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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Appoint Vicki Koronkiewicz Peshtigo City Clerk-Treasurer

Issue Date: August 6, 2014

With a unanimous vote on Tuesday, Aug. 5, Peshtigo City Council approved Mayor Cathi Malke’s appointment of Vicki Koronkiewicz as the city’s new clerk/treasurer. As a surprise to Koronkiewicz, Malke invited everyone to a brief surprise cake and coffee reception in honor of Koronkiewicz following the meeting.

Koronkiewicz has been serving as interim clerk/treasurer since the retirement of Mary Ann Wills in February, with Anita Morois as interim deputy clerk/treasurer.

The Personnel Committee for some months had looked at alternatives to the combined clerk/treasurer position, and there was considerable talk of establishing separate clerk and treasurer posts. At Tuesday’s meeting, Council vote was unanimous in favor of the Personnel Committee’s recommendation to keep the clerk/treasurer and deputy clerk/treasurer positions as they have been, with job descriptions and wage rates to be revised at budget time.

In her letter appointing Koronkiewicz, Malke noted statutes state the City Clerk/Treasurer shall be appointed by the Mayor subject to confirmation by a three-quarters majority vote of the Common Council.

It is with great pleasure for me to nominate Vicki Koronkiewicz, Malke’s letter went on. Vicki has been employed for the City of Peshtigo for the past 17 years as the Deputy Clerk/Treasurer. As an employee, she has been dedicated, hard working, pleasant personality when dealing with citizens and visitors to the city and always looking out for the best interests of the city.

Motion to ratify the appointment of Koronkiewicz was prompt and enthusiastically approved.

Just before the meeting adjourned Malke congratulated Koronkiewicz on her new position and invited everyone to stay for refreshments afterward to help celebrate.

It was a good evening for Malke. On Wednesday, July 2 she had vetoed an action taken by the Council the evening before that would have allowed two juveniles working in the Work Restitution Program to be able to use the beach at Badger Park. The juveniles referred to had been guilty of serious vandalism at Badger Park in December, and allegedly had previously caused problems on city property, which resulted in their being banned except when under direct supervision of the social workers involved in the work restitution program.

However, in July Council approved a request to allow them to use the beach if accompanied by their parents. Malke’s veto negated that permission. At the Aug. 5 meeting, she asked Council for a motion to sustain and approve the veto. Alderman Mike Behnke made the motion and received a second from Alderman Mary Lock.

Before the vote Behnke asked if she could explain her decision. Malke told him she had asked City Attorney Dave Spangenberg if she could speak on the issue and he advised her not to, as the action involves juveniles. After the unanimous vote backing her decision to veto, Malke thanked aldermen for their support.

Council also unanimously approved Malke’s request to appoint Behnke to replace her as a voting member of the Marinette County Association for Business and Industry. She explained she wants Peshtigo to be well represented, and her work schedule would allow her to attend only every other monthly MCABI meetings. She told the Council Behnke had graciously agreed to make the journey to Wausaukee every month, and said she will accompany him every other month. I appreciate Alderman Behnke’s commitment and dedication to the betterment of the city, Malke wrote in her letter requesting Council approval.

Behnke also received thanks from Alderman Brigitte Schmidt, chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, for his work in redoing the naming rights policy and agreement documents aimed at acquiring sponsors for the city’s four ball fields currently known as the East Side Ball Field. After months of discussion, the Parks and Recreation Committee finalized its recommendations at a meeting on Thursday, July 17, and Council approval at Tuesday’s meeting was unanimous.

Subject to various conditions, donors who pay $5,000 per year for five year increments will have their sign posted at the ball field, with the field number also included, and the city will include the sponsor’s name along with the field number on all advertisements for and directions given in reference to the field.

Money raised from naming rights sponsors is to be used for improvements at the ball fields.

Council agreed to sell the old scoreboard from the girl’s softball field to County Line Little League in as is condition for $1. The girls league has donated a new sign for the field they use.

Peshtigo Police Department may soon have a bicycle patrol. Council approved a recommendation from the License and Police Committee to establish a Bike Patrol. At the July 21 meeting of the committee meeting Chief Kent Kline had explained the proposal for a Bike Patrol, and said the city of Marinette has sold them a bike for $75. The bike will be marked police, and when on that duty the officer will wear a special uniform. At present, Officer Steve Kessler is the only Peshtigo Police Officer trained and certified for bike patrol. Officers on bicycles are not to make vehicle stops, and the bicycle is to be used only when there is adequate coverage for traffic. However, purpose of the bicycle unit is to provide a highly visible, pro-active police patrol and community service. Officers on bicycles encourage family-friendly interaction. Duties of the Uniform Bicycle Patrol will consist of enhancing crime prevention and community relations initiatives as well as provide enforcement. Bicycles could be used in off-road or other terrain search and rescue in places unsuited for conventional patrol units. They also could be used for aggressive drug detection in parks, recreational and residential areas, according to the policy.

It seems like a good thing to me, Atty. Spangenberg said of the proposed bike patrol. He said he had been a bit concerned about the increased danger of injury to officers on bicycles versus squad cars, and was glad to hear that helmets will be a required part of the bicycle uniform.

The License and Police Committee has also been discussing the possibility of establishing a K-9 unit, and Malke expressed hope they will continue to focus on that and raise the funds needed to make it a reality. Tentative budget figures show a need for approximately $30,000 a year to add a dog to the city’s police force.

Malke referred a request from Joy Properties, LLC to purchase city owned sand stored at the wastewater treatment plant for 25 cents per cubic yard to the Streets and Drainage Committee. Joy’s letter said they would need 400 to 600 truckloads.

Glenn Seyfert, on behalf of Reputable Development, asked Council to have the Industrial Park property located at 920 Frontage Road (currently zoned 12 Light Industrial District) be approved for a veterinarian clinic, and also asked that it be zoned to allow mini warehousing and commercial warehousing if the veterinarian clinic zoning is not approved or if the offer to purchase falls through.

Alderman Tom Gryzwa, chair of the UDAG Committee, as well as the Finance Committee, said the building inspector will have to make the final decision on this, but the property referred to is a vacant building in the city’s industrial park. There was some confusion as to the uses, Gryzwa said, but he could find nothing in the city’s zoning ordinance or in the covenants for the industrial park that would prevent a veterinarian service there. That would be a good addition for the area, and we have several vacant buildings there and we need to fill them, Gryzwa declared.

Council approval of the proposed use as a veterinarian’s office was unanimous, pending approval of the building inspector/zoning administrator.

Council also unanimously approved two recommendations from the Revolving Loan Fund/UDAG Committee. One was to accept $150,810 to release the city’s mortgage position on the Dumke property, and the other relates to the Oestreich property located just east of the Municipal Building. Spangenberg is to send a letter to Oestreich asking him to deed his property back to the city within 30 days. If there is no response or a negative response, Spangenberg is to start foreclosure on the property. After an explanation from Gryzwa, who chairs the committee, Council authorized payment of the 2010 real estate taxes and fees and interest by Aug. 31 to protect the city’s interest in the property. Aug. 31 is the deadline for county foreclosure on properties on which the 2010 taxes have not been paid.

Parks and Recreation Director Dave Zahn reported Christmas in July at Badger Park was again a success and a lot of fun for everyone. He said the beach at Badger Park is extremely popular this season and they groom and inspect it daily. Camping at Badger Park is up 20 percent. Summer programs are now tapering off.

He said they have finished work on two bridges on Badger Park trails and hope to get another one done before fall.

One camper complained about noisy neighbors in the park and about other campers using their parking space.

There was another water line break in the park that left campers without water for about six hours, but MJB came and fixed it, and there were happy campers again.

The jail work release program continues to be a blessing, Zahn declared. He said the inmates have a lot of skills, and the program is good for them as well. The projects they achieve give them a work ethic and a sense of pride and ownership in the park.

Volunteers from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will spend a day at Badger Park, probably Saturday, Sept. 7, staining and totally resealing Badger Boardwalk.

Public Works Director George Cowell reported the flushing of water mains continues to go well, and they are now up to speed with the requirements of the DNR. Once the initial flushings are done they will continue to flush about half the water lines each year. With regular flushing he predicted there will be fewer deposits in the lines and the process will be shorter.

Cross connection inspections are also ongoing. City personnel inspected the schools and Rennes East and Rennes West connections and Hydro Designs has completed initial residential inspections and is following up on homes found with deficiencies.

Well permit registrations are now up to date, Cowell said.

One of the aeration basins at the wastewater treatment plant had been drained in preparation for cleaning and they found such heavy grit deposits that the work could not be done with city-owned equipment. They hired a larger vacuum unit and are now almost done. He said in future they should perhaps look at installing a grit removal system.

The second aeration basin will be drained and cleaned before fall. His crew has also been doing sewer main cleaning.

They helped the Parks Department spread wood chips on the Peshtigo River Recreational Park trails.

Cowell said he has been working with the DNR and Wisconsin Public Service on removal of hazardous trees and dead branches. He said a row of old popple trees at the city garage was removed because they were at the end of their life span and in danger of falling on nearby power lines. Two years ago one fell on a major power line and left the city with no electricity for 12 hours. Two others fell later, but in a different direction so they did not put out the lights. He said he is seeking a grant to pay for planting a row of shorter trees that will not grow into the power lines. Council later authorized Cowell to apply for a Community Planting Program Grant and accept the grant if it is awarded.

After an explanation by Eagle Scout candidate Ian Young, Council approved his proposal to label the storm sewers on the west side of the city with the words, Drains to river, no dumping. The youth said he was told the storm sewers on the east side of the river had been done recently. Ann Warren of the Marinette County Soil and Water Conservation Department told him they will provide the paint, stencils and safety equipment, and he will get other volunteers to help him with the work. Gryzwa commented the labels should help with the ongoing cleanup of the Peshtigo River, and noted the lower portion of the river is in better condition now than it has been for many, many years.

In other action Council approved:

*Bartender licenses for Alyssa M. Lemke, Chelsea Chaplin and Nicholas Brukardt, on recommendation of Alderman Dave Marquardt as chair of the Finance Committee;

*EMC Insurance takeover of the damaged 1999 Dodge Truck for $4,069;

*Pursuit of a state bid for purchase of a new truck for use at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

*Repairing the transmission of the 2011 Ford Crown Victoria for not more than $1,800;

*Proclamation of September as Spinal Cord Injury (CSI) Awareness month, as recommended by Alderman Debbie Sievert, chair of the Judiciary Committee.

There were 10 building permits issued in July by Building Inspector Ron Banach.

At the start of the meeting, Phil Everhart reported on the Tri-City Area United Way initiative, Educational Success, Cradle to Career. He presented statistics showing the prevalence of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use among young people of the Peshtigo, Marinette and Menominee areas, including a perception by 10 percent of 10th graders believe their parents think it’s no big deal if they smoke tobacco or drink alcohol, and 8 percent think marijuana is okay.

Over 50 percent of students know someone that is doing drugs with their parents. He said their study groups found the major problems in this area to be substance abuse, a perception that there is a lack of educational opportunity here, and lack of parental education. The United Way has formed three task forces to deal with these problems and have promised to develop action plans that will not sit on a shelf. They are half way through the planning process, and an Action Summit II conference, open to the public, will be held at Little River Country Club on Nov. 7. He said in 2015, United Way will be looking for help to fund some of the new initiatives as well as the ones United WAy already supports, such as Rainbow House.

The decorated cake enjoyed at the end of the evening in honor of the newly appointed clerk treasurer was provided by Shiela O’Connor-Langlois of Cakes By Shiela, mother of Alderman Brigitte Schmidt. Librarian Jenny Hipke had the coffee and cake ready for serving in the break room when the meeting adjourned.


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