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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town of Peshtigo Asks Attorney To Look Into Shore Drive Encroachments

Peshtigo Town Board, on recommendation of Town Chair Herman Pottratz, agreed not to fill the vacancy left by the recent death of Supervisor Pat Ravet until it can be done by voters at the polls in April.

Pottratz said he had several persons interested in the appointment, but felt the board could function with four members for a while, and it would be more fair to give everyone an equal chance. Supervisors Denise Wiedemeier, Mark Monnette and Dan Staudenmaier agreed. The meeting had begun with a moment of silence for Ravet.

During time for public comment, Joe Wilke, who lives on Old Peshtigo Road, said that at the annual meeting he had asked about getting stripes on Old Peshtigo Road, but was told it is too expensive, and the town doesn’t do that. Then last month the board approved stripes for Roosevelt Road.

Pottratz said striping can get expensive, because once they start they have to keep the stripes maintained. However, Roosevelt Road carries 19,000 cars a day, and even there they were only striping areas where the ditches are deep.

Wilke said striping and center lines might keep cars driving on their own sides of the road, and Monnette said it does help keep them off shoulders.

Wilke again referred to safety issues on the hills and curves of Old Peshtigo Road, and Pottratz said that would be addressed later in the meeting. The agenda provision for reducing the speed limit to 35 miles per hour for the entire road was unanimously approved by the board. Staudenmaier commented that would be better than the current patchwork system that alternates between 45 and 35. Town Clerk Clarence Coble pointed out in many areas on that road the posted speed limit is 45 mph for traffic from one direction and 35 mph from the other.

Before moving to implement the 35 mph limit, Staudenmaier commented county roads and the state highway are very close, and anyone in a hurry could use them.

Pottratz mentioned problems residents of Shore Drive (County BB) are facing because of the County Highway Department’s decision to widen the road, put in ditches, and strictly enforce encroachment rules. Residents have been sent letters stating that anything on their property that extends into the county’s road right of way will need to be moved. They have only 30 days to respond, but do have until mid-May to move or remove any encroaching buildings, trees, plantings, fences, etc.

Pottratz recalled that at the last Highway Committee meeting Chair Russ Bousley had asked Ray Palonen, highway commissioner, if he would allow an inch of encroachment, and Palonen had replied he wouldn’t even allow a quarter of an inch.

Pat Pottratz, from the audience, mentioned a lady who has a foot-high wooden fence built slightly into the county’s right of way and has been ordered to move it. That fence, she said, was built by the woman’s son, who is now deceased and it means a lot to her. Another has been ordered to remove her flower bed.

Pottratz commented the new commissioner does not even live in Marinette County and has no feelings for the situations or people here. He felt the $69,000 Palonen spent to have Robert E. Lee survey and draw up plans for rebuilding the road was unnecessary, and that the plans Robert E. Lee produced were unnecessarily expensive. Supervisors Monnette and Staudenmaier supported Pottratz’ contention that in the sandy soil of the area the proposed ditches were entirely unnecessary.

Pottratz, who has long opposed the planned ditches on Shore Drive as unnecessary, costly, and damaging to adjoining property owners, suggested the town should have its attorney look into the possibility of some relief for those people whose fences, buildings or whatever have been where they are for years and now apparently will have to be moved. Pottratz said even though it is a county road the town can have input.

He said the new plans devised by Palonen had driven the cost of the project from $1.5 million to $3.5 million, which he felt was totally unnecessary. He said he had visited the residents affected, looked at their properties and discussed their problems and felt the town might be able to do something to help them. He said the ditches that already exist are handling runoff nicely and additional ditching is not necessary.

Wiedemeier said she had not had time to visit the areas in question. Pottratz said although the residents have until next May to remove encroachments, response to the letters must be in 30 days, so waiting until the next Town Board meeting was not an option.

Eventually, vote to seek legal counsel on behalf of the affected residents was approved, with Pottratz. Monnette and Staudenmaier voting in favor and Wiedemeier opposed.

The board voted without dissent to designate Spitzmacher Road from the DNR road east as requested by the snowmobile club. Pottratz noted they should see that the DNR gets a copy of the motion, along with a request that they keep their gate open.

After some discussion about problems with unauthorized people dumping garbage in and around the container at the Harbor Road boat landing the board decided to have it moved to the recycling center, provided that can be done without affecting the existing contract with Waste Management. That 3-year contract will expire in a few months, and Wiedemeier, whose task assignment for the town is to manage garbage and recycling, said she does not want to do anything that would result in extending it. The board has been looking at the possibility of going out for bids rather than allowing the existing contract to automatically renew.

A sign warning of a $1,000 fine for illegal dumping will be posted at the boat landing, along with a message indicating times and dates that the dumpster will be available at the Recycling Center.

Coble noted they put in calls to Waste Management, “but our account manager never calls back.” He said occasionally a man from Waste Management at Menominee responds to his calls.

Next on the agenda was review of the Waste Management contracts, which date from 2008.

“We got thrown around to eight different people last month. They were terrible!” Wiedemeier said about questions they tried to put to Waste Management.

Wiedemeier felt minutes of the previous meeting should have included discussion of raises for employees at the Recycling Center, and said she had expected that issue to be on the agenda for this meeting. She said they have not had a raise in four years. Since it was not on the agenda there could be no discussion or action, but Pottratz said it will be on the agenda for the October meeting.

Treasurer Vilas Schroeder reported he had taken money from savings to pay for bills that came in this month, mainly because bills for road construction had come in earlier than expected.

The Conservation and Development Account was overspent by $900. On his recommendation the board approved moving $1,300 from contingency to that account to cover other expenses that may arise.

The board approved paying bills that totaled $37,088.09 for the month.

Public works spending to date this year is only $11,000 under budget, “and we have a few months to go,” Schroeder said, noting snow plowing and other maintenance work comes from that account. He said they will probably need to add to it before the end of the year.

Pottratz will attend a meeting of Wisconsin Towns Association at Wausaukee on Thursday, Sept. 19.

The board agreed there is no rush to sell the old fire truck, and the old one that eventually will be offered for sale will be kept until the replacement is delivered, which is expected to happen toward the end of October.

The Town Board will hold a budget meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1. The annual budget hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, just prior to the regular Town Board meeting.

By unanimous vote the board approved a resolution supporting a proposed change in state law that would allow towns with their own zoning ordinances to withdraw from county zoning. The resolution states that the town finds it unnecessarily burdensome for town residents to apply for a zoning change in the town and then have to wait for additional time for the county to approve the same request, and would like to be able to withdraw from county shoreline zoning and adopt its own shoreline zoning.

Fire Chief Mike Folgert reported the department’s recent golf outing and open house drew excellent turnouts. He expressed thanks to everyone on the 16 teams that golfed, and the many people who helped with the events.

The department had seven calls in the past month, one to a house fire that started when lightning hit an attached garage during one of the August storms. There were four calls to vehicle accidents, one for a power line down, and one for a grass fire. Folgert said it was raining so hard when the call came in about the house fire that their trucks couldn’t see to drive over 30 miles per hour while they were enroute.

The Fire Commission will meet on Monday, Sept. 30.

Wiedemeier said they needed to review the contracts with the town treasurer and town clerk, and Coble said if they were going to conduct personal reviews he wanted it done in closed session. It was agreed that will be done after the budget meeting on Oct. 1.

Schroeder, who chairs Marinette County Board, reported they had been treated that morning to a demonstration of the two canine officers on Marinette County Sheriff’s Department and their handlers. He had been privileged to ride with one of the K-9 teams and was very impressed with their abilities. He noted new dogs are acquired through donations, but their care and feeding is covered by the county budget.

Wiedemeier reported Oconto County got a $10,000 donation last week toward purchase of a canine for their Sheriff’s Department.


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