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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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LIFE SAVING AWARD - Peshtigo Police Officer Robert Hulce is shown above with the Life Saving Award he received at the Peshtigo City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 1. He is flanked by Police Chief Fred Popp, left, and Mayor Cathi Malke, right. Hulce saved the life of a man who appeared to be having a heart attack by administering CPR until the Emergency Medical Services team arrived. The man Hulce saved reportedly later had a triple by-pass and is now doing well.

Peshtigo Police Officer Gets Life Saving Award

Issue Date: February 3, 2022

Presentation of a life saving award to Peshtigo Police Officer Robert Hulce and introduction of two newly hired part time police officers by Chief Fred Popp were highlights of the Peshtigo City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

Presentation of the award for Hulce was scheduled for the start of the meeting but was delayed because he was on duty that evening, and was out responding to a call.

When he returned, Popp said he likes to recognize officers when they do a good job, and Hulce had done an outstanding job of using his training and dedication to save the life of a man who had collapsed at The Store Gas Station/Convenience Store in Peshtigo.

The certificate of commendation states that on Saturday, Jan. 8, "Officer Hulce effectively utilized his training and experience to render CPR to a person who had collapsed and showed no vital signs. Because of his quick response and meritorious service, the victim was revived and subsequently turned over to the care of arriving EMS personnel."

Popp said he had talked earlier on Tuesday with the man Hulce had saved. The near-victim had undergone surgery for a triple heart by-pass and is now doing well, Popp said.

Hulce got a standing ovation from everyone present, and gave a brief thank you response.

The newly hired part-time police officers are Josh Lindt of Marinette and Adam Hynnek of Peshtigo. Mayor Cathi Malke welcomed both to the city. They are getting trained now and may be starting on patrol on Sunday. Meanwhile, Popp was authorized by Council to continue seeking an additional full time officer because of a retirement anticipated in the near future.

At the start of the meeting Malke presented a detailed financial report on income and expenses related to city sponsorship of the Peshtigo Fire Sesquicentennial celebration that attracted thousands of visitors to the city last summer. The report shows that as of Feb. 10, only $4,748.97 of city funds have gone to pay for expenses of the Sesquicentennial, and once the remaining 240 Sesquicentennial coins are sold, that amount will go down to $2,092.17. A total of $48,998.17 was spent overall for Centennial coins, banners, T-shirts, the dinner show and the timber show, and $44,249.20 came in from donations, and sales of T-Shirts, coins, dinner show tickets and banners. The amount out of the General Fund never exceeded $10,000. In January of 2021 Malke had asked the Finance Committee to authorize funding of $25,000, with money raised in connection with the celebration to be returned to the General Fund. The committee had approved her request, and it was later supported by the entire City Council. Malke said authorizing the spending allowance in advance eliminated need for numerous costly special meetings as items were purchased.

Malke started her financial summary by reporting that two weeks previously she had met with the Historical Society committee and it was decided they will buy the coins Sesquicentennial coins 20 at a time and offer them for sale. The coins also continue to be offered for sale in the clerk's office at the Municipal Building.

Malke thanked the Council and past Aldermen Mike Behnke and Archer Leupp for entrusting her with the $25,000 to be used toward the celebration, and gave a special "thank you" to Alderman Debbie Sievert, who had been assigned to help her with Sesquicentennial preparations.

Malke said when plans were being made they kept the citizens of Peshtigo in the forefront and wanted to make it affordable for everyone. "We wanted parents to bring their families out for a day to remember," Malke said, and asked what better way could there be to have fun and put yourself back in 1871 than to have a complimentary ride to the park by horse drawn wagons. "Making sure we thought of everyone, we hired a horse drawn wagon company that specialized having a handicapped wagon. Once the wagon would drop individuals off by the Peshtigo High School, we hired a golf cart to transport them to the park."

Malke said in line with the city's history of being lumberjacks, "We hired a Timber Show to entertain young old free of charge to visualize our forefathers and have fun at the same time."

"We showed our appreciation for our employees by purchasing polo shirts commemorating our 蕦th'." Malke said, and added, "When we put the call out for help both the City of Peshtigo Fire Department and the Town of Peshtigo Fire Department answered our call. We purchased t-shirts for all the volunteer firemen, which they wore Saturday for the 蕦th" and Sunday for the combined Firemen's Breakfast.

"We were also fortunate to have several of our non-profit organizations such as Lion's Club, Woman's Club and the Chamber manning food booths and raising money they would later give back by supporting future city projects, Malke continued, and concluded, "The final cost to the City of Peshtigo for celebrating our 蕦th" anniversary of the Great Peshtigo Fire after selling the remaining coins will be $2,092.17. Again, I would like to thank everyone for making our 150th anniversary a huge success."

Malke thanked Clerk/Treasurer Tammy Kasal for all the work she had put into preparing the financial report, and said copies were available for the public on request.

She displayed a copy of the Fox Cities magazine in which the first two pages advertised the City of Peshtigo and the Peshtigo Fire Sesquicentennial celebration.

Alderman Katie Berman had a number of questions related to who the donations were from and how they were spent. One was a $1,125 donation to the Fire Department. Malke said it was from a former city resident who had moved to South Carolina. Fire Chief Chuck Gardon explained they used the money for handouts to kids at the Sesquicentennial events. He said a thank you to the donor was published in the paper, and he had a plaque made for her.

Berman asked how the expenses and revenues were tallied, and commented, "...so this wasn't handled like other city finances."

Kasal said she had prepared the special financial report to show what came in and went out, and that the amount out of city coffers never went above $10,000 - far less than the $25,000 that had been authorized. She said when the city gets a grant it goes into a special account and then gets transferred to the proper account as it gets spent. Some coins were also purchased for the Wisconsin State Forestry Conference that had been held in Peshtigo because of the 150th anniversary of the Peshtigo Fire of 1871.

When there were more questions from Berman and Alderman Rick Berth about individual donations and expenditures Malke invited them to get the information from Kasal the next day.

Alderman John Berendt asked what the city normally spends on the annual Historical Day celebration and Malke said no money, but the city contributes in the form of time from firemen, police officers and public works personnel.

From the audience, Alderman Berth's wife, Peggy Berth, said in May of 2021 she had attended a Council meeting to ask that meetings be made available to the public by Zooming, and said Malke had told her Camera Corner was there and they would look into it. Nothing further had been done. Malke apologized and said she would put on the next agenda for the Fire, Lighting and Building Committee, and suggested that Berth not wait nine months next time she has a request.

Alderman Berth asked if there will be an audit of the Sesquicentennial accounts.

Kasal said that account is included in the city's financial records, which are audited by an outside firm each year. She said the auditors will be in her office starting about Feb. 21, but the audit might not be done until April or even June. However, she noted, "the auditors will certainly ask about this account because it is money spent that was not budgeted."

Public Works Director George Cowell is retiring at the end of February and a replacement has not yet been hired. Council approved providing $2 per hour wage incentives to the four employees who fill lead positions and will be handling added responsibilities until Cowell's position is filled. The lead positions are Water, Streets, Wastewater Treatment Plant and administrative duties. Malke noted the pay incentives will take effect after Cowell retires, so the budget impact will still be negative.

After some discussion and the first-ever tie-breaking vote by Malke, a Finance & Claims Committee recommendation to increase the wages for salaried employees, hourly full-time employees and a part-time office employee by 1 percent at the end of 2022 so they start 2023 with a 3 percent raise, to be consistent with union employees. During discussion it was explained that only employees affected are one full time employee and one part time office employee.

Aldermen who voted in favor were Debbie Sievert, Brigitte Schmidt and Keith Klimek. Aldermen John Berendt, Rick Berth and Katie Berman were opposed.

Malke said after the meeting that she has been blamed - and credited - for many Council decisions during her six years as Mayor, but this is the first time that she has actually gotten to cast a vote. By Peshtigo City Council rules, the mayor only votes in the event of a tie.

During discussion before the vote, Berendt wondered why the raise recommendation had gone through the Finance Committee rather than the Personnel Committee.

Malke said the two employees affected had been waiting for a long time to be assured they would be treated the same as other city employees.

Berman asked why this was being done now, "instead of waiting to see where the budget will be."

Schmidt, who chairs the Finance Committee, said she prefers to handle these issues as they come along.

Berman asked if they were putting themselves in a hole, for example if they find a need to give a higher raise to one of the positions. Clerk/Treasurer Tammy Kasal said they can always add to wages or salary if needed.

"So we're agreeing to spend next year's budget?" Berendt asked.

"We already did it for everyone except these two office employees," Malke told him. "This is just bringing them up to where the other employee raises already are."

Vote was then called, and resulted in the tie, which Malke broke in favor of giving the raises for the two affected positions. She said later she always wants everyone treated equally, and somehow the raises for these two individuals had fallen through the cracks when they were approved for everyone else.

There had been a long and productive Parks and Recreation Committee meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 26. Council approved a recommendation to have Parks and Recreation Director Lori Tonn seek bids for construction of restrooms, storage shed and a concession stand by Ball Field No. 4 if Cowell would not do it. Cowell had previously declined to prepare the bid documents until funding was approved. The Girls Softball league is to finance construction of the concession stand.

Malke said after meeting that engineer Mike Dura has been hired to do the specs, and they still needed to decide who will pay him. Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Alderman Schmidt declared, "I'm sure it will be a beautiful addition," and thanked the Girls Softball group for their contribution.

The Parks and Recreation Committee had also accepted an offer from Carl Malke (husband of Mayor Malke) to build two movable fish cleaning stations as a volunteer, at no cost to the city except for materials. Tonn said Carl Malke had told her cost of materials will not exceed $100 each, and they may lower that price even more by using some of the materials from Badger Boardwalk, which is being dismantled.

Berth objected that there may be stench and mess from the fish cleaning stations, and asked if they will increase the city's population.

Tonn said fishermen have told her they would stay in Peshtigo longer if they had a place to clean their catch. She said the cleaning stations will not draw thousands of people to the city, but will help people already here to stay longer, perhaps overnight at Badger Park, perhaps for a meal at a local restaurant.

Berth said they can only catch one walleye a day, and added, "I don't think it's worth the smell and the mess." Tonn said each fisherman may have only one fish, but there might be 40 fishermen.

Schmidt said the fish cleaning stations Malke volunteered to build can be easily moved and removed, and she too had requests in prior years for the city to provide a place for fishermen to clean their catch. For now, the two fish cleaning tables are to be in place in their designated locations only during the early spring walleye run. Water is to be delivered to them by the tank truck used to water planters along city streets.

Berman asked if the cleaning tables can be left up longer if there are requests from fishermen, and Tonn said they certainly could.

Vote was five to one in favor of having the cleaning stations built, with Berth casting the sole dissenting vote.

Without dissent, Council voted to open Badger Campground for the walleye season, with campsites to be at half their regular price, and campers understanding they had to provide their own water and their own restroom facilities.

They also approved a committee recommendation to allow Tonn to use a campsite at Badger Park Campground for the summer at no charge. As part of her Parks and Recreation Director responsibilities Tonn assists with campground host duties, and fills in for the campground hosts when they are away from the campground.

After other business of the evening was completed Council went into closed executive session to discuss possible purchase of a property.

After returning to open session before adjournment, council voted without dissent to approve purchase of the property as had been discussed in closed session. Malke said some details still have to be worked out so no further information is available at this time..


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