The annual Big Lake Joint Community meeting was held January 18, with representatives of Big Lake City, Big Lake Twp., Orrock Twp., and Sherburne County all presenting highlights from the past year, and things to look forward to in the upcoming year.
Assistant County Administrator Dan Weber gave the highlights of the past year in Sherburne County. The county is continuing to see a growth in population. Broadband coverage has improved drastically over the past several years.
Construction on Co. Rd. 43 in Big Lake was completed for stage one. The next stage is to create a roundabout at the intersection of Co. Rd. 43, 205th Ave. and Glenwood Ave. The county plans to begin construction as soon as school lets out for the summer, so as not to repeat the issues seen at the beginning of this school year, with Weber saying it will get done before school starts this time around.
“I guess I’m on the record,” Weber said.
The county acquired a new nature park. The park is on ancient Native American land and county staff is working to preserve the history of the area in the park and honor the tribes who made it their home. The park is called Two Inlets at Bdé Heḣáka - Omashkooz Zaaga’igaans Regional Park, and it is located in Palmer Township.
The Central Minnesota Regional Planning group (CMRP) is looking to become a nonprofit organization. CMRP is the organization in charge of investigating and planning to erect a new bridge in the area.
The representatives of the county also reminded the audience that MnDOT plans to do work on the bride going to Monticello in late summer, and people should plan accordingly.
Big Lake Township
Supervisor Dean Brenteson gave the presentation for Big Lake Township. The township has been trying an experiment in ultra thin bituminous overlays and are monitoring it to see how well it holds up over time. The roads featuring this are 205th Ave. and 172nd St. The board also had an aggressive crack-filling project last summer.
During the past year, Supervisor Norm Leslie resigned his position on the board, and the board appointed Laura Hayes to fill the vacancy.
Supervisor Anne Felber gave the update for Orrock Township. The biggest news was that construction had been completed on the new town hall building, which the electorate voted to construct at last year’s annual meeting.
Big Lake Schools
Supt. Tim Truebenbach gave the update for Big Lake Schools.
The schools currently teach 3,100 students across four buildings. The class of 2024 will be Big Lake High School’s 107th graduating class.
A couple of the school staff members were on hand to explain the district’s goals on focusing on literacy and incorporating technology into learning.
Community Education planned to launch a new website in February, which is accessible from the Big Lake School District website.
The district asked the voters for a bond to make updates to the school grounds, and the voters elected to do so. Many projects have already been completed, with exciting upcoming projects including redoing the Liberty Elementary parking lot and the drop-off, pick-up routine.
Big Lake City
City Administrator Hanna Klimmek reported on behalf of Big Lake City for the year. She noted city staff spent time this last year working on cannabis and liquor ordinances.
Nick Payne was voted to be Citizen of the Year for his long history of volunteerism in the city.
The city purchased the old school building which is connected to city hall this year.
The Police Department, under the direction of the new chief, John Kaczmarek, re-created the police reserves program, which is open for anyone to join. The department also implemented a workout-on-duty program to promote wellness among the officers.
The fire department also had a big year, welcoming four new volunteer firefighters and implementing a new Training Chief position.