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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Furton Resigns From Road Committee At Town Meeting

Issue Date: August 19, 2020

A shortened agenda at the Town of Peshtigo Meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 18 was met with confrontation by two Town Supervisors and several Town Residents.

Supervisors Kayla Furton and Kristin Edgar were frustrated with items requested to be put on the August agenda being omitted. Furton requested four items to be added to the September agenda that were stricken from the August agenda, including, Committee and communications protocol, Citizens Water Advisory Committee to be added to each monthly board meeting, board confirmed signage for the recycling center and monitoring of Keith Shallow's duties and responsibilities.

Edgar mentioned that the Board voted three to two at the July board meeting to move forward with a survey to residents to get feedback regarding the extension of their water. On July 21, 2020, Edgar gave a written request to Clerk Clarence Coble to call a special meeting for Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. for the purpose of providing the most recent updates to Town residents regarding long term water options and to discuss and vote on the details of the Town survey that is going out to residents about the long term water options. The DNR will be listed as a guest speaker in public notification in the Peshtigo Times and at three public locations as required by Wisconsin Open Meetings Law.

Coble announced results of the Aug. 11 election. There were 1,053 in person voters, 589 absentee ballots were sent out with 442 returned with four received after the due date that could not be counted. Coble stressed to make sure for the next election absentee voters get their ballots in early for them to be counted. Residents requesting absentee ballots can have someone bring the ballot into the office for them if they can't get it mailed on time.

Keep in mind that each ballot comes with a cost of $2.25 to send out and for the November election it will cost $3.00. We don't mind sending them out but make sure you are making good use of the taxpayers dollars and return them in a timely manner. There will be six different ballots including one for a Marinette School District referendum. There will be two different ballot mailings for the two school districts, one for residents in the Marinette School District and one for those in the Peshtigo School District. Coble stressed, if anyone would get a wrong ballot to advise the Town Office immediately so they can send the correct ballot.

In office early voting for the November election will start Oct. 20 with the first two weeks consisting of regular office hours and the third week will include extended hours and possibly a Saturday.

Later in the meeting, the board approved election workers, Kim Robison, Stuart Robison, Laura Stuart, Debra Bordeau and Lloyd Deblois.

In public comment, resident Cindy Bauer questioned who logs income and dumpsite collections. "Why are we not able to get receipts? I brought a trailer of items to dispose of and the cost goes by weight. One person told me it was $40, one person told me $60. The workers are walking around with wads of money in their pocket and with no receipts given, there is no accountability."

Bauer frequently visits the dumpsite, having five rental properties. Chairman Herman Pottratz said, "You are not supposed to be using the dump for rentals, it is for single family residents". Matt Edgar, town resident and husband of Supervisor Kristin Edgar, contested stating, "The Town can't decide for residents if it is a single family residence or not. It can be a single family residence even if it is a rental". Again it was echoed, What is the standard? Who is accountable? What is the process"?

Resident Cindy Boyle then spoke on the Public Comment item on the agenda stating "public comments on agenda items only'. "Back in December it was voted on by the board that residents had three minutes to speak and it was not restricted to only agenda items. When was it voted on by the board of only agenda items"? Pottratz stated "It does not have to be voted on by the Board I create the agenda".

Attorney Spangenberg commented, "The Chairman sets the agenda, certainly the board could chime in, but he sets the agenda. Everyone likes to see public comment but it is not required". Edgar added, "It is not required in Wisconsin for open meetings, but in our ordinance it says there is a time for public comment.

Boyle then requested the ordinance be provided to her and state the code. "Until I have it in writing, I encourage everyone to disregard that illegitimate goal that the Chairman has determined is his authority. Public comment is public comment".

Pottratz briefly mentioned as a comment only, that the Highway DOT project proposing options for the Country Meadows, Highway 41 intersection is being planned and discussed. He commented, they have talked about this before and it is coming up again. The DOT claim is that the right in, right out will save lives. I would like to see the speed limit dropped on the highway to 45 miles per hour sooner than where the signs are now and that would take care of it, but there is not much we can do.

In a previous meeting on Aug. 29, 2019, Matt Ternes Project Manger, Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) stated, "The three mile stretch between the Peshtigo bypass to Cleveland Ave is classified as principal arterial, which means high traffic area. There are various medians of 30, 60 and 0 and varying speed limits from 60 to 55, down to 45 and then 25 MPH. There is a lot of stuff within that three mile section and a lot of safety concerns along the corridor. There are 18,000 cars per day that pass through that stretch on Highway 41 and 1,500 vehicles per day that use the Country Meadows Road, Hwy. 41 intersection".

Ternes continued, "There is an extensive crash history at that intersection. From 2013 to present, there were 27 total crashes with 19 of them being angle crashes, which are the most severe with more chance of fatalities. Of those 19, 14 were injury crashes along with six of them involving train crashes and four others were railroad crashes. From 2008 to 2012, there were 12 crashes with 3 of the 12 also being with train crashes and in 2019 there were six crashes with five injuries and one crash with a train".

A safety study was requested in 2012 with extensive public involvement including five local meetings, four public involvement meetings and four business meetings. The study was competed in 2016 with four alternatives including: 1) Close the intersection completely 2) Right in right out option and close the median completely 3) Right in, right out, left in intersection option and 4) Traffic light controlled or the other option, which was not a suggested alternative, would be to do nothing and don't address the issue.

Of the four suggested alternatives 1) Closing intersection has been dismissed 2) right in, right out, close median would eliminate 80% of the crashes 3) right in, right out, left turn median intersection open, would eliminate 70% of the crashes, but vehicle can still get hit from the left and 4) signaling comes with the largest amount of work and highest price tag of close to four million dollars, with a lot of work to alter the location of the frontage road. This option may also backup traffic going into the City of Marinette.

The safest recommended alternative is 2) Right in right out option and close the median completely. This option would significantly reduce crashes, it maintains most business accesses and reduces cost to 90% being all paid for.

Town of Peshtigo Fire Chief Mike Folgert had commented, "We are always concerned about public safety and I am glad the DOT is addressing that area. This intersection is where we get the most calls at. Every time we go there for an accident, it messes up traffic. Something definitely has to be done there and I am glad to see this option".

A motion was made to buy new and larger speed limit signs to be installed on Cleveland Avenue after a resident commented she would like to see something done. Even with yard warning signs to slow down and 25 MPH speed limit signs, cars are still not obeying the speed limit. There are a lot of children in that area with no sidewalks and cars are zooming through at 55 MPH. A speed tracker will also be placed in the area.

At the end of the meeting, there was an unexpected twist of events with Supervisor Furton submitting her resignation from the Road Committee, giving her resignation, "unless the mode of operation is to change, effective immediately to follow transparent decision making protocols with clear communication and accountability. I am committed to ethical and wise fiscal road decisions. At present, road decisions are not being made through the Road Commission and it is important that the committee roles belong to the supervisors who are actually making the road decisions. When the Chairperson makes road decision on his own or in conversation with the other road supervisor, it opens the Town up to non-compliances and potential open meetings violations if a third supervisor is then also involved in decision making outside of open board meetings. Items have been repeatedly removed from the agenda and individual decisions have been made in place of requested meetings or agenda items. Transparency and wise fiscal spending need to be top priorities for the Town and its residents".

Furton added, "My recommendations include: Documentation of all road projects at time of designation or contract, including the supervisor name, date, contractor information, scope of work and agreed-upon price with document to be filed with the Town Hall office; Long term 3 to 5 year plan for major road projects and asphalt, including expert opinion for road prioritization, drainage and projected specifications; Any expenditures over a categories budget allotment must go to a board vote and detailed roadwork report provided at each board meeting. I am willing to serve on the Road Committee or carry out any supervisory role that functions as an actual position with input, communication and accountability. It is not in the Town's best interest for its supervisors to hold titles without function".

Furton will continue to be a Supervisor but at this point is resigning from the Road Committee only. At the end of Furton reading her resignation, Drees said, "We should talk about this before you are making a hasty decision".

In his Fire Department report, Fire Chief Mike Folgert stated, "There were 11 calls including, five vehicle crashes, three trees and or power lines downed, one fire alarm activation that turned out to be a false alarm, one controlled burn from a resident that was burning brush and thought it was getting out of control, but it wasn't and one water rescue at Little River".

Folgert also commented that all trucks and ladders were tested and everything is good, vehicle extraction training was done at Ralph's Auto and two new firefighters started training on Tuesday, Aug. 18.

The most exciting was the purchase of a battery operated jaws of life. Unlike the older unit, we can just grab and go. An expensive unit, it is one of the most powerful units out there. The cost was $9,000 with half of the money coming from donations from last years golf outing and the other half was from their operating budget.

The next board meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 15.


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