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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Town Annual Meet Results in 2021 Pay Increases

Issue Date: May 20, 2020

The Town of Peshtigo annual meeting on Tuesday, May 19 started with Chairman Herman Pottratz reading the 2019 annual meeting minutes. He then recognized three new employees and two new Supervisors.

With the recent retirement of Vilas Schroeder, Marsha Rettke replaced Schroeder as Treasurer and Melissa Haidle replaced Nikkee Dionne as Administrative Assistant. Dionne resigned to focus on a new business interest with the purchase of the former 2C's Restaurant which she renamed as Springer Creek Lodge.

Pottratz then introduced two new incoming Supervisors, Kayla Furton replaces Tom Holterman as Supervisor Three and Kristen Edgar replaces Dan VanBeek as Supervisor Four and he is looking forward to working with them.

Pottratz highlighted some of the accomplishments that were completed in 2019 including filling in and repairing of all holes and cracks on Schacht Road; replaced the culvert on Dahl Road; solved the drainage issue on Heath Road; posts with reflectors were installed on Harbor Road to make it visible where the road boundaries are in the event of flooding of the road.

Also, large stones will be installed and repairs will be done to the bird watching platform on Pond Road; 14 trees were removed on Harbor road with the permission of the DNR; 20 acres were received from Marinette County that will be added to Kowalski trails; Marinette County purchased 124 acres from the Town of Peshtigo and along with the 445 acres that encompasses the park area between Marinette and Peshtigo off Hwy 41, the County and Town will be working together to create four wheeler, ATV and Snowmobile trails; Addressed the Harbor Road shooting range issue with the help of the DNR changing the rules at the range; Will be doing a complete road project on Dahl Road doing sections at a time and keeping sections that are good, and a culvert was installed on Schacht road for a drainage problem.

Pottratz added, "With the water being extremely high this spring, terrible things happened with water situations throughout the town. Our people on Shore Drive lost an extreme amount of shoreline property and the COVID19 virus didn't help, but only made situations worse". Furton and Edgar are working on possible grants that might be available for those residents who may have damaged shorelines and properties due to the high water issues.

"We are not alone with the PFAS drinking water issue, it is a problem all over, not just in our area. Anywhere there was a fire there is water issues and it is not an easy problem to solve. Tyco has been doing things to help by putting POET (Point Of Entry Treatment) system and reverse osmosis systems. This will help but they are not done yet. We would have liked to have seen this taken care of by now, but it is going to be a long term situation", Pottratz said.

Town resident, Jessica Clochesy, added "Tyco refused to test the water in her area. I urge you to continue to work for a good, fast solution. Keep working on the issue, keep all of us updated and we want to know what the Board is doing and what residents can do to help". Pottratz responded, "Supervisor Edgar will be working with Supervisor Jon Drees and our Attorney. It is frightening what is in our water, it is not only PFAS but a lot of other things too".

Several other residents voiced their own concerns during the annual meeting, including resident Candy Buchenauer addressing Pottratz about an issue with a ditch on her property on Keller Road. She said, "I came to you at a meeting before the pandemic about the ditch drainage issue and assumed you would take care of it". Pottratz replied, "We did send someone out there". Buchenauer denied anyone was there to take care of the situation and stated, "Farmers better not refuse our land because of the drainage problems. Pottratz replied, "Kieth checked today and he will be talking to Bob Schounard to dig out the ditches". Buchenauer asked, "Why wasn't this done 2-1/2 months ago? I was treated like a two year old like I didn't know anything, I don't ever want to be treated like that again". Supervisor Drees assured Buchenauer it will be done in the next couple of weeks". Buchenauer responded, "That doesn't help, the crops have to be planted the first part of June. Pottratz advised Buchenauer that Shallow looked at it and he will get "Shoe" (Schounard) out there to take care of the drainage issue".

Resident Polly Smith of Lietzow Road said, "The culvert at the end of our driveway is backed up from a lot of debris coming from Little River and the inside of the culvert is collapsing and the water is all backing up into the woods and our yard". Pottratz assured her, they will have someone one out there in the next few days.

Denise Wiedemeier, former Town of Peshtigo Chairperson, and member of the Board for 16 years then spoke in support of a pay increase for the Chairman and Supervisors. She said, "To plan for the future of the Town of Peshtigo, I would like to make a motion to increase the wages of the board members and the Chairman. We have several appointed positions with wage increases addressed by the board. Supervisors and Chairperson have not had a wage increase in the past 16 years. With the water issues and other issues within the town, I am hoping it will encourage individuals to seek a position for the next election. If approved the increase would not go into effect until the 2021 year and will affect new incoming supervisors and chairperson elected for 2021 and the existing board increase will take affect the following year of 2022. This is a very good time to address this tonight. The increased wage may encourage area residents with the courage and commitment to run for a position on the board and help to fix the bridges that are broken and get the communication back on track for the water issues".

Wiedemeier added, "The Town of Jackson, which is about the same size as Town of Peshtigo, had water issues as well and their people are getting paid per meeting plus a set amount per year. It is going to take a huge commitment from board members to get this issue taken care of with a lot of extra time being put in by the board. I am suggesting an increase of $1,000 a year for Supervisors and $2,500 for the Town Chairperson and bringing the Supervisors pay from $5,000 to $6,000 and the Chairperson pay from $6,000 to $8,500".

Resident, Dave Buechler, interjected, "I was on the Marinette City Council and they have not had a pay increase in 25 years. They get paid by meeting of $50 per Council meeting with two meetings per month and $25 for special meetings with a salary of $1,800 per year". A resident replied, "Two wrongs don't make a right".

Wisconsin State Representative John Nygren added, "You are talking about pay increases at the worst possible time with the effects of COVID19. Its about public perception and how people perceive it".

The increase was put to vote to the residents present. A show of hands with 21 in favor of the raise and 15 not in favor. The vote for a pay increase passed and will take affect in 2021.

The last one to comment at the annual meeting was resident, Chuck Boyle asking, "Why are appointed employees being in a contractual relationship, why aren't they "at will" employees"? Pottratz commented, "We don't want to be changing a Treasurer and Clerk with the election of a Chairman every two years. It takes a lot of time to train these two positions and it is hard to find anyone who wants to fill these positions at a part-time status".

The issue was put to an advisory vote for residents to decide if the positions should remain as contracted employees or if they should be appointed positions. The results were 23 to leave as contractual and 22 to change to appointed.

Boyle also asked, why there was a voucher for a check written to Clarence Coble for an amount of $1,392 for a time frame from Jan. 1 to April 1, 2019, noted as required hours that office has to be open that are not allowed for in current contract. This was approved by the board at a 2019 meeting. Coble responded, he puts in a lot more hours than what he is contracted for and this was to cover just some of the over and above hours he puts in, but still does not equate to all the other extra time he puts into the Clerk position.


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