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New chief, new officer and new beginnings for the Silver Bay Police Department

Mayor Joanne Johnson administers the oath of office to Chief of Police Douglas Frericks with his wife Helen and mother Marilyn Frericks at his side.

Ken Vogel

Ceremonies for oath of office highlighted the Aug. 4 regular meeting of the Silver Bay City Council. An overflow crowd of family and friends packed the council chambers as Mayor Joanne Johnson administered the oath of office to newly appointed Chief of Police Douglas Frericks and fulltime officer Robert Hakala.

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Since the retirement of Chief of Police Mitch Dow last April, the city has been seeking a new chief to take the reins of the police department. On April 22, the council approved a temporary contract with Aaron Johnson to serve as interim chief providing administrative and patrol duties.

“We could not be happier with our selection of chief Frericks and officer Hakala,” said Mayor Johnson. The mayor also took time to acknowledge the efforts made by officers Starkovich and Lillis, who worked many extra hours over the last several months to ensure police coverage.

“The dedication and commitment these officers have shown is truly remarkable and shows a loyalty to the community,” Johnson said.

In an emotional acceptance speech, Frericks thanked the council saying, “I can’t thank the council enough for giving me the opportunity to come home and serve this city.”

Frericks, a 28-year veteran with the Mankato Police Department, graduated from William Kelley High Scholl in 1980. With an an extensive background in investigations and training, his service includes more than 10 years of investigations, 25 years of SWAT team experience, and he has mentored recruits as a field training officer.

“It is an honor and a privilege to fulfill a lifelong dream to come home and serve this community as their chief of police,” Frericks said.

He also commended interim chief Aaron Johnson and officers Starkovich and Lillis for their hard work during the interim period.

Accompanied by family and friends, Robert Hakala also became Silver Bay’s newest fulltime officer.

Hakala has a background with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, three years with the Hoyt Lakes Police Department and more than eight years with the Duluth Police Department.

Officer Hakala has also served his country as a U.S. Navy veteran from 1988-92.

“This is what I wanted,” Hakala said. “I was very comfortable with the City Council and wanted to be a part of their small-town values.”

The council also took action to retain Aaron Johnson as a part-time officer for the city. Johnson said he was proud to help the city through this period and will continue to serve as needed.

In other council news, the water emergency backup project is moving forward with geotechnical exploration of soil conditions through a contract with American Engineering and Testing. The cost of the testing is $3,875.

The council approved the appointment of Gary Stevens to the public utility commission. Stevens also serves on the city’s airport commission.

The council approved an amendment to the airport maintenance and operation agreement, allowing MnDOT state aid funding to increase to $15,132 to help cover maintenance costs for 2014. It will return to the original agreement amount of $13,750 in 2015.