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Donation of utility vehicles accepted by city of Willmar, Minn.

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council voted Monday night to accept a donation from Willmar Area Faith at Work of two utility task vehicles, one trailer and $223 in cash for use by emergency service agencies in Willmar and Kandiyohi County. The vehicles are equipped with tracks that allow the vehicles to travel over varied terrain.

The vehicles and trailer were purchased with $38,150 donated by people who attended the memorial service sponsored by nine churches in observance of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The donated equipment will be stored at the Willmar Fire Department and Willmar Ambulance Service garage, but will be shared equally as needed by local emergency service agencies during events and emergency responses in Kandiyohi County.

Faith at Work had previously tried at the Oct. 4 council meeting to donate the cash to buy the equipment, but the donation was halted after City Attorney Rich Ronning said the donation did not comply with the municipal bid law.

He said the donation agreement from Faith at Work carried a contingency that the vehicles had to be purchased from Motor Sports of Willmar. Ronning said Motor Sports did not have the low price quote.

Ronning said it was his understanding that there was another vendor, and that Motor Sports did not provide the low quote. Under state law, the city is required to obtain two bids or quotes if the amount is over $25,000.

Ronning suggested the council reject the donation and ask Faith at Work either to buy and donate the actual equipment or to donate half the money to the city and the other half to Rice Hospital, which operates the ambulance service. In either case, the amount would be less than $25,000 and the city would not have to comply with the municipal bid law.

The council took no action at the time. Faith at Work took Ronning's recommendation and decided to donate the actual equipment. The donation was presented at the Oct. 11 meeting of the council's Public Works/Safety Committee, and the panel voted to recommend acceptance.

Council member Ron Christianson said the county rescue squad already has a task vehicle and he asked if stationing the two additional vehicles at intervals around the county would be prudent.

Council member and committee chairman Doug Reese said Faith at Work left the decision of where the vehicles would be located to the heads of the city and county emergency service agencies.

Willmar Fire Chief Marv Calvin said the agencies looked at rapid deployment and having staffing available to deploy the units in a reasonable amount of time.

"We felt that having them located in Willmar would be the best use and the recommendation of Faith at Work was to have them where they would be available to anybody,'' Calvin said.

After the council meeting, Reese told the Tribune he was glad to have the donation accepted and to get the vehicles to the agencies for their use.

In other business, the council voted to accept with regret the notice of pending retirement of longtime City Attorney Rich Ronning and asked City Administrator Charlene Stevens to put discussion of options and costs for replacing Ronning on a future Labor Relations Committee agenda.

The council also:

- Approved the annual fire protection services contract with Dovre Township. Under the contract, the Willmar Fire Department will provide fire protection services to the township in 2012 for approximately $30,488. A statewide formula is used to calculate the amount.

- Approved a request by Police Chief David Wyffels to apply for a grant through to pay for a mobile recon robot, which is a remotely operated device containing a camera that can enter an area with known hazards without exposing an officer to danger. The estimated cost is $19,000.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150