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

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

No Willow River Days this year

City still working towards having celebration next year with help of Moose Lake Area Hockey Association


Willow River Days will not be held this year but plans are being made for bringing back the community celebration next year, it was said at the meeting of the Willow River City Council on Monday, July 1.

The cancelation of the event affects other organizations.

Fire Chief Gerard Bennett told the council that the fire department is standing down for the lunch that the department members normally serve at the fire hall during Willow River Days.

“It just doesn’t fit the bill to have it open this year,” he told the council.

Jenn Mlaskoch spoke to the council about still holding a 2K and 5K run/walk on the Munger Trail on July 27, normally during Willow River Days, starting at 9 a.m. even if the celebration was canceled.

The council approved using the park for the event in a motion that passed. Mlaskoch was instructed to contact the DNR about a permit to use the trail for the event.

Mayor Brent Switzer explained that he will continue to work with the Moose Lake Area Hockey Association about sponsoring Willow River Days next year.

The council had passed a motion at the June meeting to accept the hockey association, a non-profit organization, to sponsor Willow River Days.

“I spoke to Crissy Gamst from the hockey association about Willow River Days,” said Switzer. “They needed $2,500 and didn’t have it. And the timing was short. Waiting until next year gives us a whole year to plan next year’s celebration.”

It was said that volunteers are offering their services for Willow River Days but no one wants to be in charge of the various events.

Dave Kliniski was present at the meeting and reported that the commercial club has $4,600 in the fund for Willow River Days. He added that they just have to pay Miss Willow River out of that fund. The rest can be used for Willow River Days. The funds are not proceeds from gambling, he said.

He told the council that anyone that wants to be a sponsor can come to the commercial club meetings that are held every second Monday of the month at the Squirrel Cage at 7 p.m.

The council passed a resolution that Willow River Days will not be held this year. However, the Music and Memories program on Sunday, July 28, will still be held at St. Mary’s Center.

Councilor Vicki Whitehouse reported that permits and soil borings are almost completed for the dam removal and installation of rock rapids by the DNR. The Willow River Dam withstood the 2012 flood, she said in a later interview, but the 2016 flood took out the spillway, that was designed by the engineers in the 1930s, to prevent the dam from failing.

“The DNR says that people should be able to ride inner tubes over the rock rapids,” she said. “Once they start on the project, it should take them six to eight weeks to complete it. That should bring the lake level back up to where it used to be. They are also going to take out the island between the dam and the highway. I told them to save the willows from the island.”

Whitehouse said that access to the site is still blocked off from anyone but emergency personnel.

There was discussion at the June council meeting about a new bridge replacing the culvert under Pine County Highway 61 to allow fish to run the rapids and spawn in the lake.

Whitehouse said that was between the county and the DNR.

In other business, the council approved Ben Partlow and Mariah Youngberg as permanent members of the fire department; directed John Mikrot to repair failing concrete in a storm drain by the school, approved a $50 raise for Mikrot and renewing his contract; and passed a motion to hold a special working meeting to discuss hiring a part-time, on-call worker.

The next meeting of the Willow River City Council will be held on Monday, August 5, at 6 p.m. at city hall.


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