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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Lock, Gryzwa Will Not Seek Re-Election to Peshtigo Council

Issue Date: December 6, 2017

Aldermen Tom Gryzwa and Mary Lock announced at the conclusion of the Peshtigo City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5 that they will not be candidates for re-election when their terms end in April of 2018.

Gryzwa and Lock each expressed hope that interested candidates will file nomination papers to appear on the April ballot prior to the deadline at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 2. The third Peshtigo aldermanic term expiring is that of Jillian Schutte, who is expected to be a candidate for return to the Council. Term of Mayor Cathi Malke also expires in April, and she is circulating nomination papers for reelection.

With little discussion, Council approved a recommendation from the Streets and Drainage Committee to turn down the request from Jann (Sharpe) Rettke regarding the possibility of renaming Chicago Court in honor of her father Mel Sharpe, at this time. The motion included a message of thanks to the Sharpe family for the thoughtfulness, "but keep Chicago Court named as it is."

At the Streets and Drainage Committee meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, three residents of Chicago Court had objected to the name change on the basis of problems it would cause for the 50 residents who would need to change their addresses and legal identifications. The residents who would have been affected include everyone who lives in the Elderly Housing facility on Chicago Court. Committee vote was unanimous in favor of keeping Chicago Court named as it is. There was discussion on possibilities of using funds the Sharpe family offered to donate to have some other facility in the city named for him.

With Alderman Mike Behnke casting the sole dissenting vote, Council rejected a Personnel Committee recommendation to grant a request from Police Chief Joe FitzGerald that the pay raise he is scheduled to receive in 2018 be given instead to Lieutenant Jared Phillips. Had the recommendation been approved, Phillips pay would have been adjusted to $25.13 per hour plus a 1 percent raise effective Jan. 1, 2018.

The issue was sent back to committee. Behnke felt it should go to Finance, since the Personnel Committee had already made its recommendation. After a bit of discussion, a joint meeting of the Personnel and Finance committees was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

At the Personnel Committee meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 15, FitzGerald had offered to forego his own raise and explained that he believes there is not enough difference in pay between the Lieutenant and Sergeant positions for the job duties performed. He also assured the committee that this would not be an annual request.

Although not members of the committee, Malke and aldermen Lock and Schutte were present with some questions and concerns.

After long discussion the committee vote was unanimous in favor of recommending that FitzGerald's request be approved. Members present and voting in favor were Behnke and Aldermen Tom Gryzwa and Debbie Sievert, although Gryzwa expressed some misgivings at the time.

Malke noted the city's budget hearing was scheduled for the following day and all the figures were set for the 2018 budget.

Behnke agreed there needs to be some pay separation for rank, and suggested they need to reevaluate pay for the Lieutenant's position because of job duties involved. FitzGerald said he and Phillips had both discussed the pay difference and agreed on the suggested change.

Sievert worried about setting a precedent for the future, perhaps in other departments.

At the committee meeting, and again at the Council meeting, Gryzwa argued that the request for an adjustment should have been made when raises were set and stated that they need to follow policies when setting wages.

There also were concerns about the effect on overtime, since the department's overtime costs for 2017 have exceeded the budget amount. Since the Police Chief position is salaried, the chief gets no overtime pay, while the Lieutenant's position is hourly and does.

Eventually, at the committee meeting, Behnke, Gryzwa and Sievert all voted in favor of passing the proposal along to Council with a recommendation for approval, but at the Council meeting Behnke made the motion and was the only one who voted in favor.

Before that vote, Behnke pointed out the request had been made by FitzGerald and said he agreed with FitzGerald that there should be more perspective on the wage scale.

Gryzwa said they did not have some of the numbers they needed at the committee meeting. He repeated his contention that adjustments should be made when wages were set, and declared, "I think we should go back to committee and look at things as they really are."

Those comments were followed by the vote rejecting the recommendation and scheduling of the joint committee meeting to take another look at it.

At the start of the Council meeting Malke asked for approval of a request from Mary Dahl to reserve the large pavilion and bandshell at Badger Park on the 4th of July, 2018 for a community event to be called, "Party on the Peshtigo."

In her letter of request, Dahl said she is spearheading the planning, but David Zahn (Parks and Recreation Director) and Jason Malke are organizing events for the day. Peshtigo Woman's Club, Peshtigo Park and Rec, Marth Peshtigo Pellets, Straight Flush Sewer Repair and Thrivent Financial are all sponsoring activities and entertainment. "We continue to seek donations and sponsors from the community," she wrote.

She added "as a heads up" that she will be applying for a permit to sell alcohol on that day. Peshtigo Womans Club is providing insurance coverage that will include provisions for serving alcohol.

Malke asked that the request be approved, but Lock, who has long promoted Womans Club events, said that would be contrary to policy, which says Badger Park facilities can only be reserved after the first of the year. She said she had talked with Dahl and waiting until after Jan. 1 would not create a problem for her.

"She's doing this for the whole community, it's not just for her," Malke argued. She said the event will be for everyone in Peshtigo and all the surrounding communities.

Lock repeated that Dahl would be glad to follow protocol and give the request to the Parks and Rec Department and have them handle it in accord with city policy. Council support of that procedure was unanimous. Malke said in accord with that procedure Dahl will have to call in her request to Zahn after Jan. 1.

Malke had received a letter from Brandon Robinson, a Community Assistance Planner for Bay Lakes Planning Commission, regarding development of a grant application through the 2018-2022 Transportation Alternatives Program award cycle of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (Safe Routes to School).

Malke had attended a meeting at which Bay Lakes people explained their plan to submit a grant request for funding to do a study on all of Marinette County.

She said if approved the grant would pay 80 percent of the cost and Bay Lakes would pick up the other 20 percent. She explained the program calls for projects with minimum engineering costs of $50,000, which would eliminate all small communities. She suggested local communities need to talk to legislators about the favoritism to large cities, but meanwhile, by doing the county as a whole the Bay Lakes proposal could qualify.

Bay Lakes had explained they would work with all schools in the county on safe routes for walking or bicycling to school, to encourage active life styles and reduce congestion by having fewer parents dropping children off at school.

"There are not many 80/20 grants out there," Malke commented. "This is a win/win for everyone, and there would be no cost to the city." She said eventually the city would need to form a committee to assist with Bay Lakes Planning for Peshtigo.

With that assurance, Behnke moved to support the Bay Lakes Regional Planning Commission grant request in any way possible. They had asked for a letter of support and a list of any traffic or other safety related issues that exist in the community or school district when children walk or bike to school. The project, if the grant is received, is expected to start in July of 2020, with completion in July of 2022. The hope is that each district will establish a local task force to assist with preparation of the plan.

Malke's appointment of Election Board members was unanimously approved as presented. They are Beverly Kain, Irene Marquardt, Barbara Thompson, Donna Zeske, Mary Gansebom, Mary Seidl, Deidre McCormick, Shirley Olson, Donna Biernasz, Sheryl Gaugh, Lisa Gregersen, Teresa Krautkramer, Tamara Tipler, Darla Chaney, Judith Stehle, Francis Sanders, Joan Berth, Constance Christensen and Barbara Hay.

An Operator's License (for bartending) was approved for Stephanie Nichole Solchenberger, on recommendation of FitzGerald and the License and Police Committee.

On recommendation of the Finance Committee $2,277 in funds were transferred from the Miscellaneous Revenue account to Parks Buildings and Grounds Improvement.

Streets and Drainage Committee had approved a change order request from City Engineer George Cowell to deduct $21,181.18 from the street resurfacing project account.

Cowell reported on his department activities, and said leaf pickup had lasted longer than usual this year due to heavy leaf fall and warmer weather. There had been at least two pickups of leaves in alleys and along streets without curb and gutter as well as sweeping along paved streets with curb and gutter.

In his report to the Council, Building Inspector Tom Smith noted that Edge Consulting Engineers will be moving forward with a construction permit for a 100-foot communication tower that Wisconsin Public Service wants to install in their substation on 381 E. Front Street.

He received a certificate of compliance for the project at 810 Frontage Road, and no further action is required.

Smith had received a phone call from the owner of the abandoned motel at 100 Chicago Street in response to his unfit for human habitation order. He said they talked at length about options, and the owner asked him to get estimates on cost of razing the property. The owner will be traveling back to the city later in the month.

He is continuing his audit of building projects being done in the city without building permits.

He had calls from people with questions about business property in the city and concerns about needing a "conditional use" permit because they are considering some type of residence within the business. He encouraged them to discuss their project with the mayor, since she is in a better position to judge the prospects for city approval. "Hopefully they follow up and further communication about possibilities for property development can happen," Smith commented.


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