Splash pad debate sparks physical fight in Thief River Falls council meeting

When the subject is splash pads, some politicians in Thief River Falls come out swinging. AP file

In northwestern Minnesota, an investigation is underway in Thief River Falls to determine if a City Council member really did swing a chair at another member during an apparently heated discussion about a splash pad project.

No media was apparently present in the room when the apparent third-rail of politics in Thief River Falls allegedly escalated.

Officials aren’t talking, citing an “active investigation,” according to the Grand Forks Herald.

Josh Hagen, a council member who favors using funds for a swimming pool to build a splash pad instead, tells the Herald that his colleague, Curt Howe, threatened to take him outside.

The argument cooled down, but later in the meeting, Hagen made a comment to Melissa Sletten, manager of Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. He didn’t give specifics on the comment, but Brown, the chair of the committee, said he was “sick of (Hagen’s) mouth,” Hagen said.

When Hagen said, “I don’t care,” Brown threatened to take Hagen outside “to teach him a lesson,” Hagen said. Brown then got up from his chair and walked to Hagen, according to Hagen, who stood up as a reaction. Brown pushed Hagen, and Hagen returned the push, causing Brown to fall to the ground, Hagen said.

“The important thing is I did not move after that,” Hagen said. “I stayed right at my chair. Jerry Brown fell back away from me. I did not go after him.

“When Jerry Brown gets up, he picks up a chair … and he goes to throw it at me,” Hagen said.

Hagen said he put his hands up to get the chair away from Brown. He eventually hit Brown, again forcing him to the ground.

Lost in all of this is the question of what the heck could be so contentious when talking about swimming pools and splash pads to spark a physical altercation?

(h/t: Paul Tosto)