New K-9 officer won’t be trained to alert on weed

Public Works projects fill most of agenda
By 
Kathleen Gilluly
Thursday, January 21, 2021

The first matter of business covered in Laurel’s City Council workshop meeting Tuesday night was the acquisition and training of the new police dog for the police department and Officer Jackson Booth. The funding for the K-9 came from donations and fundraisers.

“The overwhelming community support, locally and in the area, has just dumbfounded me,” Laurel Police Department Chief Stan Langve said. “I’m truly humbled by the respect and trust the community has given us.” Chief Langve also praised Officer Booth’s dedication and hard work.

Councilman Richard Herr asked about repercussions if the dog was to hit on marijuana, in the course of its duties. Possession of marijuana is not a crime in Montana as of Jan. 1.

“It is trained to react to certain odors and with the legalization of marijuana the argument is if the canine is trained for marijuana and alerts to it, there is no probable cause and the basis of the search is illegal,” the Chief explained. “So, the animal not being trained on marijuana removes that argument.”

Next, the council heard from Public Works Director Kurt Markegard and Matt Smith of KLJ Engineering, Inc. regarding a resolution to approve a task order authorizing work for the 5th Avenue water main re-route.

“This task order is for KLJ to essentially design and go into construction on a water main relocation. We’re taking it from up 5th Avenue where it goes to the water reservoir over to 4th Avenue to 12th Street. On 12th we’re tying it in to 5th Avenue and also connecting into Valley Drive where it also goes to the reservoir.” Markegard said the move would give the city more flexibility in water distribution. Smith said he hopes they can begin work in April or May depending on approval from the Department of Environmental Quality.

Councilman Irv Wilke asked about the safety of abandoning water lines located under houses.

“We’ll take a close look at that,” Smith said. “We’re thinking of filling those lines with concrete before we just walk away.” He noted that he is aware of abandoned water lines sitting for 50 or 60 years under buildings with no problems, but that it is a concern.

The next resolution under consideration will authorize the reconstruction and rehabilitation of screw pump “B” at the wastewater treatment plant. The screw pumps lift the sewage water so it can go into the processing plant.

“We should get another ton of years out of both of them,” Mayor Tom Nelson said, referring to screw pump “B” and another that was replaced last year.

A resolution to replace a plant lift well at the water treatment plant was discussed next.

“It is essentially a wet well sump,” Markegard said. “It lifts the water up to our pond.” He said records indicated it hasn’t been replaced since 1978 and has deteriorated since then. The replacement wet well will have two pumps in case one fails, he said.

Smith said that KLJ, “is kind of excited about this one,” because they don’t get to do it very often. He said the work has to be completed in summer. “We can’t do it in spring because of high run-off.”

Councilman Herr asked about the cost of the project.

“I believe we are looking somewhere about $690,000 for everything,” Smith said. “I believe that’s what you put in the budget.”

Markegard gave a “shout-out to our operators at the water treatment plant. They’ve been doing a heck of a job trying to maintain that thing.” He said doing repairs is difficult without the parts from 1978 that are no longer available.

The final Public Works project resolution would authorize KLJ to conduct a Southside storm water study.

“We want to look at rebuilding the streets in the southside of Laurel,” Markegard said. “With that we have problems with where the water is going to go.” He said the extensive project would include curb, gutter and the storm water system.

Smith said they would begin by mapping the area with a drone. “That way we can at least establish which way the storm water wants to go,” he said. “We’re going to try to do an analysis of the culverts and determine the impacts on the French drains and the Laurel storm system.”

Councilman Richard Klose asked if work could be done on West Railroad prior to the study.

“That road is so flat we absolutely need to do the study first,” Smith said.

Discussion moved from Public Works to a budget amendment amending revenues and appropriations for the Library and permissive medical levy funds for the the fiscal year 2019-20.

“The auditors were working with me last week to close out the year 2020 and these are the last two items we need,” said Bethany Langve, city clerk. The tax revenues came in higher and the funds need to be distributed. She said she was also recommending council transfer $6,142.44 to the library fund. “I did not anticipate the liability insurance for the library fund and it should come from the general fund.”

At this point the council meeting being replayed on Facebook quit. During the Tuesday evening meeting, the live version of the meeting also had technical issues. The final item on the agenda was discussion of an ordinance creating a new Fire Prevention and Protection title in the Laurel Municipal Code.

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