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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Approves Purchase Of Automated Garbage Truck

Issue Date: May 6, 2020

Purchase of a new automated side-load garbage truck, appointment of Mary Lock to the Plan Commission, and approving, with some conditions, a request from Kelly and Jim Jahnke, owners of Brown's Corner Supper Club, for an amendment to their liquor license allowing them to set up a fenced in area for outdoor drinking and dining at the front of their building on Business 41 were among main issues handled by Peshtigo City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, May 5.

Malke said Lock has agreed to serve, and apologized for forgetting to include the Plan Commission when she made annual appointments at the Council's reorganization meeting on April 21.

Public Works Director George Cowell reported the street sweeper is repaired and back in service. While it was down leaves and lawn rakings were picked up from the street by trucks and the loader. He said with so many people home from work there has been an unusually number of yards being cleaned, and lots of yard cleaning debris to pick up. There has been one round of all streets, but not alleys. There will be one more round of street sweeping, and the last day for putting leaves in the street will be Friday, May 15.

Cowell reported Tom Termaat is retiring effective Monday, May 25 after more than 28 years of working for the city as a public works employee and mechanic and thanked him for his many years of service.

Mayor Cathi Malke and Alderman Mike Behnke echoed his thanks, and commented that without Termaat's expertise as a mechanic, and his willingness to work, city equipment wouldn't have lasted nearly so long.

City crews have removed 38 storm damaged trees from city tree lawns, stumps have been ground and the lawn area repaired.

Flushing of water mains on the city's west side will start at 9 p.m. every Thursday for about two and a half months until it is done. This means likelihood of discolored water anywhere on the city's water system. Flushing is done under pressure to scour off manganese and rust deposits, and was ordered by the DNR about six years ago.

After pondering their decision for several months and providing time for concerned residents to send comments for their consideration, by a five to one vote aldermen agreed to buy a new side-load garbage truck that requires special roll-out containers for automated garbage pickup. Alderman Mike Behnke cast the sole dissenting vote. Winning bid was submitted by Envirotech. The $261,941 purchase price includes a sweeper attachment for an added $10,000. Council still needs to decide how to purchase the wheeled containers and who will pay for them.

Concern had been expressed in the past over difficulties elderly and handicapped residents have in dealing with the wheeled carts. Objections had been that bags of trash can be placed on seats of walkers or hauled to the street with a wheelchair. The wheeled carts cannot.

Agreement to buy the automated truck came with assurances that the Streets and Drainage Committee will decide at its next meeting how the wheeled trash containers will be purchased; whether the city or individual residents will pay for them, and how help can be provided by the city for elderly or disabled residents who may be unable to get them curbside without assistance.

A new garbage truck had been included in the city's 2020 budget, but the choice was between the automated version or the traditional rear-load, which cost about $90,000 less when the bids came in.

According to City Engineer George Cowell, who favored the truck selected, the automated truck will cut the garbage collection crew from two men two days a week to one man one day a week. This will save man-hours that Cowell says could be put to better use, but requires use of the special wheeled carts that need to be set up curbside on pickup day.

The carts are similar to those used by the company that has been contracted to pick up recyclables in the city since January, and Cowell said he has heard very few complaints about them.

Buying the truck had been on the agenda for Council action on Tuesday, April 21, but was postposed until the May 5 meeting, mainly at the request of Mayor Cathi Malke, to allow time for citizens to submit written comments to the Council and its Streets and Drainage Committee since the coronavirus pandemic had prevented the public input meeting they had been promised.

At Tuesday's meeting committee Chair John Berendt said they had received about a dozen letters by the deadline at the end of the business day on Friday, May 1 and copies had been given to all committee members.

Alderman Brigitte Schmidt said she did not see any concerns in the letters that they had not discussed previously. She said they do have two garbage trucks now, and will always need two. They will need to buy only one of the automated side loaders, and will keep one of the old traditional rear load trucks as a spare and to pick up bulky items, etc.

Berendt said people also were concerned about the size of the containers, and wanted smaller ones. Cowell said they currently have four of the smaller ones left and when they order new one they can specify more of the 32 gallon size. They also come in 64 and 95 gallon sizes.

Schmidt was worried about winter, when people may shovel out a spot for their container and leave for work and then plows come through and push the containers away. Cowell said arms on the truck can reach over some snow banks, and they did not have a problem with recycling pickup this winter.

Schmidt asked who will pay for the containers, the city or the residents.

"I'm in favor of the city paying, at least for the first one," Malke declared. Other Council members appeared to agree.

Alderperson Debbie Sievert said elderly or handicapped people hate having to ask a neighbor to regularly help them get their garbage out.

"We're community and we have to look out for each other," Malke commented. She suggested since the automated pickup would free up one public works employee on each collection day they could keep a list of who needs help and Cowell could send a person around to put their refuse containers out on pickup days and return them when the route was done.

"One of the reasons people live in this community is that it's small and it is a community and they don't want to lose the services they're used to," Berendt said, and suggested they should work out a solution along the lines Malke proposed as soon as their committee could get back together for a meeting.

Sievert commented often the elderly don't like having to ask for help, and Malke agreed, as did Schmidt, who expressed confidence people who need help will get it. Malke said asking for help with recycling might not be as bad because it's every two weeks, but garbage would add weekly assistance to that.

Berendt said there were problems with recycling containers being tipped over, and felt if that happens the driver should get out of the truck and correct the problem.

Malke repeated since garbage collection, unlike recycling collection, is done by city personnel they could make it a rule for city employees to take care of that.

Cowell agreed if his people see a cart tipped over they could pick it up. He added that he has not received any calls on this issue. Sievert said one lady complained that her cart ends up tipped over in her driveway and she has to get out and move it before she can park when she gets home from work. Alderman Archer Leupp said on windy days the lighter containers blow round all over the place. Cowell agreed the smaller ones are lighter and do blow around, and suggested if they are going to help get the carts out they could eliminate them.

Berendt said they had touched on every issue raised by those who wrote in, and attempted to propose a motion to have the city buy the automated truck and carts and provide city help to set them out as needed.

Malke said many people had thanked her and the Council for giving them the opportunity to make their opinions known.

Cowell said Council could not make a motion on the carts, since it wasn't on the agenda, and suggested a "clean" motion just addressing the truck purchase, and then settle the cart issues later.

Council agreed to do that. Informal comments indicated all aldermen favored having the city buy at least the first carts, and providing help where needed to get them out. The committee will need to decide how to provide carts for businesses that need more than one.

Cowell said for now the large-item disposal dumpster at the city garage is not open for public use because they don't want people bringing things there during the pandemic shut down. People needing to dispose of large items can call city hall and pay a small fee for curbside pickup or haul things to the Maroco Landfill at Crivitz.

Alderman Rick Berth asked if Peshtigo would have a spring cleanup day. Cowell said they were open on one Saturday last fall, but participation was very slow. Sievert asked if they could have cleanup day with curbside collection like Menominee does each year, and Cowell said Menominee no longer offers that service.

Berendt said he wants the Streets and Drainage Committee to talk about the Cleanup Day suggestion, adding, "It's a service people want...lots of the letters mentioned that."

Alderman Mike Behnke agreed, and said a Cleanup Day should be a time when people wouldn't have to pay extra to get rid of trash they may have been collecting for years.

Council agreed turning the old Parks and Rec Department 71" Jacobson mower over to the Public Works Department instead of selling it was a good idea, and voted approval. That decision followed an explanation by Parks and Recreation Director Shawn Northrop, who said Cowell had asked for the mower to use at the city garage, wastewater treatment plant and elsewhere. Cowell said it is hard to mow with the old tractor when grass is wet.

Council agreed for one time only Police Patrolman Ryan Nemetz can carry over up to 48 hours of unused vacation time from 2019 to 2020 and approved a new bartender license for Renee Demmith and license renewal for Faye Nesbitt

During time for public comment at the start of the meeting Kelly Jahnke explained plans she and her husband Jim have for adding an outdoor patio area in front of their building. It is to be surrounded by a black wrought iron fence which will be taken down from Oct. 1 to April 30 each year. The current liquor license for their Jahnke's Venture, LLC doing business as Brown's Corner allows for outdoor seating but only for events 5 times a year and only on the porch, side deck and lawn area west of the building. Jahnke said they will maintain their current serving hours for the outdoor patio area, which usually ends at 9:30 p.m. with everyone gone by 10 or 10:30 p.m.

The Jahnkes want to have the project completed before the "Safer At Home" restrictions on bars and restaurants are lifted on Monday, May 26. Jahnke had submitted drawn plans and photos of the type fence and seating proposed. "It will be an inviting area where people can come and enjoy an evening out while feeling safe and comfortable while maintaining their social distance," Jahnke had explained.

When the request came up for a decision later in the meeting Schmidt recalled problems in the past when they had approved an outdoor license, and City Attorney David Spangenberg agreed. He cautioned that once a license amendment is approved it would stay with the license if and when the Jahnke's decide to sell, and the new owners might not be as willing to limit the hours.

The Jahnkes agreed to work with Spangenberg to set up conditions to protect the city against late-hour operation and other problems, after which council unanimously approved their request.

Just before the meeting adjourned, Malke noted that this was Municipal Clerk's Week,and expressed her personal thanks to Clerk Tammy Kasal "...for all the work she does that too often is not recognized." Aldermen echoed the sentiment with a round of applause. Kasal was also surprised by a bouquet of flowers presented by Malke.








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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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