(L to R) Treasurer Warneke and Supervisors PFleghaar, Bruce Aubol, Norm Leslie and Bob Hofer go over the accounting books for the Board of Audit for 2013. Warneke will present a full treasury report at the next Big Lake Township Meeting. (Photo by Aleah Stenberg.)

Township gets water report from SWCD

Contributing Writer
Aleah Stenberg
The Big Lake Township met for their second February monthly meeting and Board of Audit Wednesday.
Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Water Resource Specialist Tiffany Determan delivered the 2014 Water Qualities Initiative Update which outlined the two water quality priorities in Big Lake Township: The Birch Lake Initiative and the Elk River and Tributaries Initiative. 
Birch Lake, in the northeastern part of Big Lake Township, is a priority lake. 
“Birch Lake does not meet state standards. It's at the tipping point,” said Determan on how close the lake is to meeting standard.
To help Birch Lake, the Sherburne Soil & Water Conservation District is offering free stormwater assessments, money to help pay for the installation of shoreline buffers and stormwater reduction in priority areas, and water quality monitoring at targeted wetland outlets and drainage systems. 
Regarding the Elk River and Tributaries Initiative, the Sherburne SWCD received a $60,000 Clean Water Fund Grant to  provide pasture and manure management in an effort to reduce bacteria in the river. They will monitor water quality at Co. Rd. 5 for E. coli, increase efforts on working with hobby farm owners, provide horse health workshops, build compost bins and help develop rotational grazing plans. 
Sherburne SWCD is hosting a Turfgrass Maintenance with Reduced Environmental Impacts course Wed., March 26 at the Elk River Fire Station along with Elk River Municipal Utilities and Sherburne County Public Works. 
The class will offer Level 1 Certification in Turfgrass Maintenance Best Practices. Cost is $10. RSVP required by March 17. Call the Sherburne SWCD at 763-241-1170 x 4.
Sheriff’s Report
Sheriff Joel Brott presented the 2013 annual report from the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office. Total calls for service were up  slightly from 2012 with 2,449 total calls in 2013, but Brott was not worried about this increase and considered the numbers to be fairly steady. Numbers for assaults, burglary, DUI's, and theft were down from 2012, but there was a rise in narcotic investigations.
Building Inspection Proposal
Big Lake City Administrator Todd Bodem proposed the idea of having the City of Big Lake provide the building inspection services for Big Lake Township. Bodem believes that this juncture would expand building inspection services, create more presence in the community and the township could receive some of the revenue. 
Treasurer Ken Warneke expressed, “We've adopted the county ordinance. I think it might raise issue with the county.” He felt that pulling this one service out of the many that the county provides might cause trouble.
The board decided voted to stay with the county.
In the Sherburne County EDA Update, Clerk Laura Hayes reported that the county has hired Springsted, an economic consulting group, to create a Countywide Economic Development Strategic Plan. 
A March meeting at the Sherburne County Government Center will explain how Springsted will give direction to the county by assisting in making an Economic Development Plan. 
Treasurer's Updates
Warneke addressed the condition of the town roads. The recent snow and wind have caused drifting across many roads, the roads running north and south being the biggest problems. As of the meeting, they had spent over $163,000 on clearing the roads, a figure which will assuredly increase with this ongoing issue. 
The last order of business at the meeting was the Board of Audit for 2013. After the accounting books are closed on the 2013 finances, Warneke will create a full treasury report to be presented at the next meeting. 
The next meeting will be March 12 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall.


BIG LAKE BULL RIDER Mike Wolbeck poses for a picture with his daughter, Paisley, and fiancee, Amanda Langerud.

Lily Noble helps the 4x200 relay team to first place

LIFE IN OLD TIME BIG LAKE was a very different proposition then it is today, middle school students from April Bischoff and Ann Segner’s classes discovered when they had some guest speakers come to class Wednesday. Sharing their history were long-time residents Darlene Lanz and Dee and Norm Leslie. That’s me on the right. (Photo by April Bischoff).

BIG LAKE Finance Director Deb Wegeleben was serving as an interim but was awarded the position permanently because she did the job so well.