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Contention over sewer seat appointment

December 21, 2010

BREMEN — Battles continue around the Lake of the Woods area, this time extending to the lake’s sewer board.
The Lake of the Woods sewer board consists of seven members – four elected and three appointed members. One of those appointments comes from the Marshall County Council and the question of who should be given that appointment became a point of contention during the meeting of the Council on Monday.
Residents Joe Skelton and Kevin Hines each sought the seat on the board and made their desire known to the Council. Skelton had previously spent eight years as the board’s President but had been defeated in the recent election. Hines had sought election to the board several years ago but he lost his election bid at that time.
Council President Matt Hassel held up a stack of papers stating that the Council had received a large volume of correspondence and input from Lake of the Woods residents on the matter with varying support on who should receive the appointment.
Don Morrison — the Council member who represents the Lake of the Woods District — said he too had received a great deal of correspondence on the matter, but added that it was a no win situation for the Council no matter who they appointed. Morrison pointed to many other and deeper issues fueling the dispute in the area over the spot on the board.
“There’s a range war going on out there,” he stated. “The lines have been drawn and everybody is taking a side.”
The area has also been divided among residents in an ongoing dispute over ownership of lake easements in subdivisions around the lake and who has control of them. Councilman Ralph Booker — who as County Plan Director has been deeply involved in determining that ownership — pointed to that dispute, saying that it has now spilled over into this one.
“This goes far beyond who is on the sewer board,” he said. “You have people in the community who have very specific ideas about how people should live and how they should take care of their property.”
Several Council members agreed with Councilman Ward Byers stating that while he didn’t know either of the men desiring the appointment, the fact remained that an election had been held with Skelton failing to gain the votes necessary to retain his seat and that the Council should respect the voice of the voters in the area.
Morrison said that based on Skelton’s  experience on the board that he supported him to take the vacant seat.
Hines was appointed to the spot by the Council in the end with Morrison as the lone no vote.

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