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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Recreation Deputies Give Updates on ATV/UTV Rules

Issue Date: July 15, 2021

At a busy Town of Middle Inlet meeting on Thursday, July 8, Marinette County Recreation Officer Zak Albrecht and DNR Warden Dale Romback provided updated information on laws governing ATV/UTV use on town and county roads in Marinette County, Town Attorney Kim Coggins addressed issues surrounding a restraining order that applies to Town Supervisor Chuck Stanek and fielded other questions, and Clerk/Treasurer Patricia Schutte said there had been numerous questions concerning the Mobile Home/Camper ordinance approved by the board last month, â€and it may need some tweaking.â€

Also on hand to answer questions pertaining to recreational vehicle use on public roadways were Pat and Pattie Mullarky, of the Marinette County Trails Alliance.

At the request of the Middle Inlet Town Board, Marinette County Board on June 29 had approved County Highway X beginning at Right of Way Road and ending at Lake Mary Road all in the Town of Middle Inlet as a connecting portion of the ATV/UTV trail system in Marinette County, and all Middle Inlet town roads are open for ATV/UTV use, as are town roads in most of Marinette County.

Albrecht said everyone on the recreational vehicles under age 18, even a 1-year-old, must be wearing a helmet. He added this pretty much prevents the very young ones from being passengers, since there are no helmets to fit them. Also, on side/by/sides, all passengers, but not the drivers, must be wearing seat belts. Machines not designed by the manufacturer to carry more than one person must not have more than one person aboard. Lights must be turned on and must be dimmed when approaching other vehicles, on roads and on trails, Albrecht said. As with cars, there are to be white or amber lights in front and red or amber lights in back. In accord with state laws, no multiple lights, strobe lights, and multi-colored lights, including possibly â€whips,†depending on how tall they are, are allowed, except that while snow plowing flashing amber lights are allowed.

Albrecht and Romback said more information on trails and hours of operation can be found on the WI DNR and Marinette County websites.

Albrecht and Romback said more of their efforts are focused on educating people than on issuing tickers, â€but we do stop people.â€

Albrecht said today there are very few towns in Marinette County without roads open for ATV/UTV use, and popularity of the machines â€is increasing by leaps and bounds...so fast that the laws cannot keep up.â€

Albrecht said people regularly ask him why they don't just open all the roads, and said he tells them there some places where hazards are present, but in general, all 18 towns in Marinette County have opened all or most of their roads for ATV/UTV use.

Asked if beer can still be consumed on the vehicles, Albrecht said it can, â€but the driver cannot be intoxicated.†He said Marinette County is considering an ordinance that would prohibit drinking alcohol on the machines. On Town of Niagara roads, ATV/UTV drivers must have a driver's license.

Pattie Mullarky reminded everyone that the Marinette county roads on which the recreational vehicles are allowed are only open to them from May 1 through Dec. 1 each year, and only from dawn to dusk. Nighttime use on Marinette county roads is prohibited.

Albrecht said Marinette County now has two recreational officers in addition to the two DNR wardens.

Boating regulations on Lake Mary/Lake Julia have been hot button issues for some Town of Middle Inlet residents, and a questioner from the audience asked if there are any recent updates for Wisconsin boating laws. Albrecht said there are not.

To further questions, Albrecht said if any town wants to have its own lake ordinances, they must also have their own enforcement officers. â€There is more to that than just hiring a guy over age 18 and giving him a gun,†Albrecht cautioned. He said enforcement officers must be trained and certified. The Town of Stephenson now hires off duty Marinette County Sheriff's Department officers to enforce its boating regulations.

Mullarky said the Trail Alliance holds meetings once a month from September through spring, and anyone interested is invited to attend.

In response to questions on the restraining order against Chuck Stanek, Coggins said, â€Obviously, now that he's an elected official, Chuck Stanek has a right to be at the town hall.â€

There have been questions at every meeting in regard to the injunction that was brought against Stanek by a former Clerk/Treasurer because he repeatedly asked for financial reports that she never did supply.

Coggins said Judge Jane Sequin, at the injunction hearing, determined there was probable cause that Stanek's requests were harassment. He had represented the town at the hearing. The injunction will end in November of 2023.

Coggins said the District Attorney is aware of the injunction, and has not had any reports that Stanek has violated it.

Asked if the person seeking the information had a right to get an answer, Coggins said they could make an Open Records request, and if that is not honored, a complaint can be filed with Circuit Court.

To another question, Coggins said â€having an injunction against you is not the same as being convicted of a felony.â€

H e also cautioned that during public comment time at town board meetings, members of the public can say whatever they want, but board members should not answer questions or engage in conversations in regard to items that are not on the agenda.

A lady in the audience asked just how much money the former clerk had cost the town in over draft fees and late filings, and Coggins suggested she could file an open records request for that information.

Town Chair Rich Wade noted problems with theft of signs, including Stop Signs, are continuing, and reminded everyone that the town still offers a $1,000 reward for anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone for stealing, removing or damaging road signs in Middle Inlet. A stop sign at the intersection of Moonshine Hill Road and Camp 5 Road had been pulled out of the ground and left in the ditch, and that could have caused a serious accident, Wade said.

A safety issue on Hwy. XX had been corrected by installing intersectionand caution signs with red flags at Reuff and Wasko Roads, and brushing to improve visibility.


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