At last week’s Calumet City Council meeting, council members were granted a town hall meeting with Itasca County Sheriff Vic Williams, who addressed the distribution of street drugs in Calumet.
Calumet city officials had requested a full-time sheriff’s deputy in town, and Williams said they cannot afford to bring police presence to Calumet on a full time basis.
The fact that Calumet has no police officer creates a safe haven for drug traffickers. At this point, Itasca County’s roving patrols give only random showings in the area and the criminals have been able to assimilate their business dealings without fear of law enforcement personnel.
The population density of Greenway Township is about 50 people per square mile, and that does not provide the tax base to justify the cost of a full time deputy. Williams indicated that given the 26 deputies and 3,300 square miles of coverage, the support structure and equipment needed to run the Itasca County Sheriff’s Department, including the jail house, takes $250,000 per deputy per year.
Williams added that in general, when a smaller town factors out the cost of a police officer from its annual budget, it is very difficult to reinstate that service after the fact.
A concerned resident mentioned that years ago, each rural township had a constable to do basic police work and provide security. Sheriff Williams described a situation at Cohasset, Minnesota where a retired sheriff’s deputy has set-up a security business to serve as a kind of de facto police officer for that town.
The Sheriff suggested a neighborhood watch group and a resident told the Sheriff they were afraid of retaliation. Williams mentioned the fact that the criminals hate those motion activated security lights and these lights help deter illicit activity.
In other business, the council:
• Recognized the Calumet Retired Firefighters, aka the ‘Chimney Savers’ for their donation of $797 for the purchase of new LED lights for the cross and star.
• Approved the payment of $26,500 for the demolition and removal of two houses and two trailers. That cost will be assessed to the taxes of the vacant property.
• Voted to approve the printing of coupon books for residents to pay utility bills to eliminate the need to send invoices each month.
• Approved a building permit.
• Passed a motion to approve the modified rental agreement regarding the Hill Annex Mine State Park.
• Voted to accept $250 from the Greenway Lions Club for the future pickle ball court.
• Voted to give an on/off/Sunday liquor license to the Old Calumet Saloon.
• Agreed to expend $1,300 for Christmas candy and fruit bags for residents.
• Voted to transfer the radio tower lease from Red Rock Radio to the new lessee, Midwest Communications of Wausau, Wisconsin.
• Voted to assess the delinquent water bills of three customers to their property taxes.