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PFAS, Roads, County Issues Aired At Porterfield Meeting

Issue Date: March 25, 2020

During time for public comment at the Town of Porterfield's regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 11, Town of Lake resident Ken Marcusen urged people to have wells tested for PFAS contamination, and passed along the information that regular tests to determine quality of drinking water do not include tests for PFAS. The test for PFAS can be done by Northern Lakes Service of Crandon for $350 to $400, and added that he is having his well tested because he doesn't want his family drinking contaminated water.

Wisconsin Department of Health and other agencies across the nation are still studying effects of PFAS at various levels of concentration.

Marcusen said over the past 20 years millions and millions of gallons of contaminated sludge from wastewater treatment plants in Marinette and Peshtigo have been spread on farm fields in the Town of Porterfield, in addition to millions of gallons spread in the Towns of Lake, Middle Inlet, Grover, Beaver and Brazeau. He said Tyco and the DNR are testing wells in the Town of Peshtigo for PFAS, and he has been told that Arcadis, Tyco's consultant on PFAS issues, is planning to test 340 wells in those areas, but has trouble getting access because of the large number of seasonal residences. Also, they are testing only within 1,200 feet of the fields where the sludge was spread, but with the limestone ledge underlying much of the area affected, water contaminants could move a mile a day, so no one who lives anywhere near the ledge can be sure their water is safe.

He noted PFAS came from the firefighting foams manufactured and tested by Tyco in Marinette for many years. It doesn't break down, so it lingers in the environment and is believed to have many adverse health effects, including increased incidence of cancer.

He mentioned a 55-acre field near Lake Julia and the headwaters of the Lower Middle Inlet Creek in the Town of Middle Inlet on which a total of 2,277 gallons of sludge were dumped in a 3-year period, and said they had done the same on some fields in Porterfield. He is concerned that the PFAS then ends up in Lake Noquebay. He wondered what will happen to weeds harvested from Lake Noquebay if they turn out to be contaminated.

Another speaker during time for public comment was County Board Supervisor Laura Frea, who noted she represents District 14, which is Wards 1 and 3 in Porterfield. She said she welcomes calls and e-mails. Her phone number is 715-732-4231, and she said to leave a message and she will call back.

Terms of all County Board Supervisors end in April, and Frea is a candidate for a second term in the April 7 elections.

There has been a proposal to reduce the size of County Board from 30 to perhaps 21 supervisors following the 2022 elections, including a proposal by County Board Chair Mark Anderson, who is a Town of Porterfield resident, to hold a referendum and let the voters decide.

To a question from Supervisor Audrey Guseck as to where she stood on that issue, Frea replied that there is a learning curve on County Board and new members come on every two years. She felt with less than 30 members there would be fewer ideas coming forth, and supervisors from the lightly populated areas would be representing huge geographical districts covering several towns each.

Guseck asked about the referendum idea, and Frea said Marinette County Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison had advised County Board they could not hold a binding referendum on that issue, only advisory.

Frea wondered why anyone would want a smaller board, because it would save very little money. She gets about $260 a month, including salary, per diem and mileage. She did feel if they raised the pay they might get more young people to run, and added, "I'm one of the younger members, and I'm retired."

Guseck asked if holding County Board meetings at night might make it easier for non-retired people to serve, and Frea said she was told the county had tried holding evening meetings in the past and it had not worked.

Dennis Schneider, in quest of answers for about 60 families in his genealogy group, asked if the town had any records showing names for the burial sites at the Winesville Cemetery. He asked anyone with knowledge of burials there to contact him. Guseck said Lynn and Ken Francour had on an inventory and she was 99 percent certain they had a chart at the Town Hall. Frea asked if there were laws requiring burial records, and was told that according to Google there are some 15,000 state laws and 50,000 federal laws, but the Town of Porterfield has no ordinances governing that.

There were 23 town residents present, and a several of them had questions or comments about road work, including repairing the pot holes on Bagley Road, deterioration of Jacobsen and Schroeder Roads, and timeline for construction on the end of Bagley Road.

Town Chair Dennis Bergeson agreed repairs are needed to a number roads in the town. He said the board is working on it, but they can only afford to do so much each year.

Guseck agreed Schroeder Road is very bad. Supervisor Don Limberg said he had also ridden down it, "and the center seems to be going away."

Bergeson said part of the re-built portion of County G near one of the culverts appears to be collapsing.

One resident thanked the board for getting the oak tree down on Bagley roadside. Another resident asked if anyone is picking up garbage from along the roads and suggested that anyone who sees bags of garbage along roadsides should stop and pick them up. Bergeson agreed it's a shame that people would just toss out bags of garbage, but they do.

Treasurer Wendell Phillips noted cash on hand at the end of February was $384,479.40. Year to date there had been receipts of $2,544,627.18 and disbursements of $1,728,002.93, for a total balance of $816,624.25. Receipts and disbursements include amounts collected for other taxing entities and passed along, such as school districts, county and NWTC. The overall balance includes $201,592.26 in the reserve money market fund, $86,293.248 in the machinery money market fund, $76,095.40 in Fire Department savings, $1,000.49 in the recycling account, $3,356.25 in the cemetery CD, and $43,806.89 in the Limited Revaluation CD. Phillips mentioned plans to move some of the reserve funds to get a better interest rate.

One of the residents present asked how the Porterfield reserve balance compares with that of other towns of comparable size. Phillips said they are way above some of them, and added that Grover used to be ahead of Porterfield, but that has changed.

Chief Election Inspector Sue Beyer said there were 160 voters at the February 18 Primary Election, and she expected a larger turnout for the Spring election on Tuesday, April 7.

Clerk/Treasurer Amy Linstad advised that the 2020 Census mailings go out between March 12 and March 20, and will included envelopes to mail back the information. Limberg noted those who have a post office box will not get their census questionnaire by mail, and someone will knock at the door.

The board approved an operator's license for Melissa Dura for the Rivers Edge.

All five board members were authorized to attend the Wisconsin Towns Association District Meeting on Friday, April 3 in Wabeno. Cost for the day long session is $50. Phillips mentioned that the state recommends that every town board member should be certified for the Board of Review, and this is where they can get that training.

Bergeson reported spring load limit weight restrictions have been on in the entire area since Tuesday, March 3 and will remain on until further notice, "depending on what Mother Nature dishes out." He said that would be about a week after Marinette County lifts its weight limits.

Bayer reported the cover over the trash compactor is leaking and needs to be replaced. There was discussion about the Town purchasing a small front-end loader and getting rid of the skid steer.

Animal Control Officer Carl Geller had two calls over the past couple months, one for a cat that had wondered in, wearing a collar but not approachable. He had gone there, but the cat was gone. Earlier on the day of the meeting he had a call about two dogs chasing vehicles, and again there was no longer any sign of the dogs when he arrived.

Linstad reported receiving a letter from the DNR regarding efforts to help a land owner who is seeking maps of the River Road configuration in 1988 and 1989. Linstad said she had sent them what she had.

WPS is working on underground lines on Shady Lane, and Twin Pine Road and other sites.

The next monthly board meeting is the annual meeting, which was scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, followed by the monthly board meeting.

(Editor's Note: In view of the corona virus gathering restrictions that have been put in place since that meeting date was set, check to be sure this or any other meeting is being held on the scheduled date.)


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