Isanti City Council

Sean Wilson, Larry Merchlewitz and Josh Robinson from the Rum River BMX Association were presented with the Legacy Award by Isanti Mayor Jeff Johnson and other council members during the July 21 City Council meeting.

Photo by Rachel Kytonen

For the final two street dances in Isanti this year, patrons will have another option for their beer purchases.

During the Isanti City Council meeting July 21, the council approved a resolution granting a temporary liquor license to Thunder Brothers Brewery to sell liquor at the Aug. 8 and Sept. 12 street dances, which are held on Main Street in downtown Isanti.

Isanti Mayor Jeff Johnson said the council had previously discussed the request during a committee of the whole meeting, acknowledging the fact that Dahlheimer Beverage sponsors the street dances and provides the beer sold by the Isanti Lions Club at the street dances.

“We kind of recommended to have a discussion with Thunder Brothers, the Lions, and see if we could meet at a halfway point. We would be supporting an Isanti business if we did let them come in there,” Johnson said. “Some valid points were made that we do have two ice cream trucks. Why can’t we have two different beer companies? One’s selling craft beer, the other selling tap beer — kind of a difference.”

Council Member Paul Bergley wanted reassurance that the city did not have any written contract with Dahlheimer Beverage granting them exclusivity during the street dances, even though Dahlheimer provided the city with a $1,000 check.

“They applied to give a sponsorship to us and sent us a check that we cashed,” City Administrator Josi Wood said. “We do not have contracts with donations and sponsorships other than their application fee that we accepted.”

When asked by Bergley if that $1,000 check implies exclusivity, Wood said, “yes.”

Wood explained in 2013 a city staff member did tell Dahlheimer they would have the exclusivity on beer sales. She indicated it was something needed by Dahlheimer since they couldn’t be on a banner with a competing distributer, such as a Budweiser distributer.

“That was a verbal agreement, not a contractual written agreement however. That has just been a standing order so to say; that’s just gone on year by year,” Wood said.

Wood said if the council does allow Thunder Brothers to sell at the street dances, Dahlheimer Beverage could request back the $1,000 sponsorship they gave the city, indicating they were acting under the good faith of the city that they would have exclusivity on beer sales. Wood said it’s not just about adding Dahlhemeir to the sponsorship sign; it’s also about the beer sales.

“I do think that they believe they would be the only beer sales,” Wood said.

Wood said even though she was a part of the Isanti staff in 2013, she did not make the verbal agreement with Dahlheimer Beverage; the agreement was done by a different staff member and Wood was provided with the information.

Bergley said he felt the city should be “true to their word,” but he wasn’t getting the sense that any sort of official agreement was made with Dahlheimer about exclusivity on beer distribution at the street dances.

“Even if we did say it, it wasn’t forever,” Council Member Jimmy Gordon said. “How do we know when it would expire, even if we did say it in 2013? We’re talking about seven years ago. I wasn’t here, Jeff (Johnson) wasn’t here.”

Bergley noted he also wasn’t on the council in 2013.

“We do support our city businesses; however, we didn’t want to trample over the Lions and/or Dahlheimer, so what we kind of directed was let’s have the Lions and Thunder Brothers sit down and talk about it. But the only problem with that is if we did that then it wouldn’t be in time for them to possibly make the next street dance or not,” Johnson said.

COPS Hiring Program

Isanti Police Chief Travis Muyres explained the city of Isanti approved staffing plan outlines for hiring a police officer in 2022.

However, the Isanti Police Department applied for a Department of Justice COPS Hiring Program grant in March, and on June 2 the Isanti Police Department was notified it was one of 14 agencies in Minnesota to receive a grant in the amount of $125,000.

Following discussion, the council approved a resolution accepting the grant and granting authorization to hire a police officer.

Muyres explained because of the grant, the city will be able to hire the officer in mid-September. The $125,000 in grant funds will be awarded over a three-year period, and the local cash match required will be $208,073.

Muyres said the officer the city will hire will be a patrol officer but will specifically focus on addressing mental health needs and resources within the community.

“We don’t have the resources right now. We’ve done very well with very limited resources to respond to calls to do what we need to do on the reactive side. We don’t have the staff to do anything on the proactive side,” Muyres said. “So this position is focusing, and it’s just a regular patrol officer, so they still have to handle calls, but it’s allowing us to reach out to the mental health side to be the advocate/liaison piece for mental health.”

Muyres said having the police department help to address mental health issues within the community is important.

“Ninety percent of our calls are 10% of our population for certain reasons. One of the bigger factors is mental health,” Muyres said.

Muyres said one city resident was the subject of 70 calls for service from January 2020 until June 2020.

“That’s resources taken away from the rest of the community,” Muyres said. “Because our officers can go handle the call immediately but we don’t have the resources or the ways to find the mental health help because we don’t have the resources to do it. This is trying to bridge that gap.”

Muyres said the new officer that’s hired will look at the calls for service and identify any calls that may benefit from mental help services and help to provide the individuals with information and resources. Muyres said the goal is to hopefully decrease the number of calls pertaining to mental health by being more proactive with providing resources and services.

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