List of Oak Grove applicants for watershed board includes one city council member

Oak Grove City Council Council members at their Jan. 28 meeting will welcome a minimum of seven residents to speak from the podium, each of whom hopes to serve on a joint community watershed management board.

Actually, the elected council will welcome up to six non-elected candidates for that board with the seventh applicant coming from the council.

On a request from Councilmember Dan Denno at a meeting Nov. 26, 2012, other council members agreed to open an application process for two seats that the city is allotted for directing work of the Upper Rum River Watershed Management Organization, which exists to preserve quality of local water sources.

Including representatives from Nowthen, St. Francis, Ham Lake, Bethel and East Bethel, the board has a scheduled meeting once every other month at the Sandhill Center in Bethel. It met most recently Jan. 9, with the next session planned March 5. Each board member can receive a fee of $60 per meeting for attendance.

Denno asked Oak Grove staff Nov. 26 when terms would end for the city’s WMO representatives.

According to City Administrator Rick Juba, the appointments could be made or reconsidered by the council at any time.

Oak Grove’s incumbent WMO members, Ed Faherty and John Wagensteen, have combined to serve nine years on the board and both have reapplied for further consideration. They are being challenged for the advisory roles by Stuart Bernard, Bernadatte Lex, Brad Schroeder and Corey Van Denburgh, along with Denno.

Denno and all other applicants will receive up to two minutes each at the podium Jan. 28 to explain their interest in the board positions.

The council directed staff Jan. 14 to prepare a document for that meeting that will allow them to appoint two WMO board members and one alternate from among the list of applicants. Only two people could serve and receive a stipend per WMO meeting.

Councilmember Sean Sullivan was not part of November’s vote to open applications as he defeated incumbent Kevin Robinson on election day. Robinson served with the council through December and was succeeded by Sullivan beginning Jan. 14.

Sullivan said during his first meeting that his experience includes 10 years as a soil and water supervisor for the Anoka Conservation District and with that background, he suggested that each applicant be asked to share their own related experience in their two minutes.

“It’s not a task where someone can just jump in and start running right away,” Sullivan said. “There is a big learning curve.”

  • Mike R

    In February 2013, Oak Grove City Council member Dan Denno stated his intent to run for a position on Anoka Co. Water Commissioner Board. In declaring his intent, Denno stated that he’s “no environmentalist”, and “not an expert on air or water”. As a resident of Oak Grove, I can vouch for the accuracy of Dan Denno’s claims when it comes to his experience with air quality. My family lives with a serious air quality problem on our Oak Grove property. Our home and property STINK 6-7 months a year from continuous incineration 24 hours a day. We experience elevated carbon monoxide and particulate levels inside and outside our home. The smoke contains benzene, formaldehyde, dioxins and other toxins. The noxious odors have triggered multiple serious asthma attacks in my wife. The EPA says the smoke and odor we live with is a serious health issue, a trigger for other medical issues and is a well know cause of long term respiratory disease and premature morbidity (death). And it’s entirely PREVENTABLE at no cost to the City.

    It’s Dan Denno’s job to protect the health and safety of the people he was elected to serve. Yet he and the rest of the City Council refuse to address our issue because they fundamentally oppose government intervention of personal property rights. So even though we inhale toxic chemicals on a reoccurring basis, according to Denno, that’s our problem. It sucks to be us. If we don’t like it, we are told to sue our neighbor.

    As Water Commissioner board member, Dan Denno’s responsibilities include protecting the natural environment (water) from destruction or pollution. (That’s the dictionary definition of an environmentalist, by the way) One has to ask, if my water contained benzene, dioxin, formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals, would Dan Denno still be fundamentally opposed to dealing with the issue on principle? Can we trust someone who thinks “environmentalist” is a bad word? Should we put the quality of our water in the hands someone who refuses to protect our most basic of God-given rights? I don’t think so.