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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Middle Inlet Board Rejects Lake Mary No Wake Ordinance

Issue Date: April 20, 2022

After hearing from over 20 speakers at an intense half hour public hearing prior to the regular monthly board meeting on Thursday, April 14 Middle Inlet Town Board voted unanimously to not adopt an ordinance to set "no wake" hours on Lake Mary. In the absence of a local ordinance, state law prevails, and "no wake" hours on the lake are from sunset to sunrise each day.

At the public hearing, all but four or five of the speakers were in favor of having no ordinance, and one presented a petition with over 100 signatures from people who wanted no ordinance. There were approximately 50 members of the public in the meeting room.

Among speakers who favored the 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. ordinance were Wagner Town Chair Steve Renikow; Linda Fronsee who identified herself as a resident of Wagner for all of her 74 years and felt the 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. quiet hours set in 1967 were grandfathered in; and Roy Guerts, who has steadily spoken in favor of returning to the 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. no wake rules. Guerts said the DNR has a 26-page document to assist towns with their ordinances involved with lake regulations. He and Renikow mentioned the "gentleman's agreement" reached between the Town of Wagner and the Lake Mary Lake Association in 1967.

Andy Malecki, who said he has lived on the lake for 49 years, asked who defines what a wake is, and who would regulate the fishermen who also create wakes when they travel home from their fishing spots on the far side of the lake.

A DNR warden at the meeting said "no wake" means the slowest a boat can travel and still move.

Malecki said if the rule were strictly enforced, the Lake Association's traditional Fourth of July boat parade would be illegal.

Mike Malecki, a 50-year user of the lake, said traditionally everyone on the lake has cooperated, and felt Wisconsin laws already govern the lakes and additional ordinances are not needed. He said users of Lake Mary have cooperated for 50 years with voluntary compliance. He suggested the Wagner Town Chair had a conflict of interest, as he was also president of the Wagner Sportsmen's Club that was pushing for the 4 p.m. start of no wake hours. Later in the meeting Mike Caylor said Renikow is not president of the Wagner Sportsmen's Club. Caylor added it is not only fishermen, but also kayakers, rafters and others who just want to enjoy a nice peaceful lake without jet skis and other noise, in addition to the damage to aquatic life that he said could occur from high speed crafts on the lake.

Middle Inlet Town Chair Rich Wade said there are already rules against speeds that cause wakes within 200 feet of the shoreline all around the lake, and also within a 100-foot buffer around boats from which people are fishing.

Roger Lieck, a former supervisor on the Middle Inlet Town Board, said he and his wife are long-time Lake Mary residents and see no problems. He said once his son was fined $180 for going too fast. He added that he is a fisherman, but doesn't object if someone else wants to water ski, "but you have to stay 100 feet away from me." He added if seven or eight fishing boats are scattered around the lake, the water skiers may have a problem finding a place to enjoy their sport. The lake is only 106 acres, and only about 80 acres have deep enough water for skiing.

The Wagner Town Board on Tuesday, April 12 had approved an ordinance setting "no wake" hours from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m., which had been the rule supported by 19 of the town residents at their annual meeting, with no one voting against. However, that ordinance apparently cannot be enforced because both towns have previously been advised that DNR and County Sheriff's Department personnel will only enforce rules more restrictive than state law if the towns that own public access adopt identical ordinances.

The DNR warden at the meeting said the DNR has no authority to enforce a town ordinance. Neither of the towns has a constable or other law enforcement officer equipped to enforce boating regulations.

First action item for the Middle Inlet board when the public hearing ended and their meeting was called to order was action on the proposed ordinance regulating the "no wake" hours, and their vote to deny development of a no wake ordinance was unanimous.

A sarcastic voice from the audience asked if they would be stringing buoys across the lake, and Wade replied anyone who has problems can send them to the town's legal counsel.

In other action at its long, hard meeting on Thursday, the Middle Inlet board opened bids and awarded road improvement contracts for the 2022 construction season, approved a certified survey map for Lake Noquebay Shores as requested by H. Goltz Jr, J.& B Eastman, and approved hiring Naomi Blum to fill the Deputy Clerk/Treasurer position they created last month.

They also wrestled with issues that have arisen over delivery of carts for the new automated garbage collection system that is to start soon, and at the request of Supervisor Chuck Stanek had a long discussion on fees for the cemetery that were increased sharply in 2020, before he was elected to the board.

Blum has been chief election inspector for the town, and Clerk/Treasurer Patricia Schutte declared, "Naomi is fantastic at that job! I was so blessed when I came here and she was here!" Blum had been hired by Schutte with approval by the board, and Schutte said most of the deputy clerk/treasurer's work will be involved with elections.

Fire Chief Jon Kleuskens reported the spring wildland fire season is in full force, and added that Middle inlet is prepared. He said the Fire Department was able to borrow a brush truck from a private individual, and the new tender is now here, "after a bit of a struggle." He said the department had received a $1,000 grant which was put toward purchase of a K-saw.

Town Chair Rich Wade reported patching of town roads will begin with warmer weather and continue as weather permits, as will street repair or replacement.

The town has applied for multiple Local Road Improvement Project (LRIP) grants, for Wayside Road, Quarry Road and McMahon road.

The LRIP Grant for Wayside Road has been approved for $26,754.91, which will be applied to the cost of that project.

Approval or disapproval of Quarry and McMahon road applications will be known later this year, and Clerk Schutte is looking into the possibility that another LRIP grant may be available later this year, Wade said. He thanked Clerk Schutte for her help in filing for the grants, and thanked the board for acting quickly on the town road projects, as price of materials has increased again. He said the price for asphalt last year was $50 to $60 per ton, and this year is $95.35 per ton.

At a special 10 a.m. meeting on Tuesday, March 15 the board had reviewed the road budget and approved the 2022 list of road projects with estimates as prepared by Wade. The projects, with estimated costs, are 1.14 miles of pavement on Wayside Road, section 1, from Pleasant Road west, estimated at $118,200; 0.93 miles of pavement on Wayside Road, section 2, from the blue house west, for $61,300; 1,170 feet of pavement on Wayside Road, section 3, chip sealing and wedging from the end of the last section west, for $21,900; reconstruction of a quarter-mile of North Street from Western Ave. to Central Ave. for $45,000 and a quarter-mile of Central Ave. from Kennedy Drive to North Street for $42,500, and on Camp 5 Road, 1,308 feet of pavement overlay for $31,000 and pavement over the culvert for $6,600.

Bids for those jobs were opened at the start of the regular board meeting. On each project Scott Construction had the low bid and was awarded the contract, but the price was slightly higher than the estimate. The only other bidder on each job was Northeast Asphalt.

For Wayside Road, Section 1, the Scott bid was $123,900 to $129,757.20 from Northeast, Section 2 low bid from Scott was $22,900, and Section 3 low bid, also from Scott, was $60,900.

For the two Sweetheart City projects, low bids from Scott were, for the North Street reconstruction, $46,300 and Central Ave., $46,900. The Camp Five Road overlay low bid was $32,500, and the culvert overlay low bid was $7,100.

All the contracts were signed before the Scott company representative left the meeting, and he told the board it was good that they had signed the contracts now, "...the prices keep going up, and who knows where they'll be by June!" He said the cost of materials is 28 percent higher than it was at this time last year.

In February the board had approved a contract with GFL (Green for Life) for automated garbage collection services, with each household to be provided with a 95-gallon rolling cart to set out on garbage day. The automated collection was to start in two to three months. At this month's meeting Supervisor Don Van said GFL now wants to charge the town another another $3,000 to $5,000 to assemble and deliver the carts. The other option is to have them delivered to a central site and the town would be responsible for installing wheels and lids and then getting the carts to the individual residences.

Clerk Schutte noted this involves over 400 carts, and the town has no place to store them. She had asked the fire department if they would help with assembly, and said Blum suggested setting a date when everyone could come to pick up their own cart.

Wade was not happy. He said the GFL sales rep did not say at their meeting that the carts were not assembled, and that there would be a delivery charge.

Stanek said there are 481 containers to be delivered, and wondered if that will be enough, because mostly those are permanent residences, while the seasonal residents will be arriving in the next month or two.

Schutte noted many residents will not be able to pick up their own carts and will need someone to deliver them. There was also concern as to how part time residents could be notified.

From the audience, Carol Bausch suggested sending a letter with that information to every property tax address, and include a suggestion that anyone who cannot pick up their own cart should ask a neighbor to do it for them. She suggested having the pickup on a Saturday, when the recycling center is open.

Trash pickup is every other week in winter. Weekly pickup starts on May 1.

There was brief discussion on Spring Cleanup Day, and Schutte was asked to get price quotes from other service providers.

Stanek said he had calls from town residents concerned over cemetery prices, and noted in October of 2020 the board had raised the price of grave sites from $200 to $400. "We're not Arlington National Cemetery!" he declared. He said the cemetery has enough money in CDs and the cemetery savings account so they are not hurting, and wondered why the price hike. He also said the bereaved family is now hit with a $100 fee for marking, or flagging, the grave, and billed for grave digging. He felt it was better for the town to bill the funeral homes for that, as was done in the past. As to the $100 "flagging" fee, he wondered how they had come up with that price. He had called two monument companies and was told some charge nothing, and others charge $20 to $30. Sometimes the flagging fee is charged twice, once when the grave is dug, and again when the monument is delivered.

"These new fees are almost like taking advantage of a grieving family!" Stanek declared.

Clerk Schutte's husband, Kevin Schutte, who was named cemetery sexton at the time changes were made is paid $100 for grave marking. He said often months pass between the burial and setting of the monument, and in that time the flags are moved and burial site corners need to be located again.

Kevin Schutte said he marks all four corners of the grave site, and if people would put the concrete base in right away it would be in the right place when the monument arrives. He said some of the grave sites dating back from 1916 should be better identified.

Clerk Schutte found it offensive that Stanek said accurate marking didn't matter because this is a small country cemetery.

Questioned on the $100 he is paid to mark a grave, Kevin Schutte said it takes him 15 minutes just to drive to Middle Inlet from his home, and then he spends at least half an hour at the cemetery. He added he always also does some cleanup work while he is there, and declared, "I am not burning you for that $100 bucks!"

Wade halted the discussion with a comment that the item was listed for discussion only, so the board could take no action in any case. Stanek said putting it on the agenda for the May board meeting would be fine, and in the meantime he would call additional municipalities and find out what they charge.

Asked if people had been complaining, Stanek said one family had, and when others who had just seen the fee schedule had commented it is getting expensive to be buried in Middle Inlet.

Kevin Schutte said the cemetery gate is broken and needs to be replaced, and a good commercial gate costs $1,000 to $2,000.

The board agreed to advertise for bids for 2022 lawn and landscape maintenance, to be opened at the board meeting on Thursday, May 12. Wade said the agenda for that meeting may also include discussion on the railroad storage containers that are being moved into the town, and some are even being converted into housing units.

Clerk Schutte said the town ordinance book has not been updated since 2011. She asked Stanek to come in and find the ones he didn't send in while he was clerk. Wade said he may call a special board meeting to discuss updating the town ordinances.

Before the meeting adjourned a man from the audience asked what can be done about dogs at large on a neighbor's property. He said different groups of family members come to the property on Birch Hill Road with different dogs, and last month one of the dogs chased him, and another chased a delivery man.

Schutte said the complainant should call Code Enforcement Officer Jim Boltz, who would then go talk to the dog owners, and bring them a copy of the town ordinance.

Boltz said the dogs are not supposed to be off their owners' property, and if the owner is not outside, the dog needs to be on a leash. He said no matter who is using the cottage, it is the property owner who will get the fine, not necessarily the owners of the visiting dogs.


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