Programming on local access cable discontinues starting Nov. 1

Council approves limited contract with Abraham in the interim 

By Terry LehrkeNews Editor

As of Friday, all cable programming on local access Channels 6 and 12 will discontinue until another entity takes over operations of Central Minnesota Access Television (CMAT).

Programming that will discontinue includes government meetings for the County Board and Little Falls City Council, as well as the Little Falls School Board.

Other regular programs that will be discontinued for the time being, are monthly shows by the Little Falls mayor, county administrator, Camp Ripley, Little Falls superintendent, community shows and church services.

Pierz’ local access Channel 10 also uses the programming from Channel 6 and 12.

Jerry Abraham, owner of Public Access Video, contracted with the city of Little Falls for 16 years. In September, he announced his retirement and terminating his contract, effective Nov. 1.

However, there are a few things Abraham is willing to do during the interim, things he wasn’t able to accomplish while providing programming.

His proposal for a limited contract at $3,000 per month was accepted by the Little Falls City Council Monday.

The contracted work includes maintaining a bulletin board on the channels, which is advertising of upcoming community events; cleaning up wiring and installing new equipment in the downtown studio; converting more than 1,000 DVDs to digital format; helping create policies for the operation of access programming on Channel 6 and 12; assisting in the clean-up of contract language for the operation of the local access channels and updating the equipment inventory for the city.

Council Member at Large Brian-Paul Crowder thought the amount was excessive.

Loren Boyum, Council liaison to the Cable Board, said that of that $3,000, Abraham will continue to pay the rent and utilities and employees. Abraham said he pays $800 monthly rent to the Great River Arts (GRA) and approximately $100 in utilities. Employees Mike Krejci and Heather Jorgenson will also be paid out of that amount.

The city was paying Abraham’s company $7,483.33 per month to run Channels 6 and 12, with all the programming.

Abraham said he will start the process in November and while he had no idea how long the tasks will take, he’s hoping no more than three months.

Great River Arts provided a letter to the Council with its vision for Central Minnesota Access Television. As owners of the building, the letter said GRA had a good working relationship with Abraham.

The vision is to continue and expand CMAT programming, as the GRA develops the facility into a mid-sized arts and events center for downtown Little Falls, complete with the ability to televise events occurring at the center and elsewhere.

The letter, signed by GRA Board President Scott Wonderlich and Executive Director Jill Moore, said the facility offered a “promising economic development opportunity for downtown Little Falls.”

The GRA anticipates hosting business and social events at the facility, in addition to musical, theatrical, literary and other artistic performances.

Little Falls Council Briefs

In other business Monday, the Little Falls City Council:

• Heard estimated annual maintenance costs for the splash pad ($30,000); the three ballfields ($20,000) and parks ($15,000);

• Heard the Mayors Youth Task Force was meeting with Landscape Structure in Delano, the company that will design the playground area on the land north of the city;

• Learned Paul Twitchell, who with his wife donated $100,000 toward the playground, will be in town Nov. 8 – 9, and would like a groundbreaking ceremony for the playground at that time;

• Gave a nod of approval to the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) to pursue hosting the annual certified local government workshop in Little Falls in 2015;

• Heard Little Falls School Supt. Stephen Jones speak about the Nov. 5 referendum to extend the school district’s current operating levy;

• Heard a presentation by Robin Hensel and Theresa Skorseth as to why the city should pursue becoming a Green Step City;

• Approved selling Lots 11 and 12, Block 20, Water Power Company Addition No. 2 to James and Michele Ostendorf, for $9,000;

• Approved selling Lots 3, 4 and 5, less the north 20 feet of Lot 3, Block 3, Broadway Addition, to Brian and Marcia Schlattman at a cost of $11,200;

• Tabled a decision regarding a request from Edward Jones to extend 30-minute parking from Pete and Joy’s Bakery west to the alley;

• Referred to the Public Works Department a petition request to tar Ninth Avenue and Call Place in Southeast Little Falls;

• Approved additional costs for rehabilitation of the Fire Hall on the west side in the amount of $3,194.94, due to several issues discovered;

• Approved a variance for MNW Property LCC for property at 105 LeMieur St., to demolish an existing building and construct a new building on a non-conforming lot;

• Approved a conditional use/variance request for Daniel Marquart to construct a 20-foot by 24-foot garage, 13-feet high, on the east side of his lot on 110 Riverview Dr.;

• Approved a variance request for Blue Sky Midwest LLC to allow the placement of a 50-foot silo onto the side yard of property located at 401 13th Ave. N.W.; and

• Voted to have staff move ahead with a plan to prohibit parking during the winter months on state aid roads in the city between the hours of 1 a.m. – 7 a.m., which may or may not include using a calling system the county has in place.