Jesse Zajac

North Branch Police Chief Dan Meyer swears in and welcomes officer Jesse Zajac to the North Branch Police Department during the Oct. 25 City Council meeting. Zajac spent 15 years in the North Branch community as a paramedic with Lakes Region EMS. Zajac also completed an internship in 2015 at the North Branch Police Department while studying criminal justice, where he assisted in implementing the police reserve program and became a police reserve sergeant. He previously spent four years as a police officer for the city of Braham. Photo by Nikki Hallman

Discussions with the North Branch community and veterans will continue regarding the proposed veterans memorial.

During the North Branch City Council meeting Oct. 26, the council took action to withdraw the veterans memorial request so it could get more details regarding a location that the community, veterans and council would see fit.

“This is going to get done. What has transpired over the last five, six weeks has been unfortunate,” Council Member Patrick Meacham said. “Let’s take this and turn it into positive, and maybe that’s what we can accomplish, that is something really cool.”

Some pressure was brought to the council from residents after tabling the veterans memorial request at the Sept. 28 council meeting.

“This request carries a huge change to all of us in the city of North Branch,” Council Member Kelly Neider said. “I do not believe for a minute that it’s negligent for us as council members to do our due diligence regarding this decision. One month has not been enough time for me personally to continue to review.”

As many concerns and disappointment arose from the public, Neider and Meacham led further discussion in regard to the veterans memorial outside of the council meetings. Some residents like Joe Scarmel have been able to work through conversations to get more clarity on the council’s thoughts for the veterans memorial request.

“I just want to say thank you first of all. This discussion is really nice to have. We had Council Member Meacham and Council Member Neider. ... We got together and we did work through a lot of things and it was really good. I truly believe your intent is to do the best thing possible for the city. You guys do a great job,” Scarmel said at the Oct. 26 council meeting.

The council indicated it still feels there is not enough clarity to move forward with the request at this time. Scarmel relayed his thoughts on what to do moving forward.

“We need open discussion. We need you. We need smart, intelligent people to come together and give us the ideas that you may have,” Scarmel said. “Collectively together, we can maybe make it even better. And at the end of the day, think outwardly 10 years, 20 years, and make it the best possible location moving forward.”

With the idea to speak again with veterans and those in the community, City Administrator Renae Fry recommended having a meeting.

“If the council truly wants history, you’ve got resources sitting in this room where a meeting could be set up with the individuals that are present from the legion, from the beautification and veterans memorial and you can get that history,” Fry said. “We could certainly get something put together if you feel that that would be helpful for the council to make its decision.”

Mayor Jim Swenson made it clear what would come with hosting a meeting with the community and veterans again, along with finding a better outcome.

“If you want to get a group that are going to come together, you’re going to pick a site, if you’re going to do city hall, we got to have somebody here, you got to pick a night, what are we going to get out of it?” Swenson said.

The council decided to withdraw the veterans request until further discussion brings a clearer idea to the city. The council will add the veterans memorial request to the agenda for the Nov. 9 City Council meeting. Neider and Meacham will continue to gather information among city committees.

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