Central Minnesota

Cities discuss passing ‘welcoming’ resolutions

Residents packed meetings in the central Minnesota cities of Willmar and St. Joseph last week to debate whether city officials should pass “welcoming” resolutions to affirm that their communities are inclusive to all.

In Willmar, city leaders passed such a measure by a 5-2 vote, hoping to show immigrants and first-generation Americans, as well as Willmar natives who moved away from town, that the city is thriving and inclusive, city leaders said.

Council Members Kathy Schwantes, Julie Asmus, Fernando Alvarado, Audrey Nelsen and Shawn Mueske voted in favor of the resolution while Rick Fagerlie and Ron Christianson opposed it.

“Even though this is a piece of paper ... what it does is it sets the tone to the city’s leadership,” Asmus said. “And I like to believe that we are a welcoming community. And that is the message that we do need to send.”

In St. Joseph, which has an increasingly diverse population and where white nationalist posters were recently plastered around the city illegally, council members declined to take action on a proposed resolution submitted by Cultural Bridges.

The group, made up of local residents who organized more than a year ago to build connections between the town’s Somali refugees and longtime residents, submitted a proposal affirming that the city is “committed to policies and efforts aimed at promoting the full inclusion, welcome, safety and prosperity of all residents regardless of background.”

While council members didn’t vote on the measure last week, they did pass a motion recognizing residents’ efforts.

Similar resolutions, which don’t change policy but are considered symbolic, have been passed or are being considered by cities across the state, from the metro area northwest to Moorhead.

Last fall, St. Cloud city leaders passed a similar resolution to counter a council member’s proposal for a moratorium on refugee resettlement.

The proposed resolution calling for the moratorium failed to pass.

Kelly Smith

North Shore

Lake Superior water level declines more than usual

Property owners tired of erosion and other problems caused by high water levels along the Lake Superior shores may be relieved to know the lake went down a little more than usual in January.

The lake’s water level always goes down in the winter, but instead of a typical 3-inch drop, the water level fell by about 4 inches this year.

The lake’s net basin supply is affected by the amount of water that is supplied to the lake via rainfall and runoff and evaporation, explained Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit.

But a lot could change in the spring.

“Our latest forecast continues to hold the lake well above its long term average and very near the record highs,” Kompoltowicz said.

“With very wet conditions the rest of this winter and into the spring, record high levels aren’t out of the question. ... It just depends on the weather and what type of conditions we see.”

Pam Louwagie