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Potential Cloquet-Scanlon merger study, talks not likely until 2016

Should Cloquet and Scanlon merge? That question has been floating around the Scanlon City Council room, but the decision of whether or not to take action is seemingly at a standstill.

Should Cloquet and Scanlon merge? That question has been floating around the Scanlon City Council room, but the decision of whether or not to take action is seemingly at a standstill.

This potential merger was discussed to some degree at the June 9 Scanlon City Council meeting. According to the meeting minutes, Scanlon council members decided there needs to be a study done to weigh the pros and cons, otherwise there are too many unanswered questions. At the same time, they couldn’t agree on funding such a study.

This study would cost Scanlon and Cloquet each $5,500, provided they both approve it. Scanlon Mayor Marshall Johnson proposed funds could be used from other budget accounts to pay for this. That proposal was shot down by councillors so the city is looking to work the $5,500 into the 2016 budget.

According to the meeting minutes, Marshall wondered why Cloquet doesn’t go [approve the study] first.

“Cloquet wanted us to pass the $5,500 payment first. So if we weren’t gonna do it, they were gonna hold off and do it later too,” explained Lori Stigers, Scanlon city clerk and treasurer.

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This study should ultimately produce some solid facts and figures for both cities to consider. Scanlon council member Mike Berthiaume motioned to send postcards to residents to see if they would be for or against the merger, and fellow council member Scott Boedigheimer offered to pay for the postage. Councillors James Pratt, Alan Wallin and Marshall Johnson voted “no,” so that motion did not pass.

In the July 2 issue of the Pine Journal, Hillary Hedin of Scanlon wrote a letter to the editor on the topic of the merger. She also encouraged fellow Scanlon residents to attend the latest meeting, July 8, and present opinions to the council.

No new updates were given at the meeting.

“I’d like to have the study done so I can answer all the questions people ask me,” said James Pratt, Scanlon council member, in a phone interview with the Pine Journal. “There are a couple people who are adamantly against a merger… and everybody I talk to just wants to know, why are we still Scanlon?”

In 2013, the populations of Scanlon and Cloquet were 986 and 12,050, respectively. Scanlon currently uses law enforcement and water services from the city of Cloquet. The Cloquet Area Fire District also provides services to Cloquet, Perch Lake and Scanlon.

No updates have occurred from the merger because “it’s a five-year process,” said Wallin.

“I’m neutral; I want to do whatever is best for the city of Scanlon,” Wallin said. “I just want to see facts and figures and numbers.”

Brian Fritsinger, Cloquet city administrator, explained that Cloquet has shown a willingness to meet with Scanlon and talk about the pros and cons, but that hasn’t happened yet.

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“Right now there is really nothing new. It’s kind of in [Scanlon’s] court right now,” Fritsinger said.

MAN ON THE STREET INTERVIEWS:

Over the past few days, Pine Journal interns Lucas Tomhave and Joey Gotchnik hit the streets of Cloquet to ask random folks the following question: Should Cloquet and Scanlon Merge?

Here’s what they said:

 

“Yes, because our water bill is way too high and we need to be on city water.”

Shelley Robideaux, Scanlon

 

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“I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but I don’t see the need for it either. I would be just fine with it.”

Brian Barber, Cloquet

 

“I’m kind of a newcomer, but yeah, I think that makes sense.”

Dick Johnson, Scanlon

 

“Eventually it’s gonna have to be done. It’s just a matter of numbers.”

Kevin Boedigheimer

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