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Thief River Falls City Council, mayor ask Minnesota Gov. Walz to allow city businesses to reopen

Thief River Falls Mayor Brian Holmer says the community's business owners need incomes, not loans.

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The Thief River Falls City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday, May 5, asking Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to allow the city to reopen its businesses.

Thief River Falls Mayor Brian Holmer emailed to Walz and several members of the Minnesota House and Senate the resolution, which passed by a vote of 8-0. The resolution requested "the Governor of the State of Minnesota allow small businesses to open while providing appropriate hygiene and social distancing."

The Thief River Falls City Council is at least the second city council in northwest Minnesota to pass a resolution asking Walz to allow its businesses to re-open. The Roseau City Council on Monday, May 4, unanimously approved a similar resolution.

The next day, Roseau Mayor Jeff Pelowski sent Walz a letter that said his community, under Walz’s most recent order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was dealing with several inequities that needed to be addressed. The Roseau County Board also passed a resolution on Tuesday similar to the one that the Roseau City Council passed on Monday, Pelowski said.


Walz’s “Stay at Home” order has caused financial hardship and loss to small businesses in Thief River Falls, the Thief River Falls City Council’s resolution said.

“Every one of our businesses has been affected, one way or another,” Holmer said in a Wednesday Grand Forks Herald interview. “”I’m afraid there is a percentage that will never re-open.

“They don’t need loans; they need income,” he said. “They rely on their income to pay for their own health insurance, utilities and rent.”

Meanwhile, because Thief River Falls residents can’t purchase items from small businesses in their community, they are driving to Grand Forks, which is in a county that has had more than 200 people test positive for COVID-19, according to Holmer, who said he sees that as a safety issue because Pennington County, where Thief River Falls is located, only had one person test positive for coronavirus.

Holmer had not yet heard from Walz or his staff as of Wednesday afternoon. Holmer noted that he was notified by Walz’ staff three weeks ago that he may be receiving a call from the governor, but that had not yet happened.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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