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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Herman Pottratz Retires As Peshtigo Town Chair

Issue Date: April 28, 2021

After his many years of service, Chairman Herman Pottratz chaired his last annual Town of Peshtigo meeting on Tuesday, April 20.

Pottratz started the meeting by saying, "This is a historic night. We have never had four ladies and one gentleman on the board before tonight. This is a piece of history for the Town of Peshtigo. This is my last meeting as Chairman and we have had a long hard year, starting with high water, two new supervisors, road damage, shore washouts, Covid problems, wells are contaminated with PFAS in the northeast section of the town for at least 35 years, the DNR, Tyco and the Town Board has spent many hours and a lot of money which Johnson Control (JCI) / Tyco has paid for. I believe about 46 or more test wells were drilled throughout the town, some had PFAS, some had none. However, it seems like PFAS is all over the country, not just here in the Town of Peshtigo. Johnston Controls' job is to find solutions. They have changed the components used in the firefighting foams to make it safe for fighting fires in the first place and save lives. The new filtration system that is being developed is in an effort to clean the groundwater at Tyco's expense to have clean water for allâ€.

â€In 2021 it is not going to be easy, you have roads, ditches, recycling, cleaning roadside ditches and fragmites are a big problem and they seem to be getting everywhere. I want to thank everyone that supported me in the past and all the boards I worked with. Remember that you have a board now that is going to need your support too, cause there are still a lot of things out there to do. We were fortunate we got A to Z half way cleaned up, but there are still a few other problems that are out there. There is still some work that has to be done on the ditches for the four wheelers and ATVs to make them usable. We have had good luck with the County with them saving the town a lot of money because the town wanted to buy the 40 acre property off Hwy 41 and John LaFevre said the County would buy it and let everyone enjoy itâ€.

â€It is a never ending job, but the thing is, you need to work together to get it all solved and be happy again. In the meantime I am going to try to get my back healed up so I can drive my bulldozer and get some other things done. I will be leaving tonight because I feel our new Chairperson should run the meeting. It is up to her to do her best and we all will have to support her and do what we can to help herâ€.

Town resident Wendell Johnson took the opportunity to thank Pottratz, saying, "I just want to thank you Herman for being one of the forces to get the Kowalski walking trail completed. With your efforts along with your equipment, you put those trails in and we still use them today and appreciate them very much".

Pottratz ended saying, "I have reached that magic age of 88, there isn't much time left and I am going to have to part...with the Town. However there are so many good people out here, you never stop meeting them. There are jobs, a nice place to live and the water situation is on its way to getting solved. With that I would like to thank everybody and we will entertain a motion to adjourn". Pottratz's dear wife Pat then made the motion to adjourn and his dear friend, Lou Ann Siels seconded.



Pottratz then turned over the meeting to the new Chairperson, Cindy Boyle. The town then sent Pottratz off with a huge applaud in appreciation for his years of service as several residents thanked him on his way out the door.

Boyle thanked the audience for their support and added, "I will work extremely hard for you and do my best to serve all of you well and I would also like to congratulate Cindy Bauer as Supervisor #1 and Jon Drees as Supervisor #2". She also announced that she appointed Kayla Furton as Vice Chairperson.

Boyle added, "I am a strong believer in being inclusive and using people's talents of whoever is willing to serve". Boyle said, someone shared with me 'People have time to serve, people do not have time to waste'

That being said, Boyle will be adding Ad hoc advisory committees as an addition to the regular standing committees already in place.

Standing Committees consist of Roads/ Ditches, Recycling Center and Buildings/ Grounds. The Ad Hoc Committees include HR/ Personnel, Water, Technology/ Media, Finance, Public Projects and Policy.

Boyle explained that in an effort toward inclusion, efficiency and enhanced productivity, the Town of Peshtigo Board has approved nine working committees. These committees will be chaired by an elected Supervisor tasked with vetting various issues and elevating recommendations through the respective committee Chairs to the full Town of Peshtigo Board for final consideration. Through the generous cooperation of the TOP professionals with area expertise, the town will achieve far broader outcomes that benefit everyone. When the public has concerns/ recommendations they may reach out to the respective committee chairs or Town Clerk who will direct them to the committee best equipped to address their needs.

The committee alignments are as follows:

Roads and Ditches: Chair Jon Drees with committee members: John Kowalski, Mike Hoard, Tobin Barrett, Paul Zoellner, Chuck LaCourt, Jim Bauer and Ed Kowalski. Also Eric Bullin will be available on consultant basis if needed.

Recycling Center: Chairs Kristin Edgar and Cindy Baur with committee members: Eric Larson and Tom Russell.

Buildings and Grounds: Chair Jon Drees with committee members: Doug Boucher, Ron Charon, Chuck LaCourt, Bill Getchell and Ed Kowalski

HR/Personnel Ad Hoc Advisory Committee: Chair Cindy Baur with committee members Phil Eatherton, Lisa Michels and Joan Eick.

Water Ad Hoc Advisory Committee: Chair Cindy Boyle, Vice Chair Kayla Furton along with Supervisors Baur, Edgar and Drees with committee members: Jeff Lamont, Ruth Kowalski, Keith Jung, Karl Jaeger, Chuck Boyle and Madeline Rastall.

Technology/Media Ad Hoc Advisory Committee: Chair Cindy Boyle with committee members: Rebecca Schoenebeck, Jay Williams and Tricia Hurley.

Finance Ad Hoc Advisory Committee: Chair Kayla Furton with committee members: John Radloff, Jeff Bauman and Gary Nadolny.

Public Projects Ad Hoc Advisory Committee: Chair Kayla Furton with committee members: Joan Eick, Linda Rastall, Betsy Jaeger, Karen Thyne and Jeff Clochesy.

Policy Ad Hoc Advisory Committee: Chair Kristin Edgar with committee members: Karen Sylvester, Linda Freeman, Terry Rastall and Marty Eggener.

Boyle also announced that Furton has been added to serve on the Plan Commission, being a good fit with her also being on the Public Projects committee.

A procedure that has been in place for a long time has now been changed. Historically a reconciliation report was something that was signed off of by Supervisors as a checks and balance that they agree with the financials that shows the prior months bills that have already been reviewed and approved at the prior meeting. All supervisors were required to sign off before they get their pay check which worked well for the Treasurer as a checks and balance. With concern and opposition of a couple of Supervisors of signing off, Boyle came up with a solution as a work around to eliminate the supervisors from signing off. Boyle checked with the town accountant, Kerber and Rose and the work around would be for the Chair of the Finance Committee along with the Town Chairperson to sign off and that would eliminate of Supervisors signing off in order to receive their check.

Treasurer Marsha Rettke added, "This is not necessarily last months bills, but a reconciliation of our checking account and our money market accounts. The supervisors would look at copies of the statements verifying the financials, review and sign off. If the Financial Committee and the Chairperson sign off and that is ok with Kerber and Rose, then we should be good. But a motion needs to be made to reverse the prior policy and a motion to move forward with the new procedure".

Supervisor Baur interjected, "One of the things I ran on was fiscal responsibility and I am not ok with not seeing the financials of what has been paid and and how it has been spent". It was decided that the Supervisors will get a copy of the financials one week prior to the town meeting for their reviewâ€.

Two motions were made and approved with the first being to undo the vote that Town Board Supervisors don't get paid if they don't sign the reconciliation report. The second motion was made for the reconciliation report go to the Finance Committee, to be signed by the finance committee chairperson and the town chairperson with all supervisors getting a report a week before the town meeting.

Furton updated the board on the findings for surveying of Hale Road drainage issues. Furton advised. â€I met with the Water regulations zoning specialist and he recommended a survey of three culverts around Tom Fetterly's property. That was the missing data of the conversation and that would provide all of the information in regards to elevation, water flow and the towns responsibility. Land surveyor Tom McGuire provided a quote for surveying the property for $300. A motion was made to go forward with McGuire doing the survey.

The Town received correspondence from David Spangenberg of Spangenberg Law Offices in reference to status of legal records to be turned over to the Town of Peshtigo. A request was made by two town supervisors for transfer of legal records to the Town. In a response letter, Spangenberg stated "Since the direction did not come from the town board as a whole and given client confidentiality and attorney client privilege, I requested direction from the town to whom the files should be transferred to. I believe it would be advisable and in the towns best interest that the files be turned over directly to the next town attorney to preserve any attorney claim privilege and confidentiality. The files are prepared for the transfer and can be provided as directed by the Board". A motion was then made to have all the legal files transferred to the town clerk as custodian of financial records and upon receipt it is to be shared with the board members in closed session.

In his report, Town of Peshtigo Fire Chief, Mike Folgert advised there were 11 calls with four vehicle crashes, two grass fires, two structure fires with one being a mutual aid in city of Marinette where we assisted and one was a small electrical fire at the old Tradewinds, now Windjammers, also two calls to assist paramedics and one carbon monoxide incident.

We had 15 firefighters go thru pump operations training, four firefighters participated in the Safeguarding Our Communities and some of the town supervisors are going through that training as well. We are working with the City of Peshtigo and the City of Peshtigo Fire Department on the 150th anniversary commemorization of the Peshtigo Fire. We will be involved with the Historical Days and also will be working with the Wisconsin State Forest History Association of which they will be doing a conference in Peshtigo.

Also a follow up from a few months ago, I reported on our water rescue project of getting a boat, motor, trailer and rescue gear to go along with it. The total is between $22,000 to $24,000 and there will be no cost to the taxpayers. We are doing phenomenal with this project. We had a gun raffle and an ATV raffle on election day and we sold out of 250 tickets within a week. With a big thanks to Jon Drees, Mercury Marine and Darren Jacobsen from our Department, we took delivery of our boat Friday, April 16. A motor was donated by Mercury Marine and we will be getting that in August. I also submitted for a M&M Area Foundation grant and would like to give thanks to every one who helped, participated, donated or purchased raffle tickets of any kind, that is really going to help us out.

We are also working with the City of Marinette on their part of the water rescue as far as purchasing equipment and working together on that. We are working on an area wide water rescue project as far as purchasing equipment and working together on that. Marinette's is a little more complex with being larger, ours is a little bit smaller so we got the easy stuff.

The next Town meeting will be held Tuesday, May 18 at 7 p.m.


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