Northern Township

NORTHERN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS – Monday, November 14, 2022. Northern Town Hall, 445 Town Hall Road NW, Bemidji, MN.

PRESENT: Supervisors Jess Frenzel, Curt Blumhagen, Gary Barnard, Mike Kelly and Chris Lahn. Treasurer Doug Kranich, Road Supervisor Tim Vigen, and Clerk Mary Israelson. See sign-in sheet for guests.

MINUTES: A motion was offered by Blumhagen, and seconded by Barnard, to approve the minutes of the October 24, 2022, meeting as presented. The motion carried unanimously.

BOARD OF CANVASS: Northern Township Supervisor results from November 8, 2022, Election were;

Office Candidate Votes Cast

Seat C Micheal Kelly 1307

Write-In 32

Seat D Curtis Blumhagen 1306

Write-In 14

Seat E Gary Barnard 1300

Write-In 10

The Seats are four (4) year terms, with the new terms beginning the first Monday of January 2023. A motion was offered by Lahn, seconded by Frenzel, and carried unanimously, to approve the results of the township election as presented.


John Carlson, was elected to the County Commissioner District 5 Seat that was open due to the redistricting in Beltrami County. He gave the Board his phone number and asked that they contact him with any concerns going forward. Frenzel reported that he would be attending the December 13th County Board meeting to ask for a formal letter of support to be included with the new request for state bonding dollars for the extension of sewer/water services along the north end of Lake Bemidji. The County’s road improvement project would be included as well. There is a tight timeline, since these new bonding requests are due by the end of the year.


Plowing – Vigen reported that the gravel roads have not been plowed following some recent small snowfalls. It is standard procedure to wait until the gravel roads are frozen, or packed well, before they are plowed.

Tavistock/S. Movil Lake Road – The reconstruction project is complete for this year. Due to extra time taken for the unexpected subsurface work on the Tavistock Road portion of the project, it was decided that the 150 ft area that was to receive curb/gutter would wait until spring. The old mailboxes were replaced and the new posts will be put in next spring.


An after-the-fact garage variance was approved, and some Interim Use Permit follow-ups have been completed involving the Waste Management site and the new Sintec Audio construction.

The budget review will go back to the LGU’s for final approval, with an expected 20% increase in each entities contributions expected. Kelly suggested that the increase in contribution be taken from the reserves, since that will need to be divided once the JPB is dissolved. A smaller group consisting of three (3) council people (Prince, Johnson, and Thayer) and two (2) township board members (Frenzel and Kelly) will meet on November 30th at 4:00 p.m. to discuss matters related to the dissolving of the JPB.


Frenzel did reach out to Representative Bliss, who no longer represents our area due to redistricting, regarding the request for bonding for the extension of sewer/water services. Bliss indicated that he would still support the request, but Grossell now represents our area and will be asked to author the request.


Blumhagen reported that fires are down for the year, and the fire department is also down 10 firefighters. They are in need of both paid on-call and regular positions. The budget is under about $3,000, and the new fire truck should be here by the end of the year. The fire truck will be about $700,000, with the City providing a partial loan to the RFA.


Barnard reported that the semi-annual meeting was held with; Beltrami County Sheriff Ernie Beitel giving an update on the Jail situation, JoDee Treat presenting information regarding the upcoming general election, Jim Lucachick attending his final meeting as a county commissioner, and Mel Milender providing information from the Minnesota Association of Townships (MAT).


Blumhagen attended the recent quarterly meeting in place of Lahn. Everything is in order, with a budget meeting being scheduled for Wednesday, December 21st at noon.


Bills – Kranich presented the bills payable with check numbers 11332 to 11361, totaling $287,745.10. The larger items include; Election Judge expenses totaling 2,618.00, 2nd half payment to Rural Fire of $85,608.00, Freeberg & Grund – primarily for work on the Tavistock/S. Movil project of $8,323.75, Snow Country Sales for the new pickup plow of $8,919.00 and Johnson Construction that included a final payment (less contingency) for Tavistock/S. Movil Lake Road reconstruction – $165,943.73. A motion was offered by Kelly, and seconded by Lahn, to approve payment of the bills. The motion carried unanimously.

Treasurer Report – Cash by Fund balances are; Revenue – $213,473.23, Road & Bridge – $777,785.19, Rural Fire – $18,905.80, and Sewer District Waville – $14,353.01, and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Federal COVID Relief funds – $252,865.45, for a total of $1,277,382.68. A motion was offered by Blumhagen, and seconded by Kelly, and carried, to approve the report as presented.

Certificates of Deposit – Kranich reported that the maturing CD is needed to pay the bills. The county tax settlement should be received the beginning of December.


  1. Notice from MAT of the passing of long time Executive Director David Fricke, 2) email correspondence to/from Rep Bliss regarding a bonding bill for the sewer/water, 3) correspondence from Ottertail Power regarding Wild Plum and Whitetail Rd underground construction, 4) email from Mark Fuller regarding Fairgrounds Rd fieldwork, 5) email from City Manager Nate Mathews regarding the termination of the JPB, 6) several email correspondence’s regarding the ‘incorporation’ considerations.

Wild Plum/Whitetail Road – Ottertail Power is planning to place their lines underground in this area and wonder if the Township is planning any construction for this area in the near future. Clerk Israelson responded with the indication that this is something that the Township is currently working on. Lahn also reported that there is some good indication that the State of MN/DNR may agree to allow some of the parking lot property to be given for road right-of-way purposes.

Fairgrounds Road – Fuller reported that the survey work by Murray Surveying is progressing, with some questions regarding the recording of the rights-of-way. Frenzel will talk with Fuller regarding this issue.

JPB – A meeting is scheduled to discuss this topic with a committee of City Council and Township reps. The agreement requires a two (2) plus year notice to disband, which is the intent at this point, ending December 31st 2024.


The informational meetings were held with a turnout of approximately 100 people attending each session. A presentation and handout was distributed at each, and residents were asked to provide their input via email or a by filling out a form.

The following information was handed out at the meeting;

Why Incorporation?

  • We want to be in control of our own future
  • Ability to determine where and how we grow
  • Solidify our current land and tax base
  • Create stability to help with long-term investments to improve services to the community
  • We already provide many typical city services to our residents
  • We are a big Township (4500+ residents) and would be in the top 20% of cities in the state for population
  • Access to new avenues of funding as a City
    • Local Government Aid (LGA) Certification for Cities
    • Municipal State Aid (MSA) program


  • Public Meeting to determine if we should proceed
  • Town Board passes a Resolution
  • Notify neighboring municipalities and ask for support
  • Gather necessary documents: legal, finance, and planning
  • Administrative Law Judge holds a public hearing at the Town Hall
  • Judge writes opinion and findings for our case
  • If successful, an election would be held and a new Mayor and City Council are sworn in
  • Entire process would likely take 1-2 years

What Would Change?

  • Mayor council would replace current Township Board of Supervisors
  • Special election would determine council, not current board members
  • City clerk position/assistant (not a large city staff)
  • Possible public works (sewer/water) staff person – ?

What Would Stay the Same?

  • Most everything
  • Wouldn’t anticipate a tax increase. Same services but with more access to funding
  • Law enforcement through County Sheriff
  • Rural Fire Association
  • Road maintenance
  • Planning/Zoning position (already funded as JPB)

Chances of Success?

  • Many reasons to be optimistic
    • We already provide all of the necessary services
    • Have a large population for Townships
    • Have a good fiscal history and over $1million budget
  • Two most recent townships to incorporate had very similar situations
    • Credit River 2021
    • Empire 2022

The results from emails and survey input were;

Email/calls: Yes – 20, No – 1, undecided, with questions – 7

Forms handed in: Yes – 117, No – 2, undecided – 5

Next Step? – After some discussion, it was agreed that the topic will put on the Agenda for the next meeting. Frenzel will talk with Attorney Kuboushek, and ask that a Resolution be prepared in case it is decided to start the process at that meeting.


Big Bass Road – Frenzel reported that he and Kelly attended a Turtle River Township (TRT) meeting regarding the sharing of expenses for the maintenance of the shared road. There has been some disagreement regarding this matter, since Northern Township has indicated in the past that they are not willing to help maintain the blacktop that was put down on the road (we were not involved in the discussion or decision to blacktop). The road does not benefit Northern Township in that there are no Northern Township residents who live along it, due to it being State maintained School Trust property. Frenzel and Kelly are recommending that $600 be paid to TRT for the years 2022 and 2023 (each) versus the $400/yr that was previously agreed to. A motion was offered by Blumhagen, and seconded by Lahn, to approve the recommendation as presented. The motion carried unanimously. Frenzel also reported that it was mentioned that Northern Township would be asking for a letter of support from them and the surrounding townships, if it is agreed to proceed with Incorporation. It appeared as though they would cooperate with that request.

Ruttger’s – Kelly asked that the MPCA be contacted to find out the status of Ruttger’s onsite wastewater treatment system non-compliance. The Clerk was asked to make the contact.

East Movil Lake Road – Kelly reported that he and Mark Fuller, from Freeberg & Grund, Inc, will be meeting with one of the property owners who has been asked to provide a small piece of property for the purpose of straightening out the curves in order that the proper improvements can be made to it.

Legislators – Rep Grossell and Senator Green will be asked to attend one of the upcoming meetings so that there can be a discussion regarding the request for bonding dollars for the extension of utilities to the north end of Lake Bemidji. There might also be some consideration to hire a lobbyist for this effort.

Planning Commission – Al Steffen’s seat will be expiring at the end of the year, and he will be asked if he wishes to continue for another three (3) year term.

With no further business forthcoming, the meeting was adjourned at 7:58 p.m.