1/28/2014 12:29:00 PM Hayfield City Council
By Tara Lindquist
The firing of chief deputy Mike Leonhardt and the state of the sheriff's department in general was the topic of the Hayfield City Council meeting on Monday, January 20.
Mayor Greg Demamer asked sheriff deputy Matt Wolenhaus why it takes so long for calls to be answered during the daytime hours in Hayfield. Wolenhaus said that is something that will need to be addressed with Sheriff Jim Jensen. He also added that the city contracts for evening hours so during the contract times someone is in town and taking calls in a timely manner. Demmer agreed the complaints have come from daytime hours.
"I guess I was hoping he'd (Jensen) would be here tonight to answer some questions," Demmer said. "The past sheriff's have always come to meetings and explained the contract before we approved it for the year, he hasn't been here to do so."
Councilman Anthony Reese read a prepared written statement on the matter. "I Anthony Reese would like to make a statement regarding the Dodge County Sheriff's Department. Over the last several weeks I have had growing concerns about incidents concerning the Dodge County Sheriff. The department has been having a lot of negative feedback coming from concerned citizens and media. As a city council member I feel that it is my duty to put on the records that I am concerned about the department's negative feedback and it may be a direct reflection of how things are being run. Therefore, letting my fellow citizens know that we are doing everything possible to ensure that the services being provided by Dodge County Sheriff's Department is satisfactory. If the negative media and conduct persist I would ask that the council hold a special meeting to discuss the terms of the Dodge County Sheriff's contract with the city. I would like to hear if any other council members or citizens have concerns." Reese also added that he knows the deputies can't answer questions regarding Leonhardt's termination and other issues that the city has had with Jensen himself. Reese was frustrated over an incident that occurred earlier in the month between Sheriff Jensen and Fire Chief Paul O'Brien.
According to O'Brien during the meeting, the Hayfield Fire Department was paged out again to a fire that was just south of Dodge Center. Jensen was on the scene and, according to O'Brien was trying to tell him how to run the fire scene and making decisions that O'Brien did not agree with. City Attorney Rod Peterson pointed out that when there is a fire, it is the Fire Chief's job to run the fire scene and not the sheriff's department. O'Brien said there was a verbal altercation between himself and Jensen regarding how Jensen was trying to run the fire scene. "When we're at a fire scene the people there and their safety is my responsibility," O'Brien said. "The firefighters are trained and know how to do their job, there is no reason for the sheriff to try to take control of a fire scene."
The council took no actions on any of the discussion.
Other items on the agenda included:
pay requests approval for the wastewater treatment plant
approval of the 2014 insurance contract
designating official depository and supplemental depositories to Citizens State Bank and Northland Securities
the Star Herald as the official newspaper
approval of the 2013 Audit
approval of Resolution-24-14A-$1,035,000 wastewater treatment facility refunding bonds.