Calumet City Council

October 29, 2020

    During last week’s Calumet City Council meeting, the council learned that after two years of legal red tape, the three hazardous buildings in town now have a deadline of Oct. 31, 2020 to either address the various issues or risk having the City of Calumet pay them a visit with a front-end loader.

    The library report was given by Mayor John Tuorila where a former resident from California has donated $500 to the Calumet Public Library. Other library grants and donations include $1,000 from the Charles K. Blandin Foundation, $884 from Love Your Library and $250 from the Greenway Lions Club. 

    Council Member Dan Strand relayed news from the Greenway Joint Recreation meeting where the ice is in as of Oct. 12. Strand said 85 girls have signed-up for figure skating and they have 120 for hockey.

    Council member Larry Pitts had one thing to report from the Cemetery Board meeting that the backup lawnmower has blown-up and the mechanics will attempt to repair it.

    Bobby Hoshal reported from public works that the lawn mowers have been winterized and put-up for the year. Further down the checklist, Hoshal said he has rigged the plow trucks with blades and sanders. 

    City Clerk April Serich said she has sent-out 13 shut-off notices and added that at least four homes have been occupied and operating without city water for long periods of time. Mayor Tuorila commented that even though these four homes don’t pay for city water, they are still using the city sewer for free. 

    Also, in the clerk’s report, the city is still waiting on the deed for the old fire station from a title company. Clerk Serich said the sale of the old fire station is pending, because the legal description of the property has still not been corrected by the title company. 

    In other business, the council:

    • Voted to approve a resolution for the Itasca Clean Water Commitment.

    • Gave an update on the balance of patrol hours from the Nashwauk Police.

    • Voted to approve a $270 Wellness Grant from Northeast Co-op Services. 

    • Approved $4,250 to pour a concrete apron for the new municipal shop building. 

    • Passed a motion to install a $500 overhead door opener for the new shop that does not include wiring.

    • Discussed mounting an electronic sign on city hall using COVID relief money. 

    • Received a “Thank You” note from Grace House for a $100 donation. 

    • Voted to allow the Pengilly Boosters Club to sell pull-tabs at the Old Calumet Saloon. 

    • Resolved to create a Joint Powers Agreement number 20-10-20-1 with the State of Minnesota. 

    • Approve the minutes of a special meeting held on Sept. 17.

Calumet City Council

July 02, 2020

    During the July Calumet City Council meeting, city officials decided to demolish the old city shop building and try to find another storage building for the city’s heavy equipment. Councilor Tim Zaren suggested the size of 30’ X 48’ square feet would meet the needs of the Calumet Public Works Department. The city has been going back and forth for several months with the insurance company, who is committed to paying out only enough money to repair half of the partially collapsed wooden structure. The council voted to have Maasch Construction raze the building. After the demolition, the city will have approximately half the money needed to construct a new building.

    Councilor Dan Strand reported from the Greenway Joint Recreation meeting that baseball and softball are still cancelled, but there is a chance they will be allowed to commence July 1 by the State of Minnesota. Also, the Hodgins-Berardo Hockey Arena is planning for a work detail from the Thistledew encampment in Togo to paint the outside of the arena.

    City Engineer Jon Loye from TKDA Engineering was on site working-out final details of the sewer and water project.

    Greenway Fire Board Meeting was attended by Mayor John Tuorila with news that three of the fire fighters are moving out of the area. Also, Mayor Tuorila said that Greenway Fire has contracted with Lone Pine Township for fire protection services at a rate of $15,000 for five years. 

    The council took some time to hear the account of a resident who was given a ticket for operating a burn barrel within the city limits. The resident argued that it was actually a meat smoker but agreed to cease operation because the smoke offends the neighbors.

    As MnDOT plans to spend left-over funds from the last project, the councilors thought it would be a good idea to widen the corner at 169 and County 12 for the benefit of a semi-trucks’ turning radius.

    In other business, the council:

    • Voted to approve a zoning permit for Resident Julie Warmuth. Mayor Tuorila thanked Warmuth for building a new house in town.

    • Reminded residents that city right-of-way extends 33 feet from the center of a street.

    • Passed a motion to license Tahtinen’s Tats tattoo shop.

Calumet City Council

April 30, 2020

    Last week’s Calumet City Council, Nashwauk Police Chief Joe Dasovich joined the meeting bringing the number of people in the council chambers to 10, which is the legal limit for April 2020. Chief Dasovich described the procedure they use in Nashwauk to condemn hazardous buildings as the City of Calumet struggles to take legal action to be able to raze three hazardous buildings in town. 

    Chief Dasovich represents the law enforcement component of Calumet since the City of Nashwauk has contracted to provide police presence seven miles west of the Nashwauk City Limits. In an interview, Calumet Mayor John Tuorila told the Scenic Range NewsForum that the Nashwauk Police have been doing about 20 hours per month patrolling the cities of Calumet and neighboring Marble. 

    Nashwauk officers have full authority to write traffic tickets or blight tickets as would a municipal police officer, said Mayor Tuorila. Chief Dasovich indicated that everything is working fine on Nashwauk’s end. For several years, the City of Calumet has been trying to find dedicated law enforcement because the Itasca County Sheriff does not normally patrol the town, with exception of highway 169, or are they allowed to enforce the Calumet city ordinances.     

    Public Works Supervisor Dogger Serich reported a possible public health threat with the Waste Management Truck being the source. Serich claims that for several months, the garbage truck has been leaving a puddle of “diaper juice” along with various artifacts on the streets and alleys every time it makes a stop. Serich said the truck driver has been notified and Waste Management has not yet fixed the leak. Serich reported a broken spring on the red dump truck and had quotes of $1,200 and $1,500 to replace the spring. Also, the archway over the Mesabi Bike Trail is scheduled to be painted and the city sign on 169 is at the end of its life.

    Council member Dan Strand had little to report from Western Mesabi Mine Planning Board or Greenway Joint Recreation as both meetings were cancelled for the month. However, Strand did announce his retirement from the Cemetery Board, and by coincidence, mentioned that the Cemetery Board is actively seeking one new member to sit on the board. Strand said the meetings are usually 15 minutes long and meet every other month.

    A new resident approached the council asking about any property available to build a storage shed. City officials offered to rent a city-owned garage to the new resident until he can locate a permanent storage building.

    Mayor John Tuorila has spent one whole day, so far, drafting resolutions to be sent to four area lawmakers. Some of the issues that Mayor Tuorila is fighting for are the usual pit water mitigation, funding for Hill Annex State Park and for the completion of the Cross-Range Expressway. Tuorila said alternate routes for the last eight miles of four-lane are being investigated. 

    The City Council has proposed making some changes to the Employee Handbook and specifically to put the kibosh on cigarette smoking in city-owned vehicles and buildings. Also, city employees would have to quit taking 15-minute coffee breaks at home because it seems the practice is not very professional or efficient. Dogger Serich took a moment to inform councilors that he has not had a cigarette since Easter.

    In other business, the council:

    • Made the disclosure that the Hill Annex State Park will be open this summer, however visitors might not have access to the park buildings.

    • Approved a zoning permit for Jim Olson.

    • Allocated $1,295 to Plackner Tree Care Inc. to take down four big trees that are in bad shape.

    • Voted to give 72-hours’ notice for people living in camping trailers and RV’s to vacate.

    • Learned that the DNR will probably sink another well in Calumet in order to monitor the water table that is affected by rising pit water.

    • Agreed to demo the hockey rink because it would need to be rebuilt anyway.

    • Learned that the Old Spur Station should be leveled by June.

    • Announced that on May 13, 2020 the Executive Order will be lifted and utility shut-offs could occur.

    • Informed the public that the National Night Out has been cancelled for this year. 

Calumet City Council

February 27, 2020

    At the regularly scheduled February Calumet City Council meeting, Mayor John Tuorila reported that he attended the Mine Board Planning meeting and described pending legislation in St. Paul. 

    One bill proposes that the DNR run the Hill Annex State Park until mining resumes. Another bill would address the rising water in the Hill Annex pit, he said.

    Public Works Supervisor Tom Serich described a virtual obstacle course the snow plow drivers face with respect to misplaced garbage cans and illegally parked cars. He noted that the alleys tend to get narrower during the course of the winter due to the accumulation of junk. Serich also mentioned to the council it is time to recharge fire extinguishers for $50 each. 

    A concerned resident commented on the fact that the city hall building does not have an AED (automatic defibrillator) on site. 

    In other business, the council:

    • Voted to approve a resolution for an off-site gambling permit.

    • Discussed the possibility of changing banks used for conducting city business.

    • Learned that City Clerk April Serich has registered 19 shut-off notices in February.

    • Approved a resolution to levy a late charge to residents who don’t pay their entire utility bill before the due date.

    • Passed a resolution to donate 50 cents per resident to First Call for Help.

    • Approved $20 for a Workplace Violence Prevention seminar. Clerk Serich volunteered to attend the seminar.

    • Agreed to pay the annual dues for city memberships.

    • Announced that the next city council meeting will begin at 2 p.m.

Calumet City Council

January 24, 2019

    At the January Calumet City Council meeting, City Engineer Jon Loye from TKDA engineering presented on the major sewer and water project scheduled for later this year. 

    Loye gave council members a detailed itinerary of the project, which is still in the blueprint stage. The city council discussed using cost saving measures and methods to reduce the overall cost of the work, for example doing several smaller jobs during the sewer/water work to avoid the contractor’s mobilization fee of $100,000 for each project.

    The council gave a brief overview to the safety improvements that MnDOT is planning for the last nine miles of two-lane on Trunk Highway 169. MnDOT Project Manager Josie Olson P.E. provided the Scenic Range NewsForum with an interview and a list of 12 safety improvements scheduled for 2020 and these are still in the planning stage. Some of the safety projects on Hwy. 169 include the closing of the 9th Avenue junction in Calumet near the fire station and adding a center turn lane at the location, and this awaiting community approval. The closing of the west access to County Rd. 561 south of Snowball Lake will create a cul-de-sac at that point and this project is waiting on right-of-way acquisitions. The construction of a pedestrian underpass where the Mesabi Bike Trail crosses 169 west of Pengilly, near the boat landing is waiting for an environmental study.

    Public Works Supervisor Tom Serich discovered that the dump box on the city’s plow truck is rusted from 20 years of carrying salt and sand. When this truck needs to be replaced, Serich thought maybe the city could get by with a one ton dually for about $50,000 as opposed to a larger Class 7 truck at a cost of $200,000 or more.

    In other business, the council:

    • Voted to approve the annual contribution to WMMPB for $350.

    • Voted to make official the new appointments for 2019.

    • Passed a motion to pay the dues for Minnesota Municipal Utilities for $159.

    • Agreed to the $2,500 fee for the annual audit.

    • Discussed the city’s contractual obligations where the city is liable to pay 90 percent of the supplemental health insurance plan for retirees.

    • Conducted a swearing-in of Larry Pitts as a council member.

    • Noted that the city council needs one more council member because the status of the city clerk has changed.

Calumet mulls buyout offer

April 26, 2018

    At last week’s Calumet City Council meeting, council members discussed the latest SBA lease buyout offer for the property occupied by the small radio tower. A media company offered the city of Calumet $160,000, which would represent 13 years worth of rent. The advantage of the buyout offer for the city would be cash up front for public works projects in a district with very little commercial tax base. One disadvantage, however, would be that the city would lose a steady source of income. Councilors speculated that perhaps the large media company could attract customers away from and compete with the city of Calumet-owned big radio tower. It would also be a gamble for the city if they continued the lease and in the future, some new technology would make the small tower obsolete. Council members agreed to discuss the matter further before taking action.

    Councilor Dan Strand reported from the cemetery board that they are looking for summer help. He also gave the council members an update from the Greenway Joint Rec. meeting where a $15,000 grant from the Minnesota Hockey Association will be used to replace the spectator windows with high impact glass at the Hodgins-Berardo Arena.

    A concerned resident asked the council if they could reverse the legal action on a trailer house that was condemned. City officials informed the man that the legal action was a county court order and out of their hands.

    In other business, the council:

    • Discussed IRRRB money available for a new public works building as long as the city shares the building with the city of Marble and Greenway Township.

    • Released documents designating the day of April 28, 2018 as the 10th Annual Tea for Two Fundraiser to benefit the Calumet Public Library. 

    • Voted to pay the Minnesota DNR $341 as an annual lease payment on the depot.

    • Voted to donate $150 to the Greenway Day of Caring.

    • Tabled a vote to pay a lawyer $1,400 for services which are in question.

    • Informed residents that they can use the DNR website to confirm the water level in the Canisteo and Hill Annex pits.

    • Voted to rent a handicap accessible portable toilet for $85 per month at the park. 

Calumet City Council

March 29, 2018

At last week’s Calumet City Council meeting, Calumet Mayor John Tuorila participated via speaker phone as District 5 Commissioner Ben DeNucci relayed some news from the Itasca County Board meeting. 

DeNucci said the old Spur station has been targeted for demolition and underground tank recovery. Also, he said that Itasca County is exploring more ways to assist small communities in economic development and infrastructure including access to the Itasca County grant writer. 

Councilor Dan Strand reported from Greenway Joint Rec. Board and noted that the ice at the arena is being taken out after a successful figure skating show. Strand said next project would be to replace the heaters on the east side of the arena as well as widen the upper walkway.

Library Director Melanie Lefebvre said the tea party is scheduled for April 28 and the cook book is back from the publisher for proof reading.

Treasurer Wendy Shevich warned that there will be no more bank drops for utility payments because the American Bank will close on May 1. Utility payments can be submitted at the drop box in front of city hall, mailed or paid in person during business hours.

In other business, the council:

• Passed a resolution to apply for funding for two sewer projects in the ally between 6th and 7th and the ally between 7th and 8th streets.

• Approved the use of Tony Snetsinger of Cohasset to thaw-out frozen water mains. 

• Agreed that ducks are farm animals as opposed to domestic animals and therefore subject to restrictions.

• Will send letters of support for the Highway 169 four lane project, the quest to bring broadband cable into town and also the pit water dilemma with respect to the Hill Annex and Canisteo abandoned mines.

• Tabled any action on a municipal website that would cost $600 to initiate and then $360 per year.

Calumet City Council

January 25, 2018

At last week’s Calumet City Council meeting, councilors voted to pass three new ordinances and approve new appointments. Tim Zaren was appointed Mayor Pro-Tem and Wendy Chupurdia was approved to serve on the library board. John Tuorila and Dan Strand were appointed to the city’s blight committee. This year Tuorila and Zaren will represent Calumet on the Greenway Joint Fire Board and recently hired technician Bob Hoshal was appointed as the assistant weed inspector. 

New ordinances include No. 110, which is the revised fee schedule following the adoption of the state of Minnesota basic code. Ordinances Nos. 111 and 112 have to do with zoning and the subsequent updating of the zoning map. 

Councilors decided to take action against any vehicle owner whose car or truck is blocking or partially blocking an alleyway. City crews need to keep streets and alleys plowed in case of a fire. Alleys are either officially or non designated fire lanes and need to be clear at all times to allow fire trucks and emergency vehicles to have access to nearby structures. Offending vehicles will be tagged and towed.

Public Works Supervisor Tom Serich reported that the water tower is working well and they have been averaging 55,000 gallons per day. The city mechanic has repaired the controller and replaced the skid plates on the snow plow. And once again the sewer lift station needed to be reopened at a cost of $275 because disposable towels were blocking the intake port. Residents should be advised that disposable wet towels do not dissolve like toilet paper and eventually, will clog the sewer. 

Councilor Dan Strand reported from the Greenway Joint Rec. meeting confirming that the electric Zamboni is now set up and in service at the Hodgins-Berardo Arena. The Bantam B tournament is scheduled for Feb. 2-4. The Squirts will have their tournament February 9-11. Also the Bantam A District Tournament is set for Feb. 17 and 18. 

Councilors voted to accept an offer of $14,500 for property with the stipulation that the current owner clear away the junk at the site. The land for sale is near the Mesabi Bike Trail head and city officials hope to use the property to facilitate traveling cyclists.

In other business, the council:

• Voted to give a $200 donation to Elder Circle.

• Paid dues of $151 to the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association.

• Passed a resolution to make the city council room the official voting place.

• Agreed to transfer money into the sewer fund.

Calumet City Council

December 07, 2017

At the Nov. 21 Calumet City Council meeting, the Hill Annex Mine State Park transition was discussed. The state of Minnesota lawmakers have voted to set the deadline for state funding for the state park to be on June 30, 2019. The legislature has also directed five public entities to work as partners in order to devise an alternate business model to operate the park after June 2019.


The five partners include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the IRRRB, Itasca County, Western Mine Planning Board and the City of Calumet. The partners have established a work group and they are asking for public input and participation. 

Counselor Dan Strand gave an update on the Greenway Joint Rec. Association where the new scoreboard at the arena has been installed and paid for by Southeast Directional Drilling. The cost of the new scoreboard was $13,000. Pee Wee A and B squads will have their tournament Dec. 1-3. Basketball has started and 150 kids are signed-up for figure skating.

Public Works Director Dogger Serich reported malfunctioning street lights that might have a defective capacitor. The lights don’t turn on and off in unison indicating a possible glitch in the photo cell control system. Serich reported five security cameras are now set up and running at City Hall, the Depot and the tower. 

Librarian Melanie Lefebvre said Santa Claus is scheduled to make an appearance at the Calumet Public Library on Dec. 4 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Other library events for December include Legends of the Wilderness on the 6th at 10:30 am, Election day on the 12th, Christmas Potluck on the 14th at 12:30, Movie on the 27th at 2 p.m. and Bingo on the 28th at 2 p.m. 

In other business, the council:

• Voted to raise the late fee for utilities from $7 to $15 starting in January 2018.

• Scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, Dec. 19. 

• Voted to grant a liquor license to the Old Calumet Saloon.

• Expressed the need for a temporary street worker with a Class B driver’s license and an air brake endorsement.

• Decided to disallow the Collaboration Facilitation Participation contribution for $300. 

• Reported that it will take from $120 to $150 million to complete the last seven miles of the Cross Range Expressway from Scenic Highway 7 to Pengilly.

• Will be on the lookout for unlicensed cars and trucks within the city limits.

Calumet mulls police protection agreement

June 29, 2017

    Calumet is looking to forge a police protection agreement with the city of Nashwauk. At the June 20 council meeting, officials noted need for the protection hoping that if the protection were put into place, Nashwauk officers would be able to enforce some of Calumet’s city ordinances. 

    The dilemma for Calumet, however, is how much money they are willing to spend. Ideally for Calumet, the city would spend $2,000 a month for protection. However, councilors unanimously agreed that at that price, they may only be provided minimal service. The council then decided that they would soon approach Nashwauk officials and propose a 12-month trial agreement at $2,000 a month and then assess what degree of protection that offers. 

    In other business, the council: 

    • Approved a resolution to adopt the Minnesota Basic Code of Ordinances. 

    • Approved tattoo and body piercing license for Tahtinen’s Tats. 

    • Listened to a resident idea to add a community center in the Depot building.

    • Approved regular bills, receipts and disbursements.

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