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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Council Told Construction Of Fish Viewing Platform "Is A Go"

Issue Date: March 8, 2018

As the end of their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 6, members of Peshtigo City Council unofficially bade farewell to retiring Clerk/Treasurer Vicki Koronkiewicz and welcomed her replacement Tammy Kasal, who began her training in the city office under Koronkiewicz' tutelage on Monday, March 5.

Tuesday's Council meeting was the last one at which Koronkiewicz will be the official record keeper. Her last day in the office will be Friday, March 23, after which she will be on vacation.

It was the first Peshtigo Council meeting for Kasal, who sat in the audience as an observer. However, Kasal has prior experience with municipal clerk responsibilities. She has been elected clerk for the Town of Pound for the last eight years. She will be leaving that position after a replacement is named to fill the remainder of her term, which ends in April of 2019.

Parks and Recreation Director David Zahn reported construction of the proposed fish viewing platform on the old Badger Paper Mills utility crossing is a go. He said project stakeholders at a meeting earlier on Tuesday had authorized engineer/architects to go ahead with the construction phase, which means bids will be let soon. He said grant applications have been very successful, and added for the approximately $30,000 that they still need, "We'll start fund raising tomorrow."

Lock asked if that $30,000 is all that is still needed, and Zahn said County Conservationist Chuck Druckrey had written applications that bought them a $285,000 grant from the DNR, $100,000 from Wisconsin Coastal Management, and more from other sources, which, after allowing for in-kind labor contributions from Wisconsin Public Service and BPM, Inc., "leaves us about $30,000 short of where we need to be."

He said much interest has been shown on Facebook in the annual Easter Egg Hunt to be held on March 31, and he is expecting about 200 kids to take part.

As the first item of business on Tuesday, Mayor Cathi Malke presented a letter from Zion Lutheran Church Secretary Allen England asking to attend a committee meeting to discuss the congregation's annual car show on Saturday, July 21 and its 150th anniversary celebration on Sunday, Sept. 16 of this year.

England was present for the meeting to explain plans for the two events. After some discussion, at Malke's suggestion, instead of referring England's requests to committee, Council unanimously agreed to close portions of their street for the times needed and authorized use of picnic tables and space at adjoining Harper Park for both events if necessary.

England said the Car Show will be basically the same as last year, with about 70 cars expected again. He asked permission to have their street blocked off from the end of Ellis Ave. at Thompson Street to just the other side of the church parking lot, and said they will not block driveways of residents in the area. He said they had permission to use Harper Park if necessary, and while they may not need the space, it's nice to know it is available should the number of cars entered increase greatly. He said it was nice that in the past the city brought over four additional picnic tables to make shaded seating available.

England said their big event this year will be the 150th anniversary festivities, which begin with the church service at 9 a.m, followed by a history service at 10:30 a.m., a meal at 11:30 a.m., and then from 1 to 2 p.m. the entire community is invited to an outdoor concert by "Koiné" on the church grounds.

The meal will be served inside and there will be a tent set up in the pastor's back yard. If it rains, everything will have to be either indoors or in the tent, and they may add a second tent, England said.

Alderman Tom Gryzwa had some praise for the car show, which he said was very well organized and brought people to the community.

Before the vote, Alderman Brigitte Schmidt, who chairs the parks and Recreation Committee, asked about possible damage at Harper Park if the ground is soft, and was assured they will be careful of that. She also asked about law enforcement, and if they need any other permits for an outdoor concert. The answer was they do not, since there is no alcohol involved.

After the meeting, England said "Koiné" is an increasingly popular six piece band from Milwaukee. Koiné (pronounced koi-nay) is a Greek word that means "common." According to its website, Koiné tours the United States and Canada bringing a new vibrant sound and feel to traditional Lutheran and Christian songs by implementing the common everyday instrumentation of piano, guitar, bass, and drums.

England said Koiné will also perform for the anniversary church services, and a bell choir from Wisconsin Rapids will also be there. Rev. Mark Schroeder, president of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), is coming from Wausau to be main speaker for the Sunday services and will be on hand for other activities of the day.

"We're doing our best to do this up right," England quipped. "We won't be around for the 200th."

"We wish you the best weather and a large crowd," Malke told him.

England said the congregation has already raised enough money to cover costs of the event and to pay for a new sign and planting of a new Golden Maple tree in honor of the anniversary. The tree is to be planted and dedicated after services on Sunday, April 22, which is Earth Day.

Parks and Recreation Director David Zahn said there are always two picnic tables at Harper Park, and again this year he will have four more tables brought over for the church activities. Alderman Mike Behnke suggested perhaps they should have more tables permanently at Harper Park.

Public Works Director George Cowell said he will have the street barricades put in place when they are needed, and Police Chief Joe FitzGerald said he will be sure there is an officer on patrol during the concert.

After some discussion Council approved a Parks and Recreation Committee recommendation to allow booking of the Badger Park Bandshell and Pavilion one year in advance, except that there will be no Wednesdays booked until after the first business day in January. Asked why the exception for Wednesdays, Schmidt explained that was done to accommodate the Bands at Badger concerts which are held on Wednesdays throughout the summer. Alderman Mary Lock said the Womans Club, which sponsors the community concerts, does not know their schedule until after the first of the year.

Malke said she is in favor of the new rule, but wondered why they had seen fit to not waive the January 1 rule for reservations last year when Mary Dahl was attempting to plan a Fourth of July event for the community. She referred to comments from aldermen at the time that everyone has to follow the rules.

Schmidt said she recalled that request being denied, but said that is what the rules were at the time. She added that request is what led to the discussion on how to change it. She expressed hope that the rule change means they will get more events at the park, including large weddings.

For community events that might require even longer advance planning, "I would hope we can be flexible," Schmidt commented. She offered to change the reservation recommendation to add a provision that community event organizers who need to reserve more than a year in advance could come to the Parks and Rec Committee for an exception, but the consensus seemed to be that formal action to that effect was unnecessary.

Behnke proposed sending the new rule back to committee for more guidelines, but Schmidt said they had already discussed it twice and should finish it tonight.

Gryzwa agreed with Schmidt. "I feel we may have been too strict before," he added. "Badger Park is a good draw and the more people we can get to use it, the better it is for everyone."

Malke said Zahn had talked to her about someone who wanted to reserve the entire park, including the campground, for a large wedding. Behnke said weddings are not really community events. However, he agreed that as long as they keep the park available for the scheduled community events, there should be no problem allowing it to be reserved for other times.

Malke said the entire proposed Fourth of July event was dropped because of the city, and Lock disagreed, saying there were other reasons.

Alderman Jillian Schutte also felt that a year in advance is not long enough to plan some community events. Schmidt repeated her offer to add a provision for appeals to the committee for anyone wanting to plan a community event more than year in advance, but in the end everyone seemed to feel formal action to that effect was not necessary. Malke repeated that she is in favor of bringing people into the city, "that's why I was so disappointed when we turned it (the Fourth of July booking request) down."

Council agreed to Schmidt's request that they to authorize her committee to approve the Parks and Rec 2018 Spring and Summer Program Guide for publication after review at their next meeting. Zahn said the courses to be offered have not changed, but there are a few changes in times, dates and wording to accommodate the people who will be teaching the classes. Some changes Schutte suggested have been added, he said.

A Streets and Drainage Committee recommendation to have markings and signs put in place for a cross walk from the Aacer Flooring plant to its parking lot on the other side of Ogden Street as requested by Aacer Facility Manager Rob Hanneman was approved without discussion or dissent.

Several Finance and Claims Committee recommendations were approved, including transfer of the $3,025 received from sale of the Jeep to the fire equipment outlay account, writing off personal property taxes in the amount of $429.82, approving 2017 transfers within the 2017 budget as presented, and approving the 2017 Non lapsing Funds in the amount of $1,595,364 as presented.

Also approved were Revolving Loan Fund/UDAG Committee recommendations to write off the $26,407.95 balance in the Oestreich UDAG loan and to use UDAG funds to pay for demolition of the old Hammes Building next door to the city's Municipal Building that the loan financed. Prior to the demolition the city obtained ownership of the Hammes property and then had it cleared.

The Water and Sewer Committee at a meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22 had approved a contract through which BPM, Inc. will provide Operator In Charge Services at the Wastewater Treatment Plant for $500 per month. Cowell explained Rich Sparks was not fully certified for the Operator in Charge responsibilities. BPM General Manager Jim Koronkiewicz, present for the meeting along with Gary Motkowski, had told the committee they were willing to help on a short term basis. Committee Member Fred Meintz, serving as Acting Chair, commented the BPM charge was very reasonable, and Malke said she appreciated BPM's assistance and thanked them.

The committee also had denied a request from Rachel Johnson for abatement of $1,400 water bill, the first she had received since moving into a property she is renting to own. She said she had some leaks repaired, and did not know if the leaking water went into the sewer system or not. Committee member Dan Seymour felt the issue was between her and the previous owner, and he and Meintz voted to deny the request. Gryzwa, who chairs the committee, had been absent.

In his monthly report to the full Council, Cowell said personnel from the state will be in Peshtigo on Wednesday, March 14 for the 3-year lab audit at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Reporting on equipment problems, Cowell said Jason Stibbe has been busy replacing a number of hoses on the bucket truck.

Mandatory cross connection reports have been sent to the state. Cowell said he generally gets those inspections done in conjunction with residential meter replacements.

"There have been some challenges with snow and ice," Cowell told the Council. He noted they had used the jetter last week to open catch basins where streets were flooding, "and now it's snowing again."

Snowing and blowing had started about midnight on Monday night, and snow was still falling while the meeting was in progress. Plows had been busy since early Tuesday morning keeping streets open to the industrial park, the two nursing homes and the school, "and at 2 a.m. our three plows will be out again," Cowell promised.

Schutte, chair of the Police and License Committee, reported there were no license applications during the past month.

As the meeting adjourned, Behnke welcomed Kasal as "clerk/treasurer in training," and noted this would be the last Council meeting for Koronkiewicz.

"On behalf of the Council, we thank you for all you've done for this city," Gryzwa told her. Other aldermen and Mayor Malke voiced similar sentiments.


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