At the April 9 Finlayson City Council meeting, Fire Chief Wyatt Lucht gave the monthly fire report. He stated that in March, they only had 10 runs, all of which were medical and one involved a motor vehicle accident, for a total of 31.5 hours.
Regarding obtaining prices on the three new sets of fire gear that was brought up at last month’s meeting, Lucht said he won’t be able to get the council an exact price until they can get someone to come in and size gear for the individual firefighters, as the price may differ depending on size. He estimated the gear will cost about $12,000.
City Administrator Nicole Bjorklund reported the liquor store’s revenue was up $10,000 compared to last year. She added that they had a great St. Urho’s Day and there was barely any standing room at the bar. The band and food truck were a hit and seemed to keep people in town and active in the bar.
Phone service changed
Bjorklund also suggested that the council look at switching phone companies to save money. She noted the city spends almost $400 per month on phone service for five lines using the phone company Frontier.
Switching to a digital phone service with SCI Cable would save them about $167 per month or just over $2,000 a year.
However, in order to switch, they would have to pay for someone to cancel their contract with Frontier. Council members noted that in a year’s time, they would make up that difference. Mayor Ed Cowart stated that switching seemed like a no-brainer, but they’d have to make that initial investment and pay for that upfront cost. The council approved the switch, and Bjorklund stated there would be no interruption in services.
Internet antenna considered
Two representatives from Genesis Wireless Internet were present to ask if the city would consider allowing them to install an antenna on the city’s water tower in order to provide better and faster Internet service to the area.
It was noted that a better Internet connection would be good for property values, economic activity and schools. The company already has coverage in Sandstone, Pine City and Willow River, along with a number of other nearby cities, and specializes in getting better speeds out to people in rural areas and for people in smaller towns.
The representatives stated that what they do for cities when they use their water tower is provide a high speed Internet connection for their city hall or other buildings as an exchange of services for using the tower. The typical range for the Internet coverage set on a water tower is about five miles. There would be no expense to the city, and the company would pay for its own electric bill.
The representatives explained they would like to start installing the antenna by the first part of this summer. The council stated they would let Genesis Wireless Internet know if they are interested and will consider the proposal.
Little Free Library to be installed
Resident Josette Koets announced that a Little Free Library box, essentially a small, handbuilt lending library, is set to be installed at the Finlayson United Methodist Church. The goal of the nonprofit Little Free Library organization is to provide communities and people of all ages and backgrounds with access to books and inspire a love of reading through community.
Members build small, handmade boxes known as Little Free Libraries where the community can swap out books for free. Communities that wish to build a Little Free Library box and join the organization can find specifications and building tips for the library box on the organization’s website.
Once the box is built, it can be registered on the organization’s website and will be added to a world map and given its own charter number. More information about the Little Free Library can be found at https://littlefreelibrary.org/.
Koets explained there are about 60,000 Little Free Library boxes worldwide that come in all shapes, sizes and colors and that it is not connected to the regional libraries.
Koets stated the goal of the library is “to encourage reading” and there are no fees or dues. The rules are simple: Take a book; bring back a book. If you want to donate a book, just put one in the box or bring it to the Finlayson United Methodist Church, explained Koets.
“It’s just meant for people to take a book. If you see something interesting that looks good, take it; take a couple. If you’re done with that one or if you have other books you want to bring in there that you’ve read, put them in there,” she said.
She stated that the colorful box is just about ready to put up. They are hoping to have it installed by Earth Day, April 22, and have a grand opening if the weather cooperates. She noted that it will be installed street side so that anyone driving or walking by can see it.
The box will be standing about three feet off the ground on a metal pole. The box, yellow with a red roof, is about 16 inches by 30 inches and resembles a doll house. It has two doors — one for children and one for adults.
Koets told the council that they are in the process of collecting books now — novels, autobiographies and especially kids books. “That’s the harder thing because we are an older population at that church. Getting kid-related things is my challenge right now,” she said.
She noted that the library is a good way to encourage reading and spending time with kids and should be a wonderful asset to the community. “Hopefully this summer, parents will come by with their little kids or little kids will want to go in there and see what’s in there for them and sit on a bench and read,” said Koets.