The International Falls Bass Championship is the focus of Borderland this week. Of course there’s pre-fishing by local and visiting teams of anglers, and then there’s the rest of the events. “Come for the fishing, stay for the fun,” surely makes sense as among the numerous events offered, there’s something for most everyone.
The IFBC’s motto events like the Elks Lodge 1599 annual angler and community spaghetti feed Wednesday help to kick off the celebration, and the Good Samaritan Society — International Falls join with community leaders to offer a pancake breakfast Thursday morning.
Watch The Journal’s website at ifallsjournal.com and its Facebook page for updates as events unfold.
Calendar parking on streets around 125 Park Ave. will be suspended Sept. 7 to accommodate parking for an auction that day.
The request by auctioneer Marc Windsnes was approved, and prompted a council discussion about when and for what reasons the council would suspend calendar parking and when it would not.
Calendar parking was suspended for one day on Park Avenue, Center Lane, Riverside Boulevard and Hiway Lane.
Falls Police Chief Rich Mastin and Fire Chief Adam Mannausau said they had no issues granting the request, with Mannausau responding to the council that emergency vehicles should be able to pass through the streets if needed, even with vehicles parked on both sides.
Councilor Harley Droba said the decision was a hard one, noting the council earlier suspended calendar parking for Fourth of July, and calendar parking was, without council approval, suspended for the Packaging Corporation of America’s mill shutdown. He noted the council has not asked for suspension of calendar parking for the International Falls Bass Championship.
Droba wondered if the council should have a policy in place that specifies when the city would suspend calendar parking. He commended Windsnes for seeking council approval before the auction, noting the auction is good for commerce and conducted by a local person.
Droba continued that some residents are upset by the calendar parking, while others support it.
“We need to have (requests for suspension) come to the council to have official action because that’s what it says in the charter,” he said.
City Administrator Ken Anderson agreed, saying the ordinance calls for calendar parking, and allows the council to make exceptions on a request basis.
Also Monday, the council meeting recessed at 5:15 p.m. and reconvened at 7:30 p.m. to allow the council to consider any recommendations that could come from a Police Civil Service Commission meeting that followed the council meeting.
Administrator Anderson reported that no recommendations were made by the commission, and a closed Police Civil Service Commission hearing Wednesday was continued as originally planned.
The council accepted low bid of $380,489 and approved the first reading of an ordinance that approves the lowest reasonable bid for the 14th Avenue reconstruction project to Bowman Asphalt Products.
Councilor Walt Buller noted that the second closest bid was $67,000 more than the accepted bid, which was $80,000 less than the engineer’s estimate. He added that the project is expected to be finished by Oct. 15.
Mayor Bob Anderson said the project will also include 500 feet of Shorewood Drive and Eighth Avenue East.
A special council meeting was scheduled for 5 p.m. Aug. 26 to conduct the second reading. The ordinance goes into effect following its publication in the city’s official newspaper.
The council approved a letter of support to the Border to Border Broadband initiative in its application for a grant to assist Paul Bunyan Communications expand high speed internet fiber to Koochiching County and the Kabetogama area.
Droba, who is a member of the Koochiching Technology Initiative, said the group will also seek additional grants for areas east, west and south of International Falls.
He said expanded access to broadband internet would help in recruiting young people who hold jobs that can be done from any location to move to the area for its recreational opportunities.
The council agreed to allow the Falls Rotary Club to conduct general maintenance and cleanup of Riverview Park.
Droba said the park “adoption” by nonprofit groups came from a town hall meeting initiated by Droba, who said a number of initiatives were developed there.
Rotary was the first group to respond, offering to take on Riverview Park, he noted.
Droba said a policy is needed for when groups adopt a park.
“We have people investing their time in our parks, going about it the right way by contacting the city first, and a fantastic organization that will spend time cleaning up the park, and I greatly appreciate what they’re doing,” he said.
Buller said a plan should be in place to get the right things done by the right people, which would allow city staff to add the work to their plans and schedules.
Mayor Anderson asked about city liability when people not employed by the city are working in a city park.
City Attorney Steve Shermoen said he would check with the League of Minnesota Cities, which provides the city’s coverage, to find out if volunteers would be covered by the city’s insurance.
He said the city has coverage that protects it against claims. The park adoption is similar to the volunteers who assist on the city cleanups.
“It’s not an issue that jumps out to me that this should be a concern to us,” he said.
The council was reminded the next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 3, because of Labor Day.
International Falls and the Falls Fire/Rescue/EMS department got a boost in population in the last year.
In the past 11 months, members of the departments' families have welcomed nine babies. The group includes two girls and seven boys, two of which are twins.
"It's really nice to see younger families on our department," said Fire Chief Adam Mannausau, whose son Vinny was born Sept. 11.
As more and more members of the department announced the news of their pending arrivals, the group planned to get together once all nine babies had been born. The final two babies - sons of firefighters Drew Eldien and Chris Heibel - were due a week apart in August, but ended up being born the same day at Rainy Lake Medical Center.
Finally all together on Tuesday, the group introduced the new generation to each other, and appeared to enjoy the interaction. Some babies were perfectly content while others slept and a few had enough of the experience and left in tears.
The new babies include: