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Historic delay of Falls council meeting

International Falls City Council, in a bit of a historic moment, lacked a forum at its regular meeting at 4:30 p.m. Monday, gathering instead at 6:30 p.m. when a councilor ended his work shift.

Mayor Bob Anderson, who at 4:30 attended with Councilor Harley Droba, said he was unaware of the meeting time being postponed ever before because of the lack of a quorum. The five-member council needs at least three members, or a quorum of members, to legally meet.

The meeting was held at 6:30 p.m. when Councilor Brian Briggs could join Anderson and Droba, and concluded at 7:22 p.m., noted city Administrator Ken Anderson.

Meanwhile, the council approved a mayor proclamation observing July 9-15 as Pride Week, as voiced by Douglas Judson, co-chairman of Borderland Pride, the first LGBTQ2A Pride organization serving the communities of the Rainy River District and Koochiching County.

Judson told The Journal and council ‘LGBTQ2’ is an acronym used to identify the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and two-spirit community. He said an "A" is sometimes added to the end to include the community's "straight" allies.

He said Borderland Pride is a new organization and launched initiatives a year ago as a cross-border effort: to be responsive to the small size of our LGBTQ2 community, and the sense of isolation those small numbers can create for LGBTQ2 people and youth, in particular; and to reflect our common understanding of human dignity for all people, regardless of not only sexual orientation and gender identity, but also nationality, ethnicity, ability, and belief.

In its first attempt at offering a Pride Week, he said the group is planning a small roster of activities, which will be family-oriented and open to all people modeled after events in communities of similar size, like Dryden and Kenora, Ontario.

He said "Pride Packs," containing a Pride flag and an invitation to take part in the events, will be distributed to downtown businesses in Fort Frances and International Falls later this month, as well as to the surrounding municipalities and First Nation communities.

Other business

In other business, Administrator Anderson reported the council:

  • Approved co-sponsoring the annual Koochiching Labor Assembly Labor Day Picnic Sept. 3 at Smokey Bear Park and closure of Third Street for the picnic.

  • Approved co-sponsoring the Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Committee's use of the Pat Roche Landing and dock at the Jack Murray float plane base for dragon boat races and tug-of-war events from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 30. The council agreed to provide picnic tables, portable restrooms, garbage cans and barricades. More information will be offered as details are completed.

  • Approved a license application by JC's House of Fine Foods and Spirits, which will be operating at the Lenard's site within the AmericInn, Highway 71, effective June 1.

  • Approved a services agreement with Xpress Bill Bay Gateway to process electronic payments. Administrator Anderson said the change in systems will provide the city a cost savings and noted the program is compatible with other programs used by staff.

  • Approved a roadway easement to Chase Jones for use of a city gravel road at the end of County Road 24, also known as the Van Lynn Road, to access his property. City Attorney Steve Shermoen suggested provisions that include indemnifying the city and Jones' being responsible for road maintenance.

  • Concurred with the mayor's appointment of JoAnn Dornhecker to the vacant term on the area convention and visitor bureau board. The term expires March 31, 2020.

  • Approved the mayor's appointment of nine city staff members to the city Safety Committee. A 10th member may be an employee of the North Koochiching Area Sanitary District.

  • Scheduled a public hearing for 4:15 p.m. June 18, prior to the regular council meeting when the first reading is expected, to take input on proposed changes to the city's charter, as recommended by the city Charter Commission. Administrator Anderson concurred the changes appeared to be "bookkeeping" measures and didn't represent drastic changes. A second reading of the ordinance amending the charter is scheduled for the July council meeting. Two readings and publication are required before the changes take effect.

  • Approved changing the East Ward polling place to the Evangelical Covenant Church gym, 1631 First Ave. E., as the former site, KOOTASCA Community Action, is no longer available.

  • Heard that lifeguards will begin June 4 at City Beach and that a camp host is already there.

This article originally appeared in the International Falls Journal.

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