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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.