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Cloquet Area Fire District woos expansion to Sawyer Township

Members of the Carlton County Board are considering a proposal by the Cloquet Area Fire District (CAFD) to take over responsibility for fire and rescue services in Sawyer Township. Those services are currently being provided by the Carlton Fire D...

Members of the Carlton County Board are considering a proposal by the Cloquet Area Fire District (CAFD) to take over responsibility for fire and rescue services in Sawyer Township. Those services are currently being provided by the Carlton Fire Department, which also provides emergency services to Twin Lakes Township and the city of Thomson.

Since Sawyer Township is unorganized, it is governed by the county and a decision on which fire service to use must be made by commissioners no later than March 1. A new contract will take effect in January 2012.

The CAFD currently has some 60 full-time and paid-on-call firefighters, with field stations in Cloquet, Scanlon and Perch Lake Township. The district currently provides fire protection to a 72-square-mile area as well as Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance service to an area encompassing 108 square miles of Carlton County.

The board has also received a contract proposal from the Carlton Fire Department to continue its fire and rescue coverage of Sawyer Township in 2012. The volunteer and paid-on-call department, which consists of 25 members, has held the contract with the county for coverage of Sawyer Township for the past 30 years.

Carlton County Emergency Management Director Mike Stafford informed commissioners that both departments have indicated they would welcome the opportunity to present their proposals to the board in person. He suggested that they be invited to the next Committee of the Whole meeting, which will take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, at the Carlton County Transportation Building, 1630 County Road 61, Carlton. The board agreed to hear from both departments at that time before making a final decision. The meeting is open to the public.

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In other business to come before the board at Monday's adjourned session, Stafford informed commissioners that the installation of a new elevator in the courthouse is expected to get under way May 17.

He added that elevator service in the courthouse will not be available for approximately nine weeks due to the construction. Planning is currently under way to provide alternatives during that time period, possibly to include the relocation of court sessions to either the main floor of the courthouse or the meeting room of the County Transportation Building. More information will be made available to the public closer to that date.

Sheriff Kelly Lake presented the annual inspection report for the Carlton County Jail, conducted by the Minnesota Department of Corrections on Dec. 22, 2010. Lake pointed out that the local jail achieved a 99.10 percent compliance rating for mandatory criteria at the conclusion of the inspection.

The report stated that the average daily population at the jail in 2010 was 41.82 and indicated the facility is showing "significant wear and tear" due to the continued high number of inmates.

Finally, the board agreed to share the cost of inspecting watercraft on Chub Lake along with a grant from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The county will pay $496 toward the total of 64 hours of inspections over four weekends throughout the coming summer. The inspections, conducted by the DNR, will take place at the public landing at Chub Lake Park in order to check incoming and outgoing watercraft for invasive species. Chub Lake was found to be populated with Eurasian Water Milfoil in September 2009.

A similar inspection was conducted in 2010, with 236 watercraft inspected at the lake. Of those, 33 were found to have attached vegetation. The inspection process consists of a six-question survey that ensures boaters are aware of the issues surrounding the spread of invasive species. It also involves the inspector walking the boater around the watercraft to show him or her where to look for invasive species.

Related Topics: CARLTON COUNTYCLOQUET
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