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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Crivitz Opens Discussions On Forming a Fire District

Issue Date: January 16, 2019

Wheels for possible formation of an area Fire District as a free-standing non-profit entity were put in motion on Wednesday, Jan. 9, when Crivitz Village Board's Public Safety Committee authorized Fire Chief Luke Deschane and Committee Chair Jeff Dorschner to meet with Town of Lake and Town of Stephenson board and fire department members to explore the idea.

Deschane gave the board members copies of the Winneconne/Poygan Fire District organization he had obtained to use as a starting point. He agreed there would be many points of difference, but repeated this gave something to refer to.

Discussion included the difficulty of getting enough volunteers in today's busy world to respond to calls for each separate department, particularly on weekdays when many volunteers are working out of town. Deschane said it may come to a point where fire departments will need to follow the lead set by rescue squads and hire two or three people as full time employees as a nucleus for response to fire calls.

There was general agreement from everyone at the table that individually the municipalities and the fire departments they support cannot afford that.

Those present in addition to Dorschner and Luke Deschane included trustees Fred Franzen, Kurt Kostuch and Stew Swanson, Village President John Deschane, Fire Chief Luke Deschane, Police Chief Mike Frievalt, Clerk/Treasurer Marilyn Padgett, and three members of the public.

There was brief description of a Fire District as similar to a Lake District, which have a board of directors with authority to levy taxes on properties within their approved boundaries.

Swanson asked what the proposed fire district would be composed of. Fire Chief Deschane felt they should talk first to the Towns of Stephenson, Lake, and Middle Inlet. John Deschane said they could end up going as far as the Village of Coleman and Village of Wausaukee. Town of Beaver might also be a good fit.

"My heart says no, but reality says yes," declared Swanson, who was chief of the Crivitz Fire Department for many years. He said people don't like to lose their identities, and that includes members of volunteer fire departments.

Chief Deschane suggested that for a small nominal fee, advisors are willing to share their knowledge and information on formation of for fire districts.

"Anybody can buy a fire truck," Swanson declared. "But that doesn't make them a fire department....The problem is manpower."

"That's not just our problem," John Deschane agreed "Eventually we will have to go to full time, at least for a few people.

Swanson suggested they could model it after the Rescue Squad, which has a core of two or three full time members and the rest serve as volunteers.

Padgett recalled that in the past, the surrounding towns of Lake, Middle Inlet, Beaver and Stephenson contracted with the Village of Crivitz for fire protection. The village owned the fire department, and set fees for providing fire protection services.

"What caused them to run screaming onto the night was when the village wanted to purchase a new fire truck and billed the towns for it," Padgett said. The towns objected to paying for a truck they would never own.

Padgett noted that the document Chief Deschane had as a model did not address capital expenditures, and she felt it had to do that.

John Deschane noted the Fire District would be a taxing entity.

"The problem with the previous contacts was that the towns had no say," Padgett commented. "They had no vote, and the village retained exclusive ownership. With this, all the municipalities would share ownership."

Dorschner said he would like to see what the Fire Districts look like in other places, and others present agreed that information should be collected.

"If the village is willing to do this, we can talk to the towns," John Deschane said, and suggested polling committee members to see if they were interested in looking into the proposals farther, and might eventually bring something to the board. All three committee members voted in favor of continuing to look into the proposal and supported the idea of Dorschner and Chief Deschane meeting with the other fire departments and the towns that own them, with the towns of Lake and Stephenson as a start.

Moving on to other subjects, Chief Deschane said the fire department wants to buy a washing machine, "not super expensive, but something above a Maytag," and have it installed at the fire station, which will involve adding some plumbing. "We're trying to protect our investment in gear," Deschane said. Washing the gear on site after fires means any contaminants and carcinogens would be removed there, not taken home. He said a dryer is not needed at this time, since the gear cannot be tumble dried, but at some point they might look at some sort of a hang-up air drying system.

After some discussion the committee authorized Frievalt to increase his USDA grant application for funding a new police vehicle from $40,000 to $44,000, based on estimates from last year and price increases for a 2019 vehicle that bring the price to $44,300 without equipment transferred. Estimated trade-in value of the old vehicle is $5,000.

Padgett informed the committee that the Morrisons have retired after many years of running the Crivitz Veterinary Clinic Clinic and have sold it to Adam Gauthier, "a local boy who's been working for them for a while." She said Gauthier has changed the name to Crivitz Veterinary Hospital. The committee approved contracting with him to house stray cats at $12 per day. They have a contract with Countryside Veterinary Clic for keeping stray dogs.

Swanson asked if a village cat owner needs to prove that their pet has a license before it can be gotten back from the veterinary hospital. Padgett said they can only recover their pet after payment of boarding, license fees, and other related costs and fees. If they do not already have a license, the cat owners need to come to the village hall during business hours to buy one.

After the Public Safety Committee adjourned the Finance Committee was called to order. Padgett said there had been server license applications from Joan Marie Lemske and Carol Ann Rivard. There was no problem issuing a license for them, as neither had anything on their record. and both licenses were approved

In the audience were Amber Lindquist and Sara Parr, in regard to an alcohol server's license for Lindquist. Padgett said she did not feel comfortable issuing a temporary license for Lindquist, as she had a charge of possession of illegal prescription drugs in 2017, disclosure of two THC possession charges, and a DUI charge from January of 2018. There also were two open intoxicant arrests.

Padgett said she had not felt comfortable issuing a temporary license for Lindquist in view of her record, and contacted Village Attorney Dick Boren.

"I'm always reluctant to deny a license, because it impacts someone's ability to work," Padgett said.

Boren advised her not to issue the provisional license. She had then advised that she could approach the Village Board and ask them to overturn the committee recommendation if she chose, but if she did not rescind her application, her record would become very public and subject to being reported in the press.

"It's my past and it's going to be with me," Lindquist said. "I've had my current job for eight months...I'm doing my best...I'm no loner on supervision."

Padgett advised the committee that nothing on Lindquist's record would prohibit her from getting a license under state law, but would be against board policy. "You can make an exception. You have in the past," she told the committee.

Kostuch said they should not grant the license. Dorschner disagreed. "Maybe it's the educator in me," Dorschner commented. He suggested giving her a chance and issuing the license. Franzen also opposed, so the committee recommendation was to not issue the license.

"It's my job!" Lindquist declared when told she would not get the license unless the full board disagreed with the committee decision.

Police Chief Frievalt suggested perhaps giving her a couple of months to prove herself, and perhaps issue a provisional license until June, when the current crop of licenses expire. "She's trying to improve herself," he commented.

"We have a policy and we need to follow it," Franzen declared. "If we aren't going to follow it we should change it...and we have our attorney's advice." He and Kostuch again voted no.

"An attorney told us years ago, "If you aren't going to take my advice, don't pay for it," John Deschane commented.

During the Finance committee portion of the meeting Luke Deschane said the hardware and communications system equipment have been installed at the fire station. Padgett said it is budgeted and the committee approved payment.

In November the board approved a motion to purchase a fire truck for $200,000. Subsequently Chief Deschane found a 2004 Pearce for $192,000 that they can pick up between February and April. The Fire Department has $120,000 in savings for a new vehicle, and they project trade in value of $5,000 for the new police vehicle in addition to the USDA grant. In all, to buy the fire truck, squad car and new tractor they would need to borrow $138,425. Padgett said they can definitely issue bonds for major purchases without violating levy limit rules, but she had contacted Wisconsin Department of Revenue to see if they would get in trouble with levy limits if they borrow for a shorter term straight loan and was told they can do that.

"Levy limits for these last 10 to 12 years have been breaking our backs," Padgett declared.

"So our levy limits will allow us to increase taxes to make payments for five years," John Deschane commented."We can't save for a project, but we can borrow and pay interest!"

Ultimately, to be sure all contingencies were covered, the committee approved borrowing not more than $160,000 to be paid back in five years. Interest is locked in for two years at 4.5 percent. The understanding is that if the full $160,000 is not needed the department heads are not to spend it, and the loan will be only for the amount actually needed. Initial calculations were that they would need to borrow $138,432, but that did not provide for lettering on the new vehicles.


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