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Community Clean-up declared a success

It’s not often an elected official gets excited about garbage, but Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren said Tuesday he was simply “thrilled at the number of people and the amount of garbage” that came through the city’s community wide cleanup on June 6.

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Organized by the city of Cloquet and various partners — including the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, the Disabled American Veterans, Cloquet Sanitary Service and several other recycling vendors — and hosted by Shamrock Environmental Landfill, the goal was to help residents clean up their yards and homes at little or no cost.

People could get rid of everything from unwanted clothes and household items (which the DAV collected) to yard waste, construction debris and electronics for free, as well as tires, old furniture or mattresses and appliances for a minimal fee.

“When I got there, the line of cars was about a mile long,” Ahlgren told Cloquet City Councilors at the conclusion of a brief formal meeting Tuesday night. “By the time I left, the line was back to the bridge.”

Cloquet Community Development Director Holly Butcher said she has receipts for approximately 350 paying customers and estimated that between 500 and 800 total vehicles came through the line between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., when they finally shut down.

The wait time was the main issue with the first-time event, but that was a function of the overwhelming turnout on a rainy Saturday morning.

“The Shamrock people assured me it will be bigger and better next year,” Ahlgren said.

Although the event was for Cloquet residents only, Ahlgren said a number of non-Cloquet residents also came and were charged $5 extra to leave their items.

City Administrator Brian Fritsinger said staff are still working with all the partners from the event to review what went well and what could be improved and to add up the total cost to the city, which is paying some of the vendors for their services.

“I’ve gotten some really positive feedback,” Fritsinger said. “Obviously, people aren’t thrilled to sit on Highway 45 for an hour or two.”

Ahlgren gave a shoutout to the staff from the city and Shamrock as well as the WLSSD staff.

In other matters Tuesday, the Councilors and Mayor took the following actions:

  •  Reappointed Mayor Bruce Ahlgren to serve on the WLSSD Board for another three years;
  •  Reappointed Richard Raun to serve on the Cloquet Housing and Redevelopment Authority Board for an additional five-year term;
  •  Approved the city’s purchasing policy as required by state statute;
  •  Heard from Avenue C homeowner Pete Radosevich that he would like the city to look into making a train whistle quiet zone.

“I’d be willing to serve on a committee, or chair a committee,” Radosevich told the Council and Mayor during the work session prior to the formal 7 p.m. “Anything so I can get a decent night’s rest.”

The Cloquet Planning Commission will take up the issue of train whistles at its 7 p.m. meeting on June 24 at Cloquet City Hall.