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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Village of Pound Hopes To Improve Fire Rating

Fire Chief Turner Gross told Pound Village Board Monday, Jan. 6 that he is hoping some changes made in the last five years will result in an improved ISO fire rating, which in turn should result in lower fire insurance rates for most property owners in the department’s service area, which includes the Town of Beaver.

Gross said an ISO representative will meet him at the fire station Wednesday morning, Jan. 8, and asked Town Chair Jay Martens to join them if possible. Current rating in the village is seven, and he hopes to get that reduced to five or six. Clerk/Treasurer Trish Schutte noted the last time they went through an ISO ratings review their rank improved from an eight to the current seven.

The Town of Beaver area, also served by the Village of Pound Fire Department, ranks 10 because of distance from the fire station.

Gross said Peshtigo has a rating of five, which is about the best you can do with a volunteer fire department. He said the City of Marinette, with a full time fire department and paid firefighters, has a rating of two, about the best you can get.

Martens said since the last ISO ratings review the village had installed all new pumps, which should improve the rating.

Gross suggested the village should do something with the former Ranger Station building, as he felt the fire department does not need that much space or expense.

Heat bills at the fire station have been horrendous this year, Gross said. They have ordered a new thermostat and will install it in the center of the room. Feeling is that the current location on a cold outdoor wall makes the furnace run too much. Ceiling fans have also been installed to push heat down. There’s no reason we can’t bring that bill down to $250 a month, Gross declared.

Public Works Director Kevin Schutte suggested they also could just leave the thermostat where it is and simply keep it turned down as low as it will go. That way, he felt, the center of the fire station should stay warm, but not be heated to excess.

During the past month the Fire Department had one call to a structure fire and added one new member. New members will be sent through entry level training in February. All vehicles and hydrants are in good working order and they will be doing some annual equipment testing in the near future, Gross reported.

Firefighters received their annual paychecks at the last meeting, Gross said, and most of them just donated their checks right back.

He reported a local business had given the department use of some very nice communications equipment to better communicate on scenes. He added if they had to buy that equipment cost would be about $2,500.

Kevin Schutte reported he had done an inventory of village equipment/vehicles. During 2013 there were 137 hours put on the snow blower/lawn mower and 5,229 on the pickup truck. The 3,087 miles put on the garbage truck will be greatly reduced this year because he has been going to the landfill half as often.

Schutte said they need an inventory of Fire Department equipment and supplies. He felt much has been added, and he has no records. One day he noticed a pickup truck with a lot of hose on it in the fire station parking lot.

Chief Gross advised him that hose had been donated by a fire department in Milwaukee.

Kevin Schutte said he had mileage totals from the fire equipment, but most of it is new and he did not have the starting numbers. The new fire truck was used 44 hours, and other equipment had various totals of mileage and hours. Chief Gross advised him there will be a full inventory while the ISO representative inspects the station and its equipment, and everything will be updated and inventoried.

He said he did a lot of snow plowing in December, and applied 25,000 pounds of salt and 11,600 pounds of salt/sand. He put up the Christmas decorations, and decorated the Community Center for the social after the parade on Saturday, Dec. 14.

He replaced a light pole that had been knocked down by a snow plow - not ours. He fixed a part on the snow blower and is still having problems with the hydraulic controls on the garbage truck. He said he has almost about a ton of capacity, but it still packs well enough to halve the previous number of trips to the landfill.

Martens asked if there is still an adequate supply of salt and sand, and Schutte said there is. He started the winter with 50 tons of sand and has over 37 left. Salt is also adequate, he said.

Trish Schutte said she had a call that day from a lady wanting to know what she could do with her Christmas tree. Kevin Schutte said as long as she gets all the decorations off she can bring it the village’s brush pile.

At the previous meeting Trish Schutte had distributed results of two surveys related to community development, one done by Cougar Country Business Association five years ago, and one done by the village itself in 2002. With the holidays, only Trustee Wayne Gross had studied the results, and that only slightly. He said one frequent request was for more bicycling/walking trails, and wondered if there might be a way to connect the existing segments of sidewalk. He said young families in particular like to go for walks in the evening.

Trustee Mary Meyer said the board had previously talked about that, but had added no new sidewalks lately because there are no longer grants available.

Trustee Tyler Gross felt both existing surveys are outdated, and suggested doing one online, on the village’s recently opened web site. He said many sidewalks had been added since those surveys, for example. There were also suggestions to put questionnaires in the next mailing of water bills, with a request to return them when paying the water bill. She is hoping more and more residents will start paying their water bills online, and that would tie in with an on-line survey.

There was no action. The subject will be on the agenda at future meetings, and they will keep working at it.

New rental rates and security deposits for use of the Community Center were also discussed and then put aside until next month. Trish Schutte said she had contacted only one other community for comparable rates. However, she strongly felt the current $25 security deposit is far too low, and said she will raise it to $50. Trustee Wayne Gross asked if that would require formal board action. Clerk Schutte said when she and Public Works Director Schutte clean up together after events it takes nearly an hour if the hall is left fairly clean. She said one person working alone would need an hour and a half to two hours after each event. Mopping, for example, takes time, even if it was swept up after the event. Windows are a problem, especially after children’s birthday parties. She wondered why anyone would do their own cleanup since the $25 deposit is all it would cost to leave the work for someone else. Equity Park charges $10 for their hall and they do all the cleanup.

Wayne Gross explained the rent schedule for events at the school, and that a maintenance person must be on hand if the event will last more than three hours. Many communities have a sliding scale depending on how many people will be accommodated.

Current Community Center rental rates are $100 for the entire building, with kitchen; $50 for the building only, no kitchen, and $25 for half the building. There is a $25 deposit regardless which option is chosen.

Clerk Schutte said most communities she has spoken with have one rate for residents and another for non-residents, but generally if a non-resident wants to rent the facility they find a resident to rent it for them. She said they would prefer not to do that. However, Martens commented the person who signs the rental agreement is responsible for damages, and if they don’t pay we can actually add it to their property tax bill.

The Christmas parade and chili dump social afterward drew a fair crowd but not as good as usual. Martens said it was a good parade, but we sure had a lot of chili left over.

Clerk Schutte said the Community Center was filled for the post-parade gathering, but most years it is so filled that some people had to leave to make room for new ones to come it. That didn’t happen this year. She didn’t know if it was the weather (it was very cold), but a lot of people didn’t go out that weekend. The next Christmas parade will be on Saturday, Dec. 13.

Meyer complimented Clerk Schutte on the historical information included with the water bills, in anticipation of the 2015 centennial. Schutte said she had just been going through minutes. Many of the names of former village officials are familiar, in fact one was a Martens. At one point early in its history the village had a 3-member police force, one of whom was the constable.

A request from John Mahers for a second driveway to serve a property he is buying was tabled because he was not present. President Martens said Mahers has paid the back taxes on the property. That item too will be on next month’s meeting agenda.


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