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Band aid to stick in Afton

Afton City Council held a heated debate over whether or not the city should, or can, pay for the Crackerjack Drumline, which appears in the city’s annual 4th of July Parade. (Bulletin file photo)

Storms were brewing at the Afton City Council meeting on April 15 when council members discussed its annual Fourth of July Parade.

An item on the City Council agenda requested that the parade’s flags be replaced at a cost of $2,105.

The flags need to be replaced every five years due to wear and tear.

Since the money in the city’s Fourth of July fund is essentially all spoken for, Council Member Bill Palmquist recommended the funds be taken out of the council’s contingency fund.

However, Council Member Peg Nolz had something else in mind.

During last Tuesday’s meeting, Nolz raised the concern that the city should not be spending its Fourth of July funds on hiring a band for the parade at a cost of $1,500.

The Crackerjack Drumline from South Dakota has performed in the parade for the past few years.

“I don’t think we should be paying for a band,” she said. “If we don’t pay for a band, we can pay for supplies.

“$1,500 would go a long ways for replacing the flags.”

In fact, Nolz stated that paying for a band, without a citywide vote, is illegal, according to the League of Minnesota Cities.

City Attorney Fritz Knaak corrected Nolz however, stating that the requirement applies to municipal bands.

In fact, there is an allowance for cities to “provide free entertainment,” Knaak said.

Even though hiring a band is allowed, Nolz said she is still not in favor of paying for a band when the money can be spent elsewhere.

Council Member Randy Nelson adamantly disagreed with Nolz.

“This is our biggest community festival,” he said. “Every year you try to poke holes, every year there’s issues with Fourth of July.”

Council Member Bill Palmquist, who serves on the Fourth of July Committee, said using the council’s contingency fund for the flags should not be a problem because they are hoping to raise the funds.

“With any luck, we will raise the lion’s share of this cost,” he said.

Ultimately, the replacement of the flags passed with a 4-1 vote, with Nolz opposing.

“The parade means a tremendous amount to the Old Village,” Mayor Dick Bend said. “What’s the Fourth of July Parade without flags?”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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