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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Former Hammes Garage Site Is Now A Vacant Lot

"The old Hammes building is now a city-owned empty lot," Chair Tom Gryzwa commented at the start of the monthly City of Peshtigo Finance committee meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16.

The city gained ownership of the building in a foreclosure action after former owner Tim Oestreich failed to make payments on a UDAG loan he had taken for the property at 311 French Street, which originally was the site of the Hammes' Garage building.

City Council in October had approved hiring Dan Risner & Sons Excavating of Pound for their low bid price of $36,736 to raze the building. Gryzwa, who also chairs the UDAG Committee, said the $36,000 will come from UDAG funds.

He and others on the committee commented on the good job Risner had done in deconstructing the building, which shared a common wall with the adjacent building and was taken of cleanly with no ill effects.

Gryzwa commented the demolition had uncovered some amazing 6"X10" laminated beams, 68 feet long, that had been used in the original construction and remained in excellent condition. "Their condition today is a tribute to the company that made them," Gryzwa declared.

Present for the meeting in addition to Gryzwa were committee members Mary Lock and Brigitte Schmidt, Mayor Cathi Malke, Alderman Jillian Schutte, and Parks and Recreation Director David Zahn.

The agenda included review of UDAG and Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) loan status. All loans are current except the Oestreich UDAG loan taken for $31,500 in 2006 that has an unpaid balance of $26,407 and has been in default since December of 2016, and a loan to Faucett Forest Products made in July of 2015 for $90,000.

The Oestreich loan will be written off at the next UDAG meeting, Gryzwa said.

Unpaid balance on the Faucett loan dating from July 1, 2015 is $87,847.03. There were no payments received in 2016 or 2017. Gryzwa said the UDAG attorney is on top of it, and collection attempts are making their way through the courts.

Total still owed by the many businesses that received low interest UDAG loans to help create or grow their businesses is $2,186,147.57. That loan balance includes $286,043.34 owed to the city's Sewer Utility for infrastructure improvements. Only the $26,407.95 Oestreich balance is in default.

The UDAG Fund had a cash balance of $304,923.97 as of Wednesday, Nov. 15 plus a CD of $1.1 million, for a total of $1,404,923.91 available.

Balance owed to the RLF fund is $315,289.25, with all loans current except the $87,847 owed by Faucett. Cash balance in the RLF fund is $233,180.24.

The most recent loan from the UDAG fund was made to Field & Forest on Aug. 1 of this year to help finance construction of their new facility in the city's Pine View Industrial Park.

"What they built there is way over my imagination!" Lock declared.

Gryzwa commented on the beautiful building that the mushroom growing facility has put up, and said it still may open this fall. He understands there may also be plans for a second building. The Field and Forest operation, with its main business being to provide the information, equipment, supplies and spores to help others get into raising mushrooms began 33 years ago in rural Peshtigo and is now expanding into a new, larger facility in the city.

"It's a growing business," Schutte quipped. She said she meant that literally, as raising mushrooms is becoming more and more popular.

Moving on to city finances, Gryzwa noted the financial reports show some budgets have been overspent, and with the end of the year approaching these will need to be monitored closely. He suggested overtime may need to be limited, or at least the committee should get an explanation if they "see something glaring," and suggested they need to put a formal policy in the city handbook.

Lock agreed, and said they should at least require an explanation so department heads do not think over spending their budget is acceptable.

She also suggested the employee handbook should include a policy on how much employees can spend on a meal when they travel out of town on city business.

Schmidt said her husband gets a dollar amount allowance when he travels, "and how he uses it is up to him."

Gryzwa felt they should ask the Personnel Committee to consider establishing a meals out of town reimbursement policy, and Lock and Schutte agreed.

The committee also authorized moving $2,277 from the Parks and Recreation Department's summer donations account to is building and grounds improvements fund.


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