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Request from Wal-mart again denied by council
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
At the St. Croix Falls City Council meeting on Monday night, the request from Wal-mart to be able to include alcohol sales through their grocery pickup program was again denied.
Grant Sjoberg the current manager of Wal-mart in St. Croix Falls, was present to again discuss the matter.
Wal-mart has a curbside service that it currently provides. Customers make their order online via computer or smart phone. From their Wal-mart staff gather the items in the order, and they are available for pickup curbside.
Sjoberg was questioned at length regarding the training employees receive and the safeguards that are in place to assure that customers don't abuse the privilege.
Sjoberg noted that he has worked at 14 different stores over the last 32 years and have had zero issues with customers taking advantage of picking up alcohol with their grocery purchase. The store was also recently audited/tested for compliance at a higher level and received 100 percent.
The request to amend is an item of old business. A year ago the store had come forward with the request and was denied. This latest request to amend their Class A liquor license has been in the works the past few months.
“I find it ironic that Wal-mart is suing the city and is asking for this,” observed Alderwoman Joy Zasadny. “For me personally...”
“This doesn't have anything to do with pending litigation,” stated Alderman Jeff Virchow.
“Our local store here isn't responsible for what the corporate Wal-mart is doing,” noted Mayor Arnie Carlson.
“This (request) has been for over a year, it is not a legal issue with their business,” observed Alderman Kirk Anderson.
Virchow noted that his initial hesitancy to approve the request had to do with not having input from police chief Erin Murphy. Murphy had met with Wal-mart reps and was shown their system of checks and stated that he did not have any reservations about allowing the sales as part of the curbside service.
It was also noted that the curbside service is only available from 8 a.m.-8 p.m., they are allowed to sell indoors from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. so that they are well within the limits of their license/ordinance.
“Then are we going to allow every other facility (with a liquor license) in the city to do this?” asked Zasadny. “Everyone should be entitled to the same privilege. So will the Crystal Tavern and the St. Croix Tavern be allowed to do this?”
It was pointed out that bars have a Class B license, not Class A, like Wal-mart, MarketPlace or the Holiday stations.
When the matter finally came to a vote, Aldermen Virchow and Anderson voted to approve and allow for alcohol sales with the curbside service, Alderman Warren White and Zasadny voted against, creating a tie for the mayor to break.
“No offense to Wal-mart, or this drive thru type service,” said Carlson. “But I don't trust drunks, they are sneaky people. Whether it be one or two or 12 of those, buying their Jack Daniels and driving down the road, that would be my concern.”
September 12, 2019
Ordinance enforcement up for discussion
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
At the St. Croix Falls City Council meeting on Monday night, attorney Paul Mahler was present to discuss ordinance enforcement options.
Mahler noted that ordinance enforcement is part art, part science, part police power, and part political.
“There are two ways this can be approached,” noted Mahler. “Number one, is passive enforcement, in which you are complaint driven. Or number two, you are proactive, in which there would be zoning enforcement personnel that are actively looking for problems. The question is how the council wants to approach it in general.”
Mahler went on to note that there are generally three types of offenders when it comes to ordinance violations. The easiest to deal with are the people that don't understand the rules. This can be resolved through education and usually addressed by a letter/phone call.
The second type cited by Mahler was those with a “problem” whether it be physical/mental/financial. For whatever reason, these individuals can't address the problem.
“These might be dealt with a little differently aside from giving them a citation/police action,” said Mahler. “You may want to get them into contact with a church or charitable group that can help them fix the problem.”
Mahler went on to note that there is a third and final type, which is the toughest to deal with.
“Scoff laws know not to do it and don't care,” Mahler observed. “It is possible that it goes to court costing everyone time and money.”
Mahler noted that there should be a process and person in place that handles ordinance violation complaints and recommended that it be someone on the staff since the person should be non-political. He noted that it was also not ideal to have it handled by the police chief.
However the city decides to handle it, Mahler noted that they should have an established system like letters being sent out. A first one should alert the property owner to the problem and educate them.
If no remedial action is taken then another letter is sent out with a certain number of days given for the problem to be addressed. If not addressed within the specified time period then a third letter, from the city's attorney would be sent.
“From there a suit could be filed or daily citations given,” said Mahler. “Eventually the city could go in perform an abatement and clean up the property. They could then charge that expense on the tax rolls.”
Mahler noted that whatever the city decided to do, they need to be willing to see things out until the end, knowing that litigation may be a potential outcome in some cases.
“I would reach out to your municipal prosecutor so they know what's coming and get their feedback,” observed Mahler.
Alderwoman Joy Zasadny noted that the city was currently going through the recodification process.
“We are going through the process right now of recodification,” noted Zasadny. “But there is not hardcore enforcement of the ones we have on the books. Either we should enforce them or take them off the books.”
“I think education would be a good first step,” stated Mayor Arnie Carlson. “Having a knowledge of what they (ordinances) are in the first place.”
It was noted that the city and its residents will be able to utilize an app that allows them to search through the city's ordinances easily by using their smartphone or computer.
There was some discussion on whether or not the city should remain a complaint driven enforcer.
Alderman Kirk Anderson stated that he was not sure that having a person proactively seeking out violations was the correct way to go.
“We are not Minneapolis, but we are not a township in Burnett County either,” countered Zasadny. “We live in a city where we decide what the standard is. Unlike Kirk, I am not afraid of not getting reelected if we enforce an ordinance.”
Zasadny went on to ask Attorney Mahler if there were commissioned based enforcement officers, to which Mahler stated he didn't know if that would be such a good idea.
Alderman Jeff Virchow noted that he was not in favor of proactive enforcement, “We have a passive policy that is complaint driven, but once that complaint is made, we have an obligation to address that violation.”
October 10, 2019
Auditorium agreement still getting hammered out
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
The Civic Auditorium has proved to be a bone of contention for many of those who reside inside the City of St. Croix Falls. Some see it as a dilapidated drain on the resources of the City of St. Croix Falls while others see it as it could be, a draw for the downtown that has been caught languishing in recent years.
However, over all those years there has been a steady force of people that want to see the Civic Auditorium developed and used to its full potential.
Some of those were previous council members who decided to dedicate TIF (tax increment financing) funds from their Tax Increment District.
Plans were drawn up and the project languished. For years. As time passed, the building did what everyone does, it aged further and suffered damage to its roof, among other things.
Then with the previous council there was a great push by at least two members to end the project, and return the monies to the taxing entities. They had gotten their way voting 2 to 1 (one seat was vacant) just prior to the installation of a new council who had a very different agenda. That decision was overturned. The project whose team of dedicated volunteers, some of which had spent years with the cause, breathed new life.
At the city council meeting on Monday night, there was a closed session held to discuss the potential sale of the Civic Auditorium to the Friends of the Civic Auditorium and the negotiation of a master use agreement.
The closed session lasted until after 10 p.m. and no formal agreement was reached.
The Master Use Agreement is 37 pages long. The Friends group had some concerns and would like a little more time to go through it.
“We will probably hold a special (closed session) meeting sometime before the next city council meeting in the next week or two to go through it,” noted City Administrator Bob Kazmierski. “It's a pretty fluid timeline. We might be more productive then. We want something that both protects the City and enables the Friends (of the Civic Auditorium).”
October 17, 2019
School board sets mill rate
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
On Monday night the St. Croix Falls School Board held their annual budget hearing and meeting.
The budget hearing portion of the meeting included a presentation from Superintendent Mark Burandt and helped to explain where the dollars came from and how aid to the district is determined.
Four things enter into the equation when considering the budget of a school district: the student count, equalized value, state aid and the revenue cap.
A majority of the revenue comes from state and local sources, another significantly smaller portion comes from other sources like grants, etc. And an even smaller portion of the monies comes from federal sources.
The all fund tax levy for 2019-2020 was approved at $7,119,667 at a levy rate of 0.00928082 or a mill rate $9.28 per thousand of valuation. This is a slight increase the 2018-2019 when the mill rate was set at $9.22 per thousand.
The budget for 2019-2020 also kept the annual salaries for board members the same with the president earning $3,500 and members earning $3,000.
Daily lunch and breakfast rates were set. Grades K-4 will pay $2.70 for lunch, $1.55 for breakfast. The reduced rates respectively are 40 cents and 30 cents. Grades 5-12: $2.85 for lunch and $1.80 for breakfast. Reduced cost for lunch and breakfast are 40 cents and 30 cents. Milk costs 45 cents. Adult lunches are charged at a rate of $3.85 and adult breakfasts $2.20. The only increase over last year is five cents in the regular daily lunch rate for grades K-12.
October 24, 2019
No decisions made on agreement for Auditorium
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
There wasn't much on the agenda for Monday night's meeting of the St. Croix Falls City Council, however, there was another closed session held to discuss the Master Use Agreement between the City and the Friends of the Civic Auditorium.
Representatives of the Friends of the Civic Auditorium were available during the closed session to consult with council members. The Friends recently came forward with a counter offer. That amongst other items were likely discussed during closed session.
However, after closed session the meeting reconvened in open session only to adjourn.
Members on both sides of the agreement will continue to hash out the details until they can come reasonable terms that are acceptable both to the City of St. Croix Falls and the Friends of the Civic Auditorium.
Prior to going into closed session Mayor Arnie Carlson consulted with their legal counsel Anders Helquist.
“I was hoping that we could do this in open session,” stated Carlson. “We want to make as much of this as open and available to the public as possible.”
Helquist stated that he understood the desire to do so, but since there were still items being negotiated, it was probably not time for it yet.
“Sausage making can be a little messy sometimes,” observed Helquist.
In other business, the council approved a request for a temporary banner for La Jewelry LaDy, who will be moving to 135 South Washington.
The council also renewed the maintenance contract with Bowmar Appraisals, Inc. for assessment services for the 2020-2021 school year.
Alderwoman Joy Zasadny voiced her concerns when the council was in the process of approving claims.
At issue was an outlay by the fire department for brass shut off (hose fittings), in particular a payment for $2,694.
“The way I understand it, department heads are supposed to get prior approval for purchases over $1,000,” noted Zasadny. “That's why it's nice to have a public works meeting. Unfortunately, the public protection committee doesn't meet.”
October 31, 2019
A bad joke for bad times
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
On Monday, the St. Croix Falls City Council called a special meeting with multiple items having to do with the Civic Auditorium as well as a closed session regarding the departure of City Administrator Bob Kazmierski.
As the meeting got underway, a mere 10 minutes was allotted for public comments for the 30 plus members of the community that had gathered in attendance.
One member of the public got up to speak. Ken Coutier sat on the Community Development Agency and is a current member of the planning commission stood before the council.
“I figured it wasn't too late or too early in the year for a party and I have some handouts,” stated Coutier as he made his way around the dais he handed each member of the council a piece of string with a loop tied at the end in what simply was a poor rendition of a hangman's noose. At first, members of the council were some what confused, and somewhat bemused.
The realization dawned on some of the members as Doug Brant, a former candidate for the council and spouse of one of the CDA members called out, “Don't hang yourself Warren,” to Alderman Warren White.
“Make of them what you will,” stated Coutier.
As the room full of spectators took it all in there was a shocked murmur washed over the room as well as a few laughs.
No council member commented at that time, because they are unable to do so, but later in the meeting Alderman Kirk Anderson made his displeasure known.
“...Tonight I was given a noose by a member of the CDA and I can say that I am not intimidated by Mr. Coutier, but in many instances a noose would be a very intimidating thing, and unfortunately that was a gift to the members of this council, and I would say that is an attempt to influence the decisions of these people...”
Anderson went on to note that Doug Brant, husband to CDA member Janelle Brant called directly out to White, and that the couple owned a home located directly behind the Civic Auditorium and would like to see nothing more than the historic structure torn down and removed, as he has stated publicly at meetings in the past.
Mayor Arnie Carlson made an attempt at reining in Anderson's comments, stating that he was getting off track.
“Sir, with all due respect, I got a noose tonight,” countered Anderson.
Carlson stated, “I think that is far enough Kirk, you are straying from the item that's under discussion.”
“That's fine, but if there's an influence from the public to intimidate or change a view, then I think it is very, very important to bring that up,” Anderson observed.
The incident has blown up on social media, “I’m so disappointed and frustrated by the behavior of one of the, now former, CDA members. At last nights city council meeting he felt it would be funny to hand each city council member a noose. Seriously? Was this a threat? Was this a scare tactic to sway council members votes? It’s behavior like this that has caused our great city administrator, Bob, to resign,” noted one poster on Facebook. Commenters agreed that the action of handing out nooses was deplorable.
While Coutier may have meant the gesture as a joke, as he stated later, there was simply nothing found funny about it by most in attendance at the meeting.
January 9, 2020
SCF gears up for referendum
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
The St. Croix Falls School District will be putting a question to voters on April 7.
Shall the School District of St. Croix Falls, Polk County, Wisconsin be authorized to issue, pursuant to Chapter 67 of Wisconsin Statutes, obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $14 million for the purpose of paying the cost of a school building and improvement program consisting of: constructing a new performing arts center and weight room/fitness center at the middle/high school; constructing an addition to and remodeling the bus garage; remodeling and capital improvement at the middle/high school; and acquiring related furnishings, fixtures and equipment?
In short, the school district will be asking taxpayers to approve borrowing up to $14 million. The impact on a $100,000 home would be $55 per year, for a $200,000 home $110 per year and for a $300,000 home $165 per year.
Right now, the district contends that over crowding and space shortages are issues right now. Opportunities for the music and performing arts programs are limited and it was noted that there are only two districts in the St. Croix Valley Music Conference are without an auditorium.
The current space for the weight room is considered to be inadequate, small and over crowded. The room, as it exists, does not accommodate one regular sized class of students, so teachers are required to split classes into two separate rooms. This limits student usage before, during and after school.
If the voters approve the referendum, the district will also be able to address ongoing issues with the bus garage.
Right now, the district is unable to fully house the buses, district vehicles, and maintenance equipment. Buses are larger than they were in the 1960s and no longer fit.
With this referendum, the school district is hoping to provide solutions and keep the district growing.
With the construction of the auditorium/performing arts center the district will be able to accommodate the continued growth of the music program as well as performing arts. The proposed facility is modeled after the auditorium at Unity. It will serve as a large group learning space, which frees up existing space to allow for additional educational programming.
In addition, it would provide additional gym time to the elementary school, which would no longer need to host concerts and theatre events in their gymtorium.
The addition of the performing arts center would co-exist with current businesses and the Civic Auditorium with the primary goal of of the space being educational.
The physical education and athletics programs would benefit by expanding their current space.
The improvements to the bus garage would provide sufficient space to house and protect the existing buses, district vehicles and maintenance equipment.
There are two public meetings planned for those who have questions or are seeking more information. One is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. and the second for Thursday, Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the St. Croix Falls High School Library.
January 30, 2020
Dresser celebrates receipt of funds
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
It has been a long, and somewhat bumpy road for the Village of Dresser, but the board has something to celebrate.
The village had a snafu while doing the Horsmann/Peterson project.
Dresser was awarded a Community Development Block Grant by the Wisconsin Department of Administration in July 2017. MSA had been providing grant administration services, which funded the street and utility project. Funding was allocated on a maximum dollar amount, combined with a percentage based allocation.
The Village of Dresser had committed to the project with the local share being $1,108,000 (69 percent) toward a project estimated at $1,608,000; the village was awarded a $500,000 grant, which represented 31 percent of the total project cost.
The total project came in lower than expected, under budget by $331,555.
The Village/MSA drew down, and the Department of Administration approved, $475,000 of the CDBG funds with the intent to apply for a grant agreement amendment to reduce the village/CDBG grant ratio from 69 percent from the village and 31 percent to the CDBG to 61 percent for the village and 39 percent to the CDBG.
The amendment letter was drafted by MSA and signed by the village in October 2019. MSA filed the letter in the folder and failed to submit it to the Department of Administration by the required deadline of Dec. 1, 2019.
On Dec. 10, 2019, during project closeout procedures, MSA realized the amendment had not been forwarded and called DOA for confirmation.
On Jan. 13, the Village of Dresser received a letter from the DOA indicating that the $79,301.83 of excess funds needed to be returned to the DOA within 45 days. The village had no choice but to comply, in the meantime there was some fear as to whether or not the village would be able to recoup their losses.
The good news came on March 2, when MSA's Senior Vice President of Public Works Rob Uphoff arrived with a check in hand in the amount of $79,301.83 as well as a letter to Village Board President Bryan Fatboy Raddatz.
In part it read: “...MSA has reviewed this matter and agree we made an error of omission by not forwarding the amendment letter to DOA in a timely manner. We concur that the omission has resulted in the loss of funding as a direct result. MSA accepts the responsibility of correcting the error and have included a check to cover the amount the village had to return as a result of not filing the amendment on time.
“We apologize for the inconvenience and uncertainty that this error has caused and assure you that we take our duties and responsibilities very seriously. We strive to perform our services at a very high level that gives your community peace of mind and confidence in what we do. Unfortunately, no one can reach a level of perfection and we are not above making a mistake. We can however stand by our work and try to rectify any harm we have caused. That is our intent here.
“Should you accept this reimbursement it is with the intent that MSA will have corrected this error completely and that there is no additional money or services expected and that the village will not pursue any additional claim against MSA in regards to this matter.
“MSA values our relationship and certainly would wish it to continue and we hope that while you recognize we cannot be perfect, we do accept responsibility for our actions...”
“We got our check today,” observed Raddatz. “They stood behind their work. They took full responsibility, and we were made whole. They are a good company who stands by their work and I would work with them again in the future.”
March 5, 2020
Civic receives an encore
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
There is good news for supporters of the Civic Auditorium project. News that has been a long time in coming.
The saga of the Civic Auditorium has gone on for well over a decade. There are volunteers with the project that have worked for years to make this communal dream a reality.
It hasn't been easy as this is one of the most divisive issues that has plagued the City of St. Croix Falls for years. There were supporters of the project that wanted nothing more than to see it done.
Then there was the machinations of those in the opposite camp who wanted to see the city totally divest itself of the building and the abject refusal to approve the project for which the TIF funds were slated. Members of the CDA (Community Development Agency) were openly hostile to the project.
The project would have appeared to be dead in the water many times over. However, thanks to many staunch supporters, and their intestinal fortitude, almost everyone may be getting what they want.
At the St. Croix Falls City Council meeting on Monday night, there was a closed session specifically for determining a sales listing price for the Civic Auditorium and two vacant lots next to it.
The closed session lasted until after midnight, but an announcement was made that gladdened many hearts.
The council voted to approve a purchase agreement for the Civic Auditorium and the adjacent lots for $75,000.
“Though there are many contingencies to this sale that must be met before the sale is complete, this major breakthrough appears to satisfy a two year stalemate between opponents of the project who pressed for private ownership/development and Civic Auditorium supporters who wish to see the historic building renovated and reopened as a cultural center,” noted president of the Falls Chamber as well as the Friends of the Civic Auditorium Bill Ties in a press release.
“This is a very good day,” noted Ties. “We have a successful, reputable property developer aboard who sees the unique potential to develop the empty lot and work closely with partners in the non-profit sector to fulfill the plan to Save the Civic and get it reopened as soon as possible.
At this time, many details are unknown, but Edina Realty Agent Shari Steele successfully brokered this deal.
Steele reported that Craig Cohen, a St. Paul-based developer with many projects in his portfolio, including the Keg & Case on West Seventh in St. Paul, Minn. is excited about coming to St. Croix Falls and reviving the historic downtown.
March 12, 2020
Schools maneuver to address closures
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
It is a scary time for everyone right now as a novel virus gets a foothold in this country. As of Tuesday the President of the United States announced that people should avoid groups of over 10 people. In addition, some states have closed down social gathering places like restaurants and bars. That is looking like an eventuality here, too.
The Governor of Wisconsin has closed all schools statewide from Wednesday, March 18 through April 5, 2020, in an effort to stem the tide of COVID-19 cases. The current expected return date is April 6, 2020.
This means that all school functions, clubs, groups, teams, etc. will not be meeting.
District childcare facilities will be closed starting 5 p.m. on March 18, and continue through April 5. Plans are to reopen Monday, April 6, but that depends on the guidance received from state health officials.
The closures have parents scrambling and students no doubt confused at what is to come.
In a message to families, St. Croix Falls Superintendent Mark Burandt stated that: “As the COVID-19 virus continues to impact virtually everyone's lives in many ways, the school district would like to provide you with some information regarding this extraordinarily fluid situation.
“Our school nurse, Phyllis Hall, is sending out updates as needed. She is also putting information on our Facebook pages as necessary.
“Please continue to be vigilant regarding hand washing. This is perhaps the one single most important thing that any one person can do.
“If your students are not feeling well and have symptoms of any one of several illnesses that can occur this time of year, please keep them home. This holds true regardless of the season.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has recommended that all non-essential large group gatherings be postponed or canceled...
“I know we all want answers, but at this time, as stated above, this is a fluid situation. We must treat it as such. No one possess the ability to read into the future, thank you for respecting that.
Preparations are being made by schools throughout the country to expand distance learning programs. There are also companies like Scholastic, that are putting their learning materials online for free.
In St. Croix Falls, if a child is in kindergarten through the fourth grade they will be bringing learning materials.
Middle schoolers, or those from fifth to eighth grade will have online learning activities and lessons on online learning platforms. It is understood that transitioning from the class room to the cloud will require computing devices for all students. If students require a learning device, parents are asked to complete a form and a computer will be loaned out to the student, and if necessary, an accompanying internet hotspot.
High schoolers from grades 9-12 will bring home a school issued device, charging cord, and computer bag in addition to their regular school materials. There will be online learning activities and lessons that can be accessed through online learning platforms. If necessary, an internet hotspot will also be provided.
Polk County, and other counties surrounding it has a high percentage of kids on free and reduced lunch. For some kids, school breakfasts and lunches are the only guaranteed meals of the day. As a result there was a lot of concern on the part of families and staff on making sure that these children are fed.
The School District of St. Croix Falls as well as Luck, Unity, Osceola, and other schools are delivering meals via their bus routes. Parents are required to sign up for this service.
The school district will try to accommodate getting all students breakfast and lunch. Parents are asked to call the school office secretary or complete the form online. If there is no answer, leave a message.
The anticipated delivery time will be between 8 a.m.-10 a.m. each weekday for the dates of March 18,19, 30, 31 and April 1, 2, 3. There must be someone at the address in order for food to be delivered.
Parents can keep abreast of all pertinent news coming from the school district by visiting their website at scf.wi.us. There is also a link there where parents can sign up to participate in this the educational version of meals on wheels. They also have extensive information regarding COVID-19. Updates are also placed on their Facebook page.
During the State mandated closures, school buildings will not be open to students or the public.
March 19, 2020
Alderman candidates for St. Croix Falls City Council
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
On Tuesday April 7, residents of the City of St. Croix Falls will be able to cast their ballots for who they want to serve them next.
The District #1 alderman seat is currently occupied by Kirk Anderson. However, Anderson is going up against incumbent Arnie Carlson for the position of mayor.
There are two write-in candidates for District #1 Joe Snyder and Ken Coutier. Their statements are as follows:
Joe Snyder has lived in St. Croix Falls for 22 years and raised his family here.
“This special place is my home,” stated Snyder. “And the keystone to this place, this community, is a thriving downtown. But take a walk, anyone can walk the sidewalks of the downtown and see and feel the decay. It is clear, gritty, and immediate. It is a huge problem, both financial and cultural. This city is losing its vital identity and failing to capitalize on many, many opportunities for prosperity growth and renewal.
“As a public servant for the community, I will work to restore and develop this critical resource. From there, at the same time, initiate ideas, strategies, and actions whenever possible to revitalize or create other opportunities to help our town and our community while maintaining fiscal responsibilities.
“We have an actual historic Main Street. Think on that for a moment: Main Street. That’s important.
“We are on the western terminus of the Ice Age Trail, an important national trail that stretches over 1,200 miles to Sturgeon Bay. It connects us to other public treasures of the National Park Service. And it connects us in a very real and physical way to all of Wisconsin.
“I am an active member of the community. I am a mentor for the Kinship Program of Polk County. I am on the board of the St. Croix Falls Historical Society, and the Friends of Interstate Park. As a member of the Indianhead Chapter of the Ice Age Trails, I maintain the trails here in our town, and volunteer support our City of Trails events.
“I have been a public servant for over 30 years, with over 20 years as a regional program manager for the National Park Service. In this capacity, I have worked with may federal, state and county agencies. I have worked with the Department of the Interior, Wildland Fire Fighters, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin DNR, and members of the public safety communities in over 10 Midwestern states including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.
“As a private sector technologist, I have worked with team members, partners, and customers from Intel, Hewlett Packard, The Smithsonian Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Woods Hole, Seagate Technology, and the University of Maryland.
“As a member of the city council I will apply my skills and decades-long experience in program management, planning, contracting, procurement, engineering, and problem solving to improve, maintain and develop the community of St. Croix Falls. My hope is to solve the immediate issues and fiscal needs of today while planning within the broader landscape of tomorrow.”
Ken Coutier is also running as a write-in candidate for District #1. Coutier is a current member of the Plan Commission on which he has served between 7-8 years, the police committee and the zoning board of appeals and also was a member of the CDA that the council disbanded.
Coutier and his wife moved to St. Croix Falls 15 years ago. He has two daughters in the Twin Cities. He worked for Honeywell, Inc. for five years on the Apollo Project and for 3M as a draftsman for two years. He served in the US Air Force and worked as a deputy sheriff with Hennepin County, Minnesota for over 27 years.
Coutier is seeking a seat on the council “to get the city back into a financially sound position with a solid tax base and reserve fund and also to enhance the essential services that the city taxpayers expect and deserve.”
Coutier cites the most pressing issues facing St. Croix Falls are its deteriorating infrastructure, future water issues, fiscal responsibility and accountability and the revival of the downtown businesses and area.
If elected Coutier lists his goals as getting the city back on track financially and work on a preventative maintenance program, keeping SCRMC in the city, if they decide to relocate, and for black bears to be given picnic baskets.
The District #2 Alderman seat once belonged to Joy Zasadny who stepped down earlier this year. There to take her place was Craig Lien. Lien walked in when Zasadny walked out. He was promptly appointed by the mayor to fill what remained of Zasadny’s term. While his time on the council has been relatively short, he has decided that he can best serve his community on the council and took out papers and will appear on the ballot.
“I have lived in St Croix Falls for 6 years, and have been associated with the area since 2001. The thing that I like the most about St Croix Falls is the small town feel and the sense of community,” says Lien. “I appreciate how our community members come together for common causes and are always willing to help one another.
“In the years that I have been associated with the City of St. Croix Falls, I have seen many changes. Some good and some not so good. The biggest issue, in my opinion, is our crumbling infrastructure. We also need to find a way to help our current businesses succeed and seek opportunities to attract new entrepreneurs and investors.
“As the father of three young children, I have a vested interest in the growth and success of our community. I want my children to grow up in an area that provides a variety of opportunities and values each other. I want them to be proud of the community where they are raised,” says Lien.
Lien is employed at Lampert Lumber and works as a Sales Assistant. His job consists of helping our salesmen in the St. Croix Falls location as well as servicing their walk in customers.
“On a daily basis I am problem solving, coordinating needs, and developing plans with a multitude of people from various backgrounds,” observed Lien.
Lien is a member of the Falls Chamber of Commerce, Youth Group leader for the Alliance Church of the Valley Student Ministry, and a St Croix Falls youth baseball coach.
“I am currently serving a three year term on the Falls Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. “This is my second time serving in this capacity,” Lien observed. “During my terms, I have worked with three different directors as well as many different board and community/business leaders.”
Craig Lien is being challenged by Jimmy Allen. This name may be familiar to many as he came in third in the mayoral primary. Not earning a place on the ballot for that contest, he has chosen to run as a write-in candidate for District #1. Following his defeat, he has earned the endorsement of current Mayor Arnie Carlson, as has Ken Coutier.
“When I first met Jimmy, I thought ‘why is this guy running against me?’ Having gotten to know him a bit better since then, I realized that he and I think alike and have similar values and interests,” observed Carlson. “Since the primary election, he has decided to run for alderman for District #2 as a write-in candidate. I am pleased to say that I support him 100 percent in that effort. He will be a terrific addition to the city council and a strong advocate of the City of St. Croix Falls.”
The affinity is mutual on Allen’s part, “I don’t know if you realize it, Arnie Carlson’s family helped build this community,” says Allen. “Arnie’s grandfather’s brick yard supplied most of the bricks that built downtown St. Croix Falls. Arnie’s dad owned the Mobil gas station, now Jor Gas. “Arnie Carlson loves this city. He believes in this city, and I believe in him also.
Allen has never held political office before. For 20 years he was the owner and CEO of a major event and artist management company working with such high-profile clients such as vice presidents, governors, kings and queens, Top 100 and Fortune 500 companies, various musicians and has served as a member on various boards and national committees throughout his life.
Allen has been retired for the last three years and has devoted all of his free time to enjoying and spending time with his seven grandchildren.
“As I have gotten older, I have learned that at the end of the day when it’s all said and done, all a person really has is family, friends and community, and want to give back in the best way I can,” says Allen. “Our city needs a united, realistic plan, and proper promotion. By bringing my experience and skills to the table, I will work for all the people of St. Croix Falls.” April 2, 2020