Saturday, April 1st, 2023 Church Directory
COUNCIL MEMBERS KIM NODING AND KEN HALVERSON were sworn in to their positions before the regular meeting January 11, after both being re-elected last fall. (Photo by Katherine Cantin.)

Heated remarks exchanged at BL City meeting

The January 11 Big Lake City Council meeting became heated as Council Member Ken Halverson brought up issues he had with committee appointments and other problems among city council and staff as he saw them.

Committee Appointments

As they do annually, council reviewed committee appointments and official designations. The only proposed changes over last year were a few shifts in the committee appointments and a change in the official newspaper (which will now be the Patriot.) 

Council Member Halverson voiced concerns over the committee appointments, believing that he should be on the fire board due to his experience with the fire department, voicing accusations against the mayor for working against the best interests of the citizenry, even going so far as to say Mayor Paul Knier should not retain his position as mayor.

Mayor Knier said that, while he agrees that Halverson has useful knowledge about the fire department, he knows there is too much history between Halverson and the department. Knier reported that many people have confided in him that having Halverson on the board would be “a bad idea,” as Knier put it. 

A motion passed to accept the changes of the committee representations (without appointing Halverson to the fire board) with Halverson being the sole dissenting vote. 


Halverson ended the meeting by making a few accusations on how the city is run. He claimed a city employee had sold city property on eBay, routing the money through their own Paypal account. He said that the council allowed some land that had hazards on it to be made into a park. He claimed that new apartment buildings were not up to high enough standards. He went on to mention a few other issues as he saw them (the full recorded meeting is available from the city website, for those interested.) He said he wished to bring the hidden agendas within the city to light. 

Mayor Knier responded by saying a lot of the issues mentioned were erroneous in some way. 

Council Member Sam Hanson chimed in to mention a recorded call that he heard between Halverson and the Fire Chief, Seth Hansen, wherein Halverson referred to fire department staff as “scum sucking maggots.” Hanson also said he (Halvorson) put down Bob’s Towing, the owner of that company, and the owner’s wife using some choice language that Hanson did not wish to repeat. Hanson claimed that Halverson said he shouldn’t be the only one to go down, and that he would bring the department down.

Hanson went on to suggest that while Halverson wanted to bring hidden agendas to light, it seemed that he had his own hidden agendas which he was pursuing. A heated discussion ensued until the meeting was adjourned. 

Open Forum

George Quinn spoke during open forum regarding snow plowing issues on the intersection of Highways 25 and 10. He said the issues have been present at that intersection since its redesign over a decade ago. He said that it is the responsibility of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to clear the roads and sidewalks in that area. He believed that the city should have confronted MnDOT about the plowing issues, rather than the private citizens needing to do so. 

County Attorney Annual Update

Kathleen Heaney, the County Attorney, presented to the board her annual update, covering trends seen in the Attorney’s Office and other items of note. The County Attorney has a contract with the city to prosecute misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors on behalf of the city. 

In 2022, the County Attorney handled 733 cases for the city. Their payment, which comes out of the fines given to those convicted, totaled $10,041.75, or around $13 per case handled. This average is lower than in years past. 

Heaney was happy to note that her office had gotten through most of the backlog built up during the COVID-19 pandemic. By originally using retired judges, and more recently by using referees, the office has made significant progress in the backlog of cases. 

Heaney has opted to move up cases involving juveniles, as more of them are brought to her desk. They have also been made a priority due to their very serious nature. 

She ended by commending the police department on their collaboration, both with her office and with the other law enforcement agencies in the county. She also commended the adaptation of the mental health co-responder as an effective tool in de-escalating situations around the county. 

Freedom Rock Canopy Fundraiser

During the workshop earlier in the evening, council directed staff to look into erecting a canopy to protect the Big Lake Freedom Rock from the elements. The rock, located at Lakeside Park, is painted in honor of military history both for the country and, on a more local level, the city. Staff plans to fundraise for the canopy and its installation, so there should be no cost incurred to the city. 

Deb Wegeleben, city finance director, announced that there would be a fundraising event April 22 from 7:30-9:30 at The Buff featuring the Deuces Wild Duelling Pianos. Tickets will be available on the city’s website.

Fire Station Easement Agreement

Sherburne County requested that the city and township sell them some property near the fire station. This will be used for making improvements along Co. Rd. 43 and adding a sidewalk. The council agreed to sell the property for just over $4,000.

Administrator’s Report

City Administrator Hanna Klimmek noted that the state would be implementing a THC taskforce to regulate laws concerning THC sales in the state. The laws of the taskforce would likely take away the city’s ability to regulate and license the sale of THC, and will standardize regulation of the drug across the state. More information will be available at a later time.