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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town Peshtigo Airs Road, Billing Issues

Issue Date: June 7, 2018

Tempers flared occasionally during an hour-long special Town of Peshtigo board meeting on Tuesday, June 5. Agenda listed two items in open session: options for Mayflower Road and a billing received from Road King.

The bill referred to was for gravel and grading Road King had done on a number of town roads this spring, but the main issue appeared to be not content of the bill, but an attempt by Town Chair Denise Wiedemeier to get bills turned in prior to the board meeting date, and to get supervisors to look over jobs before approving them for payment.

The road issue and billing discussions were followed by closed session discussion on employment contracts for Town Treasurer Vilas Schroeder and Town Clerk Clarence Coble. Town Attorney David Spangenberg was involved in both the open and closed session discussions. After the closed door discussions the board authorized Supervisor Mark Monnette and Wiedemeier to meet with Spangenberg to review contents of the two contracts.

Hot topic for the meeting was the Road King bill. Wiedemeier said that her concern was not with the content of the bill or the services that were billed for, but with the fact that it had not been with the other bills when she came to look them over at noon on May 15, in preparation for the board meeting that evening,when it was approved for payment.

She said in 2016 the town board approved a policy that all bills must be in by the 10th of each month if they were to be paid at that month's board meeting. They have not been following that policy.

Since the Road King bill had not come in until sometime on May 15 there was no time for supervisors to view the work done before approving it for payment, she said.

At the start of that discussion Wiedemeier asked if all the supervisors had a chance to look at the bill, and gave time for them to look it over.

Monnette, who has for a number of years been the supervisor in charge of overseeing road work, said after Jim Wortner was done hauling and grading this spring he had gone down most of the roads, including Strojny, Spitzmacher, Deer Trail and others, but not Coble Road. There was gravel added to each of them, some could even have used more. "When I saw this bill I had no qualms about paying it at all," he declared.

Wiedemeier argued there is no way supervisors could get a bill on the day of the meeting and look at the jobs before approving payment. She said supervisors need to spend a little more time, get out and look at jobs before paying them, and she had called this meeting to discuss that.

Jim Wortner, of Road King, said the bill had been turned in at 10 o'clock on May 15 at the town office. He said if the board does not trust him they could do like other towns do, which would be to pay directly for the gravel, and when he picks it up he would get slips for them from the county.

Monnette agreed they could get weight slips, "But how do you know were he dumped it, unless you follow his trucks?"

Coble cautioned they were talking now about things that had has nothing to do with the bill. It appeared there had been some issues about charges for gravel on Coble Road, which is a paved road, except for about 100 yards to the turnaround at the end, which is privately owned.

"I explained that to you several times, " Coble told Wiedemeier. "That gravel goes on the final 100 yards, to the area where the snowplow turns around." The gravel is put on the privately owned part of the road to replace gravel the town truck plowed off. This is done on a number of dead end roads, in Peshtigo and every other town. The alternative would be for the plow truck to stop where the town owned portion of the road ends,push the snow to one side, and then back all the way out. Wortner said he did the same thing on Strojny Road.

"I get calls from the public," Wiedemeier said.

"If that bill said Wiedemeier Road or Staudenmaier Road there wouldn't be a problem!" Coble declared. "I'm thinking of petitioning for a road name change!"

Daryl Joy had been told the complaint came from another road work contractor, who is not a town resident.

Wiedemeier said both Monnette and Tom Holterman have road responsibilities as town supervisors, and Holterman had not seen a single one of them. Monnette repeated he had checked them. The bill in question was in the town office when he stopped on May 15, but he was not there at the same time as Wiedemeier.

Supervisor Dan Van Beek said the board approved the bill because there was no objection to it.

Wiedemeier repeated, "People ask if we've seen it"I'm asking the board to look at the work, to do their job!"

Coble said each meeting night the agenda provides for supervisors to look over bills and discuss them between 6:15 and 7 p.m., and they certainly can do that.

"I'm asking supervisors to do their job," Wiedemeier repeated.

Coble asked if she wanted them to go back to not paying any bill that isn't in by the 10th of the month.

"No, I'm just asking for a little help," Wiedemeier replied.

The discussion ended without action. There was then a motion to go into closed session for the Coble and Schroeder contact discussions, which lasted about 20 minutes.

The Mayflower Road discussion started the meeting, and that too ended inconclusively. Wiedemeier said the town has all the legal descriptions needed, and asked Spangenberg to explain what options the town has for the small corner of land the state sold them for $1. Coble pointed out that agreement with the state includes a requirement that it stay open for public use in perpetuity. It cannot be sold or given away for private use.

Conversation at the meeting included that the town has been trying for 12 years to decide what to do about Mayflower Road. Adjoining property owners want it closed. Closing the road would leave a fourth property landlocked, which cannot legally be done in Wisconsin. The town has been seeking ways to satisfy every one involved, which would mean abandoning the road, while guaranteeing that no property will be left landlocked.

Monnette said the main reason the town wanted the state-owned piece of land adjoining Mayflower road was to create a driveway to the off-road property so they could abandon the rest of the road without land locking it. By law, when a road is abandoned, half goes to the adjoining owner on each side. In this case, the town owns the property on one side, which would give room for the driveway.

Recently one of the adjoining land owners had the town road paved, without getting permission from the town. Monnette questioned why a reputable contractor would pave a town road without permission from the town. Wiedemeier said the land owner had given him incorrect information.

"Now, as a board, what can we do? What's right for all the land owners?"

Monnette noted a few years ago the town was prepared to blacktop the road, but one of the land owners refused to sign an agreement. He said he then told one of the owners, "If you can come to an agreement between yourselves, we will do everything we can to help, but without that, we can do nothing - our hands are tied."

Wortner asked if the owner in question knew about the meeting, and was told he was notified. He was not present, but the potentially landlocked owner was. He said he had not been approached for any agreement by any of the other owners.

Coble said there seems to be no survey on that road, so no one knows if it really is built where it is supposed to be. Also, once a road has been open to the public for 10 years as a road it becomes a 49-rod town road, unless there is a record otherwise.

Wiedemeier said there are also trees planted on town property, where they shouldn't be, and a sign posted on it takes away the state aid the town gets for it.

Spangenberg commented paving without permission is trespass.

"The town is willing to do whatever is necessary to make all the parties happy," Wiedemeier said.

Spangenberg advised they could leave the road as it is, or they could get all parties to agree to an alternate plan.

Coble repeated that the land obtained from the state has to remain open to the public. There was a suggestion that the town could give a permanent driveway easement over it, and agreement that that would work. Coble repeated the four property owners need to work out an easement that gives access all the way out to County B.

Spangenberg said the town cannot start any process without the property owners having an agreement, and then there needs to be an easement. There was a survey done in in 2015. The property owners would need to pay recording fees and any other expenses.

Schroeder said to date the town has spent possibly $800 to $900 in attempts to get this issue resolved.

Wiedemeier said the town doesn't get that much state aid for the road, and if the adjoining owners want it, they can have it.


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