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Blackduck council holds short meeting

Following a long holiday weekend, the Blackduck City Council didn't jump into a strenuous meeting June 6. In fact, it was shorter than usual.

With no one present for the public forum, the council read a thank you from the Bemidji Fire Department to the Blackduck Fire Department thanking them for their help serving 8,500 people at the Paul Bunyan Fish Fry. The department received a surprise donation for their efforts. The proceeds from the fish fry go into the Bemidji Fire Department's retirement funds.

The council awarded the freezer bid to a bidder from Wisconsin, who had a bid of $255.

Aaron Chirpich, a development specialist for Headwaters Regional Development Commission came before the council for a gap financing request.

According to Chirpich's request, in 2008, Blackduck was awarded small cities development program funds to support rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing to provide gap financing to facilitate the purchase of new or foreclosed homes by low and moderate income households. The Headwaters Housing Development Corporation agreed to offer assistance in this program on the city's behalf.

Recently, HHDC rehabilitated a foreclosed home on Liberty Drive in Blackduck and Chirpich asked the city to utilize $20,000 of SCDP funds to fill the gap between what the qualified homeowner can mortgage and the purchase price of the home, which was $115,000.

The buyer met the criteria established in the new housing assistance policies and procedures adopted by the council.

"HHDC is also contributing funds in the same manner for this transaction," Chirpich explained.

He went on to say that there was quite a bit of work done on the house before it was suitable for sale. Water lines broke and the entire basement was redone along with several things on the main floor.

"This was a really nice project," he said. "We're excited to get the house back into homeownership and I'm sure the neighbors will appreciate it, too."

Along with the SCDP dollars to go toward the house, there are a combination of funds out from the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund which were secured through grant writing.

Chirpich said that the home buyers who are part of this program, do participate in home ownership education and they are monitored as far as what they are spending money on.

"We certainly don't want to see any more people in a foreclosure situation," he said.

"Is this the second home we've done?" Councilman Kevin Beck asked. "And the idea was that we would do four total?"

"Correct," Chirpich responded.

Chirpich explained that the funding they had does run on a timeline and getting construction financing turned out to be the biggest problem with getting four homes rehabilitated in Blackduck.

"There is a demand for more money to rehabilitate homes," he said.

The council carried the motion to utilize $20,000 of SCDP funds for the house on Liberty Drive.

During the public works committee report, City Maintenance Supervisor Bob Klug, Jr. talked to the council about the storm sewer on Fourth Street.

"The storm sewer is really heaving," Klug said. "There was suggestion that maybe insulation could be put over the top of it to cure some of the problem."

He went on to explain that the current pipe is cement and when it buckles like it has been, water is running out of the pipe instead of through it and then saturating the ground around it.

"I think that the best thing to do would be to pull the pipe out of there and replace it with the newer style plastic pipe," he said.

Klug said that Curt Meyer, an engineer from Widseth, Smith and Nolting, will get prices for the cost of materials together for the July 19 council meeting.

"The only thing we'd need is money to cover the cost of materials because I think it is shallow enough that Rae and I could install the pipes ourselves," Klug said.

The final item of business the council addressed before adjourning was the hiring of Dylan Hentges for $8.25 an hour as a seasonal employee to do maintenance at the golf course.

The council's next meeting will be at 6 p.m. July 19 at city hall.