Photo rukus stirs crowd at annual meeting

Some of the approximately 60 people at Baldwin Township’s annual meeting on March 12 are voting on one of the many motions made that evening concerning Baldwin’s tax levy for 2014.

As residents entered the Baldwin Township maintenance building for the annual meeting, an election judge verified residency and gave only those people with voting credentials a pink slip of paper.
When votes on township issues occurred, residents were asked to simply raise the pink slip. This ensured the integrity of the results because only the votes of residents were counted.
As one vote was taken, however, the whole room exploded in pink as residents cast their vote. Seeing a photo opportunity, Union-Eagle reporter Joel Stottrup captured a photo of Baldwin residents holding up pink slips of paper.
One resident objected,  stating that she is not an elected official and therefore is not accountable to anyone for the way she votes. She didn’t intend for her vote to be made public.
Cameras are allowed in public meetings, Union-Eagle Editor Jeff Hage said in defending Stottrup’s right to take a photo. Betsy Wergin, a former state senator, said that prior to the vote, residents could have requested a secret ballot. Since that was not done, the votes are public, she said
After the discussion, Stottrup continued to take photos of residents voting with their  pink slips.

Auditor fails to provide 2012 audit in time for annual meeting
Not only did auditor Tom Kaliher of KBP & Co. not make it to the annual meeting, but he also failed to complete the audit in time for the annual meeting.
At the March 2012 annual meeting, township residents requested that the town board provide an audited financial report prior to the election and annual meeting, with the report completed at least one week prior to the annual meeting. The 2012 motion’s author, Rich Harris, repeatedly attended town board meetings throughout 2012 to remind township officials to have this report available. Harris was assured that the plan was for the report to be ready in time for the annual meeting. The town board had also hoped that the auditor would attend the annual meeting in person, so he could answer any questions people might have about the financial situation of the township.
However, citing computer glitches and technical difficulties, Jay Swanson, board chairman, said the auditor gave the township’s financial report a verbal OK and said he would come to the March 19 board meeting and present the report and management letter.

Baldwin Fire
Fire Chief Mike Rademacher reported 200 calls in 2012. There are now 28 firefighters on the Northeast Sherburne County Fire and Rescue team, with one of those being an EMT, two are paramedics and one is a doctor. Of the 200 calls, 90 were medical calls.
“If you have a medical emergency in Baldwin Township, you have a good chance of having someone with advanced training show up at your door,” Rademacher said.
The Baldwin firefighters collectively put in more than 2,000 hours of training in 2012. The department maintains a set training schedule of two nights each month for about three to four hours. Some firefighters also attended state fire school weekends. Outreach and exposure to the community includes the Baldwin Township clean-up day, Funfest at Young Park, day care visits and Cub Scout tours.
The department wants to be involved in the community, Rademacher said. Residents are encouraged to contact the fire department at 763-389-7976 if they have an event or organization that would like a fire department presence.
Rademacher explained the need for investing in an equipment fund of at least $30,000 to $40,000 per year in order to plan for replacement of some of the larger equipment. Assistant Chief Scott Case said the department will need to start replacing the water tenders, which are old, and the grass rig which is very old.
“We are trying to plan long-range,” he said.
Pumper trucks cost more than $300,000, Rademacher said. “Some stuff we can get by with used and some we absolutely want new.” In the end, voters approved a $37,000 increase in the capital fund for 2014.

Road & Bridge
Swanson presented the Road and Bridge report. The certified levied amount for 2012 was $480,256. The township also received almost $9,000 from the county in public safety money. This comes from fines for speeding tickets and other traffic violations and is set aside for public safety projects.
Some of the road projects completed in 2012 were $60,000 for 104th Street, $70,000 for 136th Street, and $5,000 for 96th Street (with Spencer Brook Township). The township spent $56,000 on chip sealing and $32,000 on crack sealing, $72,000 was spent on gravel for Sandy Lake and $55,000 went for the EMS signs. The EMS signs were paid for with public safety money.
Proposed road projects for 2013 include 112th Street, chip sealing and crack sealing, and the application of magnesium chloride to a stretch of gravel road near Sandy Lake.
Swanson said the township is running into a wall with the road plan because a lot of development in the township happened at the same time, so the roads will need replacement at the same time. Swanson noted that it takes $450,000 to construct one mile of road, including engineering costs.
Responding to a resident’s question about Elk Lake Estates, Swanson said the township put down $72,000 worth of gravel on that road.
“It is a much larger project than simply asphalting the road,” Swanson said, noting that the area had been mostly seasonal cabins and lake homes but has grown to have year-round residences. “A lot of engineering and infrastructure needs to go in before we can think about building roads.” Swanson mentioned that if magnesium chloride is successful at Sandy Lake, they may think about Elk Lake next.

Park report
Supervisor Tom Rush presented a report of the Baldwin Park Committee. Progress has been made on Young Park, the 80 acres of land donated by Kermit Young.
A rain garden and 1.6 miles of trails were installed at the park. The boardwalks are put together and ready to be installed this spring. The white building is for sale. An open pavilion will be built in its place in May. The pavilion will have electricity and four grills, making it perfect for family gatherings and events. Next up for Young Park is the installation of softball fields and a basketball court.
Also, plans are underway for the newly acquired Goose Lake Park. Among the items discussed are ball fields, a fishing pier, canoe launch and hiking trails.
Most of the parks’ elements are donated and the result of volunteer effort, Rush said. As such, funding for the parks is not a burden on citizens but instead comes from grants and subdivision fees. Volunteers are needed to help with the installation of the boardwalks this spring and with other projects. Contact the town hall at 763-389-8931 for more information.