan Wenner said in any decision, you have to weigh the positives and the negatives, and in this case, this year at least, the positive it does for the club outweighs any damage it may do to an already damaged building. The use would not damage the building any more than it already is.

"Is it going to fall down tomorrow because we heat it? No," said Public Works Director Brad Green.

The city also approved a $300 donation to the Polar Fest committee for fireworks at the closing of the 10-day event on Feb. 16. The money will come from the liquor fund.

Polar Fest co-chairs Amy Degerstrom and Sue Trnka came before the council Tuesday and said that there will be over 30 events Feb. 8-17.

Also at the council meeting Tuesday, the aldermen approved an increase in the sergeant pay scale at the Detroit Lakes Police Department.

Public safety committee chairman and council alderman Ron Zeman said the police department wasn't getting many applications when hiring sergeants because even though there is the added workload and responsibility, the pay increase was minimal from what a police officer was making.

Base pay for a police officer in Detroit Lakes is $26.85 an hour, and a sergeant wage base is $28.53 an hour, which is a 6.2 percent difference.

In eight comparable cities, including Alexandria, Bemidji, East Grand Forks and Fergus Falls, the average pay difference between a police officer and sergeant is about 16 percent, or about $4 an hour.

Average officer wage is $26.65 an hour and average sergeant pay is $30.91 an hour in those eight cities.

The council approved the sergeant position being raised to 15 percent above base pay for a police officer.

And finally at the council meeting, Mayor Matt Brenk gave his annual State of the City speech.

He highlighted many successes in Detroit Lakes in 2012, and what he hopes to focus on for 2013. He listed four main reasons Detroit Lakes will continue its success into the future:

• The city is in excellent financial standing.

• It offers a diverse business community.

• The quality of life is good.

• Community spirit and direction is focused and positive.

On Jan. 17, the council will hold a special planning meeting, and Brenk said the six topics he would like to see the council and city discuss and continue to work on throughout 2013 are implementing the business corridor plan, the Detroit Mountain project, the possibility of a city sales tax, continuing the flowering rush and other aquatic invasive species fight, work on the trail system throughout the city and its connection to the Heartland Trail, and work on the city charter revision.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.