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Perham approves specs for purchase of new fire truck

The Perham City Council approved specifications for the purchase of a new fire truck at its regular meeting on March 14.

Perham Fire Chief Mark Schmidt presented to the council the details of the FEMA grant that was awarded to the fire department in February. Overall, he said, the fire department will receive $560,200, $550,000 of which will go towards the truck itself. Approximately $10,000 of the grant will go toward staff training for the new truck, which Schmidt said would begin next week for Perham firefighters. The course will be held at the St. Cloud Technical College.

Schmidt said that the final cost of a new truck would probably exceed the $550,000 grant. Because the truck will probably last up to 40 years, he said, it will be a worthwhile investment for the city.

After a brief discussion, the council voted to approve the specifications. The next step in the process is to review specifications of different truck models, and to advertise for bids.

In other business, the council voted to amend the city zoning ordinance to allow churches in the downtown commercial district. Councilman Fred Lehmkuhl reported that the city planning commission had reviewed the option to renew the ordinance and had approved the change.

The amended zoning ordinance will allow for the re-zoning of St. Henry's Church from R-4 to Downtown Commercial. St. Henry's has been exploring the possibility of expanding, and the re-zoning of its property will make an expansion project possible.

City Manager Kelcey Klemm pointed out that although the council approved the re-zoning of church property, the church's expansion project has not yet been approved. In fact, the project is still in its very early stage, Lehmkuhl said.

"The project could cost upwards of $3.4 million," he said. "But they still have to raise the money for it."

The council also approved the naming of portions of County Road 51 and County Road 34 that lie within city limits. Lehmkuhl said the planning commission recommended naming County Road 51 Lakeside Drive, and naming County Road 34 Paul Lake Road.

"They're very original, aren't they?" said council member Harriet Mattfeld upon hearing the recommendations.

Mattfeld said that because the portion of County Road 34 would not be near Paul Lake, it wouldn't make sense to name the street after the lake.

Some council members said that that some city residents probably already associated that road with Paul Lake, so the name seemed a logical choice.

"I haven't associated that road with Paul Lake for as long as I've lived here," Mattfeld said. "Which is a considerable time."

The council voted 4-1, with Mattfeld against, to approve the naming of the roads. Both roads will still retain their county road signs, in addition to the new green city street signs.

The council also approved a resolution to authorize the submission of a grant application to FEMA for the purchase of a back-up generator for the city office.

The city office could act as the Emergency Services Operation Center for the city in case of an emergency, Mayor Tim Meehl said. A back-up generator would ensure that the city is able to function in the case of an emergency, he added.

"Hopefully this is something we never have to use," he said.

The council also approved the 2011 golf course budget and a deed between the Perham Co-op and the city, which cleared up boundary issues between the two.

"This deed was something that we've had on the backburner for many years," City Lawyer Dennis Happel told the council.

Patrick Hollister of the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) also invited council members to attend the unveiling of the Active Living Survey results on Thursday, March 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the Perham Area Community Center.

Finally, Meehl announced the City Financial Officer Karla McCall would be leaving the city on April 1 for a new job in North Carolina. A special council meeting on March 23 would be McCall's last city council meeting, Meehl said.

The special council meeting and committee of the whole meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, March 23 at 5:15 p.m.

The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 11 at 5:15 p.m.