Kettle River Woman Takes Complaints over City Worker to City Council

By KBJR News 1

September 14, 2012 Updated Sep 14, 2012 at 11:18 AM CDT

Kettle River, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Meet Paula Gray, Kettle River resident and self–proclaimed "tough Army chick."

Gray has served more than 20 years in the U–S Army and been stationed in 22 countries, including three war zones. She's currently on leave from her posting in Holland.

"Actually, my military experience led me there, because my last unit assignment was with NATO in the Netherlands," said Gray.

When work doesn't take her overseas, her heart takes her back home. But, since June's flood, she says its been nothing but heartbreak. Unprecedented rainfall led Gray to discover $10,000 worth of home damage—about 1/4th of her home's value. The damage includes a totaled roof, and a leaky foundation that, Gray says, is exacerbated by the absence of storm drains at the end of her street.

She blames that on the city: "I've asked [city officials] why [they] could not get a storm drain on this street, and [they've] said no time, no money, no resources."

Gray dug a ditch to reroute future storm water—and fronted the $500 in supplies—but a building permit and a contractor would be needed to repair her roof.

"I've had a real tough time getting contractors because they're all very, very, very busy," said Gray.

After days of searching, Gray says she found the right contractor for the job, but there was a problem: he had not renewed his license, which didn't sit well with Kettle River building inspector, Rob Tschida.

When Tchida learned about the missing licensing Gray says he called the contractor and threatened to fine him.

The situation led Gray to take her frustrations to the City Council, where she filed a formal complaint about Tschida.

Tschida responded by saying it's a state law for contractors to have a license.

"If the state gets involved, the state can fine the contractor. If the contractor does shoddy workmanship on her house, she has no recourse," said Tschida.

Tschida, also a contractor, says he doesn't understand why Gray doesn't find another contractor: "There are contractors around that don't have any work. I know several that don't have any work."

Gray eventually obtained a building permit under her own name, which allows her do her own repairs.

But her concern now is that she will have to go back overseas before finishing the job, leaving her home in a dangerous position with winter coming.

According to the Kettle River City Council, they don't intend to follow up on Gray's complaint, saying it's an issue best worked out between the two parties.