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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Okays UDAG Loan For Evergreen Tool Expansion

Issue Date: October 4, 2018

With full consent of Peshtigo City Council, miscellaneous ghosts, ghouls, goblins and other questionable creatures of the night will be at large on the streets of Peshtigo from 4 to 6 p.m. on Halloween, which is Wednesday, Oct. 31. Homeowners, beware! And keep the porch lights on if you want to get in on the fun.

Before asking Council to vote on the Trick or Treat hours, Mayor Cathi Malke asked Police Chief Richard Badgley if having Trick or Treaters out after dark created problems for police, and he said there has been no trouble. Everyone agreed it is good to give the kids time to get home from school and into costume before their traditional evening Halloween outing.

In more serious business, Public Works Director George Cowell reminded everyone that Fall sweeping season has begun. He said residents can put leaves in the streets to be swept up, but they must not include any fresh grass clippings or twigs. These things can be put on the tree lawn side of the curb. Residents also can put leaves and grass clippings alongside the alleys and his crew will try to get one more run done before winter, Cowell said.

During time for public comment, Kelly Jahnke introduced herself and her husband Jim as new owners of Brown's Corner, and said they are excited about their new venture but realize they have some big shoes to fill in taking over for long-time owners Ralph and Deb Brown, who owned the business for many years. Later in the meeting Council approved the Class B retail license for Jahnke's Venture, LLC, contingent on the Browns surrendering their license, and approved a beverage server license for Kelly Jahnke, as well as for Paul Foley, Wendy Blasinski and Paula McClatchery.

They also approved a temporary Class B Retail license for St. Mary Catholic Church to hold a benefit fundraiser for Easton Anderson on Saturday, Nov. 3.

By unanimous vote Council approved a $400,000 UDAG Loan to Evergreen Tool Company, Inc. for a 15-year term at 2.5% interest for expansion of their business. There were comments from the Council that the firm has been highly successful, has an excellent business record, and has already begun adding new employees. The city is to hold second position on the building property and equipment, but other terms are to be the same as their previous UDAG loan. Alderperson Jillian Schutte was concerned about the risk of being in second position. She was assured by Attorney Spangenberg that they remain protected because they still hold first position on the original loan.

Council also unanimously approved a $20,000 UDAG loan to French Street Floral & Gifts as requested by owner Kirsten Peters. That loan is for 15 years at 3 percent interest and no less than a second position on the building property and additional vacant property.

Both loan requests were recommended for approval after discussion in closed session at the RLF/UDAG Committee meeting on Thursday, Sept. 20. Committee members present for that meeting were Thomas Maxwell, Daniel Seymour, Glenn Seyfert, Sandra Eklund and Malke, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Alderman Schmidt, who was excused. Also at the meeting were City Clerk/Treasurer Tammy Kasal, City Attorney David Spangenberg, Joe and Beth Beranek of Evergreen Tool, and Peters.

On motion by Personnel Committee Chair Debbie Sievert Council accepted the resignation of Paul Lemery from the city fire department, authorized advertising for persons to fill full time positions of patrolman with the police department and laborer/truck driver/heavy equipment operator/wastewater treatment plant operator with the Public Works Department, and approved hiring Chris Erickson on a part time basis as a WWTP operator at his current weekend rate of pay.

An offer from Peshtigo Youth Baseball (PYB) to help pay for blacktop walkways at Ballfield 1 was approved. The city's cost for the $8,000 project will be $3,500. In a letter from PYB President Ryan Haulotte the city was advised that Peshtigo Asphalt and the Bickle family have agreed to donate half of the project, and to reduce costs by $500 the city will supply gravel needed for the project, bringing the city's share down to the $3,500. To questions from the Council, Parks and Recreation Director David Zahn said there is money in his budget for this. The plan is to pave an area connecting the third base dugout, restrooms, concession stands, restrooms and handicapped parking that currently will not maintain grass or a smooth walking area.

Cowell reported the Emery Ave. project is in full construction and is on schedule. Water mains at the intersection with McGraw are to be replaced on Thursday, Oct. 4, and at the Thompson Street intersection on Friday, Oct. 5. Curb is to be installed starting Oct. 15, after which gravel will be put in and paving will start shortly afterward.

Work on Aubin Street is to start next week.

Marinette County Highway Department was hired to do some epoxy sealing on the Trout Creek ridge on Emery Ave.

Council spent some time discussing a request from Karen Hanneman that the city remove the arrow turn sign and curb that obstruct South Cranberry Avenue. Despite Malke's efforts to get quick action, Council voted to give Public Works Director George Cowell authority to correct the situation until it can go to the Streets and Drainage Committee for a full discussion.

In a letter addressed to Malke, Hanneman said the existing arrow sign and curb that extends into the road right of way make it appear that there is no access to the three lots and building she is tying to sell there. She said the sign and curb obstruct one half of South Cranberry and the other half is grass. She asked that the arrow sign and curb be removed, and also that the street be cleared of debris.

At the start of the discussion Malke noted she had distributed copies of Hanneman's letter to aldermen, and asked if they had gone to look at the problem she wants corrected. She said Hanneman is planning an auction soon to sell contents of the pole building on the property and would like people to know they can get to it.

She said the house next door and vehicles parked there also obstruct the view and make it look like there is no access and people cannot see her sign.

Alderman Debbie Sievert said she is from that area and did not even know there was a pole building back there, because South Cranberry looks like it dead ends there.

Alderman Jon Berendt said he too had gone to look things over and talk to Hanneman. He felt originally Hanneman liked the sign where it is because it somewhat protected the security of her building, but now she wants it gone. He said her sign is now more visible because the neighbors had moved the camper they had parked there.

Malke pointed out a fence the neighbors constructed is exactly on the lot line, and said several months ago Hanneman had talked to the Streets Committee about having it moved back.

Alderman Mike Behnke said he too had looked over the problem area. In response to an invitation from Malke for a motion to resolve the issue on Hanneman's behalf, he proposed a motion to remove the arrow signs and the curbing that goes out into the road.

Cowell said if they remove the sign they need to improve the road. He said right now it is an unimproved road right of way, of which there are many in the city, but if they do any work on it they should bring it up to standards and add it to the list for which the city gets gas tax from the state. He felt the arrow sign was likely put there initially to protect the public, and the same reasons probably apply today.

Further discussion was that if the sign is removed but the curb stays in place vehicles might inadvertently strike it. He said they can leave the road gravel, but if it becomes a street they need to widen it, and there is no room in the budget for that right now.

He said city ordinances do not cover the warning sign, so if Council wanted it gone he could remove it, but he had not wanted to do that on his own authority. Because he and his crew are busy right now with late-season projects they would not be able to get to removing the concrete curb and turning it into a pad-type curb for a couple of weeks, and it is getting a bit late in the season for concrete work. Sievert wondered if they could just leave the curb and direct traffic to the grass on the other side.

Malke asked if they could break out the curb and put some gravel in there, and Cowell agreed they could probably get that done before winter. However, he felt if they encourage travel on that right of way they should bring it to street standards.

Behnke's motion died for lack of a second. Schmidt then moved to take the sign down now and refer the curb and gravel issues to the Streets and Drainage Committee.

Cowell pointed out where streets in the city dead end they generally post a red diamond warning sign, and declared, "In my opinion, you're increasing your liability if you take out the sign."

Alderman Brigitte Schmidt then proposed a motion authorizing Cowell to correct the situation as he sees fit.

Malke declared Hanneman has been trying to get her situation corrected for two years, and had talked to Cowell several times about it.

"This is not something I can address without council authorization," Cowell declared. He objected to the two year reference, and said he had advised the person to write a letter when he talked to her last week. He said improvements to Cranberry Ave. are on the road improvement plan to be done in 2020.

Alderman Jillian Schutte said the sign is in line with the curb, and although both are in the street right of way, people can still drive down the dirt road next to it.

"I agree something needs to be done, but we can't just snap our fingers," Berendt said, and repeated his concerns about liability.

City Attorney David Spangenberg agreed if Council approves removing the sign without at least removing the curb they would be increasing their liability. "It's been there a long time," he said, "and if it's gone they will think it's okay, and then crash into the curb and sue."

Behnke suggested Hanneman ask the auction house for a larger sign, and also if there was any way they could allow her to legally put a sign up on the city right of way so people would know they can get to her property there. That solution is not allowed by city ordinance.

Ultimately, vote was unanimous in favor of Schmidt's motion authorizing Cowell to fix the sign issue on the short term, until the Streets and Drainage Committee can address the whole issue.

During time for public comment at the meeting Council was addressed by Carrie Brazeau, who is running as a write-in candidate for the Marinette County Clerk of Circuit Courts position in voting on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Brazeau is currently an assistant clerk in the office she seeks to head, and lost in the primary election by 53 votes to incumbent Sheila M. Dudka.

She said after her narrow loss in the primary co-workers urged her to campaign as a write-in. She said under the current leadership, or lack of leadership as she termed it, "our office is slowly losing its unity." She said their current department head does not fill in when others are absent, and does not know what various jobs there entail. "We need someone to implement policies and make sure they are followed," Brazeau declared, and added that one of her main goals if elected will be to make sure everyone in the department gets cross trained so they can each do all the jobs as needed and are able work alone in the office effectively and serve the public when others are in court or absent for some other reason. She also hopes to end the turnover in the office that has people leaving even before they are fully trained.

Spangenberg thanked City Council for working with Zion Lutheran Church and helping to make their 150th anniversary a success. "Everything turned out great," he declared.

Malke questioned a proposal to expand the days on which a private vendor offers a "Silver Sneakers" exercise program at the Drees Community Center. She said there is a private business in the city that could be offering the same service. Schutte said the vendor has been asked to attend the October Parks and Recreation Committee meeting to discuss her request.


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