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State of the city: Mayor, city manager give update to Polson Chamber

POLSON – The state of the city was on the agenda at last week’s Polson Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Mayor Heather Knutson and City Manager Mark Shrives gave attendees at KwaTaqNuk Resort a rundown on goings-on in the city since Jan. 1.

Shrives said that the city’s $17 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade is 43 percent complete. 

He noted that there have been only two change orders totaling $32,000 on the construction project so far. He credited a good plan and the contractor, Swank Enterprises, for that.

Shrives said that a 15-percent contingency totaling about $1 million had been set aside for change orders, but if that money isn’t spent then it would be used to mitigate future sewer rate increases. 

With a new police officer scheduled to start work in January, Shrives said the police department will be at full staff until an officer who is also in the Army Reserves leaves for one-year tour of duty in Afghanistan in May. 

Police dog fundraiser 

City Police Chief Wade Nash has begun fundraising to replace the police dog, Brody, who is 8 years old. Police dogs typically serve 10 years and Brody already has some arthritis, Shrives said. Some $8,000 to $10,000 will be needed for a new dog. 

Shrives said the city was forced to spend $20,000 on fingerprinting and security upgrades due to an unfunded mandate stemming from passage of HB 133 in the state Legislature earlier this year. 

In addition, a new law means that misdemeanor theft, disorderly conduct and assault charges in the city will no longer result in an arrest. Rather the city will issue a summons, he said, adding that this likely was brought about to save money for the state Department of Corrections’ Probation and Parole. 

Seven members of the Polson Fire Department have completed 60 hours of medical training and can respond to medical calls as a “Quick Response Unit” when Polson Ambulance is unavailable, Shrives said. 

New website 

Mayor Knutson, who will be finishing her first and only four-year term later this month, said she was “super proud” of the city’s new website. She credited city planner Kyle Roberts for his work on the redesign. The website, cityofpolson.com, incorporates the city’s new logo which was approved in March. 

City commissioners recently met with the Lake County commissioners and agreed to begin meeting three times a year. 

“This is great for the entire community,” said Knutson, who manages Country Foods Inc. in Polson. 

She noted that Bob Martin and Jan Howlett were appointed to the city commission to replace Jill Southerland (Ward II) and Bob Coutts (Ward I), who moved out of the area. 

As of Jan. 1, Brody Moll, the former CEO of Mission Mountain Enterprises, will take over for Ken Siler’s Ward III seat, while Paul Briney, a teacher at Polson High School, will become mayor. 

Briney, Knutson noted, was her seventh-grade basketball coach.

“It’s been fun,” Knutson said, adding that she did not run again so she can spend more time with her husband and two sons, 3 and 11 months. 

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