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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town of Peshtigo Okays Committee Appointments

Road work and committee appointments comprised most of the business for Peshtigo Town Board at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Prompted by Town Chair Herman Pottratz, Treasurer Vilas Schroeder reported that since the town installed new LED exterior lights about eight months ago they have been saving over $90 a month on the light bill.

Without dissent the board approved a number of reappointments as proposed by Pottratz. Tim Oestreich, Joyce Buchman, Thomas Russell, Jim Deveich and alternate Leo Krivickas were returned to the Plan Commission for terms ending on March 31, 2020; Don Wahl was approved for a new Fire Commission term ending on April 30, 2020, and Wayne Gerondale and Edward Kowalski were returned to the Board of Appeals for terms ending on Jan. 21, 2020.

Without dissent the board approved paying the town's $5,5005.76 share to participate in the state's Fire Department Service Award program. In that program the state matches the town's contribution to the fund that provides retirement pay to longtime volunteer firefighters based on the number of years they have served. The town has been part of the program since it began several years ago

"Being on the fire department is no picnic...They're called out at all hours of the night, fighting fires, pulling cars out of ditches, keeping people safe," commented Pottratz before casting his vote in favor. Supervisor Mark Monnette abstained from voting because he is a member of the fire department. Supervisors Dan Van Beek and Dan Staudenmaier voted in favor. Supervisor Denise Wiedemeier was absent because she is out of the state.

At the end of November the town had a healthy balance in its winter maintenance account for roads, but that changed with the weather in December. Monnette, who is in charge of road work, reported they put 150 tons of salt and sand on town roads in December, and people still were complaining. "I hate to see what January's bills will look like," he added, partly in reference to the previous night's freezing rain and the number of snow storms already since the first of the month.

That led to a general discussion on people's expectations in regard to winter road conditions. Monnette recalled the town used to just salt and sand hills, curves and intersections, but now the public demands that the entire road be salted. "People need to slow down and drive," he commented.

Bruce Vogeltanz, who was present with his wife Gayle and neighbors Harold and Elizabeth Myers to discuss getting Brooke Road converted from a private road to a town road, asked to speak on the winter maintenance issue.

Vogeltanz said he moved to the town from Menominee County five years ago, "and the roads are 100 percent better here than they are in either the city or county of Menominee...You guys do a wonderful job!" It's amazing how good the roads are here, they're wonderful!"

"The people in our town are spoiled," Monnette agreed.

Pottratz said the town has been working with Marinette County on road projects, and said County Highway Commissioner Ray Palonen does a good job.

Pottratz particularly praised Road King for their handling of the winter plowing operations and other work. "He's fussier than the dickens," Pottratz commented. "We've got to commend him for the good job he does!"

Monnette reported briefly on road work done in 2016 and projects planned for 2017.

The 2016 work included Kutz Road, small portions of Cleveland Ave., part of Hale Road, and Spitzmacher Road. In 2017, paving is planned for small sections of Leaf Road, Rehms Road, Old Peshtigo Road, and Rader Road. Shouldering will be done on Frontage and Madsen Roads. They may put more gravel on Spitzmacher Road to build up the base so it can be paved again in future.

Ditching work will be done as needed. Monnette said they may buy the used sign truck from Marinette County and a new mower for the Tiger tractor that will extend into the ditch.

"With the cost of blacktop, we can only do small sections," Monnette declared. "We can't keep up with what should be done. We're falling behind year after year!"

At the start of the meeting Pottratz said he had been contacted by Mrs. Vogeltanz and Mrs. Myers on the possibility of getting Brooke Lane turned into a town road rather than a private drive. The agenda was amended to include discussion on that issue.

Pottratz said Brooke Lane has been a problem for several years. The person who had owned the property built the subdivision and sold lots with 99 year easements for use of Brooke Lane. It was basically built to town standards but was never paved. Since then, the property on which Brooke Lane is located has been sold several times, but the road remains private, which means the town does not take care of snow plowing or other maintenance. At least one former owner kept the road plowed but the new owner does not.

Pottratz also said the person who owns a private road also has liability if anyone gets injured on it. The property on which Brooke Lane is located is currently owned by Mike Marineau, but his name was not mentioned at the meeting.

There are similar situations elsewhere in the town, Pottratz said. One he cited was Kuran Lane, which was taken over by Marinette County when the owner let it go for back taxes, and apparently is not currently maintained as a road by anyone. The county continues to own it, and continues to bear the liability. However, he said, the residents like their lane and do not want it changed.

As to Brooke Lane, Pottratz said if the people who live on it and have easements for its use can get the owner to give it to them, it could be blacktopped, with the residents getting special assessments to pay the bill over a 5 year period with very low interest. He said the road was built to town road standards, except that it was never paved.

Clerk Clarence Coble said the county will not accept the road right of way as a parcel unless it is surveyed, which will apparently need to be included in the road improvement costs shared by the people who own property on the road. He said everything could be done at once. The town would agree to get the paving done and the adjoining land owners would agree to pay for it.

An alternative would be for the adjoining land owners to get the current owner to deed the road to them and share the costs of plowing, etc., in which case it could remain a private road and remain unpaved.

One of the ladies involved said when they bought their house they did not know it was a private road, and the person who owns the road did not know he owned it.

Asked if they could just leave the road gravel, Monnette said in accord with town ordinance, it has to be blacktopped and built to town standards before the town will accept it. Asked if the ordinance could be changed, Monnette asked, "Why would we?"

Pottratz said changing the ordinance would require approval of the whole town board and the Plan Commission.

Coble said since the ordinance was passed several former private roads have been brought up to standards and blacktopped in order for the town to accept them, and for the town to accept an unpaved road now would be a slap in the face to them.

One of the ladies said if the road remains unplowed the fire department and ambulance could not get to them, and they have been notified their mail will not be delivered if the road is hazardous.

Monnette assured her the fire department would get in, and they have a mile of hose, but rescue squad access could be an issue.

One of the men asked if the repayment time could be extended from five years to seven, which he felt would be better for property owners on fixed incomes. He said with the estimated paving costs, each property owner would need to pay about $1,000 a year to get it paid back in five years.

"Why can't you just leave it gravel?" asked LeRoy Spitzmacher. "You ground up Spitzmacher Road and left it that way." That led to brief talk about the Spitzmacher Road work, which board members said was done to eliminate pot holes.

"This has been going on for several years and we want to get it settled," declared Pottratz.

It was finally agreed that the town should send a letter to the owner. Van Beek felt that would convince the owner that they are serious. Pottratz said the town board could offer to meet with the owner to work out the details.

"That's a good start," Myers remarked.

In other action, the board set the next meeting date for Tuesday, Feb. 14 because of the Spring primary election on Tuesday, Feb. 21, the regular meeting date. They agreed to advertise for quotes for the audit that was approved in the 2017 budget, with acceptance scheduled for the March meeting.

The board unanimously agreed to allow Debby Smith of Brushes and Canvas, LLC to continue using the Community Room at the town hall for classes. All had gone well over the six month trial period that was just completed, and Smith enthusiastically said she would like to continue.

Assistant Fire Chief Rich Seils reported they had two calls in December, one for a tree down and one to a MABAS alarm to help the City of Marinette with a fire. There are three new members in training that should be done by the end of February.

Schroeder, who is a supervisor on Marinette County Board, reported that two weeks ago the board lost an excellent member with the death of Vice Chair Kathy Just. "She had a wealth of knowledge," he declared. "She was a super lady who had the welfare of the county at heart. It's hard to lose her!"

Van Beek reported all is going well at the Recycling Center. He said the new shelter is working well, and traffic moves smoothly through the site as a result of improvements made last summer and fall.


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PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
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