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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town of Peshtigo Names Staudenmaier Vice Chair

At its meeting on Tuesday, June 20, Peshtigo Town Board approved Supervisor 1 Dan Staudenmaier to serve as Vice Chair for the town, should Chair Denise Wiedemeier be absent for any reason. Clerk Clarence Coble said if the board had taken no action, by state law the Supervisor 1 person would have the vice chair post by default.

"We've been extremely busy," Wiedemeier declared. She said as a result of the storm on Sunday, June 11 had called a special emergency town meeting at noon on Tuesday, June 13 for Marinette County Emergency Management Director Eric Burmeister to explain emergency assistance that may be available to help the town pay for cleanup after the storm, and it looks like the town will be eligible.

Town workers earlier on Tuesday, June 20 had finally finished cleaning up most of the trees, leaves and branches downed by the storm and fixed other problems, Wiedemeier said. She expected they would finish up on Wednesday and then start their regular mowing and maintenance work, which is now about two weeks behind schedule.

A special area in the town's recycling and disposal center had been opened to help residents dispose of brush and other woody debris resulting from the storm because the regular brush area was so muddy no one could drive in there Wiedemeier said. Later they may hold a special controlled burn or perhaps a fire department training session to get rid of it.

Fire Chief Mike Folgert reported the Fire Department had its busiest month ever. Even without the storm they had 29 calls. On June 11, the day of the storm, they had 30 calls within a few hours. Cost for the fire department on that one day, using state rates for equipment, has tallied $7,000 so far and they are still calculating. The department now has 24 members, Folgert said.

Supervisors Mark Monnette and Tom Holterman, who were appointed last month as the roads committee, had toured town roads and prepared a proposed list of work for 2017. Monnette had contacted Marinette County Highway Department and was told they can do all the work on the list and will be glad to have the work, but cannot start immediately. He recommended having them do everything but the shoulder work, which is badly needed in some areas. The board agreed they should get prices and get it done. Monnette said the work areas are "spotty," but a lot more than the town crew could do with gravel and a shovel.

Road work, in addition to the shouldering, includes .2 of a mile of overlay and .4 of a mile total reconstruction on Leaf Road, .4 of a mile of total reconstruction on Krause Road and .5 of a mile of total reconstruction on Old Peshtigo Road; grading and adding gravel on Badger Road and grading and adding breaker rock and gravel on Pleasant View Road.

Minor restoration work planned includes wedge work in Boneham Addition and on Edwards Ave., culvert patch on Dahl, raising two culverts on Samsa, and one on Richter, patch work on Harbor Road and on Cleveland Ave. near the Boneham Addition, in addition to the shoulder gravel to be done on many roads and crack sealing to be done as the budget allows when other work is done.

A motion was made to advertise for quotes for the shoulder and crack sealing work, with quotes to be returned before the July 18 board meeting. Monnette said he and Holterman will go out again to list precisely where the work is needed.

Wiedemeier said Monnette and Holterman are in charge of the roads and ditches, "and I want everyone to know if they have an issue with roads or ditches I will not override Mark or Tom. I would like them to talk directly to Mark so they can relay the information correctly."

During time for public comment Bruce Vogeltanz asked if something can be done about changing the days when the recycling/disposal site is open. He said the current schedule, with sometimes 10 days between openings, is too infrequent for summer, when the five or six bags of garbage they manage to collect can get pretty bad.

Wiedemeier said they have considered adding a day, and will put it on next month's agenda. A bit later in the meeting the board approved advertising for workers for the recycling center.

Vogeltanz was at the meeting in regard to a possible agreement for the town to take over Brooke Lane, which serves about nine properties but is not owned by the town. Coble said people have ben trying for several years to find a way to improve that road. He learned from Marinette County that the original owner still owns it, and it remained after the other properties were sold off. The county appears not to have taken it on back taxes, but past discussion was that the owner previously said he would allow it to become a town road. There was also discussion on the possibility he still owns property with access to Brooke Lane.

Coble said he had gotten estimates on the cost of improving the road to town standards as an 18-foot road. There would be one culvert. He declined to give the quote price because of probable future need for competitive bidding or quotes, but said based on the estimate, if all nine property owners agree to share the cost, with 3 percent interest, it would be paid off in five years at $800 a year each, or seven years at $600 a year each. These would be legally binding agreements, with the payments to be put on the tax roll as special assessments and treated as an addition to the property tax bill. The town has taken similar action on other roads that had been privately owned. Kuran Road is owned by the county, Coble said, but the county does not maintain it.

Vogeltanz inquired about the quote, and said he had talked to two contractors and got prices of $49,000 from one and $26,000 from the other. He had spoken with other property owners, and two of them each own two of the nine lots and would not agree to be billed double, so that would leave seven owners to split the cost.

Coble advised Vogeltanz to draft a letter for the property owners to sign indicating they are willing to pay the special assessment and once all have signed the town can go ahead with getting the work done.

The board approved Wiedemeier's suggestion of adding a cell phone line for town use at a price of $20.99 per month. Wiedemeier said she will donate her old smart phone for that purpose. She will carry the phone, and when she is gone will turn it over to the vice chair to take calls on the same number. She said during the recent storm there was an issue with Internet and telephone service at the town hall and they could not get on-line with the computer. The cell phone did work during the storm and was able to connect on-line. They could also use it to take photos as needed, she said.

All beer and liquor licenses in Wisconsin come up for renewal on July 1 each year. Coble reported that Sherrie Veriha has applied for the license held by the now closed Schussler's Supper Club and will be re-opening the business as "Embers 1871."

Other beer and liquor license applications are the same as last year with two exceptions, Coble said. Effective July 1, his "Two C's Game Farm" license will go to his daughter instead of him, and Doug Miron wants the town to hold the license for Giacino's instead of issuing it. That building on Hwy. 64 is being offered for sale. In accord with a suggestion from Monnette, the board approved holding the license for one year, with the understanding they could extend the time they hold it again next year if the building does not sell. Coble said there is no one asking for a license that is not available, and all the license applications, including those for beverage servers, are on file at the town hall for anyone to view if they want to.

Treasurer Vilas Schroeder reported voucher payments for the month totaled $55,895.53. The CD at Peshtigo National Bank came due and he re-invested the funds in the state investment pool for liquidity purposes.

In response to a request from Coble, Ann Hartnell, executive director of Marinette County Association for Business and Industry (MCABI) addressed the board on the possibility of grants for getting broadband internet service extended to unserved areas of the town.

Hartnell said CenturyTel has received a grant through which they are tasked with providing Broadband in 97 percent of the areas they are responsible for.

The City of Peshtigo last year got a grant to get high speed optic fiber internet service extended to the back part of its Industrial park, and she has a copy of their application. Without the grant, businesses seeking the high speed internet connection were going to be charged perhaps $10,000 to have lines run across the street. Peshtigo Mayor Cathi Malke has offered to help the town in any way they can if they decide to apply.

Hartnell said letters of support really help with grant applications, especially if they are multi-jurisdictional. For example, Peshtigo and Marinette School Districts might be willing to support a town grant request because they want their students to have Internet access. Financial institutions might also support the requests. Generally the grants are 50/50 cost sharing, and the town can get others to contribute toward its 50 percent. MCABI might even contribute, as might the school districts, banks, businesses, and others, including the telecommunications service providers. She said they should start preparing now for the next round of grant applications. There will be another round this year if the state legislature passes the funding for it in their current session, but even if the application will not be submitted until spring, they should start working on it now. CenturyLink will help prepare the grant application, Hartnell said.

Coble said he had talked with a CenturyTel representative who suggested they should try for service on B and BB until it gets into Marinette.

In Florence County and the far northwest corner of Marinette County cost of Broadband service was $144,000, with the grant paying half. The county contributed $10,000 including in-kind work, and the rest came from other sources, including $1,000 from Marinette County and $500 from MCABI, $500 each from the towns; $5,000 each from Dickinson County Hospital and Florence School District, plus contributions from individual residents and seasonal property owners, UWEX, Florence County Economic Development, Emergency Government. Hartnell said if Peshtigo is interested she will put them in contact with people who will help.

Schroeder was concerned about meeting the in-kind requirement. "We don't have any businesses and B and BB are mostly residential," he commented.

Hartnell said the Town of Peshtigo probably has more businesses than all of Florence County.

In an almost after-the-fact action, the board approved use of the Town Hall and Fire Department parking lot from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 25 as a rest stop for the Century Bike Ride as has been done in past years. Volunteers will be on duty all day. Coble explained the request had come to the town in January and was listed on the calendar but through an oversight was never put on the board's agenda for approval. Port-a-potties are already set up at the edge of the parking lot.

Staudenmaier reported work is progressing on repairs for the town hall sign. In the aftermath of the storm, no roofs are leaking and no windows were blown in, so all is well.

Supervisor Dan Van Beek reported that they are thinking of building a vehicle ramp between the two 30-yard roll off dumpsters at the recycling center like they have at Porterfield. He said it will save a great deal of time and expense if people can drive up there and toss things into containers themselves instead of needing to have workers continuously push them up.

Schroeder asked about what appeared to be an increase in rates charged by Waste Management for the recycling and garbage disposal operation. He said the bills for the last two months have been over $3,600, almost twice the usual $1,900 each. Wiedemeier said there had been a town cleanup day, which included a request for one extra trip. She said Waste Management some months ago had given notice that they intended to raise their price, but then had agreed to keep all their charges the same. Schroeder is to check further into reasons for the higher bills and report back.

"Some people in this town are pretty upset with me," Constable Rick Badgley told the board. He said when he gets calls from people complaining about barking dogs he urges them to stay on good terms with their neighbors by talking to them directly before involving him.

Some have followed that advice and even called him back to thank him for the advice. She had learned her neighbors were really nice people who didn't realize their dogs were creating a disturbance while they were away.

Others have given angry responses, told him that's his job, and gave other rude responses. He said he has been getting lots of calls, including one from someone who wanted to order a pizza.

Wiedemeier agreed there have been many complaints about barking dogs, and apologized for the behavior of callers who were rude. She agreed it is better for neighbors to resolve things peacefully without getting law enforcement involved, and commented, "We encourage people to be pet owners, but be responsible pet owners."

Schroeder, who also serves as County Board supervisor for part of the town, reported that the Carlson Dettman wage study of wages paid to county employees will be the major item on the County Board agenda for its meeting on Tuesday, June 27. He said the estimate is that implementing the new pay scale for the last six months of 2017 will cost about $334,000, but added, "We're investing a lot of money on training employees that we can't retain. If we want to keep our employees, we have to pay them fair wages."

Method for board members to place items on the agenda for upcoming meetings was among the last issues addressed. "I just wanted to say, it's really important for any on this board to have anything they want to discuss listed on the agenda. If anyone has something to add, I would love that," she added. "Just bring or call your suggestion in to the town hall before the Thursday prior to the board meeting and it will be listed."

The next meeting is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 18.


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