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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Auditor Gives Peshtigo Clean Bill Of Health

Peshtigo City Council received all good news at its meeting on Tuesday, June 4. Auditor Dave Maccoux, in his annual report to the Council on behalf of Schenck Government accounting firm, gave the city a clean bill of financial health. The General Fund balance grew by $200,000, “so it was a good budget year,” and with a $2.4 million general fund balance, the city remains in “a very good financial position,” he declared.

Despite loss of some flexibility as TIF money was used to pay toward a variety of major capital improvement projects carried out in the city during the past year, the TIF debt goes out to 2026, “and at the present time it looks like the TIF funding is sufficient to cover all project costs,” Maccoux said in response to questions from Mayor Al Krizenesky.

Krizenesky reported the city’s water tower design, created by Peshtigo High School art students, was awarded top place in the nation in Rural Water judging, and the plaque is on display at the library. Krizenesky said unlike Peshtigo’s winning entry, most of the designs were professionally created.

The meeting started with a public hearing on proposed amendments to the city’s Refuse and Recycling ordinance that includes charges for disposal of tires, vehicles and vehicle parts, and for appliance pickups, as well as new rules by which certain items, mainly construction and demolition debris, will not be accepted at the city dumpsters. No one spoke at the hearing, and the ordinance changes were adopted without dissent later in the meeting.

Discussion indicated need for signs, press releases and other distribution of information on how the new disposal program works. City Engineer George Cowell agreed with Krizenesky that the ordinance brings some significant changes to how refuse is handled, and there was “a significant increase in dumping this month,” apparently in anticipation of the new disposal rules and charges. An Experience Works employee may be asked to work at the dumpster and brush disposal site at the city garage.

Cowell reported the downtown beautification/street enhancement project is moving into its final stages. Benches, bike stands, planters and refuse receptacles are being installed, trees are being planted in Riverfront Park, tree planting on Oconto Ave. is done, and the County D reconstruction should be finished within a week. Work on the bridge is complete except for staining, which Cowell said the state will have done as soon as the weather warms enough.

Planters are filled with a center of decorative grasses surrounded by Stella d’Oro Lilies. The city’s contribution toward cost of the streetscape trees is almost totally in the form of planting the trees and caring for them to be sure they grow, which includes watering them regularly, Cowell said.

Payment No. 2 in the amount of $388,553.72 to Advance Construction for work done on the Street Enhancement Project so far was approved.

By unanimous vote, Council agreed to proceed with a $1,731,803 loan for 20 years from the Clean Water Fund to finance the Wastewater Treatment Plant reconstruction project. The final loan amount will be determined when all the work is done and all forgivenesses and other credits are computed, Alderman Tom Gryzwa reported. Interest will be 2.625 percent.

Also by unanimous vote, Council approved a new traffic routing system to facilitate student pickup and drop off at Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center. Details of the plan, as an alternative to an earlier proposal for one-way traffic that had come from school officials, were worked out at a May 24 meeting between school and city officials and was recommended by the Streets and Drainage Committee. The intersection of N. Emery Ave., West Park and East Park will be converted into a three or four way stop, and an existing “Right Turn No Stop” sign on the southeast corner of the intersection will be removed. A turnaround area by the beach will be removed or blocked and “No U-Turn” signs will be posted there. There also will be a “Right Turn Only” sign at the school parking lot exit to West Park Drive and a “No Left Turn” sign on West Park Drive for west bound traffic. Ordinance changes will be needed to bring the plans to reality, and City Attorney Dave Spangenberg was asked to draft them.

Police Chief Kline expressed hope the new traffic pattern will be in place well before school starts next year so people will become accustomed to the four-way stop.

Proposed route of the Sept. 7 Historical Day Parade down French Street (formerly Hwy. 41) from N. Lake Street to Emery Ave. and then north on Emery Ave. to Badger Park was approved. Detour will be on Meyer Ave., Thompson Street and W. Front Street. Staging areas for the 100-plus unit parade will be on portions of Oconto Ave., N. Lake Street, North Ave., and N. Wood Ave. Several streets intersecting with French Street will be closed for the duration of the parade. Mary Lock, present on behalf of the Historical Day Committee, commented the new route through the main business district will be a benefit to business places along the way.

Peshtigo Police Department will be starting a Ride-A-Long program that permits adult observers in city squad cars, provided prior permission is received from the Chief or Assistant Chief. Council action unanimously authorized Chief Kline to establish a policy to govern the ride-a-long program.

What had started as a controversial issue appears to be settled. At a meeting on Wednesday, May 29, Council’s Personnel Committee agreed the city Clerk/Treasurer, as Department Head, may authorize volunteers to work in the office, provided they are supervised by the department head.

The committee agenda had called for discussion of “unauthorized personnel doing city activities.” Clerk/Treasurer Mary Ann Wills noted the issue had been referred back to committee from the Council meeting in May, and said she had two comments.

First, she said, at the Council meeting, Attorney Spangenberg had used the word “unauthorized”, which would cover when a volunteer is allowed or not, and second, working in the Council Chambers, but not in the clerk’s office, as some committee members suggested would not allow the volunteer to access the copier, which is needed for one of the projects, which involves creating a supplement of ordinances in the Municipal Code Book.

Former Alderman Mary Lock has been working on the Municipal Code book as a volunteer.

At the meeting, Alderman Mike Behnke expressed concerns about volunteers going to the Post Office and Bank on behalf of the city, and he was told that will not happen again.

After reviewing applications and deliberating nearly two hours in closed session at the May 29, meeting the Committee selected seven candidates to interview for the vacant Parks and Recreation Director position. Interviews are scheduled for Thursday, June 13.

Meanwhile, council approved committee recommendations to hire John Breault as a part time Parks and Recreation employee and to temporarily raise the pay of the Lead Parks Maintenance position to $12 per hour, retroactive to May 1. The pay will return to normal once a new Parks and Recreation Director is on the job.

Flushing of water mains on the east side is nearly complete, and flushing of west side mains will start in fall, Cowell said. This will get them on track for the 2-year flushing rotation required by the DNR. There were few calls or complaints in regard to the flushing this time, he reported.

At the May meeting Council had accepted a park bench donated by the Stibbe family for Riverfront Park as a family memorial. Council documents included a letter from the four Stibbe daughters expressing admiration for the city, and Krizenesky commented the city always welcomes donations. He suggested the cemetery needs roads that could perhaps be named for donors.

A request from Cheryl Wilch of the Marinette/Menominee Chamber of Commerce Leadership Academy to hold a “Dog Walk” fund raising and training event at Badger Park in August this year will be on the agenda for a meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee in the near future. Committee Chair Cathi Malke said she has worked as a Rescue Squad volunteer for the Dog Walk in the past and supports the proposed event.

As recommended by the Streets and Drainage committee, council accepted a bid from 2 T Stump Grinding of Porterfield to grind specified stumps for a total of $776.

Council approved a number of payments and change orders as recommended by the Water and Sewer Committee, several of them for large-ticket items. Gryzwa assured the Council each had been thoroughly investigated by the committee before they brought them to Council.

Among items approved were a payment of $15,837.85 to Oudenhoven Construction for work already done, plus a change order dated April 8 that adds $9,409 to the contract, and change orders in the amount of $19,277 for valves in Aeration Basin No. 3, and $1,980 for the weld on the existing header.

A Change Proposal from Elmstar Electric Corporation to replace the existing conductors from the manual transfer switch in the blower building at the Wastewater Treatment Plant to the existing MCC3 in the control building and disconnect temporary backfeed wiring for $78,312.27 was approved.

Some back charges totaling $25,632 due to BPM, Inc. for October of 2012 through May of 2013 in accord with the old operating contract were approved for payment. Gryzwa explained payment had been held up to get some things clarified, “and now we’re settling up with them.”

On recommendation of the License and Police Committee headed by Alderman Behnke, Council approved taxicab service licenses for Robert Dettman and Rhonda Fifarek of Reliable Taxi

Temporary Class B retailer’s beer licenses were approved for Wildfire Hog Chapter/Vandervest Harley Davidson for their Hot Rod & Harley Bike Show at 810 Frontage Road on Saturday, July 27, and an Open House and Rainbow House Fund Raiser at the same location on Saturday, Sept. 21.

Bartender license renewals for 2013-2014 were approved for all 33 applicants, and new licenses were approved for Adam David Bruce, Lori Ann Cooper, Joseph Theodore Gustin, Angie I. Angus and Kristi Brooke Seymour.

Class B beer licenses were approved for BLB Enterprises (Peshtigo Cafe), with Nancy Bruce as agent, and Pecor Ventures, LLC (The Peshtigo Corral) with Aaron Pecor as agent.

Class A Beer and liquor licenses were approved for the King of Clubs, Brown’s Corner, Center Bowl, Inc., Cortezz Place, Tojoa, Inc. (The River Pub), and Whotala, LLC (Luigi’s Pizza).

Class A package goods beer and liquor licenses were approved for Krist Food Marts on French and Maple streets, Lee’s Family Foods, The Store and Peshtigo Shell.

On recommendation of the License and Police Committee Council agreed not to grant a requested Class B beer and liquor license to Trident Petro LLC, “pending further information.” Behnke explained the owner had changed the type of application and they needed more information, but the business will be first in line for the pending license.

Building inspector Ron Banach reported issuing 13 building permits in May, after a long spell of limited activity. Largest was for a 9,100 foot retail building to be constructed by DGI Peshtigo LLC, with Landmark Construction as contractor, at 830 French Street. Estimated cost is $500,000.

As the meeting adjourned Krizenesky reported he had been contacted by Congressman Reid Ribble’s office. An aide from the Congressman’s office will be at Peshtigo City Hall at 9 a.m. Friday, June 7 to discuss any concerns the city may want brought to their attention. Krizenesky said he could not be there and asked Alderman Behnke, as Council President, to meet with him instead.

Alderman Malke thanked John Valitchka and Brandon Barrette for doing an excellent job on the parks and ball fields in the absence of a parks and recreation director. She mentioned Barrette’s terrific job on getting the ball fields ready, and said Valitchka had done great work getting Badger Park ready for the summer season.


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841 Maple St
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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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