City of Pierz agrees to partner in county’s hazard mitigation process

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
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The Pierz City Council formally acknowledged its interest in participating in the county’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program. The program is a multi-jurisdictional plan within Morrison County.

Jeff Jelinski, Morrison County’s emergency management supervisor, said it is a Homeland Emergency Management requirement for the county to have a hazard mitigation plan in place and to update that plan every five years.

The county contracts with Region 5 to put the plan together and in this case, to update the plan. Region 5 applies for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to put the plan into place to “put the book together,” said Jelinski.

Tad Erickson, community and economic development planner for Region 5, said he does the planning for a number of counties.

He is currently working on drafting the FEMA grant application for those various plans.

Cities within the county, to be eligible to write an application for a FEMA grant, must agree to participate in the hazard mitigation planning process, and to commit matching funds for the planning. These matching funds come in the form of committing city staff time to attend planning meetings.

In Pierz’ case, the city has agreed to provide a staff member’s time for seven two-hour meetings, or the equivalent of $490.

“By participating, the cities are then able to apply for funding for projects that come up within the next five years,” said Jelinski.

Erickson said the funds can be applied for projects such as a back-up generator needed at a school.

Jelinski said, as an example, that if a city needed to update its emergency warning system and wasn’t able to afford it, by participating in the hazard mitigation planning it could apply for needed funding.

The hazard mitigation plan is “another piece of red tape,” said Jelinski. “Technically, it isn’t going to cost the county, or a city, anything out of the checkbook.”

Pierz City Council Briefs

In other business at Monday’s meeting, the Pierz City Council:

• Learned voter precinct boundaries had not changed for the city. However, Mayor Toby Egan asked City Administrator Anna Gruber to verify that information;

• Learned the final bill for the Highway 25 project will be coming soon, as Knife River has signed off on it. Sidewalk issues will be taken care of if it is found they are in the right of way;

• Noted the Board of Equalization meeting is set for Thursday, April 26, at 1 p.m. at City Hall. Egan noted that when residents see their property tax statements, they will think the city raised its taxes, which is not the case. The city has maintained a 0 percent increase in its levy for the past  five years;

• Received a letter of complaint from resident Linda Cherne regarding the new F&M Bank flashing light. Cherne was concerned about how close to the sidewalk and to the intersection on Main Street the sign was located, and felt it was a public safety issue and asked that the Council and zoning officials review the location of the sign;

• Approved Tom Poepping’s request to build a deck at his residence on Edward Street;

• Heard from Police Chief Eric Hanneken a mock car crash will be enacted at Healy High School Wednesday, April 25, to show the results of distracted and impaired driving. This is being held prior to the school’s prom, slated for Saturday, May 5; and

• Heard from Public Works Director Bob Otremba, that if an electrical outage occurs between 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., he is the one that should be notified as Crow Wing Power staff is not available during those hours.

The Pierz City Council will hold a work session Monday, at 6 p.m. Its next regular meeting will be held Monday, April 23, at 7 p.m., both meetings at City Hall.