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Perham City Council approves purchase of fire truck

The Perham City Council approved the purchase of a new fire truck at its regularly scheduled meeting on April 11.

The truck will cost $604,670, most of which will be covered by a FEMA grant that the fire department received back in February.

Fire Chief Mark Schmidt presented to the council the specifications of the truck, and explained why the particular model was the one that the department wanted.

In particular, Schmidt said that a steel ladder, rather than an aluminum ladder, would help make the truck last longer.

"We want to try to get 35 years or more out of this truck," he said.

Schmidt also pointed to a 20-gallon foam tank as a desirable feature of the truck. Foam, Schmidt said, helps the fire department out in the case of larger fires or train derailments.

Schmidt said that the truck should arrive in Perham in about 60 days.

"You guys really did your homework on this," Mayor Tim Meehl said to the fire department's safety committee.

In other business, the council amended the city's zoning ordinance so as to allow for the annexation of the property of Blossoms, Birds and Beyond, which was held over from the February council meeting.

Two items in the zoning ordinance were changed from downtown commercial to service commercial to reflect the concerns that Nick Theroux, owner of Blossoms, Birds and Beyond, voiced to the council at a public annexation hearing at February's meeting.

The council also approved a resolution entering into an agreement with the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) to hire a consulting firm to assist with designating current and future bike/walk routes throughout the city. Perham had received a $5,000 grant to cover the costs of the consulting.

Patrick Hollister of SHIP told the council that a consulting firm would look at how to use Perham's unique extra-wide streets to benefit pedestrians or bikers.

Hollister encouraged the council to choose a particular street or intersection to be examined that typifies Perham's extra-wide pavement so that it is educational for the street itself, but also so that the results can also be used elsewhere.

Such a study of a street or intersection would look specifically at what could be done to better accommodate bikers or pedestrians, Hollister said. In particular, the consulting firm would look at factors such as parking, sidewalks, curbs, medians and more.

Finally, the council approved a resolution allowing the Perham Police Department to spend forfeiture funds to purchase an SUV.

Police Chief Jason Hoaby told the council that he has narrowed his options down to two different vehicles. The department currently has about $17,000 in forfeiture funds, Hoaby said.

The vehicle that the department will purchase would be used mostly during winter for its four-wheel drive, Hoaby said. The SUV would be used only minimally during summer.

"We'd try to get as many years as we could out of this," Hoaby said. "It wouldn't be our primary vehicle."

The council also approved a resolution declaring the week of April 30 to May 7 Bike or Walk to School Week.

The Local Board of Review is scheduled for Wednesday, May 4 at 1 p.m. and the next regular city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 9 at 5:15 p.m. Arbor Day, a bike rodeo and the re-dedication of the Cal Miller Bike Path are all scheduled for May 7.