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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo To Expand Recreation Activities, Hero Banner Program

Issue Date: March 28, 2019

Peshtigo area residents, including senior citizens, will soon be enjoying some new activities, thanks to decisions made at the city's Parks and Recreation Committee meeting on Friday, March 22.

The "Hometown Hero" banner program will continue growing, bids will likely soon be solicited for a new security camera system for the parks and other selected city facilities. Parks and Recreation Director David Zahn said work is to start as soon as weather permits on on the long-delayed installation of handicapped swings in Badger Park and repairs to restroom doors there.

Wheels are in motion to start an outdoor Bean Bag League, UWEX may provide an instructor free of charge for a senior exercise program at Drees Community Center, and a 6-week Country Line Dancing Class will be held there starting on Monday, April 22.

Peshtigo residents will have an opportunity soon to offer their opinions on what facilities or activities they would like to see added to the Peshtigo Parks and Recreation program.

Zahn informed the committee he is working on a required re-vamp of the city's 5-year plan for Parks and Recreation, and must do a city-wide Needs Assessment Survey as part of updating that plan, which must list proposed projects in terms of priority.

Once the plan is accepted projects listed as goals are eligible for grants through various state and federal programs. Projects not listed are not. Tentative plans are to do the anonymous survey by sending out questionnaires with water bills and then advertise in the press and on Facebook that residents who live in apartments and therefore do not get water bills can pick up their questionnaire at City Hall. Water bills will be going out in April.

Zahn said he is anxious to see questionnaire results. He said in a recent recreational needs assessment for Marinette County about 40 percent of respondents mentioned Badger Park, which is a Peshtigo City Park and not a part of the county park system.

He noted community demographics are part of the plan, and in looking them up he discovered that Peshtigo in recent years has had a large increase in population of males between the ages of 25 and 34, and the number of men in the city now exceeds the number of women.

Zahn reported he is three quarters done with donor wall fund raising for the fish viewing platform to be constructed this summer.

"Dave has been doing a tremendous job selling tiles for the fish viewing platform," Mayor Cathi Malke declared.

Zahn said Trans Canada Pipeline recently donated $1,000 toward the project, and a local business that donated for Phase 1 of the project is now making another contribution. He is to meet Wednesday, April 17 with Great Lakes Fishermen in regard to the project.

Near the start of the meeting Zahn and Mayor Cathi Malke introduced Linda Campbell, who may be hired as a senior activity instructor/organizer for Parks and Recreation Department programs. Zahn said he would like to have her help for about six hours a week, and suggested they should approach the Finance Committee for funds to pay her.

Campbell had seen in the paper that the city was looking for people to do programs for Senior Citizens, and declared, "I would love very much to be part of putting programs into the Drees Community Center." She has been employed at Northland Lutheran Retirement Community for 22 years, seven of them as activity director. She still organizes a number of trips for them each year.

Campbell said her daughter-in-law teaches in Peshtigo, and she moved here four years ago from Marinette.

"I'm excited and enthusiastic about getting more and better use for the Drees Community Center," Malke commented.

"I like to keep things happening," Campbell declared. She said she has a multiple-page list of things she could suggested as programs there.

The meeting began with a long discussion on the Hometown Hero banner program. The only committee members present were Aldermen Mike Behnke and Jillian Schutte, who is committee chair. Alderman Jon Berendt was absent and excused.

Zahn said he had talked with Public Works Director George Cowell about preparations for adding more spots to display Hometown hero banners. They feel it costs about $66 an hour for two people to put up and take down the banners. This cost has been coming from Cowell's budget, but that may change. Zahn said they also had talked about hiring a contractor to do that work.

If they add more banners they will need new brackets on the poles, two per pole at a cost of $180 per pole. They have been charging $140 per banner, and if they add the cost of the brackets they would need to raise the price to $300 to break even, Zahn said.

He suggested another option would be to display the banners "in two platoons," with the first set of banners to be on display from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July, and the second set from then until Labor Day, after which the historical banners would go up until time for the Christmas banners.

WPS has told them which poles they can use for banners. Malke said numerous businesses have contacted her with requests for banners on their sites.

Cost is $85 for each new banner, with a five to seven-year life span. Two are displayed on each pole. Each banner arm costs $38.

Schutte suggested keeping the cost at $140 and then charge an annual maintenance fee.

"This is a very popular program, in regard to both participation and regional reaction to it," Zahn declared.

"Anywhere we can be honoring a veteran we should be doing it," Malke declared. She said she gets the chills when she looks at them.

Schutte also felt they should put the banners wherever they can, and this led to a discussion on just where they should go. Malke wanted some to be displayed in the Industrial Park.

Thee were comments that the Hometown Hero banners should not have to pay the entire cost of fitting the poles since once the brackets are up they will last for years, and the Historical and Holiday banners use the same brackets, so the cost should be spread over time and use.

Malke suggested the city should pay for the brackets and the program just be required to pay for the banners themselves.

Zahn said he currently has requests for 27 new banners for this year, which is the fourth year if the program. Behnke said part of the cost of the banners could be written off as tourist promotion, since visitors have come to the city just to see the banners.

Zahn said they will need to order the new banners soon, since the business in Oconto that makes them is up for sale.

Eventually Schutte and Behnke agreed to ask Council to approve raising the price for the Hometown Hero banners this year from $140 to $150, and to allow up to 30 new banners to be flown from 15 new poles. Action on this recommendation is expected at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, April 3. Behnke said he would also put the issue on the agenda for the next meeting of his Streets and Drainage Committee.

Discussion followed on security cameras, specifically at Badger Park, but in general everywhere in the city.

"I personally feel the whole city should be under surveillance, particularly the Police Department," Schutte declared.

Explanation was that Council previously had decided to start with Badger park, since it had more problems with vandalism than other parts of the city.

Zahn said he has written a sample RFP requesting prices on using seven cameras of the same type that would be beamed toward a central area in Badger Park and then to a central location at City Hall, with the ability to eventually be expanded to include the entire city. Zahn said there have been tremendous advances made in wireless transmissions since the original camera surveillance system was installed in 2014.

Zahn said he would like cameras in the large and small pavilion, skate park, playground, north bathroom and front and rear of the Badger Park garage.

Schutte said they need vandal proof cameras, with night vision, motion activated, weather resistant, and with mega pixels strong enough to allow viewers to identify individuals shown. She suggested telling vendors what they want the cameras to do and letting them decide how many and where they should be placed, since they know the capabilities of their own equipment.

There followed a long discussion on getting prices at the same time to cover the entire city, or specific parts of it, and a consensus that they should seek quotes or bids itemized by location. Malke felt the city might get a better price by doing it all at once even if they need to get another loan to do it. Funds for the Badger Park cameras were included in the Capital Improvements loan obtained earlier this year.

There was talk of making the camera views available to Police officers on squad car laptops, and of covering things like the water tower and the city garage.

Decision was that Zahn will complete an RFP with input from other department heads and ask City Council at its April 3 meeting for permission to advertise for security system proposals.

"We've been kicking this around for five years now, and it's time for us to go ahead and do it," Behnke declared.

Zahn said he is working on the spring and summer Program Guide for this year and will have it ready for approval at the committee's April meeting.

In regard to programs, Malke said she has been talking with Nancy Dewindt, who teaches country line dancing for the Country Kickers and is willing to teach a 6-session class for beginners and intermediate dancers for the $10 per hour that the city pays instructors. That led to a discussion on when to hold the class and what to charge. Decision was to start the class on Monday, April 22, the day after Easter, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Drees Community Center, and charge participants $10 each for the six sessions.

Schutte said she and Berendt would like to start an outdoor bean bag league, hopefully in Riverfront Park on Monday nights during the summer. She said that sport is becoming increasingly popular since it has been included on ESPN. She has a friend who might teach the techniques for children's class, and she can probably borrow the boards needed.

The Peshtigo Elementary Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO) has asked to place "Little Free Libraries" at various city-owned locations. These are basically cabinets supplied with books that people can borrow, read and return.

Clerk/Treasurer Tammy Kasal said they would like to place them at the ball fields and at Badger Park.

Zahn said there already is a large one at Badger Park and he does not want another one there. There is also one at the Drees Community Center that is cared for by Sharon Schounard, and there is one in the yard of a city resident.

The committee approved a motion that Zahn is to work with the PTSO on placement of additional Little Free Libraries at city parks and ball fields.

Zahn reported that the contractor hired to repair the doors on the restrooms at Badger Park would start work on them the week of March 25.

He said the site selected for the handicap swings is still under snow, but as soon as that clears installation will begin. Eugene Frank has donated the needed 4X8 beams and Zahn will pick up the materials at the sawmill and stain them.

Malke was happy to learn that installation will soon get underway. Money to pay for the handicap swings had been donated by the Peshtigo Woman's Club, she noted, and added, "I know it bothers the donor that they are not in yet...three years is a long time to wait!"

Zahn reported he has contacted Spectrum Broadband regarding improvements to connectivity in Badger Park with a "Sweet Spot" that will allow up to 75 people to connect at once.

He has been talking with the Tin Can Tourist Association regarding making Badger Park friendly to vintage campers. Membership in their group is only $30 a year.

"I'm seeing a vintage camper weekend!" declared Malke.

Zahn said membership in Good Sam's camping association would require the city to give its members a 10 percent discount at all times, and he didn't think they could do that with Badger Park campground so busy on weekends.

Malke suggested they consider offering a 10 percent discount for weekday camping.

Zahn said plans for the Easter Egg hunt are made and five of the six bicycles needed for prizes have been donated. The water is still too high to open the boat launches, and he does not expect the walleye run to start for another two to three weeks.

Some trees near the campground area at Badger Park will need to be taken down before tornado season.

He has been working on projects with volunteers from a local church and a military organization.

Malke suggested as an agenda item for their next meeting they should include asking churches to provide volunteers to help clean up the parks, and in return the city could post signs naming the sponsoring organization.


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