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Recycling canisters to stay, for now

Open Meeting Law violation discussed

Jodi Summit
Posted 8/22/18

GREENWOOD TWP— It appears that the recycling canisters at the Greenwood Town Hall will remain in place, at least for the foreseeable future. The town board had considered getting rid of the …

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Recycling canisters to stay, for now

Open Meeting Law violation discussed

Posted

GREENWOOD TWP— It appears that the recycling canisters at the Greenwood Town Hall will remain in place, at least for the foreseeable future. The town board had considered getting rid of the canisters after problems with users leaving trash at the site created a mess.

The canisters are located on the edge of the town hall parking lot, and are open 24/7.

But Town Board Chair Mike Ralston, at the township’s regular meeting on Aug. 15, said county officials have indicated that there is no room at this time for the canisters at the County Rd. 77 transfer site, which would force Greenwood residents to bring recycling to the facilities in Soudan. Greenwood board members indicated they weren’t willing to make that change.

Ralston had a few tips for those using the site. He said if the doors on the canisters are wired shut, residents are allowed to remove the wires to access the doors. The wires, he said, are put in place while the canisters are on the road and are supposed to be removed when the canisters are put on site. He also said that if the canister for plastics/metal/aluminum is full (this is the canister that most often gets overfull), then it is okay to put those recylables in one of the other canisters, and that the items will be sorted out later by the county. He was told that the compliance rate at this site is very high, and the county finds very little garbage mixed in with the recyclables.

The canisters will be switched out three times a week, and over the Labor Day weekend, additional canisters will be on site. In the future, the county is looking at installing larger units.

Greg Archibald, owner of the Vermilion Club, had written to the township to emphasize the importance of the local recycling site for his business.

Mary Richard, who worked as an election judge last week, said she noticed a steady stream of cars going to the site all day long.

Others, at previous meetings, have asked that the canisters be removed, saying they are an eyesore, smell, and are not a pleasing site next to the new recreational facilities and pavilion.

Open Meeting Law violations

The board also discussed John and Joann Bassing’s complaint about Open Meeting Law violations at a meeting in May that were confirmed by the state Department of Administration. Ralston went through the steps the board must take to comply with this section of state law. He said in the future, in order to make sure this does not happen again, the clerk will make sure that the required public information packet contains copies of anything being discussed at the meeting. If the public or a department head brings information to the board, he asked they also bring an extra copy for the public packet. If not, he said, the township is allowed to stop the meeting so that the clerk can make the copies.

Birch Point Road Extension

The township will write letters to property owners on Birch Point Extension asking them to trim brush at the roadside of their lots. The township will also ask two property owners, who recently had heavy equipment working on their sites, to contact their contractors to ask them to repair damage done to the road by the heavy equipment. Ralston said he is working with the Minnesota Association of Townships to find options for assessing property owners on this township road for road improvements. This is one of two roads in the township that are not either a county road or a private road. The other is a small section of Old County Rd. 77.

Absentee voting

Ralston said some township residents are confused about procedures for absentee voting. Since the town hall is not open daily, absentee voting for the primary and general elections is overseen by St. Louis County, although the initial absentee ballot applications are available at the town hall. The township is still overseeing absentee voting for the township elections held in March.

New grievance

The town board took no action on a new grievance that has been filed by fire department member Jeff Maus. Ralston said the matter will be addressed at the September meeting. Maus, earlier this summer, had submitted a grievance complaining that he had not being paid for hours spent on fire department training (about 38 hours spent on class assignments/homework for a fire officer class that the town board had approved). The board, at a special meeting in June, decided not to pay Maus for this “outside of class” time, even though the township attorney said the state would probably find that this payment was due under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), noting the instructor had assigned the outside of class work in emails. Greenwood Fire Department members are paid $10 per hour for time spent on training. Maus informed the board, at that time, that he would be putting in a request for reimbursement for his time spent preparing his grievance, which is reimbursable under the FLSA. Maus had 10 hours of time on his June timesheet related to preparing the grievance. Fire Chief Dave Fazio did not submit those hours to the clerk for payment, only the other 6.25 hours for in-house training/calls.

Fazio told Maus that since the board had denied his grievance, all items related to the grievance were also denied. He also noted that the board had passed a motion to eliminate any paid-on-call items that are not either drills or meetings, unless they have prior approval or are part of a formal Firefighter I/II class.

Maus responded, in writing to Fazio, that he had brought up the issue of these hours at the special board meeting in June, and that Ralston had told him to submit the hours.

Other business

 John Bassing had questions for the board regarding the fire department. Bassing questioned the record-keeping being used to apply for state fire fighter training funds. He noted that the numbers that had been submitted over the past three years were higher than the actual number of active fire fighters. He also noted that EMR’s, who only act on medical calls, are also included in the count.

Ralston asked Bassing why he hadn’t dealt with this when he was on the board. Bassing said he had just found out about the discrepancies and had just researched the last three years of records. Ralston said the board would look into the issue.

Bassing also noted that Fire Chief Dave Fazio had refused his request for information on which fire department members had done interior firefighting during the Fortune Bay hotel fire.

Ralston told Bassing the board had no intention of micro-managing the fire department. It is not clear why the chief is unwilling to give out that information.

 Jarri Ankrum, from the Greenwood Recreation Committee, gave board members a list of concerns on maintenance needs that weren’t currently being handled, mostly related to the pavilion area. She had some suggestions on how the township can better manage the site, and give clear expectations to those using the site, making sure that the garbage cans were being emptied, and the portable toilet was getting cleaned (noting that during busy times, and hot weather, the toilet needed more frequent cleanings).

 Heard that about 300 people have already signed up to attend the 40th anniversary picnic. Organizer Pam Lundstrom said they are expecting as many as 400 to attend on Saturday, Aug. 25.

 Two residents, Barb Lofquist and Steve Rodgers, both spoke during public input asking residents to work on getting along with each other and with township officials. “Let’s be civil,” said Lofquist. Rodgers thanked Jarri Ankrum for her recent letter to the editor. Ankrum wrote, in part, “I want to thank all those employed by Greenwood Township for their time and willingness to serve. I truly feel it is a great place to live and be a part of. I ask that when you read or hear of conflict, all government factions have that and it usually is a very small part of any community.”

 Ralston asked that if anyone has better ideas for a water suppy at the pavilion, besides the current hose set-up or an expensive well, to please send their ideas and cost estimates, in writing, so the board can review them.

Comments

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John bassing

Another cooked up story from Deluca and Ralston. How many of these must we endure from the false and misleading duo. The County has no intention to have Greenwood residents bring their recyclables to Soudan. Nor does Environmental services have to wait to get a permit from the health dept( there are already certain recyclables at the County site). The Board just makes up a story to support what they want and to hell with the truth. The OLD DAYS in Greenwood have returned.

Friday, August 24
Lee Peterson

Thanks, John. The excuses the Town Board used for not moving the stinky, messy recycling canisters to the County Hwy. 77 site seemed odd, to say the least. Using threats like: forcing Greenwood residents to bring recycling to Soudan-- is an old trick. I'm glad you took the time to check on it with the head of County Environmental Services and found that threat to be not true. The County has more than enough acreage at the 77 site for all of the canisters.

The Hwy. 77 site is open 4 days a week, with an attendant, from April through September and two days a week during the slow months. It seems to work OK for garbage, recycling should be relatively easy to get done.

I sympathize with the Vermilion Club, but, nobody can say that the broken glass on the blacktop and in the lawn is a good thing.

The Township needs to let the County move these canisters over to the 77 site so we can put this problem behind us. It's a problem we don't need.

Saturday, August 25
steve rodgers

The Bassing cabal continues to obsess about the fire department. This time Bassing went so far as accusing the department of hiding something, whatever that something is in his deluded mind. I voted for Bassing the first time around, but eventually tired of his control tactics. Thus, I did not support him in the March 2018 election. Instead of offering solutions, Bassing prefers to be obstinate if he does not get his way!

Sunday, August 26
John Bassing

First of all Steve, let’s get the definition of cabal correct. A cabal is the contrived schemes of a small group of people secretly united in a plot. We are not secretly united nor are our actions a secret as they are all conducted in the open during Township Board meetings or as letters to the editor.

Secondly, my deluded mind does its research as I do not bring my allegations with light regard.

The Greenwood Fire Department claimed far more members than they have to receive training dollars. When Greenwood fraudulently inflates their slice of the pie, it makes everyone else’s piece smaller. This unjustified claiming is simply fraud.

Also, I will always choose to be obstinate until an issue becomes lawful as I did when the Firefighters were illegally designated as private contractors not employees. Acting in a non-fraudulent or lawful manner is no more complicated than not doing so. Doing the former is the wisest path.

Sunday, August 26
Here we go again...

The pavilion users are 100% responsible for cleaning up after themselves! That was always the understanding and promise. Stating not everyone has a push broom? Hogwash! Bring your own heavy duty garbage bags, and take all of your garbage with you. Ceiling fans? Ridiculous. Other area gazebos and pavilions do not provide water at the site. We have water nearby, at the town hall. Water that is potable, and convenient. We have no reason to hire another employee to clean up after people. The porta -potty does need to be emptied more often, depending on use, that is done by an outside contractor. If some on the recreation committee, (the unofficial group) imagine work should be done, step up and volunteer your time for something besides fundraising. Back door attempts to falsely create a ‘need’ for hiring someone is ridiculous.

Wednesday, August 29
Here we go...

I believe it is rather unprofessional and inappropriate for the spouse of an elected (unopposed) member of Township government to criticize the actions/ opinions of residents. Especially someone who had no idea of the shenanigans that went on in Greenwood in the last 30+ years. Dr Bassing was the hardest working, most ethical, and knowledgeable board member we have ever had. The clueless puppets up there now are an embarrassment. Hopefully, none of them will be re-elected. Never again elect a Township board member who doesn’t know what ‘Potable’ water is!

Thursday, August 30
Mr Rodgers’ neighborhood

I doubt you paid attention to the allegation made by Dr Bassing. If you did, you may not have written your mean, nonsensical comment. It seems that the fire chief has inflated the number of active members on the fire department for a state grant program that gives the department a set amount of $ per member. That is s serious allegation. The chair chose to disregard the allegation and go after Dr Bassing instead. The board had best start paying attention to what their employee is doing, as potential fraud is pretty serious. Look tough up there instead, and shoot the messenger? We have another clown car x 10. More board training is a must, perhaps reading their packets before the meeting would help too. Every board member should also study the results of the comprehensive plan. The will of the people will not be ignored.

Friday, August 31
John Bassing

Greenwood is defrauding the MBFTE to the amount of $1000-2000/yr. They count people who are not on the Fire Dept as firefighters and who have not trained for years. The Fire Dept knows who will use these funds and who will not but continue to carve out more of the Pie than they are due. They even requested training dollars for Mr Kregness through 2018 even thoug the Dept refused to pay him for out of pocket expenses for training way back in 2014. This fraud is not accidental but deliberate, intended and has been continued for years. The Board needs to step up and use its oversite powers and quit blaming the messengers

Friday, August 31
steve rodgers

Very convenient that Bassing claims he was unaware of the fire department actions. People who do not sign their names to comments are cowards.

Tuesday, September 4
John bassing

Mr. Rodgers,

A lesson of the past me be in order. The Fire Dept kept it’s information private for years and still for the most part does so. All information taken in by or generated by any dept must be recorded and kept by the Clerk, as she is the responsible authority as designated by Mn State Statute. I was alerted to the fraud being committed by the Fire Dept by a member of an area Fire Dept. I requested the information via a FOIA request and was able to obtain three yrs of documents. Ask Carmen if he knew about it or ask Larry if he knew about it, they both go back with the Fire Dept longer than I do. Lastly, ask the Fire Dept leadership. They knew this was going on and kept it going and with a Board that has stated it doesn’t want to micromanage the Fire Dept, they become complicite in the fraud. It is easy to blame the messenger but the facts are there for all to see.

Wednesday, September 5