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Menahga public hearing may turn into ATV rally

MENAHGA - In addition to attending a public hearing in Menahga on Monday night, citizens will load up their ATVs and park outside of City Hall.

They will present signed petitions and hope that an ATV ordinance will pass.

The idea to have an ordinance allowing ATVs in town was brought up to the council by business owner Dave Treinen and the Police Chief Scott Koennicke in May.

After the police committee completed a draft of the ordinance with designated routes, it brought it back to the council last month, where councilwoman Maxine Norman said a public hearing must be held before voting to adopt the ordinance.

While some citizens may have been waiting to give their input on Monday, others have been signing the petition for the past week.

Betty Hotakainen of Menahga was asking people to sign the petition at the liquor store Thursday, saying that she hopes it will be convincing enough to the council.

"It's been a long time coming," Hotakainen said. "They've been trying to pass it all summer ... if they don't pass it this month, there is no point."

As of late this week, Hotakainen had more than 120 signatures. And she's not the only one asking for support from the public.

Lynn Smith, another ATV user and a bar tender at the Menahga Liquor Store, has also been soliciting signatures.

"It's not any worse than having a snowmobile into town," Smith said.

She hasn't been riding her ATV lately because it's a hassle to load it up before coming through town, she said.

However, when the issue came up at a previous council meeting, some citizens expressed concerns over the routes and said they may be dangerous.

But Treinen said the majority of riders will not be riding in town.

"The fear is that people are going to come to town to ride around town," he said. "People don't like riding on tar."

Having an ordinance to allow ATVs would greatly benefit Menahga businesses, Treinen said.

The public input is scheduled to begin prior to the regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10 at City Hall.