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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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ATV/UTV Use In Peshtigo Could Be Legal Next Week

Issue Date: September 9, 2020

If everything goes as planned, by this time next week operation of ATV/UTV vehicles will be legal on most city streets in Peshtigo.

City Council passed the enabling ordinance at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 18, but then determined that it could not go into effect until after publication and that should not happen until all necessary signs are in place.

At the Aug. 28 Streets and Drainage Committee meeting, Aldermen Rick Berth and John Berendt had volunteered to help put those signs up. Because both are members of the 3-member committee any discussions the two of them would have on the sign issues would be an Open Meetings law violation, so the committee agreed that Public Works Director George Cowell should work with one of them to design, order and arrange installation of the signs needed. Berendt, who chairs the committee, said he had donors willing to raise enough money to pay for the signs and posts.

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8, Alderman Richard Berth announced that he and a group of volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12 to put up the sign posts. If the signs are delivered on Friday, Sept. 11 as he hopes, the signs will be on them and everything will be ready to go. They had toured the city streets to determine where signs and posts are needed, and Cowell has marked where new posts must be put in.

Clerk/Treasurer Tammy Kasal said if the signs are up in time, the ordinance will be published on Wednesday, Sept. 16, after which the ordinance will be in effect.

Total cost of the signs and 17 posts needed came to $1,200, Berth said. He added that the ATV /UTV enthusiasts are hoping to have a ride on Saturday, Oct. 17 as a fund raising event to raise money to pay for them.

Other action at Tuesday's very brief City Council meeting included approval of a Streets and Drainage Committee recommendation to allow city residents to request a second recycling bin at an annual cost of $5 for administration and actual added cost of pickup, approving a $50,000 short term note as recommended by the Finance Committee; accepting quotes from Pomasl Fire Equipment to provide 20 sets of turnout gear firefighters for $48,820, and $4,495 to purchase an extractor to aid in maintaining that gear; and approving purchase of refuse bins from Envirotech Equipment for $78,030.

In January, Mayor Cathi Malke had written to the United States Department of the Treasury asking them to issue a 2021 commemorative coin recognizing the 150th anniversary of the Peshtigo Fire of 1871. The Council packet included copies of an Aug. 10 letter from David J. Ryder, director of the United States Mint, explaining the request could not be granted because commemorative coins are issued only on the basis of specific enabling legislation approved by Congress, and only two such coins are approved each year and the two for 2021 have already been accepted. Also Ryder said the Mint requires at least a year between enactment of the legislation and issuance of the coin for the design and manufacturing process.

Mayor Malke again was not able to be present for the meeting. In the meantime, Alderman Mike Behnke, Council president, is serving as acting mayor. He has done some reshuffling of assignments to replace himself as a committee member while he takes care of mayoral responsibilities.

In his report on the Water and Sewer issues, Behnke said he had met two weeks ago with Congressman Mike Gallagher on problems the city's wastewater treatment plant is having with storage and disposal of wastewater due to PFAS content, and he and the Water and Sewer Committee are to meet with State Rep. John Nygren of Marinette on those problems at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17. They will meet again that day at 2:30 p.m with a DNR representative.

At the start of the Sept. 8 meeting Council held an extremely brief public hearing on request of Strategic Equipment Systems to split its property at 600 Oak Street. No one testified for or against the split, and later in the meeting Council unanimously approved the request, which had been recommended by the Plan Commission at its meeting earlier in the day. Before the Council vote, Alderman Archer Leupp explained this just approving split of the large property into smaller parcels. If any zoning changes are needed, that will come up at a later date.

Berth asked what was being done about the illegal dumping of yard wastes on the north and east sides of Badger Park, and if signs prohibiting dumping there had been posted. Cowell said he was waiting for Council authorization, but Alderman Brigitte Schmidt said there already is an ordinance prohibiting the dumping, so added Council action was not needed.

Cowell reported two large street patch jobs have been done, one on South Wood Avenue and one on North Wood Avenue, and a sink hole at the storm sewer on the end of Rainbow has been repaired. Two catch basins and storm sewer sink holes there and a sanitary sewer sink hole on McGraw still need to be repaired.

The street sweeper is broken again, and the repairs will cost about $8,000.

On motion by Finance Committee Chair Debbie Sievert, Council approved taking out a $50,000 loan as a 90-day note at a maximum of 2.5 percent interest. Sievert said the new loan is needed because they didn't take anything out from the previous 90-day note that had been authorized.

Purchase of the 20 sets of turnout gear for $48,820 from Pomasl Fire Equipment as recommended by Fire Chief Charles Gardon was approved without dissent. Gardon said personnel from Pomasl will be in Peshtigo on Wednesday, Sept. Sept. 16 to fit the firefighters with their new gear, including boots. Behnke commented the firefighters will finally have gear that fits them.

Council also authorized Gardon to order an Extractor from 5 Alarm for $4,495 to help with laundering the turnout gear after use and getting it ready for the next fire call. "It definitely will be put to good use," Gardon commented. He said with the existing equipment it takes a full day to launder and dry one set of turnout gear, and with the new extractor it will take half a day. He said a local plumber has stepped up to do the needed plumbing at no charge to the city, and the firefighters will build the drying rack.

"With the cost of turnout gear, this is a good investment to keep it in good condition," Behnke commented.

Before the meeting adjourned Behnke sadly reported that over the labor Day weekend - on Sunday, Sept. 6, Chris Karpowicz had dropped off a request for a street use permit for an event that he hoped to hold in lieu of the cancelled annual Peshtigo Historical Day event. He said because of Open Meetings laws, Council could not act on the request at this meeting, and unless someone is willing to pay the $150 fee for a special council meeting the permit, "Legally, we cannot do anything about it," and the permit could not be granted in time. He hoped they could change the date, and find a way to do something. It was noted that a Halloween Party in Badger Park is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10.

At the Sept. 3 Parks and Recreation Committee meeting there had been considerable discussion on recommendation of former Parks and Recreation Director Shawn Northrop for more community events.

Northrop, who is currently serving as a working foreman for the Parks Department, said to everyone's surprise there was a huge turnout for a ඎ's and 80s Throwback" event held the previous weekend at Badger Park. The campground had been full, and an estimated 650 to 700 people attended. "There was no parking available anywhere," Northrop declared. "I think involving our whole community brings people together," he said, and outdoor events provide a way for people to comply with Covid concerns and still come together for fun. He said there were few masks at the event, but people were doing social distancing. Even the food all sold out, he said. He thanked Cozzy's Polaris for being a big supporter of the event. Peshtigo Corral provided the food, sold it, and then donated the proceeds.

He has been talking with Kathy Crabtree about other events they could have, and felt they could get other businesses to sponsor other events.

Berth remarked they cannot just let flag football and T-ball fall by the wayside, and Northrop suggested other groups could sponsor youth sports events. He felt in the past the city's recreation Department had focused too much on kids and not enough on family events and the community as a whole.

Alderman Brigitte Schmidt agreed the city's focus should be on family events. She said she had been helping run some programs when there was no parks and Rec Director, and found that groups like Youth Baseball do a great job with that. "We need to figure out what we should do that nobody else does," she declared.

Berth repeated that kids still need things go do, and Northrop countered that the school may run the sporting events, and there are organizations that run baseball in any case.

Behnke agreed the city should avoid duplicating services and programs that are already offered by others.

Northrop agreed with Leupp's summary that he was saying the city's Parks and Recreation Department "...needs to do a better job of providing for adults, and should built strategic partnerships with other groups for kids."

Northrop clarified he meant not just for adults, "but for whole families, for the entire community." He said surveys have shown that is what people want. It was agreed that Northrop should come up with ideas for community events and bring them back to the committee.

It was noted that Badger Park closes for the season on Oct. 20, and Berth asked why it is so early. Northrop said the time is needed to shut down the park and winterize it, but they could discuss keeping it open longer.

The next Parks and Recreation Committee meeting is scheduled for 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 24.

There was some discussion of the new vending stand at Badger Park, where they will sell ice, candy bars, soda, etc. supplied by Lee's Family Foods, and firewood, for which Eugene Frank will fill the bins for $180, which is cheaper than the wood can be cut and split by parks workers. Sale of the firewood earned a $95 profit for the park during the past weekend, Northrop said. He would eventually like to get souvenir items to sell there as well. He said Gail Bantes has volunteered to sit in the building and sell merchandise during open hours. Schmidt suggested giving a key to the campground hosts as well so they could open it for campers who need emergency supplies.

The committee approved a motion to put a blue memorial bench donated by the Marquardt family near the flag facing the boat launch area.


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