BY LINDA HERKENHOFF
Over the last few months, the council has participated in discussions over compensating members of the Rockford Volunteer Fire Department.
The department had a committee dedicated to researching how this was done in other communities and coming up with options for the council to consider. Much of the information was disseminated by Councilor Jeannette Graner, who works as a liaison with the council and department.
Department members have also attended council meetings to share what they’d learned and were considering proposing. Department members have not been paid to this point, but do receive a pension.
Originally, a nominal flat "per call" fee was introduced, but longer calls would put the city at risk of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and League of Minnesota City guidelines. The city’s attorney, Mike Couri, has also been involved in the process to make sure the payment method does not violate any laws. Representatives of the City of Greenfield and Rockford Township (both communities in the Rockford Fire Department’s service area) have attended fire board meetings where this proposal was discussed. The compensation plan will increase their service costs as well as Rockford’s.
Included in the plan is additional compensation for the Fire Chief ($2,000 annually) and the Assistant Fire Chief ($1,2000 annually). Members will be paid $8 an hour while on calls or attending training or business meetings.
The council approved, 4-1, making the compensation plan effective on Jan. 1, 2013 providing it adheres to the department’s bylaws.
Mayor Mike Beyer, who serves on the department, did not vote on this matter.
In other fire department news, Jimmy’s Pizza in Rockford is holding a "Rock-n-Wrestling" event Aug. 4 to benefit the fire relief association.
The demolition of Cowboyz Bar and Grill, on Main St. in the downtown area of Rockford, should soon be underway.
Cowboyz burned to the ground in May, leaving behind a pile of debris that is unsightly and a potential hazard. The last of the paperwork and approval needed for demolition are expected to be complete within days.
The owner of the property intends to rebuild.
The deadline, June 22, is fast approaching for area residents to voice their preferences regarding a proposed city event center by chiming in on a survey that was distributed citywide.
The proposed site is in the Riverside Park area. The proposal is for a building that can accommodate any number of events, from business meetings to weddings and anniversaries, with a fully equipped kitchen and restrooms. This project has been resurrected twice in the last five years, and is one that has had considerable council input.
In other news, Rockford High School will host a community theatre musical beginning July 6. For ticket information, visit www.4communitytheatre.com
The next regular meeting of the Rockford City Council is Tuesday, June 26 at the Rockford City Hall, 6031 Main St.