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High level of copper found in two NY Mills homes

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An unsafe level of copper has been found in two out of 10 tested houses in New York Mills last month, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

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Every year and a half, in compliance with MDH rules, 10 homes in NY Mills are tested for lead and copper.

In every test prior, lead and copper levels have been within safety guidelines.

When copper levels are measured at 1.300 milligrams per liter, action is recommended. The water tested in the two homes exceeded that, with 1.420 milligrams of copper per liter.

Utilities Manager Roger Salo said the copper in the water did not source from the city water or water tower. The copper leaches out of the pipes and into the water once the water reaches the homes.

Salo said the state requires the city to send letters to homeowners explaining the situation and what they can do about it.

The state also requires the city to begin to test every six months instead of every 18 months.

Salo said the affected residents should run their water for a while before drinking it.

Water tower costs

Maguire Iron, Inc. from Sioux Falls, S.D., fixed the insulation around the water tower in October and billed the city at a rate of $475 an hour for a total of $5,285.

The original price was $6,410, but Salo was able to reduce this cost by 25 percent after refusing to pay the full travel time. The actual labor took four hours, and the travel time was 10 hours.

Request for experience recognition

Police Chief Jim Van Schaick went before the council to ask that Officer Aaron Evenson's experience be recognized in a pay increase.

Evenson is coming up to his two year pay increase, but Van Schaick was asking the council to increase him to a three year pay.

The city offers pay increases at six months, one year, two years, three years and four years.

Van Schaik said Evenson is "the cream of the crop" and it would be in NY Mills' best interest to offer a competitive wage so officers like Evenson stay on the force.

Other members of the council agreed that Evenson was making efforts to increase his training above and beyond requirements, and therefore should be paid accordingly.

Mayor Larry Hodgson said he didn't want to set a precedent by skipping a pay step.

When this was brought to a vote, all council members present voted for Evenson receiving the three year hike, while Hodgson was the lone vote against it.

Potato gun incident update

Van Schaik addressed the council about last month's potato gun incident.

Van Schaik was out of town that day, but he felt like his staff handled the incident well.

On Oct. 4, police were notified about gunshot noises in NY Mills. In response, NY Mills police, along with Wadena and Perham police departments and Otter Tail and Wadena County sheriff's departments blocked a portion of NY Mills until the situation was resolved.

It was discovered that the 'shotgun' noises were actually a potato gun discharging.

Hodgson said he has heard some controversy among citizens that the police force did "overkill" when they called in all the extra forces.

However, Hodgson said the police did an "outstanding job."

"We are responsible for a lot of people and that is what joint force is all about," he said.

Van Schaik said charges were pending on the incident.

Upcoming council dates

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be Dec. 13 at 4:30 p.m.

The Truth and Taxation Public Hearing is set for Dec. 13 at 6:01 p.m. This is a hearing where citizens can voice their opinions on the city budget. The possible tax levy increase is set at 12.4 percent.

Depending on citizen objection, the council may or may not meet after the hearing and finalize the 2012 budget and levy increase,

A budget and levy increase must be approved by Dec. 28.

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