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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Council Votes For Trick Or Treat On Halloween

Issue Date: October 7, 2020

Despite a recommendation to the contrary by Mayor Cathi Malke, who is recovering after a long, hard battle with Covid-19, Peshtigo City Council at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6 voted without dissent to approve Trick or Treating in the city from 4 to 6 p.m. on Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31. Alderman Mike Behnke, who has been serving as acting mayor during Malke's illness, did not vote.

Malke was hospitalized Covid-19 for more than two months and is now recovering at a local nursing home.

Under "Business and Communications" on the agenda, Behnke advised the Council that Mayor Malke had sent a letter urging them to cancel Trick or Treating for this year.

In the letter, Malke asked, "With the rise in Covid-19 cases in our area, why would we want to put residents, trick or treaters, and family accompanying them at risk?"

She went on "I am urging you to cancel trick or treat this year. Candy is not worth someone's life. Just the thought of someone going through what I have, having had covid and it could be prevented by canceling trick or treat, is the decision you need to make tonight. Please help prevent the spread of covid by wearing a mask. Thank you."

After hearing the letter, Trustee Archer Leupp expressed sympathy for what Malke has gone through, but said he personally would like to leave it up to the residents or not, let them decide if they want to leave their lights on for trick or treaters, and up to families to decide if it is safe for them and their children go go out trick or treating.

Behnke asked for a motion before further discussion, and Alderman John Berendt promptly moved to approve trick or treating on Oct. 31 from 4 to 6 p.m. as usual. Leupp quickly seconded.

Berendt explained his thoughts were that the city is still doing programs through the parks department, and added, "Halloween is the perfect time for masks. Keep them on and bring hand sanitizer and whatever else you feel is needed. He felt the parents could decide, and people who did not want to encounter trick or treaters could keep their porch lights off.

"I too sympathize with Cathi," Alderman Debbie Schmidt said, but added that she agrees the Council should leave it up to city residents to make the choice for themselves and their families.

"It should be a personal choice ... I don't think we should get involved," Alderman Rick Berth agreed.

Behnke spoke briefly against allowing Halloween to continue as usual. He cited the recent uptick in cases, and said if the school is closed down for an outbreak before Halloween he felt they might need to reconsider, "but for now I won't stand in your way."

Leupp said discussion on Covid has always agreed there is a difference between having a group of people cooped up in a building and people being outside with fresh air and distance between them.

Schmidt felt if the school felt they needed to close she would reconsider.

Berth noted when the schools have been closed it was not that the kids were sick, it was that either the teachers were sick or did not have anyone to care for their own children.

Public Works Director George Cowell stated he had looked up recommendations for trick or treating on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website and found some advice for safer trick or treating. "I strongly encourage everyone to follow these," he urged.

Voting in favor of the motion allowing Halloween to continue as usual were Aldermen Debbie Sievert, Berth, Berendt and Leupp. There were no negative votes. Since he is filling in as Mayor, Alderman Behnke would only vote in case of a tie.

Moving on, Behnke noted there would be need soon for a meeting of the Fire, Lighting and Building Committee, of which he is a member, but cannot act in that position while filling in as mayor. He proposed appointing Berendt to replace him temporarily. That suggestion was welcomed by Berth, who chairs the committee, and approval was unanimous.

Behnke reported on a series of Water and Sewer Committee meetings held on Sept. 15, 17 and 30. The Council packets included minutes from the Sept. 15 and 17 meetings, but not the Sept. 30 meeting. Agenda for that meeting included discussion and ratification of an easement agreement with BPM, Inc. (for the main sewer line River Crossing) and a plan for utility disconnections after Nov. 1, which must be submitted to the Public Service Commission. Leupp asked about minutes for that meeting and ClerkTreasurer Tammy Kasal said thy were not finished yet, but would be provided to him.

As recommended by Sievert, as Finance Committee chair , council approved purchase of a wood chipper from Vermeer Wisconsin for their bid price of $65,370, to be funded from the debt levy, and purchase of a Crafco crack router with a dust collection system for the bid price of $18,800, to be funded from the street equipment outlay account. That purchase had also been recommended by the Streets and Drainage Committee.

Berendt, as chair of the Streets and Drainage Committee, moved that council approve purchase of a refuse tipper from Envirotech Equipment for the bid price of $6,800.

Before the meeting adjourned Behnke asked if there were any updates on a request the city had received for a culvert to provide access to the old portion of Schacht Road from the car wash. Berth said after the Streets and Drainage Committee received the request he had gone there to take a look, and felt Cowell also needed to look it over.

Berendt said he had gone there directly after the meeting to talk to the people who made the request and get some contact information. It will be on the agenda for the next Streets and Drainage Committee meeting.

Berth advised that he had spoken with Andy Biehl regarding car washes for police vehicles. He said he will give the information to Behnke, who in turn said he would talk about it with Police Chief Rick Badgley in regard to having it put in the budget. That will be discussed at a License and Police Committee meeting in the near future.


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