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City Council Discusses Black Smoke Complaint

March 6, 2018
by Anna Veltri , Emmetsburg News

The Emmetsburg City Council met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Feb. 26 for a regularly scheduled meeting. Councilmen Brian Campbell, Brian Malm, Todd Bell, and Mike Hermanson were present for the meeting. Both John Bird and Travis Cooke were present to represent City Administrators.

During the section of the meeting reserved for Public Comment, Darlene Naig of Emmetsburg raised a question about her neighbor.

"I have a complaint about the neighbor that lives right east of me," Naig began. "On the 31st of January, this pick-up drove in on his property [] this older pick-up drove in, and it had black plastic hoses, is what it looked like to me. Clear full in the back of the pick-up, up to the cab. And he went around the back Quonset then there's another building, and then he stopped over there and next thing I saw was black smoke just rolling out of that barrel."

Naig stated that once she saw the smoke she immediately contacted the Emmetsburg Police Department as well as the Department of Natural Resources to report the issue.

"That smoke was coming right into my house," Naig continued. "And I know you're not supposed to be burning black smoke items. And he was doing that. And I want to know why he would be allowed to do that? Does he have privilege since he has a business or what's the deal."

Naig said that a Police Officer arrived after the fire had been put out. She stated that he looked in the barrel and probed in the ash left behind. She stated that in the police report, it was not reported that there was still smoke coming out of the barrel while the officer probed.

"This is what it stated: 'he said I tried to look into the barrels to see if I could tell what the items were, but was unable to notice anything,'" Naig said. "But he went back to his pickup and got this probe thing and the second thing of black smoke came out."

Naig stated that the officer went to her neighbor's house and spoke directly to him. The neighbor stated that he was burning cardboard, trash, and possibly some black plastic items. According to Naig she did not see her neighbor receive a citation.

"I've never seen anybody burn cardboard or trash and black smoke coming out," Naig commented. "And it was certainly black and it came into my house. I had to turn my purifiers up on high because I was sick and I had lead poisoning which made me allergic to every petroleum product."

Naig said that she has not heard from the DNR in regards to the matter. She also stated that she lives within city limits, and she is afraid for her health due to her allergy.

Because this complaint was made during the public comment section of the meeting, the City Council was unable to act upon it at Monday's meeting. City Administrator, Travis Cooke, stated that the City Council could put it on a future agenda for action by the council. He also stated that the City Building

Police Chief Ryan Veldboom offered to discuss the situation one-on-one with Naig so he could help to further investigate the incident and her dissatisfaction with how the report was handled.

In other business, there will be a public meeting on the sidewalk improvement project on March 14 at The Shores from noon until 7 p.m. The property owners impacted by the project are welcome to come and receive information regarding the update.

The City Council also considered awarding a bid for the Five Island Campground bathroom/shower facilities. Two companies placed bids: Gramowski Construction and Buhrow Construction. Gramowski bid $126,685 for the project and Buhrow bid $142,819. Even with potential spec improvements including the possibility of an on-demand water heater, Gramowski was still the less expensive offer. City Public Works Director, Frank Kliegl, recommended that the Council approve Gramowski's bid of $126,685.

The Council approved a public hearing for Fiscal Year '19's budget. This meeting is set for March 12 at 6 p.m. at City Hall. The Council will vote at that time to approve or reject the budget.



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