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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Middle Inlet Property Owners Billed For Driveway Culverts

Issue Date: October 18, 2017

Problems with road sign thieves continue, Middle Inlet Town Chair Richard Wade told the town board at its monthly meeting on Thursday, Oct. 12. He emphasized that the town's offer of a $1,000 reward for the apprehension and conviction of those responsible still stands. Most recently, the Raven Road signs, including post, brackets, were stolen. Replacement cost is $175.

Wade urged anyone from the public who sees suspicious activity related to theft or damage involving town signs or other town property to get a vehicle description and license plate number if possible, and then call him, Clerk Chuck Stanek, Town Supervisors Don Van or Ron Wenzel, Marinette County Sheriff's Department or Crime Stoppers. He pledged that all information will be kept confidential.

So far in the last two years or so over a dozen signs have been stolen or destroyed. Theft of stop signs is particularly dangerous, and could cause a death. If that happened, the person who stole or downed the sign could be guilty of homicide. In any case, sign replacement is expensive, and unnecessarily increases property taxes for everyone, Wade pointed out.

Wade was upset that shouldering still has not been done on the portion of Lake Road that was repaved this summer with cold mix blacktop. He said the contract agreement was that the shouldering would be done within two weeks after paving was complete, but it still has not been done. He noted that lack of shouldering creates some driving hazards and can damage the paved surface if vehicles slip off the pavement and drop onto unimproved shoulders. He said they had gone through this same problem with the same contractor three or four years ago, ""and we will discuss in 2018 whether or not we are going to again be using cold mix with that contractor."

In one instance a farmer driving a combine had encountered problems with the lack of shoulders and the pavement was damaged. Wade told him the contractor will have to pay for the repairs.

Due to heavy rains this summer and some insufficient culverts, Pines Road was flooded. The town was required to do some major ditching work that required replacement of numerous culverts giving access to private driveways. By town policy, the town does the ditch work, but property owners are responsible for the cost of replacing their driveway culverts.

Work has been done on the west side of Pines Road south of Pines Lane to the lake, and the affected property owners have been billed. Work on the east side of the road will start soon and when it is finished, property owners on that side will be billed.

Wade said there is some confusion and several owners have questioned why they are being billed. He repeated that property owners are responsible for their own private roads and driveways and must pay for their own culverts, including the cost of installation. However, that cost is less when everything is being done at once. He said one property owner objected to being billed, and said he would put in his own culvert. Wade pointed out he has that right, but until the culvert is in and the driveway is put in, there will be no vehicle access from the town road to that property.

Stanek agreed that eventually all the affected property owners will be billed.

Routine fall grading of gravel roads should be completed soon any additional gravel needs will be addressed during the Spring 2018 road checks.

Maintenance patching has been completed on Wayside Road, Forest Road and Elinor Drive.

Wade said he has been preparing applications for "TRI" and "TRID" grants for Hwy. XX and Moonshine Hill Road projects. If both applications are successful the town could gain approximately $126,000 of grant revenue. A grant application meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 30 at the Marinette county Highway Department office in Peshtigo. Wade noted attendance is mandatory. If for some reason he cannot attend the town will need to be represented by someone else.

Middle Inlet is a partner with neighboring municipalities in operation of the Near North Joint Municipal Court and the Northwoods Recycling Coalition and both have had some problems recently.

Van, who represents Middle Inlet on the Northwoods Recycling Coalition governing committee, reported there was significant confusion regarding its status at a meeting on Monday, Sept. 18.

Stanek said he had attended the meeting as an observer, and his take was that "No one seems to know what is happening"They do not know if it is going to be dissolved, or how it will function."

Representatives from the Town of Stephenson indicated that the coalition was to dissolve, but the other municipal representatives did not understand this to be the case, Stanek said.

Apparently, the Towns of Athelstane and Silver Cliff are no longer directly related to the coalition, and the Town of Wausaukee has formally withdrawn.

The Town of Stephenson has already contracted with Advanced Disposal for the recycling program. There were no figures available as to costs to be incurred by the Village of Crivitz or the Towns of Lake and Middle Inlet as coalition partners with the new program.

Van and Stanek said there was a discussion at the meeting regarding distribution of assets, including building and equipment. The coalition owns the building at the recycling center in the Village of Crivitz, but it is built on property belonging to the town. It cost $42,000 when built 15 years ago, but Town of Stephenson representatives had mentioned a $30,000 value now due to depreciation.

Meanwhile, the coalition was funded in part with recycling grants from the state, and dissolution could bring issues with that.

"Many questions must be resolved," Stanek declared. "Right now, it's a mess!"

Van said the coalition, or what remains of it, will continue functioning at least until March of 2018. Another meeting of the coalition is scheduled for December 11 at the Stephenson Town Hall.

Wade wondered if Middle Inlet would have a need for the coalition at all if they contract for recycling pickup with Advance Disposal. Van felt they would not.

Expenses of the recycling coalition were divided on the basis of population and distribution of assets apparently would be on the same basis. Stanek felt the best Middle Inlet would do would be $3,800 for the building, and a share of the value of the compactor, which cost $11,500 new but now is worth perhaps $5,000.

Stanek said the sad thing is the coalition operated at a profit in 2016, with total expenses of $79,000. Town of Stephenson supervisors Jeff Lieuwen and Kevin Solway reportedly had stated they would save $30,000 to $65,000 a year with the new program. With the Advance Disposal pickup there will no longer be a need separate recyclables. They collect everything together and sort it out later.

Meanwhile, the Town of Wausaukee has invited Middle Inlet to join its recycling program.

Stanek said the Village of Crivitz representative at the meeting said they are also not happy with the direction the coalition is taking and asked to meet with Middle Inlet and Lake to discuss various issues. Wade agreed they should do that, "Let's get some answers!"

Van said billing and grant applications are done by Town of Stephenson Clerk Elaine Olsen, and application deadline for 2018 grants is in October.

Van felt Middle Inlet has three options: 1) stay in the coalition, 2) form a new coalition with Crivitz and the Town of Lake, and 3) join the Town of Wausaukee recycling program.

"We're stuck with whatever we have right now and for now, but something has to be changed!" Stanek declared.

Moving on, Van reported the "Every-other Monday" trash collection in the town will start on Monday, Nov. 13 and continue through April of 2018 when weekly collection resumes.

The Town of Middle Inlet partners with the Towns of Stephenson, Lake and Silver Cliff and the Village of Wausaukee as members of the Near North Joint Municipal Court.

When the court was organized salary of the judge was set at $100 per month,with no provision for an increase. Each municipality was to pay an equal share of the costs. Through a misunderstanding, as other municipalities joined each began paying $100 per month in salary. That is now being changed so the total pay will be $300 per month rather than $500.

Stanek had been assigned to represent Middle Inlet as an alternate to Wade at a meeting of the Joint Municipal Court Committee that was held on Monday, Sept. 25. "We finally got organized!" Stanek declared.

Town of Stephenson Chair Mike Kudick was elected chair and Stanek secretary of the municipal court governing committee. Legal Counsel Kim Coggins and Thomas Schappa, Eighth Judicial District Court Administrator, also were present, along with Municipal Court Judge Catherine Stichman, who is a standing member of the committee, and representatives of Stephenson, Lake and the Village of Wausaukee.

After much discussion the committee agreed that for the remainder of the third year of the current term, until April of 2018, the Town of Stephenson and the Village of Wausaukee will continue paying the $100 per month to which they have already agreed, and the towns of Lake, Middle Inlet and the Silver Cliff will each pay one third of $100 per month, bringing pay for the judge to $300 per month. On May 1,2018, the monthly salary for the municipal judge will be fixed at $300 per month, to be shared equally by the participating municipalities.

After the explanation by Stanek, motion to approve the agreement for the Near North Joint Municipal Court was unanimously approved by the Middle Inlet board. Wade noted that starting in May of 2018 the Town of Middle Inlet will be saving $480 a year as a result of the new agreement.

The fire department had tried to get a replacement for the 4-wheel-drive "brush truck" firefighters use to help the DNR fight wildland fires in the town.

In the past, the DNR had provided these brush truck vehicles free to the fire department, but apparently that is no longer true.

Stanek told the board he has been informed that if the department is done with the old truck the DNR wants it back, and they can buy a replacement unit for $13,000 from the DNR. He declared the reason they have the truck is to help the DNR fight wildland fires, and suggested they should tell the DNR, "if you don't want us to help fight wildfires, go ahead and do it without us!"

A spokesman for the Fire Department said they cannot do without that truck or a similar one. "That truck carries our transfer pump, and we use it at our fill sites," he declared. "We use it a lot!" Every time there is fire, that truck goes to the fill site to pump water into the tanker trucks.

There was some confusion as to what equipment came with the truck and could be removed if it was returned to the DNR. Conclusion was that the matter needs to be clarified and will be addressed at a future town board meeting.

After brief discussion the board approved a contract with Inlet Electric to replace outdoor light fixtures at the Fire Station with LED lights, for a price of $1,674. Wade and Van voted in favor, and Supervisor Ron Wenzel abstained.

Wade commented the lights will pay for themselves through savings on the electric bill, and Wenzel agreed they will pay for themselves in no time.

The board was told the Fire Department responded to one call in September, to assist with a traffic roll over at County X and Camp Five Road.

Former Town Supervisor Jess Magerowski, who is also Town Hall caretaker, was recently elected secretary of the fire department.

There was brief discussion of the new sign for the town hall. Stanek said the town has paid for the sign, Mark LeMay put it together, and Magerowski now has it. They just need to get it put up. Wenzel agreed he will take charge of getting the sign hung.

Stanek reported the vehicular gate to the cemetery will close for the winter on Wednesday, Nov. 15. He had received a number of complaints regarding need to trim trees and brush in the cemetery, and comments that brush is growing into the cyclone fence. He said one tree is particularly bad and needs to come out. In addition, the discarded grave decorations near the dumpster should be cleaned up. The board agreed the work should get done, and if GAD is willing, the dumpster should stay there for he winter so it will be available right away in spring when people start cleaning up graves.

The board was advised cleanup of the "problem property" at W7586 Sweetheart City Road remains dependent on eviction of the tenant Thomas Malchow by the new owners. Once this is completed, they indicated their cooperation in correcting the conditions.

Compliance of properties at N9224 and N9236 Ellis Lane are still pending, dependent on follow-up per legal counsel.There is a problem in proposed removal of the mobile homes involved, where trees are growing through the roof. If the town does the removal and cleanup through a court decision they could get stuck with a $9,000 bill, since there are other liens on the property. However, the town attorney has advised the town can be sure its claim comes first, in which case they could get a lien and foreclose if it is not paid.

Stanek reminded the Board that a 2018 Budget Workshop needs to be scheduled in the near future, depending on completion of estimated revenues and expenditures.

Stanek reported the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has acknowledged receipt of the Town Road Certification reports.

October vouchers totaling $58,323.95 were approved for payment.

After reviewing the proposed agreement from the Marinette County Treasurer the board unanimously agreed to have the county handle collection of property taxes for the town again this year. Price was the same as in the agreements for previous years. Cost is 85 cents per parcel plus a $250 administrative for printing, mailing and processing the bills and receiving and processing the payments.

As a future agenda item, Wade reported that he has received a new proposal for subdividing a parcel located on the north shore of Lake Noquebay into four parcels of 11.6 acres to 16.3 acres each.

Included was a request for the town to consider developing a town road from the west end of Rector Road to the north shore of Lake Noquebay. There was no formal action since it was not an agenda item, but it was the consensus of the Board that since the road would be through a wetland area cost to develop it would not be feasible, and it would be better to have the area remain as a walking trail to access the lake. There were doubts the DNR would even allow a road there.

During time for public comment at the end of the meeting a lady in the audience commented in opposition to the proposed subdivision of the Brad Smart property. She said she knows he has filled in wetlands on his property over the years and said she has complained to the DNR and the Army Corps of Engineers but they did nothing. Wade told her Smart's initial plan for condos on the property has been changed and now he plans to subdivide it into large parcels instead, which should alleviate some of her concerns about traffic, since only one new owner will be using her road. She said none of the other owners on the private road want to put any money into it, and she lost a renter for next summer because of its condition.


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