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

By Shawn Jansen
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Sturgeon Lake changes voting procdures


December 12, 2019

Residents of the city of Sturgeon Lake will have to vote by mail or absentee ballot in 2020. The decision to change voting procedures was made in a split vote during a special meeting Monday, December 2.

City councilor Adam Langhorst said it was about a $2,000 savings.

“I don’t think that we should take a vote to save $2,000 when it has such a drastic effect on the citizens without their input,” said Councilor Marsha Helfman.

Former mayor Tom Helfman pointed out, “I only saw it yesterday that it was even posted.”

The council needed to pass the change by a December 4 deadline in order to be able to adopt the measure for 2021. There are two primary elections and a general election coming in 2021.

Auditor-Treasurer Kelly Schroeder explained via email Monday that state statute requires all changes to the voting system be completed 90 days before an election. Minnesota’s presidential primary is set for March 3.

Jessica Langhorst said, “I think we look at 2021 to do this.”

Adam Langhorst said, “I don’t see the big inconvenience ... We need to be good stewards of the public funds.”

The resolution for mail balloting was voted for by councilors Adam Langhorst and Rick Lewis. Helfman and Jessica Langhorst voted against the change for 2021.

Mayor Todd Danelski voted for the measure, stating, “Voting is a responsibility.”

Public hearing on logging

Several residents of the Cathedral Pines neighborhood weighed in on the city’s idea to log city-owned lots there. The idea was to manage that forest to help the trees grow healthy and larger, not just taller, and use the money from the sale of the timber to help with the road upkeep.

Councilor Helfman said, “The city isn’t doing this for the money.”

One resident wanted to know if the logging contractor was properly bonded, and he indicated he was, and that he buys the stumpage and the timber and harvests it, so he doesn’t leave as much of a mess as some other loggers.

A neighboring landowner asked, “What happens if they take out the wrong trees? Are we looking at a dollar amount per tree? ... It happens.”

The city acquired the lots along the Moose Horn River through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) buyouts following the 2012 flood. As agreed upon in the buyouts, because of their location in the flood plain, the lots must be kept as open space. Those lots are interspersed with lots owned by residents who stayed and did not take the buyout.

Residents said they did not want those properties to be made into parks or day-use recreational areas. Most seemed to be in favor of the selective logging (not clear-cut). The city has not made any plans for those properties except to have the forest on them thinned sometime next year.


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