School, fair have felt shutdown’s effects; city calls emergency meeting

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
Elk River council members met in an unusual emergency session this week to deal with fallout from the state government shutdown.
The problem was electrical inspections on construction projects. None had been done in Elk River since the shutdown.
“The state shutdown is really halting nearly every (construction) project in Elk River, residential and commercial,” said Bob Ruprecht, building official for the city.
The city council met Wednesday, July 13, and adopted an ordinance allowing the city to issue electrical permits and do electrical inspections. The city doesn’t have anyone on staff that can do electrical inspections, so is contracting with Kelly Johnson. Johnson was the inspector contracted with the state for electrical inspections in the area, Ruprecht said.
One project facing problems due to lack of a state electrical inspector was Spectrum school in the Elk River Business Park.
Vanessta Spark, Spectrum’s director, said if the city had not acted “we would have come to a standstill for construction next week.”
Spectrum is relocating to a facility in the Elk River Business Park. The building was unfinished, and Spectrum is finishing all of the first floor, half of the second, and adding a gymnasium.
Rides at the Sherburne County Fair in Elk River also needed electrical inspections before beginning operation on opening day of the fair, which was today (Thursday, July 16).
Carole Iten, fair board secretary, said the inspector arrived today and the carnival was up and running this afternoon.
Meanwhile, the new ordinance also calls for the city to do commercial plumbing plan reviews. However, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry is challenging cities’ authority to do those plumbing plan reviews.
“That’s still in limbo,” Interim City Administrator Bob Thistle told the council Wednesday night.
Ruprecht said two projects in Elk River are currently waiting for state plumbing plan reviews. They are Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft and a Mexican restaurant.

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