Braham hears update on North Star Advocacy Center

Delwayne Hahn
Contributing Writer

The Braham City Council got an update on the North Star Advocacy Center during its Feb. 7 meeting.
Director Jeremie Reinhart and Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad reported to the council on the progress of converting the former Allina health care building into a new North Star Family Advocacy Center.

Kevin Stahl, left, is congratulated by Braham  Police Chief Bob Knowles after being promoted to full-time status on the Braham Police Department. He has been with the department since 2015. Photo by Delwayne Hahn
Kevin Stahl, left, is congratulated by Braham
Police Chief Bob Knowles after being promoted to full-time status on the Braham Police Department. He has been with the department since 2015. Photo by Delwayne Hahn

The building was received by the city on Dec. 1, 2016. When the transition is complete, the facility will house forensic services to serve abused and neglected children, according to Reinhart.

“Currently these programs are available in Duluth and the metro area,” Reinhart said, noting the establishment of the center in Braham will be a step forward in providing such services at the local level.

Edblad, who is a member of the center’s board, cited this as a “true collaborative effort among a number of local law enforcement and civic organizations, including the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office, Isanti County Family Services, the County Attorney’s Office and state Rep. Brian Johnson.”

He also expressed an appreciation to Allina for its role in the gifting of the building.

Kevin Stahl promoted to full-time
The council promoted part-time police officer Kevin Stahl, who joined the department in 2015, to full-time status.

This brings the department to three full-time officers in addition to Chief of Police Bob Knowles.
In her report to the Council, City Administrator Sally Hoy stated, “We are very pleased with Kevin’s performance and see a lot of potential in him.” She also pointed out that at the 2016 employee evaluations, information was received that Stahl was a finalist for a full-time position with Cambridge.

Safe Routes to School
The council members added their support to the Braham Area School District in its application for a Minnesota Safe Routes to School Planning Assistance Grant.
According to a letter from the district, the planning assistance grant is needed “in order to identify barriers and opportunities for students to walk and bicycle to school safely.”

The grant would come from the East Central Regional Development Commission and would provide 80/20 funding of the project. The project would connect the school and the Community Center for a emergency evacuation and future after-school activities at the Community Center. It would likely involve the development of more sidewalks in Braham.

Future development
The Cambridge State Bank has offered the former ERCOA site in Braham to the city for future development. The building sits behind Frandsen Bank and Trust, and is on the corner of East Central Drive and South Beechwood Avenue.

The site includes a building that needs to be demolished, as it has been deemed unsafe. According to Hoy, “No further plans (beyond the demolishing) have been made at this time beyond removing the blighted, unsafe structure from the downtown area.”

By accepting ownership of the property, the city is eligible to apply for a low-interest loan through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for demolishing the structure. This type of low-interest loan (2 percent, with the first two years interest free) is available only to cities, counties, redevelopment and economic development authorities.

In other action, the council:
• The 2017 Braham Fire Department leaders remain the same as in 2016, with the following line officers: Jeff Jones, chief; Dean Bondeson, assistant chief; Ross Benzen, captain; and Shawn Fisher, assistant captain. Appointed business officers are: Bondeson, president; Amanda Swenson, vice president; Peter Hesselroth, secretary; and Benzen, treasurer.

• Accepted gifts of a 2012 ambulance from Allina Health Systems valued at $20,000, and $200 of fireworks from RKA Subways.

• Ratified the purchase of a 2005 F-350 diesel bucket truck, priced at $7,500, from Larson Implement of Cambridge.

• Approved a 1.07 percent increase in the operations and maintenance agreement with PeopleService water and wastewater professionals for maintenance and repair services.

• Issued a raffle permit to the Quality Deer Management Association for an event March 11 at the Braham Area Community Center.

• Received information that the “open book” period of the county’s Board of Appeals and Equalization for Braham properties will be held at the Isanti County Assessor’s office during daytime office hours, April 17-21.

• Set the council’s annual audit presentation for 30 minutes ahead of the March 7 regular 7 p.m. meeting.