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Police calls on the rise

Mark Grinstead

The city council held a brisk meeting on April 2 in the snowy, windy late spring conditions. Here are some highlights from the discussion.

Police calls steadily increasing

Police Officer Mark Grinstead shared the March police report with the council, noting that the number of March police calls significantly increased from the previous year.

"We're a month ahead," Grinstead said. "I don't know why or what the pattern is but we're handling way more calls."

Last year, the police department responded to 607 calls from January through March. In that same time frame this year, they saw a 30 percent increase with 792 calls. That's nearly double from the 413 calls answered from January through March in 2015.

When pressed by councilmembers to explain the increase in activity, Grinstead said he wasn't sure but he could think of a few possible causes. The new parking ordinance that didn't allow cars to be parked on the street from Nov. 1 through April 1 from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. was creating more work for the officers.

Grinstead also cited new police efforts to be engaged with the community as a reason for increased police activity. Residents are more willing to come forward and report crimes.

"We're in the public more," Grinstead said. "Making an effort to be out of our cars more."

Councilmember Jim Snyder requested a more thorough examination of where the calls are coming from and what kinds of calls are coming in.

Grinstead also reported that the police department purchased $5,819 worth of new internal switchboard equipment for the new 2018 Ford SUV police vehicle in March.

"Doesn't any of the old equipment fit into the new car?" Councilmember Jerry Olson asked. "The price is getting a little high."

Grinstead said the old switchboard was outdated and didn't fit the new car. Additional lights also had to be purchased to increase the safety of Police Chief Chad Gulbranson's car.

Shore restoration halted

The city of Osakis received a permit from the Minnesota Department of National Resources in the fall of 2017 to complete a shore restoration project that was intended to begin this May.

The project included leveling the ice ridge for 25 feet of shoreline, installing 75 feet of natural rock riprap and creating a 50-foot wide beach on city-owned property.

The city principal engineer, Shelia Krohse, submitted an application fo the Sauk River Watershed District on March 19 to initiate a cost share for the project.

But just last week Tryg Hansen from the DNR called and flagged the area intended for the riprap because it may contain sensitive material. The DNR now has to conduct an in-depth study to determine if the project can go forward.

"How did we get the approval at all? All we're waiting for now is Sauk River Watershed," superintendent Greg Gottwald said. "Maybe we'll get it through. He said he'd put it on his priority list but the DNR priority list doesn't move very quickly."

The entire project is on hold until DNR approval is finalized.

The Public Works department also set up a bug program for sludge treatment in the wastewater ponds. The bugs will eat the sludge so they can avoid the expensive, labor intensive process of dredging the ponds.

Community survey from high school seniors

Eight seniors from the Osakis High School raised money to take a trip to Washington D.C. in late March. They met with Minnesota representatives and learned more about the democratic process.

As part of that learning process, the seniors created a survey that will be disseminated to all Osakis residents with the hope of learning more about the Osakis community.

The 16-question survey asks residents to describe some strengths of Osakis, rate several public works utilities, give suggestions for improvements and select which new outdoor facilities they would most like to see.

The online survey will be accessible through a link that will provided on water bills, the public newsletter and the Osakis website.