Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Bethany Helwig
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Help arrives for Willow River Days


At the regular city council meeting on June 3, a representative of the Moose Lake Area Hockey Association announced that the association would like to help with Willow River Days. The city is required by the IRS to have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit act as the fiscal agent in order to run the event. The Commercial Club had previously been the agent but has since stepped down. The ML Area Hockey Association looks to fill that role with seven weeks left until the normally scheduled start of Willow River Days.

The council was in full support of working with the Hockey Association to continue Willow River Days. The representative intended on calling the president of the association after the meeting with the council’s decision and believed an emergency meeting would be called to sort out the details.

“We would be able to provide volunteers and stuff like that if need be,” she said. “We want to give back as an association.”

David Prachar, member of the Willow River School Board, was also in attendance and gave advice as to what the association needed to do to proceed. He advised that they consider who will lead and organize. It was also suggested that they get in touch with the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) for help.

A motion was made to approve the association as the fiscal agent pending the approval of their paperwork.

“It doesn’t have to be that exact weekend, too,” Mayor Brent Switzer said. He commented that there was a lot of work to be done in a relatively short amount of time, and the date for Willow River Days could be pushed back somewhat if needed.

The announcement from the Hockey Association came after a heated discussion with resident Ann Mlaskoch who wanted Willow River Days to continue and felt the council had not done enough to promote it. Council members stated they have actively been seeking ways to continue the event. Mlaskoch also requested approval for a run/walk on behalf of her daughter. The council decided not to make a decision until they received further details such as the proposed date, location, and time for the run/walk.

Councilor Vickie Whitehouse reported she was going to meet with the state dam inspector at a kick-off for the dam. They are still on track for replacing the dam with a rock arch rapids design. However, as for the bridge, DNR Fisheries has become involved and wants a $1 million bridge put in over Highway 61 as well as the box culverts removed. Developments with the bridge should not impact the work on the dam.

Clerk Diane Nelson stated the city was fine financially as they had minimal bills this last month and the city’s auction sale went well. Councilor Whitehouse said the city should be receiving the DEED grant monies soon that will reimburse the city for the sewer pond repairs.

“I want it to be stressed to everybody,” said Councilor Whitehouse, “that [the auction] was not held because the city was low on funds. That auction was in the plan for six to eight months.”

“The only reason the city was worried about anything was because we weren’t getting the grant money,” added Councilor Sheldon Johnson. “We were just stating that we might have to use city funds until we could get the grant money in.”

Fire Chief Gerard Bennett said they had 10 fire calls, 43 EMS calls, and 2 other calls year-to-date. An application had been sent in for a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 50/50 funding program in which the DNR would match funds, which the department would use for pagers. The fire department had received a $500 donation from Moose Lake Brewing Co. for which he thanked them. Bennett also requested use of the city’s air compressor, and the council passed a motion to lend it to the department.

In other business, John Mikrot reported he had finished patching the roads. He would be checking into the school’s problematic culvert in the near future.

Councilor Whitehouse said the water balance numbers had been sent to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and they were waiting to hear back on the analysis.

It was reported people had been camping illegally at the dam during Memorial Day weekend and stole no trespassing signs. There had also been an accident on Lakeside Drive. Councilor Johnson said that if something like that happens, call 911 and not the city council members.

Nelson suggested putting a volunteer sign-up on the website for help around the city. Councilor Whitehouse proposed they hire someone to work as needed on-call. Ann Mlaskoch said there was a list of handymen at the lumber store; the council agreed to look into it.

Councilors Johnson and Chris Ketchmark each volunteered to donate a bike for National Night Out.

There will be a station at the city park for the MS 150 Mile Bike Ride this Saturday.

The council passed a motion granting permission for the Reebok Ragnar Minnesota relay race, a 200 mile course from St. Paul to Duluth, to use the city’s streets in August. They do not anticipate any streets to be closed for the race. The school has agreed to act as a staging area.

The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for July 1 at 7:00 p.m.


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