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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Grants Help Middle Inlet Redo 11 Roads

“The contractors did an excellent job on all the roads we’ve had done this year,” Middle Inlet Town Chair Richard Wade commented to Middle Inlet Town Board at its monthly meeting Thursday, Aug. 14.

Because there is enough left in the roads account to do it without affecting the town’s cash reserves, Wade said they would hire Richlen Excavating to put a crushed limestone base on Rueff Road from Creek Road to Maple Beach Road. Jobs under $25,000 do not require bidding out.

A culvert that collapsed on Trudgeon Road was replaced. Wade said they are starting to use the new double walled plastic culverts that will last forever and never rust.

Some leaning trees along Wayside, Creek and Maple Beach roads were removed.

Wade reported spray patching was done on Wayside Road. Work on Trellis Road and Thompson Lane is complete. Lewis Road and Lake Drive were to be done by Tuesday, Aug. 19, weather permitting.

Reporting in the absence of Fire Chief John Coddington, Assistant Fire Chief Jim Swanson reported the department responded to four calls in the past month. One was for a car fire on County X, one for a roll over on County X, one for a vehicle accident on Moonshine Hill Road, and one was for a mutual aid call to a Town of Stephenson residential fire.

The annual Fire Department picnic was a great success, Swanson said. The department deposited $6,460.85 picnic proceeds after paying the Ranger City bill and $250 to the DJ. A few bills and a few cash prizes are still out, Town Clerk/Treasurer Chuck Stanek said. Cash proceeds were within $150 of what they were last year. Swanson was pleased to note that there were lots of local winners this year.

The Cash Summary report prepared by Stanek showed there were deposits of $3,999.29 to the Fire Department’s savings account in July, bringing that balance to $18,815.31 as of July 31. The department also has a $30,000 Certificate of Deposit.

Swanson said they plan to ask the DNR for permission to put a standpipe “dry hydrant” at the wayside as a water source for fire fighting. He said if they are allowed to do that, trucks won’t need to go down the steep bank, which is particularly difficult in winter. The DNR owns the wayside property, but in return for it being kept open, the town several years ago agreed to take over responsibility for maintaining it.

After considerable discussion, the board decided to hold off on accepting an offer for a free Yamaha Viking 700 cc off road vehicle that was described as “almost like a small truck”.

Swanson explained Yahama is offering the vehicle to all municipal agencies. The only stipulation is they need to keep it at least 90 days, and the town is responsible for routine maintenance and body work. If the machine ever fails and needs to be replaced, Yahama will give the department a new one, Swanson said.

The only cost to the town would be purchasing a trailer large enough to haul it. Stanek estimated that cost at about $2,500. Swanson said Yahama will continue to insure it.

He said it would be good for rescues in the forests and for extinguishing grass and other fires in areas that are hard to reach.

There was much conjecture as to why the towns are being offered the machine. Stanek reminded them years ago a snowmobile manufacture gave every fire department and law enforcement agency free use of a snowmobile.

Stanek stressed that terms of the agreement stipulate the vehicle is to be used exclusively for fire department operations, and the town must maintain liability insurance and do routine maintenance. However, confusion stepped in when he mentioned it must be returned in good working order, and that led to questions as to how long the town can keep the vehicle, and what happens if they keep it until it wears out.

Stanek said there is ample storage space for the vehicle at the Station No. 2 fire department building east of Hwy. 141 off County X on Pines Road. He suggested the vehicle also could be used to transport the winter rescue sled.

A man in the audience urged the board to take a look at the long time costs and obligations, in addition to purchase price for the trailer which will be wasted if they choose not to keep the vehicle.

The board decided to hold off until more information is obtained on cost of the trailer and terms of the agreement.

Stanek said the insurance policy for the fire station was just renewed and the town has been advised the building is under insured. It is insured for $151,000 and the agent felt it should be covered for $225,000.

The board was advised that recently discovered leakage in the shower unit of the women’s restroom at the Fire Station has been addressed. Further repair or replacement of adjacent wall area may be needed.

The board agreed to solicit bids for the proposed paving of the driveway/parking area adjacent to Station No. 2 on Pines Road. Sealed bids will be received until 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 11, and will be opened at the regular town board meeting that evening.

Supervisor Roger Leick reported they need to seek bids for the proposed repair or replacement of damaged siding on the Town Hall. The board decided sealed bids for this project too should be received by 7:30 p.m. on the night of the next board meeting and be acted on at that time.

Town Hall Custodian Jessica Magerowski reported Shelly Kempka had asked to use the town hall without charge for a benefit to raise funds for a person fighting an illness. Magerowski was not sure of name of the individual being helped. The board considered the request, but decided she should charge the standard fee, which is $25 for use of the hall without the kitchen. With or without the kitchen, Magerowski has to come in to open the hall.

At the start of the meeting, Wade asked to amend the agenda to include the review and possible further enforcement action regarding the property of Coleman residents Donald and Carol Drews at N8648 Maple Beach Road in Middle Inlet. When the item came up on the agenda, he said this “problem property” is in probate, and is the only one on which they are waiting to act.

He said John Stass is to be at his property on Western Ave. this weekend to finish cleaning up. Building Inspector Jane Meissner was to go there and if he’s not finished with cleanup she is to issue a citation.

The J. Douglas property is tied up with the town building inspector and County Zoning Administrator John LeFebvre.

The other property at issue involved three parcels of which Christine Heming, of Greenfield is shown as owner of record. The properties are W5824, W5828 and W5830 Lake Road. Hemming was at the meeting. She said she, her brother and her mother had owned the three parcels jointly. There are three cabins on one of the parcels. The mother and brother both have died, and her mother’s estate is still going through probate, Hemming said. Her brother’s probate was finished in March. She said her children had started cleaning up the properties and remodeling one of the cabins. Wade said he will have Town Attorney Kim Coggins contact her.

The Drews got notice to clean up their property some time ago. They tore down their cabin and let it lay. Wade said they received a citation and now will get a court order to get it cleaned up. After that order, if the property is not cleaned up in 30 days, the town will go in and clean it, and have the cost put on the property tax roll as a special assessment.

Cleanup of the Western Avenue properties started in April, Wade said, “and we want to make sure it gets cleaned up before the snow flies.”

As to the probate issue, he said the town should serve the papers giving them 30 days to clean up the property, and if it is still in probate, it goes into Limbo until it is settled.

The board agreed unanimously to pursue further legal action against both properties.

Someone from the audience asked about an abandoned building on Rector road just before the Smart property, “a little cabin with its windows all broken.” Wade said he would call the building inspector the following morning with a request to look into it.

Another town resident in the audience asked if it is true that the November election will include a referendum to make Stanek’s job appointed rather than elected.

Stanek said there will be a referendum, and he is the one who suggested it. He said the clerk’s job gets more complicated every year, and seeking an elected position “can become a personality contest.”

If the clerk/treasurer is hired by the board they can pick the most qualified person to do the job, and can even hire someone from another municipality. He predicted before long clerks and treasurers will need to be certified, and said the time may come when two or three towns may share a clerk/treasurer. He agreed there are pros and cons, but spoke of problems another town faced because a totally unqualified person was elected and cautioned, “I won’t always be here.”

“You’re going down a very slippery slope when you take the rights away from voters,” declared the speaker.

Stanek said if the referendum passes in November it goes into effect on April 15, when the current term ends.

If the referendum approves the hired clerk/treasurer, the job is good for two years. At that time, if the voters don’t like the person hired, or the selection process, they can petition for another referendum and vote the elected position back in.

“I don’t like giving up my rights to anybody,” the resident declared. “God gave them to me, and I don’t want anybody taking them away!”

Stanek said the entire clerk’s job is getting more complicated, “but elections are ridiculous...everything is on the computer...If I had to take over this job today, it would be impossible. Totally impossible! I came in with more than 30 years experience in government law enforcement and I had a hard time!”

On another subject, a speaker declared he had seen a sign, “No Golf Carts” on a town road and wondered why.

Wade said yes, he had the signs put up. He said in the last two weeks they had two close calls in which vehicles almost collided with golf carts, and one of those close calls happened on the speaker’s road.

“We’ve had three deaths on four wheelers in the last few months and there’s no effort to keep them off the roads,” the speaker objected.

Stanek said state law doesn’t allow towns to legalize use of golf courts on roads. He said the town’s ATV ordinance specifies that ATVs can only operate on town roads in daylight hours, and drivers must have a driver’s license. He repeated that state law says you can’t allow golf carts on a town road.

“What if you need your golf cart to get to work?” the speaker asked. “This is a small community. Do we want to be locked down with every little law?”

Wade said lots of golf carts aren’t equipped with working lights or horns.

The speaker said in Florida you can run golf carts on just about all the roads.

Another speaker complimented the reconstruction of Lake Road from “X” to Raven Road, and called it a “first class job, excellent.” Then he added, “Now we’d like to get the rest of Lake Road done, at least to Rector Road.”

“The best I can say is, when your turn comes, it will be done,” Wade told him. “There are other roads in worse shape than yours.”

The speaker said Lake Road from “X” to Rector Road is pretty much of a main feeder road, “and then from Rector to the lake it’s our sidewalk.” He asked if they could put a lower speed limit there.

Wade told him the speed limit there is already 35 mph, and “by state law we can’t reduce it any farther.”

“You could petition the state,” was a suggestion.

Stanek said 35 mph is the lowest, and even then the town can only post it that slow if there are a certain number of driveways within a certain distance.

Another speaker, who identified himself as Jim Eastman, said he too owns property on Lake Road, and intends to pass it along to his children. He too asked to have the road improved.

“Over the last two to three years you gentlemen have done a superb job finishing the other parts of the loop, and now there’s just a 1 1/4 mile section that’s not up to par.”

“There are 61 miles of other roads in the town,” Wade told him. “Your turn is coming.” He said each April the board goes out and views the town roads and decides which ones to fix, based on how bad they are. “Conditions change,” he said. “One road may have more winter damage than another.”

He said the town gets $395,000 of road aids a year. Snow plowing costs $60,000 to $80,000. That leaves perhaps $320,000 for replacing culverts, putting up signs, mowing, grading, repairing washouts, and improving whatever roads they can find money for. Reconstructing and repaving one mile of road costs $130,000.

Wade said the last two years have been exceptional in terms of road work. He applied for and got $130,000 in grants. “We got 11 roads done this year,” he declared. “Since last year the town has completed 16 road projects. If this keeps up, in three or four years we’ll be caught up!”

There was a comment that the board should look at how many driveways a road serves, how much traffic it carries, and there should be a 5-year plan. Again Wade said conditions change, and roads can develop unexpected problems over winter.

Mary Wade declared her husband puts in countless hours applying for grants. Rich Wade said he has maps showing all the roads the town has done since 2009, and added, “I’ve gotten every grant I went after.”

Someone else in the audience suggested they remember what the roads were like 20 years ago.

A speaker suggested they consider the number of homes served. Supervisor Leick declared if only two people live on a road they pay just as much taxes and have the same right to a good road as anyone else.

Stanek said all the roads close to the lake were the old corduroy roads, with cordwood bases. The only way to redo them is dig out all the old cordwood, replace culverts, and do it right, with a new base.

Supervisor Magerowski said every spring they set up the schedule for the year. They also look at roads they can fix so they don’t need to patch so often.

Wade agreed, and said that saves money so they can do more roads the next year.

“Look at it hard and do it as soon as you can,” Eastman urged.

Mary Wade said according to the plan the roads should all be done in six years.

Charles Lamberg told the board there is a section of Forest Road 902 about 350 feet long that is not being maintained by Marinette County for about the last two years. He said he called the Forestry Department and they claim the west end of their road ends at the point where they stop maintaining the road, and therefore that part of the road is left ungraded.

The board said the town road ends at the blacktop and cul de sac and everything beyond that is Forest Road, bordered on both sides by forest land.

Stanek said he will contact the County Board supervisors and the chairperson of the County Forestry, Parks, Outdoor Recreation and Land Committee. There were suggestions that other people should also call or write to get some action on that strip of road. Lamberg said it is getting dangerous.


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