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Detroit Lakes City Council prepares for full-time fire chief; Highland Drive project gains final approval

Members of the Detroit Lakes City Council discussed a preliminary job description created by city staff for a full-time fire chief during their most recent meeting on Aug. 8. Additionally, members became the last governing authority to approve bids for the Highland Drive road reconstruction project, a joint project between Detroit Township, Becker County and the City of Detroit Lakes. Construction is expected to begin by September.

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Dan Wenner, alderman first ward, discusses the possibility of creating a full-time fire chief position for Detroit Lakes during a meeting of the city council on Aug. 8, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — Members of the Detroit Lakes City Council discussed the potential for a new full-time fire chief position during their most recent meeting on Monday, Aug. 8.

The city's current fire chief, Ryan Swanson, said he will be stepping down as chief at the end of the year and, in a previous interview, suggested that it was time for the full-time position to be created, which would lead to improved public safety in Detroit Lakes.

Dan Wenner, alderman first ward and chairman of the city's public safety committee, said his committee, and other staff members, have been reaching out to the neighboring townships because they will be expected to contribute part of the cost of the new full-time position, since the Detroit Lakes fire department supports much of Becker County outside of the city limits through mutual aid calls.

"For some time, it's become apparent that we are going to need a full-time chief," said Wenner during the meeting. "The duties have been growing over the years, and with Chief Swanson deciding to step down ... this became imperative."

City staff prepared a preliminary six-page job description for requirements and responsibilities of the new chief, and will begin potentially budgeting for the position in 2023, as per Wenner's request. The city's budget process is currently underway and meets publicly on Thursday mornings at 7 a.m. throughout August.

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"It's time to bite the bullet on this one, so I'm just giving you a heads-up that that's coming," he said.

Highland Drive project gains final bid approval, construction expected by September

Members of the Detroit Lakes City Council also approved the bid package for the Highland Drive road reconstruction project. The joint project had already been approved by the Becker County Board and the Detroit Township Board and now, with city approval, the project can move forward. Construction is expected to begin by September.

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Members of the Detroit Lakes City Council listen to City Engineer Jon Pratt present his latest report during a meeting of the city council on Aug. 8, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"Public works is recommending that we accept that bid and get started on it as soon as possible," said Madalyn Sukke, alderman at-large and chairwoman of the city's public works committee.

The $2.3 million project was awarded to Sellin Brothers, of Hawley, and came in 10% over the engineer's estimate. The city's share of the project cost will be about $500,000, said Ron Zeman, alderman first ward.

Council approves minimal rate increases for Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center

Council members also improved minimal rate increases for passes to the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center.

The average rate increase per month is between $3-4 on a majority of the membership plans, excluding short-term and annual youth plans, which stayed the same price from the 2021-22 season.

"They haven't had a rate increase for three years and this is very minimal," said Zeman, chairman of the city's finance committee. "These increases will generate about $29,000 for the remainder of this year ... and for next year, these increases will raise another $57,000 and that's to keep up with expenses at the community center."

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The new rates will be adopted by the DLCCC in September.

During the next regular meeting of the city council on Sept. 13 at 5 p.m., two public hearings will be held. First, a hearing concerning the city's public works facility project. Second, a hearing concerning the possibility of extending Broadway Avenue, which currently ends in a cul-de-sac, and connecting it to Terry Street. This would potentially link Terry Street to the Highway 34 frontage road near M State and provide an alternative route to avoid turning onto Richwood Road, a main thoroughfare in the area.

Related Topics: DETROIT LAKESBECKER COUNTYGOVERNMENT AND POLITICSDETROIT LAKES CITY COUNCIL
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