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Census official emphasizes importance of count

The Village of Somerset's Aug. 18 board meeting was punctuated with presentations by various organizations.

Census Importance

Ardel Ladd, a representative of the census count committee for 2010, addressed the board about partnering with the village to explain the importance of participating in the upcoming census.

"Every funding program on a district level uses the census to allocate funds," Ladd said. "It's important, and people are more receptive if someone they know (talks about the census) than a media blitz from the government."

Ladd said the census questionnaire for the April 2010 count will be the "short" form consisting of 10 questions and all information is confidential.

"The names and addresses for the upcoming census won't be released until 2082," Ladd said.

Youth Center

Shannon Hagman spoke to the board on behalf of a new youth center she is trying to start in New Richmond.

She explained that the facility would be a place that offers sports, fitness, recreation and health programs.

"We want to teach them (the kids) how to balance and cook the meals," Hagman said. "The programs are designed to establish independence."

In addition, Hagman plans to install mini golf, pool tables, dart boards and an arcade. DJ and karaoke nights, as well as movie nights, are also scheduled.

The location for the center is "about two blocks away from Wal-Mart" in New Richmond. She said she is working on transportation during the week depending on usage. The programs would be run through Community Education, and they would partner with The Centre for the workout facilities.

She asked the board for a monetary donation, saying that the City of New Richmond already promised to match whatever funds surrounding towns contribute.

"We've put in about $40,000 between myself and my significant other," Hagman said. "It's something I've very passionate about and I'm not going to let it go by the wayside."

Jeff Johnson, village president, said the village would look at it as a possible future project.

"We're not prepared tonight, but we'll be doing budgets this fall and can look at it after the first of the year," he said.

Towing Company

Jerry Wilkens, owner of Jerry's Towing Inc. in Somerset, spoke to the board about setting up a service contract with the Village of Somerset Police Department.

Currently, the police have a list of towing services that they call on a rotating basis as needed. Wilkens said that that is not a fair practice.

"We can't compete with the guy who has a tow truck out of his house - who could be a sex offender or drug user - who charges only $20 because he doesn't have any standards," Wilkens said.

Wilkens said that his company certifies their employees and does background checks and they are on-call 24 hours a day.

He also suggested that they only release the vehicle based on police recommendations.

"It's harder to argue with a man with a badge," Wilkens said.

Greg Sayers, board member, said he'd send the request for a service agreement to the Public Safety Committee for review.

In other news:

• The board approved Ordinance A-581: Burning Ordinance that will differentiate between a misdemeanor and public nuisance in terms of fines.

• Bob Campbell, board member, told the board about a co-ed softball tournament at Village Park on Sept. 12-13. The Somerset Youth Sports Organization is sponsoring the tournament; the board approved the group's request for a picnic beer license.

• Rob Jones, of Cedar Corp., said Public Works would draw on a letter of credit for the River Hills Commons to complete unfinished work projects.

• After a closed session, the board announced it would accept the mediated settlement between the Village and Preferred Builders.

• The board also announced it would review a revised certified survey map of the library lot for board approval next month.

• The Village of Somerset meets on the third Tuesday of each month at the Village Hall at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.