Council committee approved it 7-2 two weeks ago; it dies without a vote Monday

    It looks like the Crookston Fire Department won’t be getting a digital reader board at its main south-end station after all.

    Two weeks after the Crookston City Council’s Ways & Means Committee approved the purchase on a 7-2 vote, the resolution to approve the purchase at Monday evening’s council meeting died when no one seconded Ward 3 Council Member Clayton Briggs’ motion to consider the resolution. Briggs didn’t make his motion until Mayor Wayne Melbye called a third time for a motion, but when the mayor’s request for a second resulted in only silence, the matter died.

    The Times emailed City Administrator Shannon Stassen Monday evening to ask what had transpired over the past two weeks to turn the tide against the CFD’s requested reader board so much that it wouldn’t receive a second to a motion to approve the purchase. Stassen replied that “we had some negative feedback on the location of the reader board” and added that it could possibly be reconsidered in the future.

    The reader board, Fire Chief Tim Froeber explained on Nov. 13, was to be mounted on the north wall of the south-end station. Froeber was not in attendance at Monday’s meeting. The Times subsequently sought a comment or further explanation from him on what led to the reader board’s demise, and, responding to the Times’ email on Tuesday, Froeber said he wasn’t sure what had happened.

    The Times sent a follow-up email to Stassen on Tuesday, asking who specifically had received the negative feedback regarding the reader board, and how that feedback had been communicated to him or to council members or the council as a whole in the two weeks between the two meetings, since there was no discussion on the matter or further explanation at Monday’s meeting. Stassen replied, saying that Ward 2 Council Member Steve Erickson notified him last week, indicating that he’d received negative feedback regarding the location of the reader board. Stassen said, as a result, he moved the resolution from the council’s Nov. 26 consent agenda to the regular agenda so further discussion could take place.

    On Nov. 13, Froeber explained to the council committee that he’d initially envisioned a reader board in the $6,000 price range. But after researching the matter further with City IT Director Philip Barton, he said they concluded that a reader board at that price point would not be satisfactory. So they consulted with Daktronics and arrived at a reader board costing closer to $13,000 that Froeber and Barton said would better meet the CFD’s expectations. Froeber said he envisioned community notices, fire safety information, public safety advisories and severe weather warnings, among other content, to be featured on the reader board. He said similar reader boards were becoming commonplace at fire departments in many communities. Froeber also indicated that he had money in his budget, some courtesy of various grants, to cover the cost.

    During the Nov. 13 discussion, At Large Council Members Bob Quanrud and Bobby Baird expressed reservations about making the purchase, and both voted against it. Quanrud questioned the overall purpose of the reader board and wondered how many passers-by would actually look at it long enough to read it. Baird said he’d rather see the money go toward equipment that enhances firefighter safety.