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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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City Council Approves Hiring Labor Attorney

Issue Date: September 4, 2013

Following a closed session and by four votes with one alderman abstaining and one absent, the Peshtigo City Council at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Sept. 3 approved hiring an outside attorney to provide advice and recommendations concerning existing personnel matters and labor issues.

City Clerk/Treasurer Mary Ann Wills was excluded from the 30-minute closed meeting. She had been taking minutes of the regular council meeting.

Wills has been the topic of several closed meetings of the Personnel Committee in recent months which resulted in her having to agree to make improvements and take an anger management program and other conditions. At that time she had hired her own attorney to represent her.

Approving the recommendation authorizing the mayor to hire the outside attorney were Aldermen Tom Gryzwa, Tim Colburn, Brigitte Schmidt and Cathi Malke. Alderman Debbie Sievert abstained and Alderman Mike Behnke was absent.

In other action the Council approved transferring ownership of portions of some city streets to the town of Peshtigo, awarded an asphalt resurfacing contract, adopted speed limits on city streets and approved contract revisions on the wastewater treatment plant rebuild.

Ownership of portions of Schacht Road, Old Cedar Way (Dolan Ave.) and Poplar Ridge Road apparently will be settled at the October meeting of Peshtigo City Council. At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Sept. 3, Peshtigo City Council asked City Attorney David Spangenberg to prepare documents transferring ownership to the Town of Peshtigo. At his suggestion the documents will include provisions reserving easements for utility purposes and requiring that no weight limits be put on the roads transferred.

Spangenberg noted the transfer can be completed before winter maintenance season begins. He also pointed out that the city will lose some gas tax revenue from the transaction.

In July the Town of Peshtigo had asked to take over care and maintenance of those roads, and at its August meeting Peshtigo City Council approved an agreement to transfer jurisdiction to the town for maintenance purposes. However, the Peshtigo Town Board at its August meeting asked to have ownership of the roads in question turned over to them along with the responsibility of caring for them.

Spangenberg explained in 1999 the town and city had each owned half of the roads in question, and the town had deeded its portion over to the city. Now, for maintenance reasons the town would like the roads to come under its jurisdiction.

Asked what effect the change in ownership would have on the city, Public Works Director George Cowell said the city will lose some gas tax money, which is allocated by the state on per mile basis, but they would have lost that anyway with the jurisdictional transfer, and they will save the cost of maintaining the roads.

Former Alderman Mary Lock, present in the audience as an observer, reminded the Council that the reason the city got ownership of the roads back in 1999 was that the freight company located there runs heavy 18-wheelers and the road had to be built strong enough to handle them. If the town puts weight limits on that company would be shut down because they couldn’t get their trucks out, she declared.

Some maintenance access issues resulted from construction of the Hwy. 41 by-pass, and the town asked that the sections of road be turned over to them.

Spangenberg repeated his offer to draft a deed for the October meeting with the stipulation that no weight limits be imposed in that area and that the utility easements be retained, and Council approved that suggestion.

On recommendation of the Streets and Drainage Committee, Council awarded a contract for asphalt resurfacing of Stibbe Street and River Park Drive from Emery Ave. to West Front Street to Northeast Asphalt for the low bid price of $68,792. Committee Chair Sievert said there were only two bids. The second bid, slightly higher, was from Biehl Construction, for $69,881. Sievert said Colburn had recommended accepting the low bid.

After half an hour of deliberations behind closed doors at the end of its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3, four members of Peshtigo City Council supported a motion authorizing Mayor Al Krizenesky to retain legal counsel to provide advice and recommendations concerning existing personnel matters and labor issues. No details were given.

Votes in favor were cast by aldermen Tom Gryzwa, Tim Colburn, Brigitte Schmidt and Cathy Malke. Alderman Debbie Sievert abstained and Alderman Mike Behnke was absent.

Motion to go into closed session for the deliberations was made by Sievert, seconded by Colburn and approved without dissent at 7:35 p.m.

Clerk/Treasurer Mary Ann Wills, who had been taking minutes for the Council meeting was asked to leave the room, and there was a request for the tape recorder to be turned off.

At 8:05 p.m., Wills and members of the public who waited outside the Council Chambers were re-admitted to the meeting and Spangenberg was asked to read the motion. The meeting was adjourned immediately after the motion authorizing Krizenesky to retain legal counsel was approved.

The Council’s Personnel Committee meeting on Monday, Aug. 19 had ended with a closed session to discuss personnel issue of a city employee. Minutes of that meeting indicated the closed session began at 3:33 pm. and adjourned at 5 p.m. with no action taken.

The first portion of the Aug. 19 Personnel Committee meeting included initial exchanges with Teamsters Union Local 662 and WPPA/LEER Peshtigo Police Department Employee Association. Those present included committee members Colburn (chair), Malke and Behnke, along with Krizenesky, Gryzwa, Beth Kirchman (business representative or Local 662), and Mark Madden, local representative.

Those attending the closed meeting were listed as Colburn, Behnke and Malke, along with Spangenberg, Gryzwa, Sievert, Schmidt and Krizenesky. Minutes were recorded by Deputy Clerk/Treasurer Vicki L. Koronkiewicz. Malke left the meeting at 4:45 pm. to go to work.

The Sept. 2 Council meeting began at 6:45 p.m. with a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that set a 25-mile per hour speed limit on all streets within the city limits, with a few exceptions. On French Street from Dolan Ave. to the intersection of Meyer Ave. and on Maple Street from Stephenson Street to Ogden Road the speed limit will be 35 miles per hour, and from Ogden Road to Old Peshtigo Road (South) the speed limit will be 45 miles per hour. On all alleys and on roads within the city park, East Park Drive and West Park Drive, the speed limit will be 15 miles per hour, and if children are present, the speed of such vehicle shall not be greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing.

No one spoke for or against the proposed ordinance at the public hearing, and later at the Council meeting it was adopted by unanimous vote.

There were 14 building permits issued in August.

On recommendation of the Water and Sewer Committee, Council approved contract revisions on a time and materials basis giving Kaempfer and Associates an additional $35,850 for project management (not to exceed $37,500) and an additional $99,800 for Construction Inspection Services. The established prices are not to be exceeded unless there is further authorization from the committee. Gryzwa, who chairs the committee, explained the extra charges are for work being done done in connection with the Clean Water Fund loan and grant.

Work on the long and costly wastewater treatment plant rebuild is to be substantially completed by Monday, Sept. 16, and an extension of the Oudenhoven Construction, Inc. contract to that date was approved, along with an additional charge of $815.

Gryzwa reported the committee toured the Wastewater Treatment Plant and found everything going well and work on the inspection repair list is being completed in accord with established timelines. The committee had approved paying BPM, Inc. 41 percent of the $9,311.82 cost of cleaning out Lagoon No. 3, in accord with the operating agreement.

The committee has been preparing specifications in accord with their plan to request proposals for operating the wastewater treatment plant, a job that has long been handled by BPM, Inc. Gryzwa said the city has three options, 1) to hire a local firm, 2) contract with some outside entity, or 3) phase in an agreement by which the utility eventually would be run by city employees.

In other action, Council approved:

*Krizenesky’s appointment of James Finger as a Commissioner on the Peshtigo Housing Authority for a five-year term effective Tuesday, Oct. 1;

*A request from Mary Lock that fees for use of the Henry Drees Community Center be waived for Peshtigo Woman’s Club for Tuesday, Sept. 10 for a special dinner to welcome back all present members and potential new members and guests;

*Request from Robert Bannow of Northern Area Radio Control, Academy of Model Aeronautics, to hold a model plane contest at Badger Park on Sunday, Sept. 15. Krizenesky expects the activity to be at the beach area where it was held in prior years and to not affect campers or anyone using the park pavilions;

*An agreement with Time Warner Cable Business Class for internet addresses for three locations at $30 per month;

*A resolution authorizing Cowell, as city forester, and Parks and Recreation Director David Zahn to prepare and submit applications for DNR Urban Forestry and Urban Forestry Catastrophic Storm Grants, and/or from the American Transmission Company (ATC) Tree Planting program for removal of storm damaged and other dead trees along city streets and in Badger Park, and planting replacements. Cowell said plans are to plant trees in Badger Park from Trout Creek to the beach area, and on some streets in the city. For the street trees he will choose varieties that will not grow large enough to interfere with transmission lines, sewers or sidewalks.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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