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Wagner Needs New Public Works Director

Issue Date: July 26, 2018

At a special 9 a.m. meeting on Saturday, July 21, Wagner Town Board agreed to hire James Brown as a part time worker with the Town's Department of Public Works and set the pay at $11 per hour. He replaces Bill Labunski, who resigned effective Sunday, July 1.

The town continues to seek a full time person to fill the Public Works Director position that has been vacant since Friday, July 6, when James Hickey, husband of former Town Chair Lynn Hickey, resigned.

The only other business at the brief special meeting on Saturday was the board's decision to post the job opening and run an ad in the Peshtigo Times for Director of Public Works, and to keep the town's recycling center closed on Saturday, Aug. 4 due to the shortage of personnel. Present were Brown, Town Chair Kurt Konell, supervisors Mollie Arthur and Ed Delfosse; Treasurer Linda Larochelle, Clerk Linda Wilke, Animal Control Officer Jerry Micksch, and one member of the public.

The next regular Town Board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22 at the Wagner Town Hall on County Road JJ.

Wilke said while the board was discussing resignations of the town's two Public Works employees at the regular monthly town board meeting on Wednesday, July 11 Konell had indicated his belief that Wilke's actions had caused the resignations, and said there was some dispute over what Wilke had been paying Labunski. Wilke said Labunski had never approached her about pay. She said he told the board she had not caused his resignation and reminded them that he had said at the start that he would only work until his wife retired, and that has now happened.

Wilke said because of the criticisms at the meeting she has researched past minutes the following day and was unable to find any record of a board directive to change Labunski's pay.

During time for public comment at the July 11 meeting:

*Lynn Hickey, from the audience, requested year end financial report numbers;

*Chief Election Inspector Rita Renikow suggested having a generator available for elections in case of power outage. Assistant Fire Chief Mike Caylor said the Fire Department has one available; and

*Howard Anderson, who contracts to cut town grass, indicated he felt problems with snow plowing caused gravel in ditches and torn up blacktop.

The Fire Department reported five calls in the past month and 117 hours spent on training and inspections. The department is still searching for a second tender. There was discussion on sale of fire department equipment, use of tax dollars versus fund raising money, and changes to the picnic due to the audit.

Animal Control Officer Jerry Micksch he had one call in the past month and took the animal to the Animal Shelter in Menominee.

The Nature Conservancy Fish Passage culvert projects on Grand Rapids Road have been tabled. There were plans for the Nature Conservancy to contribute $20,000 to replace one set of culverts and $19,000 to replace another but apparently after Konell met at the culvert sites with Rachel VanDamme of Nature Conservancy and possibly other decision was that new culvert aren't really needed at this time.

Contract for culvert replacement on Country Lane was awarded to Steve Renikow Jr., of Renikow Skid Steer for $1,200 for a 24" x 40" culvert.

After discussing culvert replacement on Peterson Road and Caylor Road north of N10390 the board agreed to get a quote from Steve Renikow Jr.

Before resigning as town chair Hickey had successfully applied for Local Road Improvement Project (LRIP) funds to resurface Broennenberg Road. Through the LRIP program the state provides 50 percent of the funds and the town pays the other 50 percent. Konell said at the July 11 meeting the town has no money scheduled for this project and no action was taken.

In accord with board approval in June, the Sportsman's Club will remove the " No Weapons" signs from the town hall prior to the start of Hunter's Safety classes the club will offer there.

Currently ATVS are not allowed on Town of Wagner roads, but steps are underway to change that. During a discussion on opening roads to ATV usage the board agreed that Ordinance 12.0602(F) which governs ATV usage must be revoked and a new ordinance must be approved. Since the Nov. 24, 2014 ordinance was revoked the town has no ATV ordinance in place, no permit from the DNR and new ATV signs have not yet been posted, so ATV travel is not legal on any Town of Wagner town roads.

The agenda had included discussion and possible action on hiring an official town attorney but action on that was tabled until August.

Feelings still seem to be running high in the controversy-racked town. Discussion and possible action on Wilke's work as clerk was on the agenda for discussion in open session. When that agenda item came up, Konell asked Wilke to resign. Wilke refused.

Town Clerk is an elected office that Wilke was appointed to fill after the former clerk resigned. It will be up for election again in April of 2019. During discussion on Wilke's handling of the clerk's position, there were objections from the audience that this was a personality discussion that should be done in closed session.

The town has faced numerous resignations in less than a year. In April, Treasurer Bruce Meyhoff, Town Chair Lynn Hickey and Supervisor Allen Sievert resigned. Meyhoff had been appointed to the treasurer's post last year after elected treasurer Margot Renikow resigned. Wilke was appointed by Hickey in December of 2017 to fill the position vacated by the resignations of elected clerk Melissa Christiansen in August, and then by Toni Goldschmidt, who was appointed to replace her. Wilke, Larochelle, Delfosse and Konell were all appointed to their positions to fill out the terms of elected individuals who resigned.

Wilke said after the sometimes harsh comments during the July 11 meeting she went to her vehicle in the parking lot and found the back window had been smashed. She said it had not been broken when she parked it there before the meeting. She called Marinette County Sheriff's Department and investigating officers told her the glass breakage pattern showed the window had been broken by a heavy duty metal tool, not a rock. Whoever did it has not been identified, Wilke said, adding it had cost her $500 to get the window replaced.


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