THE CITY OF BIG LAKE recognized 13 employees for their many years of service to the community. Five were unable to attend Wednesday’s council meeting but the following did and they are, front row, left to right: Frank Anderson, Daniel Lindula, Samuel Olson, Tina Peterson, Keith Roelike, Corey Flagg, Charles Gammon and Daniel Sherburne. The employees who were unable to attend but garnered certificates were: Randy Bader, Kurt Goenner, Terry Nordquist, Michael Ziemer and Melissa Vilmo. Behind the employees are, left to right: Todd Bodem, Seth Hansen, Dick Backlund, Mayor Raeanne Danielowski, Mike Wallen and Nick Christenson. (Photo by Bill Morgan).

City employees recognized at council meeting

Staff Writer
Bill Morgan
Certificates of appreciation were handed out to 13 city employees at Wednesday’s Big Lake City Council meeting.
Employee Recognitions
City staff framed certificates to recognize 13 long-term city employees. The first recognition event was held in January of 2011 for employees that had hit at least the 10 year milestone.  
After the first initial year, the schedule for recognitions are for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, etc. years of service milestones and the presentations are generally held at the second meeting in January each year. A date could not be coordinated in 2013 for the three employees who hit a milestone last year so those three were recognized Wednesday along with the employees who will hit a milestone year in 2014.
The following employees reached milestone years in 2013: Daniel Sherburne, 10 years; Tina Peterson, 10 years; Randy Bader, 10 years.
The following employees have or will reach milestone years in 2014: Frank Anderson, 30 years; Kurt Goenner, 25 years; Corey Flagg, 20 years; Terry Nordquist, 15 years; Charles Gammon, 15 years; Michael Ziemer, 15 years; Samuel Olson, 10 years; Keith Roelike, 10 years; Melissa Vilmo, 10 years and Daniel Lindula, 10 years.
Spud Fest Update
During open forum, Big Lake Spud Fest President Charlean Albright told council the organization has re-applied for tax-exempt status and hopes they will be re-instated by the end of January. She said the BLSF had a “roller coaster year” in 2013 but they now have money in the bank and are beginning earnest deliberations in planning for the upcoming 2014 event in June.
Albright said the committee is still seeking volunteers to help in any way with the event and thanked council for their support during their troubled times.
The city also accepted two donations from BLSF in the amounts of $500 to the Big Lake Fire Dept. and $550 for the Big Lake Police Dept.
Workshop Update
City Administrator Todd Bodem said council discussed the city’s vision and gave a farmer’s market update that included the change of the day of the market from Thursdays to Wednesdays, starting in June. The date change was decided because other area farmer’s markets are held on Thursdays.
Bodem said council also talked about the street light utility system fee that was approved by council at the December meeting. Staff is gearing up to include this fee in the February utility bills and was looking for clarification from council on establishing a maximum fee for commercial properties. The consensus of council was to set a $12 maximum monthly fee for commercial properties.
Bodem said council has a desire to develop a plan for effective communication between himself and council. Council consensus was that all city staff should be provided the administrator's weekly updates and directed  Bodem to hold recurring department head meetings.
Also discussed at the workshop was the reviewal of the Citizen Pruner Program the city will be participating in along with Becker, Elk River and Princeton. The program will be partnering with the Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation District and the U of M Urban Forestry Department. Public Works Director Mike Goebel explained that citizen pruners will be trained in tree identification, biology and pruning techniques.
Yamaha Donation
Police Chief Joel Scharf accepted a Yamaha Corp. “Under the Law Loan Program” donation valued at $2,000 for the use of a 2014 Yamaha Viking side-by-side ATV for a period of six months.
The ULL Program provides police departments with the use of a new side by side all-terrain vehicle free of cost. This vehicle will be used for accessing areas in the community inaccessible by patrol car, search and rescue and community events. The retail value of the vehicle is $13,500.
Get Outdoors Day
Katrine Nau, chairperson of the Big Lake Parks Advisory Board, reminded council about the upcoming winter free “Get Outdoors Day” in Big Lake, Feb. 8 from noon until 3 p.m.
Nau said she is handing out flyers and advertising in the newspaper for people to attend and even volunteer to help.
The day will include snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, sledding, winter olympic games, a campfire with hot chocolate and marshmallows and a performance by Bob and the Beachcombers from 1-2:30 p.m.
For more information, contact Nau at 763-843-8338 or  by email at:
Other News
•Construction projects for Northern Star Apartments, Dill Dental and Co. Rd. 43 have stalled because of the cold weather but will be finished up by springtime;
•Lake Liquors recently passed a compliance check and has finished some tile work in the store. The parking lot that serves the liquor and other stores has new lights and all are in working order but one;
•A new dental clinic looks to be coming to Big Lake on Rose Drive soon. More details to come at a later date;
•The building department is reviewing plans for a Cargill expansion;
•The city is in the process of “beefing up” security at city hall.
The next Big Lake City Council meeting is Feb. 12 at 6 p.m.


(From left) Lexi Freund (Big Lake), Betsey Cornelius and Ben Cornelius (Nowthen), Gunner Dorweiler and Colton Dorweiler (Princeton), Ben Manning (Zimmerman), Bailey Dorweiller (Princeton) and Salene Krueger (Big Lake.) The county fair runs from July 16-19. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Dr. Lola Sutherland is retiring from clinical practice after 33 years in the Big Lake community. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards.)

SMITTY’S AMATEUR FIDDLERS CONTEST drew 22 musicians to compete in Big Lake this year. They were accompanied by Gilmore Lee.

LEE GERHARDSON, 47, from New London, was found dead in Big Lake near the swimming beach in 10 feet of water Monday. Cause of death is unknown at this time but foul play is not suspected.

Adopt-a-Road participants volunteer for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and work to clean roadsides that border and bisect refuge land. This spring, from April to June, approximately six individuals, three families, and seven groups, such as boy and girl scouts and 4-H groups, volunteered to clean countless miles of roads. (Submitted photo.)