At last week’s Calumet City Council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Tim Zaren said the Hill Annex Mine State Park will not be funded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in the future. Zaren said that even if the Hill Annex Mine State Park is not open to the public, the abandoned mine pit still needs to have the pit water pumped down to avoid flooding the town of Calumet and the surrounding area. Zaren said that any money designated for Hill Annex would have to be appropriated and the problem is that the appropriation would have to be routed through the DNR, however, the DNR now has the right to divert the money anywhere in the state.
In an interview, DNR Regional Director Lori Dowling-Hanson said they have not cut funding to Hill Annex, but they are seeking an increase in parks and trails fees to supplement the budget for the Hill Annex Mine in the next legislative session. Dowling-Hanson said the pit water is currently being monitored by hydrology personnel.
Marlyn Halvorson presented on the Itasca County Emergency Operations Plan saying the plan has been reviewed and approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Halvorson tried to illustrate the workings of the Emergency Operation Plan using the Hill Annex pit flooding as an example. Halvorson said the revised plan assumes the City of Calumet is not prepared to deal with a large-scale disaster and after Calumet has exhausted its resources, the next call would be to Itasca County. One phone call would set the emergency plan in operation which includes securing resources help from the state and federal level.
One point Halvorson wanted to stress is the fact that the authority during a disaster is kept local. In other words, Minnesota State Statue makes Calumet Mayor John Tuorila the Emergency Manager, and that would not change. What would change is bringing emergency money and assistance to town while cutting through the usual government bureaucracy and red tape. Halvorson said the plan would dispatch a management team to the area to work in conjunction with local officials and advise local officials. No action was taken.
Zaren reported from the WMMPB meeting where they signed a resolution supporting Twin Metals in Ely to mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Zaren said the executive order prohibiting mining operation near the BWCA is being downplayed by the media as a temporary ban, but the Obama Executive Order is a ban on selling mineral rights on over a quarter of a million acres of watershed.
In other business, the council:
• Voted to approve bills receipts and disbursements.
• Voted to approve the annual well house and lift station inspections and cleaning for $5,000.
• Voted send Tom Serich to MN AWWA waterworks school in May.
• Passed a resolution to allow the Pengilly Booster Club to stage a quilt raffle at the Calumet Public Library.
• Discussed the need for a cleaning person in the city hall.
• Passed a resolution to support the Nashwauk Rec Complex.