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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town Seeks Legislator Help On Camp Five Culvert Issues

Issue Date: August 15, 2019

Replacement of the culvert "bridge" on Camp Five Road continues to be a problem for the Town of Middle Inlet due to some relatively new requirements by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that will add greatly to the cost of the project and the time required to get it done. A major problem is that getting it done as the DNR requires will require closing the road entirely for two days, with no alternative route for ingress and egress.

This would leave residents with no access by emergency vehicles for two days, a risk that Town Chair Richard Wade is unwilling to take.

"When is a fish more important than a human life?" asked Wade at the monthly Town Board meeting on Thursday, Aug. 8. He said that is what the DNR rules come down to, and added, "We don't agree with the way the DNR wants it done."

Replacement of the culvert has been delayed months since DNR approval is required for the town to get bridge aid funding for the project and the town and the DNR are at odds on how the culvert needs to be done, in terms of cost and time the crossing would need to be closed. Construction as the town had planned would require closing the road for only one day, Wade said.

Wade told the board he is to meet during the coming week with DNR representatives on the Camp Five Road culvert issue and has invited State Rep. Jeff Mursau, State Sen. Tom Tiffany, and Wausaukee Town Chair Jeff Engelmann to participate. Camp Five Road is a border road with the Town of Wausaukee.

During time for public comment at the end of the meeting former Town Supervisor Roger Lieck asked about the status of a lawsuit he had heard was filed against the town by former Clerk/Treasurer Charles Stanek. He also asked who would pay the legal fees. (At a 9 a.m.special meeting on Thursday July 25 the board had approved a motion "to grant permission to the Town's legal counsel to pursue appropriate legal response as needed to an Open Meetings violation claim."

In response to Lieck's questions, Wade stated that investigations are still in progress and per legal counsel, he could make no comment, but added, "Once the investigation is done the town will be vindicated and we can explain."

"To my knowledge there is no lawsuit," Stanek declared. "I filed a complaint of an Open Meetings law violation with the District Attorney." He said since the DA's office has no investigative staff she referred the complaint to the Sheriff's Department to investigate.

"I've been requesting details of deposits and receipts and checks written each month," Stanek added. "We're getting closer on the checks," Stanek continued. adding, "as to receipts there is no breakdown as to source and amounts of individual receipts"" He said there have to be entries somewhere into the system as to amounts of money that come in and disbursements that go out, so the detail information has to be available.

Also, Stanek added, "The town incurred $980 in overdrafts"checking account overdraft charges." He said that should never happen. When checks are written sufficient money to cover them should be deposited into the checking account.

Clerk/Treasurer Virginia Hines said the overdraft was in June, when they had a problem with the computer. "I worked with the bank and they forgave all those and we're in good standing," she declared.

Stanek attempted to ask more questions, which Hines declined to answer. "Per the law and per legal counsel, I do not have to answer," she declared. She cited WI Stats 19.31 "Open Records" and said she was not compelled to answer Stanek's questions.

Stanek had requested this financial detail a few months ago as an Open Records request. He had been given some information, but again at the July meeting said he had not been given the detailed information that he requested, and at the August meeting said he still had not received it.

Near the start of the meeting Wade thanked everyone who had helped with cleanup efforts after the recent storms, including town residents who cleared roads on their own and Northeast Tree Service for crews that worked back to back shifts without sleep to get roads cleared of fallen trees.

Wade reported a shoulder washout on Moonshine Hill Road had been repaired and patching is in progress on town roads and will continue as the budget allows. Wade said the XX and Meyer Lane projects will be completed by Labor Day and the Meyer Road project will be done by late September.

Wade said under the new state budget guidelines, 90 percent state assistance is available, and the town will apply for grants wherever possible.

Fire Chief Dave Johnston reported the fund raising picnic on Saturday, Aug. 3 was a huge success and had earned $9,622.52. Some donations are still expected to come in and expenses need to be paid before the final tally is known. Johnston expressed hope that next year's picnic will do even better.

One of the action items for the meeting was amending of a town ordinance to remove "Volunteer Funds" provisions from the fire department ordinance. This will officially end the former Fire Department Auxiliary as a town organization and allow the newly re-formed Auxiliary to organize as a private, not-for-profit 501(3)(c) corporation which makes contributions tax deductible, makes the group eligible to apply for grants, and removes the funds from town board oversight.

Asked by a member of the audience about the downside if the board decided not to change the ordinance, Clerk Virginia Hines explained that even though it is no longer active the old auxiliary would continue to technically exist until the ordinance was changed. As a town-endorsed auxiliary, without the non-profit designation, contributions are not tax deductible. Hines said the people who have been re-organizing the Auxiliary feel it would be much simpler for them to be independent and to organize as a private non-profit corporation.

The discussion concluded with a board vote unanimously approving the ordinance amendment.

Supervisor Ron Wenzel reported that the old sign for Pine Hill Cemetery is in bad shape. On his recommendation the board approved spending up the $500 to buy a new sign and have it installed.

Also without dissent the board approved some technology updates for the clerk's office that will cost about $1,200 as recommended by Hines. Hines said technical support for the 12 to 14-year-old Windows 7 computer has not been available for four years, and on Jan. 14 of 2020 Windows will no longer support the software it uses. Her recommendation to purchase a new laptop computer, software, and external hard drive storage was approved. Hines said she will donate a one terabyte external hard drive worth about $65 for town use.

The board was advised that the Ellis Lane problem properties have been razed, so that case has been resolved. In reference to the Willow Road property, legal counsel has contacted owners Michael and Shannon Erikson and provided a timeline for bringing the property into compliance with town ordinances. If they do not comply they will be served with an official notification of nuisance.

At the start of the meeting the board approved minutes of special meetings held on Monday, July 22 and Thursday, July 25, and approved payment of vouchers totaling $42,943.09. Hines noted the town had been notified the the UW Extension is offering 2019 Roadside Invasive Vegetation Workshop, Aug.13, and the town could send a representative. The state will be holding open hearings regarding a change to the Livestock Facility Siting Rule. Hines said interested parties should contact her.


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