Altercation halts meeting

BLUE EARTH – Police were called to Blue Earth City Hall on Monday to sort out a disagreement between neighbors during the City Council meeting.

Dick LaMont requested the council consider rezoning an area around West First Street, where he lives. Currently it is zoned highway business, but there are quite a few houses on the street.

LaMont said he has lived there 43 years and the businesses could affect his re-sale value.

“It’s been a while since the zoning subcommittee has met,” said LaMont, suggesting it could conduct a review.

Gary Sunken, whose business G&S Excavating is located on West First Street, addressed the council, but wound up directing his comments to LaMont.

Within minutes, Sunken told LaMont he should move. When Sunken began cursing, Mayor Rick Scholtes banged his gavel and called for order.

LaMont and Sunken left the council chambers, still arguing. Then thumps emanated from the hallway and several members of the council and audience rushed out to defuse the altercation.

While a firefighter rendered first aid to Sunken, Scholtes came back into chambers, recessed the meeting and said they had called for assistance. Two police officers arrived on scene and the meeting resumed.

Later in the meeting, LaMont apologized for the disturbance.

Going back to old business, the council approved paying $15,000 to Oleson & Hobbie Architects of Mankato to inspect the Ag Center before the city accepts the building as a donation from Bevcomm. Scholtes dissented.

“If I’d be doing this myself, I’d want the information myself,” said Councilman Glenn Gaylord.

Scholtes said Bill Eckles, owner of Bevcomm, offered to donate $25,000 to the city along with the building. That would offset the inspection fee, noted Councilman Dan Brod.

The council had a rather lengthy discussion about whether the city or the Economic Development Authority should pay the fee and make decisions on the Ag Center.

“Ultimately, it’s all city money,” said City Attorney David Frundt. “The EDA budget is what you folks say it is. The reality is the public will spend $15,000 for this inspection.”

On another topic, the council approved posting the liquor store manager position internally.

Manager Don Adams is planning to retire and he suggested promoting employee Craig Wells, who has worked there for 30 years.

Councilman John Gartzke said the council has set a precedent by posting other positions, so the council agreed to post it.

In other action, the council approved:

o The sale of property at 515 E. 10th Street to Habitat for Humanity for $1.

“They do have a house they are planning to move into there,” Frundt said.

o A request by Kerry Ingredients and Flavours to continue to occupy the building for which they have an option to buy. Before the company exercises the option, it has asked the council to resolve an easement issue over a shared truck entryway with a neighbor.

o A sealcoat bid of $35,186 by Pearson Bros. of Hanover.