At the March 13 Grand Rapids City Council meeting, Public Works Director Jeff Davies gave a report on his department. He spoke about his department briefly before turning to the challenges presented by the winter of 2016/2017.
The period of Nov. 18, 2016 thru Jan. 31 of 2017 was one of the more challenging segments of winter season that the department encountered. Davies said that during that time period 55 inches of snow fell. The amount of snow was very near the thirty year average for an entire winter. Davies said that there were also two rain storms and a sleet storm that were followed by extreme cold during that time period. The combination of rain followed by extreme cold was problematic for the department’s equipment.
Davies also updated the council on the city’s new winter parking ordinance. He said that the most common question that he fields is from those who want to know when the city is going to be plowing. Davies said that if it snows more than two inches, the city is going to be plowing by 4 a.m.
Davies said he informs the public through four radio stations, the Herald-Review, the Herald-Review online newspaper, the city’s Facebook page, and web site. He said he also contacts Marlyn Halvorson, Itasca County’s emergency manager. Halvorson initiates a code red alert informing city residents who subscribe to the service of the city’s ongoing operations. Davies said that if any resident is interested in subscribing to the red alert program, they can go to Itasca County’s web site at www.co.itasca.mn.us. (Look for “Sheriff” under Departments, and then click on Emergency Management where the application can be found.) Residents can also call the Sheriff’s office at (218) 327-7483 for assistance.
Davies offered some tallies of tickets issued to enforce the new ordinance. He said that on the first night of the ordinance’s enforcement there were 130 tickets written. On the next night, Jan. 10, there were 76 tickets written, and on the night of the Feb. 6 snowstorm, there were 47 tickets written.
In other business, the council:
• Voted to purchase a new server in the amount of $18,650.
• Accepted notice of retirement from Darla Kirwin, Children’s Librarian.
• Appointed Sue Zeige to the Planning Commission.
• Voted to support Governor Dayton’s proposal to spend $14 million dollars to replace the state’s aging voting machines.
• Agreed to pay City Administrator Tom Pagel $5,141.63 in merit pay.
• Accepted the verified claims in the amount of $469,007.56 for the time period February 22 – March 6.