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Morris City Council authorizes cooperation in shared fire services discussion

MORRIS - Representatives from the Chokio, Donnelly, Hancock and Morris Fire Departments have continued to meet and discuss the results of a study looking into feasibility of shared fire services across Stevens County.

The four department chiefs, along with City Manager Blaine Hill, Stevens County Sheriff Randy Willis, and other representatives met in early December to review the results of shared services study and determine next steps.

At that meeting, they decided the next step is to gather support from each government body to continue discussions. The Morris City Council passed a resolution to that effect at their meeting Tuesday.

"They are progressing and looking at ways to provide better service to all the area that's covered and hopefully fees that are charged for the different townships, just using services back and forth that, hopefully, in the long run will provide everyone in the county with better fire protection," said Council Member Jeff Miller, who also attended the fire chiefs' meeting.

Miller said the first goal of the group is to work together to share training and allow the different firefighters to get more comfortable working with each other.

"The big thing that I heard is that you have four chiefs that are very interested in working together, and before they went any further they wanted to be sure their city councils were in agreement," said Hill.

The resolution - which will likely be similar to the resolutions considered by the other area city councils - authorizes the Morris Fire Department to continue with the ongoing discussion. Miller was appointed by Mayor Sheldon Giese to participate in the discussions as a representative of the city council.

Other business

• The council approved a three-year agricultural land lease agreement with Gerhard Jacobson for Jacobson to lease about 132 acres of land around the airport for $30 an acre.

• The council renewed a professional engineering services contract with Widseth, Smith, Nolting and Associates for 2012 - the same firm the city has worked with this year. Jeff Kuhn will continue to serve as city engineer under the renewed contract.

• The council approved a new fees and charges schedule for 2012. Hill said the new schedule included some changes recommended by the Park Board and the new specialized vehicle permit fee ($25 for three years with a required inspection).

• The council approved liquor licenses for the American Legion, Bello Cucina and Pizza Hut.