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Board approves police department’s request to apply for COPS grant

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Police and public works matters were on the agenda at the Monday, June 9 meeting of the Roberts Village Board.

Officer Aaron McWilliams requested permission to apply for the COPS grant, which the board unanimously approved. The grant would provide state funding for 75 percent of a new officer’s salary for three years, making it easier for the municipality to increase its police coverage.

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“If we want 24-hour coverage, we have to add another officer,” McWilliams said. “Right now it’s 16-hour coverage at best.”

Although the board will allow the department to apply for the grant, it remained undecided about whether another officer was necessary.

McWilliams also raised a concern pertaining to the criteria involved in the issuance of operating licenses. While all municipalities leave the decision up to the board, he said, Roberts has no criteria upon which to base the approval or denial of a license. Board President Willard Moeri requested that more information about the surrounding towns’ policies be presented at next month’s meeting to help the board arrive at a solution.

After unanimously rejecting the solo bid for the police car that is up for grabs, the board discussed the worth of the car, a 2007 Crown Victoria with 86,000 miles on it, and other options for selling it. The only potential buyer offered $1,235, but Moeri said he would like to sell it for at least $3,500 to $4,000.

The conversation moved from law enforcement to landscaping with the presentation of John Bond, director of public works. He said the recent heavy rainfall has resulted in damage to stormwater retention ponds, which will likely need to be excavated within a month.

Bond also informed the board that the Wastewater Treatment Facility is experiencing some problems with the public’s perception of its services. While it recycles electronics and appliances, people have been bringing carpet, boards and garbage.

“People show up in the middle of the day and just throw their stuff out,” Bond said. “They need to take it to the transfer station.”

Brenda Hackman, director of Hazel Mackin Community Library, gave an update on the planned reparations to the library building, which was struck by a car. While the timeframe for the project is unknown, it is likely that the wall will have to be replastered. Hackman also announced the start of the library’s summer reading program, which applies to everyone from toddlers to adults.

“There’s something going on almost every day, and it’s not just for kids,” Hackman said. “For every ten hours an adult reads, they’re entered into drawings for prizes and gift cards. We really believe in rewarding people for reading and checking out materials.”

Following the library presentation, the board approved liquor licenses for Northland Liquor, Sidetrack Saloon, BP Amoco, SSG Holiday, BarnBoard Grill & Saloon, Pilot Travel Center and L&M’s Bar & Grill. There was some debate surrounding the latter, which requested a change on its liquor license. After expanding its parking lot, L&M’s Bar & Grill would like to extend its liquor license to serve alcoholic beverages outside in the parking lot area. While the motion to approve the liquor license passed, both McWilliams and board member Marge Wolske voiced concerns, with the latter voting against the approval.

The board also approved cigarette licenses for Bob & Steve’s BP Amoco, Roberts Grocery, SSG Holiday, Northland Liquor, Sidetrack Saloon and Pilot Travel Center.

As its last order of business, the board passed Resolution 2014-3R, a compliance maintenance resolution designed to keep the board aware of how the water treatment plant is operating.

“This year, everything is in good shape,” Bond said. “I will warn you, though, that at this time next year I won’t be able to tell you the same thing. The resolution warns [the board] about plant expansion or modifications in the future.”

Saved for further discussion at next month’s meeting was the possibility of installing crossing arms and an island at Division Street’s intersection with the railroad tracks, a project that McWilliams said would cost about $150,000.

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Jenny Hudalla
A senior at Bethel University, Jenny Hudalla is pursuing degrees in journalism, Spanish and reconciliation studies. Having graduated from New Richmond High School in 2011, she served as editor-in-chief of the Tiger Rag before taking a job as editor-in-chief of Bethel's student newspaper, The Clarion. After completing her internship with the New Richmond News, Hudalla plans to move on to a career in social justice.
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