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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town Of Peshtigo Okays ATV Purchase For Fire Department

Issue Date: February 21, 2019

Editor's Note: In response to concerns over possible violation of Wisconsin election laws, the Peshtigo Times contacted the Wisconsin Elections Commission on the legality of holding a town board meeting in the town hall while voting was in progress there for a primary election in which one member of the board is being challenged for re-election.

This was the case on Tuesday, Feb. 19, when the Peshtigo Town Board held its regular monthly board meeting while the polls were open for the primary election in which incumbent Supervisor Mark Monnette was being challenged by contenders Jon P. Drees and Wayne Allan Kamka.

Outcome of that election is that Monnette and Drees will be on the ballot for the Spring election on Tuesday, April 2. Monnette had 79 votes, Drees had 56 votes, and Kamka was eliminated with 9 votes.

Advice from Dianne Lowe at Elections Commission headquarters in Madison was that the town could hold its meeting legally while the polls were open, provided it was held in a separate room, with the doors closed, and in a separate area of the building not visible to voters, and provided that the supervisor on the ballot did not visit with voters in or near the building. By law, it is a prohibited practice for candidates to be at the polls except to vote and then leave promptly.

Town Clerk Clarence Coble said he too had questioned the legality of holding a board meeting in the same building while the polls were open. He said he was told by Wisconsin Towns Association legal advisors that it would have been better to change the meeting date, but would be legal provided the meeting was in a separate room with the door closed. Keeping doors closed during an open meeting could in itself be a violation of the Open Meetings Laws, but that could be taken care of by posting a sign on the door inviting anyone interested to enter. Coble said he had done that.

In Public Comment, Wendell Johnson addressed the board and residents at the Town Of Peshtigo Board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19 saying, "I am hoping everyone saw former Mayor, Doug Oitzingers letter in the paper about the contaminated water issues". The article outlined the history of what is not going on and issues that Tyco, Johnson Controls Inc (JCI) have been hiding for a long time. In addressing the board, Johnson said, "Oitzinger had several suggestions you should take up and act on. I believe you should have the Town Attorney work with the City of Marinette Attorney to get some advances out of this. We have an opportunity with a new governor with a safe environment being important to him".

He continued with, "This is an ongoing situation that is not going to go away when the ground water is still polluted and still being released into the ground". "Property values are going down, health is endangered and as other people stated, "We are mad as hell about the situation, we want some action and want it fast. Legal action works best".

Chairperson, Denise Wiedemeier responded with, "No-one has their eyes closed to this, we are doing whatever we can within the State law. The Town Board has been patient with JCI with testing and results". "We are not professional environmentalists, I believe it is time to hire an Environmental Consultant to work with the Board and I encourage the board to hire a professional for a long term solution".

Supervisor Mark Monnette added, "I think it is a good idea. If we hire a consultant it will keep continuity, even if there would be any board member changes".

Supervisors Tom Holterman and Dan VanBeek asked "What are the costs involved for an Environmentalist and do you have anyone in mind"?

Wiedemeier replied, "Whatever the cost is, it is important to have good drinking water for our residents". She stated she has spent endless hours talking to the Town of Jackson that is also going through water issues, to address with them all the steps they took and heartaches they went through. Our attorney is aware and supportive of our efforts and we have a good head-start but I don't want to overstep my boundaries and wanted to bring it to the Boards attention first.

Wiedemeier recommended for the Town Attorney to do a search for the proper person to be the Environmentalist. Holterman replied, "We should have the attorney explore it and get a cost". Wiedemeier then made a motion that was unanimously approved for the attorney to research and find a person for the position and report back to the board.

Scott Wahl, Engineering Manager of Tyco/JCI, then introduced himself as the replacement for Chris Behrend, prior Senior Program Manager of Tyco. Behrend has accepted a position at Winsert as Director of Human Resources.

Wahl gave an update, noting winter testing will be started. There are 125 customers on bottled drinking water and 37 with POET systems installed. Ditch A by the mall, up to date has approximately 2.3 million gallons of water has been processed. They are in the process of agency approvals for construction in an area of East Shore Drive with a mid summer start date.

Wahl announced there will be a Public Meeting in mid March held by the DNR and JCI. Letters will be sent out with the details. He also stated, "At this time, I stress there is a proposal of installing water lines to Town of Peshtigo residents affected by the water contamination. This is the strongest candidate to support and solve the drinking water issues. Again, I stress this is a proposal at this point".

A resident asked, "What are the levels in the drinking water in the City of Marinette, we don't know what the safe levels are, you say 70 parts per trillion being safe, but some states have as low as 15 parts per trillion as safe drinking water".

Jim Cox, JCI Seior Manager of Marketing Communications said, "The levels in the City of Marinette are trace to very low and their drinking water is safe".

In other Public Comment, Jim Wortner of Road King, addressed Wiedemeier stating "At the last meeting, you accused Herman Pottratz himself, of changing the speed limit on Old Peshtigo Road without Board approval" Wortner provided information from the Sept. 17, 2013 meeting minutes stating that a motion was made by Dan Staudenmaier and seconded by Mark Monnette to change the speed limit on Old Peshtigo Road and was not changed by Pottratz himself.

The minutes state: 'Motion (Dan Staudenmaier/Mark Monnette) to change the speed limit on Old Peshtigo Road from its current posted speed to 35 miles per hour. This will delete Town of Peshtigo Code of Ordinances item 54-120 (1) d and change from 54-120 (2) Thirty Five Miles per Hour item C, to read Old Peshtigo Road from its intersection with Maple Street/ Business 41 Northeasterly to the Marinette City Limits. Motion carried with four yes votes'.

Wortner also stated, "You also accused at the last meeting, Pottratz himself of giving the Speed Sign Unit to Marinette County without Board approval". Again, Wortner provided proof of meeting minutes that were from the Dec. 17, 2013 meeting.

'The minutes state: 'Resolution #122013-1 Speed Sign: Motion (Dan Staudenmaier/Mark Monnette) to approve Resolution #122013-1 regarding donating Highway Speed Sign to Marinette County Sheriff Department.. Motion carried with 4 yes votes'.

In other items, Wiedemeier stated, two new computers have been installed in the Town Hall and should be completely operational by the end of the week of Feb. 25; She also stated she received a letter from Crivitz thanking them for all the efforts of the fire department in helping with the fire at Crivitz Lumber Company.

The new building inspector has been finalized and he will maintain his own website and information of his website and phone number can be found on the Town website.

Town of Peshtigo Assistant Fire Chief, Rich Seils, gave an update of the process of purchasing a UTV as an EMS, skid unit and wild land UTV for the Town of Peshtigo Fire Department, it is already budgeted for. The Fire Department is finding they are going into the woods more and more frequently for rescue operations and this type of unit is needed.

Seils said, "The Department received 11 quotes and they looked long and hard at the different options". After review, Cozzy's was the lowest price with the best options at $19, 214 and with a trailer the amount would be $21,214, not including the extra attachments".

Seils also asked the Board for options of trade in or sale of the old UTV and suggested to eliminate the sealed bids process for the sale of the UTV and use for a trade in instead.

Monnette said, "The Fire Department put a lot of time and effort into this project and recommend to authorize to get rid of the old unit at the departments discretion.

Town Clerk, Clarence Coble discussed updating the Code of Ordinances since the last adoption of ordinances was in 2009 and there were many changes since that time. He would like to see all codes updated and put online. At present there are many copies of the codes at the Town Hall and would like to whittle that down to only 2 or 3 hard copies and rely more on the online information.

Coble said we have to provide the updated information to Municipal Code and they will then make all the changes and updates. There will be no cost for an estimate of what it will cost to do the work, but there will be a cost involved in doing the update and putting on the internet.

Coble said he will get a quote and bring back to the Board for approval and Wiedemeier authorized the Board to go forward with this project.

Several other items were approved by the Board including, approval of zoning A-1 Agriculture for property transferred from the City of Peshtigo to Town of Peshtigo; Permission was granted to dispose of outdated - broken electronic equipment of copier, printer and calculator; Approval for Administrative Assistant, Nikkee Dionne to attend Clerk training at UW Marinette on April 24 at a cost of $59 and authorize Holterman to check with Marinette County for when weight limits will be on roads and then Town of Peshtigo will follow their dates.

Wiedemeier also stated the Town Newsletter / Calendar was approved at last meeting and she would like the Board to take a final look at it and if there are any changes or corrections, let Dionne know so she can get them corrected. Once approved, all Town residents will get a copy mailed to them. She said, "There is a lot of great information in the newsletter".

In other discussion, Wiedemeier asked about advertising for snow plowing quotes and proposals. Monnette said, "I suppose we would be in remise of our duties if we don't advertise for bids occasionally just to see whats out there". A motion was then made by Monnette to authorize to put in the paper an advertisement for bids and seconded by Wiedemeier.

Coble stated he would put the ad in the Peshtigo Times as their paper of choice for two weeks and Wiedemeier also stated she wanted in the EH Extra so it was decided to put the ad in both papers with a deadline for bids to be submitted before the next Town Board meeting.

In her report, Wiedemeier stated the road crew did a good job with cleaning up and cutting of the brush between the two buildings and a lot of time was spent on taking down snowbanks. She also added, on Jan. 24, a budget workshop was held for the Board by Treasurer, Vilas Schroeder. The workshop was based on the 2016 budget because there was an audit for that year. She said "It was extremely important to make the board aware of the budget process. No matter who sits in this chair, if budget amendments are made, it is important to ask why they are being made and the board now understands how to ask the proper questions".

Wiedemeier also added, the Chairperson position is very busy, stating she had 120 phone calls, 24 texts and 18 meetings all on her own time with no milage reimbursement requested. Town residents have thanked me for the time I put into this position.

The Fire Department was busy with 13 calls, one false alarm, six car crashes, one CO2 detector call, three structure fires, none of which are in our jurisdiction. Two were assists in Crivitz and one in Menominee and a traffic assist request from Marinette County Sheriff Department closing down Hwy 41 at the 216 and 212 exits for four hours.

Monnette added, the state conducted an audit of the Fire Department and the Department had to prove they do what they say they are doing and everything was in substantial compliance. Seils explained that for the audit the department is required to inspect all commercial buildings in the Town. If the department is in compliance, then they receive 2% reimbursement from insurance companies from their co-pays.

Seils wanted to stress to the public to make sure their furnace vents are cleared of snow and ice so they don't get carbon monoxide poisoning and will help to eliminate department calls.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, March 19.


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