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Council names Sgt. Ross Tiegs interim police chief

City Attorney Aaron Jordan (left) swears in Sgt. Ross Tiegs (right) as interim police chief for the city of Morris. Tiegs will serve as chief until the city council appoints a permanent chief this fall.

MORRIS, Minn. – The Morris City Council appointed Sgt. Ross Tiegs as interim police chief for the city of Morris starting Aug. 1 at their meeting Tuesday.

Tiegs’ appointment came at the recommendation of the Police Civil Service Commission. Although the process for hiring a new chief has begun, there will not be time to make a permanent appointment before current Chief Jim Beauregard retires at the end of July, City Manager Blaine Hill said.

Tiegs is the only other officer in the department in a leadership position and generally fills in when Beauregard is gone, Hill continued.

Although the council expressed support for Tiegs, they noted that the appointment is not an endorsement if Tiegs should apply for the position permanently.

“In no way is this endorsing [Tiegs] as our permanent choice as a chief of police,” said Council member Jeff Miller. “The application process is open until Aug. 9. Hopefully we receive quality applicants and hopefully one from Sgt. Tiegs.”

“I just want to say congratulations, Ross, I think you’re going to do a great job,” said Council member Brian Solvie. “I hope your application is in for the permanent job.”

Applications for police chief are due by Aug. 9. The commission will conduct interviews and present the council with a ranked list of candidates by the beginning of September, Hill said.

Council approves land purchase agreement at airport

The city council voted to purchase 10 acres of land near the Morris Municipal Airport, anticipating a future project that would add a parallel taxiway to the airport.

The city previously put the parallel taxiway on hold when a change to the federal funding formula doubled the local cost of the project. Instead, the Airport Advisory Board and the council voted to move forward with a new hangar.

However, at the time the project was put on hold there were some pieces already in motion including an environmental assessment, engineering and land acquisition.

Anticipating that the city may move forward with the parallel taxiway in the future (or be forced by the federal government to pay back money already spent), City Manager Blaine Hill recommended the council finish those preparation projects before putting the parallel taxiway on the shelf.

“It’ll be there when the time goes to do a parallel taxiway,” said Hill.

Under the agreement, the city will purchase approximately 10 acres of farmland from Calvin and Mary Sommer for $106,300. With appraisals, legal costs, engineering and surveying, the total cost is about $126,300. The local share of the project is 10 percent, about $12,630.

“Our traffic has grown at the airport; it is a key ingredient of our manufacturers, flying customers in and out,” said Council member Jeff Miller. “I think we need to look at what’s best to maintain that to help our community.”

City approves animal shelter agreement with Humane Society

The council approved an animal shelter services agreement with the Stevens County Humane Society.

Previously, when the Morris Police Department picked up a stray or abandoned animal, they were taken out to Cimaroc Kennels. However, now that the humane society has expanded their facility, they can house more animals, Police Chief Jim Beauregard said.

When a stray is picked up, the owner has five days to retrieve them with a receipt and authorization from the police department. If the owner doesn’t pick up their animal, the humane society will take over care and put the animal up for adoption, Beauregard said.

City Manager Blaine Hill said that if owners have their pets registered and tagged, the police will bring the animal back to the owners rather than out to the humane society.

Other business

● The council approved a payment of $228,171 to Dore and Associates for work on demolition of the old elementary school building. The total project is estimated to cost about $774,000.

● The council approved transferring $98,000 from the liquor store fund, $50,000 from the capital outlay fund, and $44,607 from a 2005 bond to help pay for upcoming projects.

City Manager Blaine Hill explained that money from the liquor store fund would be used to pay for the local share of a new hangar at the Morris Municipal Airport. The city should make back the money in about 10 years through rental fees.

Money from the capital outlay fund will be used to pay for engineering services on the parallel taxiway project and next summer’s Oregon Avenue storm sewer project, Hill said. Finally, the money from the 2005 bond will become part of the 2013 bond.

● The council approved an airport maintenance and operation agreement. Under the agreement, the state of Minnesota will reimburse two thirds of the cost of regular operation and maintenance, up to $22,345 per year for the next two years.

● Hill told the council that the city’s estimated allotment of Local Government Aid for 2014 is actually $17,000 less than previously predicted due to a calculation error. In 2014 the city will receive about $153,000 next year.