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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Porterfield Opens Roads For ATV/UTV Vehicles

Issue Date: November 14, 2019

At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12 Porterfield Town Board officially opened all its town roads to daytime ATV/UTV travel and approved an ordinance to that effect. The recreational vehicle use will be legal once the roads are properly signed and the enabling ordinance is published. The Oconto ATV/UTV club will be responsible for posting the required signs. The action ended Porterfield's status as the only town in Marinette County that did not allow ATV/UTV use on its roads. The proposed ordinance has been under discussion for some months.

As soon as the ordinance is published the recreational vehicles can travel town roads but no county roads or state highways. County Board Chair Mark Anderson, who is a Porterfield resident, said the town can ask the County Highway Committee to approve connecting segments of specific roads, and the requests will be decided with an eye to safety - for example if there are not steep hills, sharp curves, etc. with decreased visibility. The vehicles are not allowed to travel state highways, but can cross them and county roads provided they do not travel parallel to them. They are supposed to stay on the paved portion of roads, not in ditches, and speed limit is 35 miles per hour.

Law enforcement will be by the Sheriff's Department, and Town Chair Dennis Bergeson said if there get to be too many complaints about the vehicles on a specific road the ordinance could be amended to remove it.

There are special state provisions for ATV/UTV vehicles with special "husbandry" stickers allowing for their use in connection with farming operations.

The evening began with a public hearing on the town and fire department budgets for 2020, followed by a special town elector's meeting to approve the budgets and tax levy, and also to approve the total highway expenditures for 2020.

Including elected officials there were 23 town residents present. The budget and tax levy were approved as proposed, with one dissenting vote on each. Treasurer Wendell Phillips had explained that the board had balanced the budget with $5,000 left over that they did not need in contingency so they had allocated it for road work. The person who cast the opposing vote noted the board had come very close to achieving a zero percent levy increase and said if they had subtracted the $5,000 from the levy instead of adding it to roads he would have been able to vote in favor of the budget.

The total town levy for 2020 is $553,952, up from $549,952 for 2019, an increase of just .83 percent, and total town spending is up 2.4 percent, from $821,775.54 to $841,523.13.

Sue Pratt, who serves as Deputy Clerk for the town as well as chief election inspector and recycling coordinator, explained about new state-established voting machine requirements. There were two types of machines to choose from, and the budget includes $3,000 for a new voting scanner plus $6,000 in a maintenance fund or a new voting scanner. They will still retain the old paper ballots as well, Pratt said.

The fire department budget was approved as prepared and presented by Chief Wade Larson and Assistant Chief Robert Chaltry. It provides for a 2.5 percent increase - $1,500 - from each town.

The board was told the department's biggest expense is for turnout gear, which is getting more and more expensive. They recently bought eight sets and are looking into getting new face pieces with thermal imaging cameras built in.

The department had been called to 10 fire calls in the preceding month, including a vehicle collision on Hwy. 180 and a fire at a chicken coop the previous night, where the building was a total loss. The chicken coop fire drew a few comments about homeless chickens, or perhaps roast chickens. That suggestion was put to rest with the report that there had been no fatalities. In addition to more routine calls, there was a call during the past month to a vehicle accident on Hwy. 180.

The fire department had gotten a $20,000 DNR grant for a new skid unit to transfer injured people out of remote roadless areas, but they had provided no money for an ATV or UTV to pull it. The department hopes to raise enough money with fund raisers to buy the rescue sled tow unit without having to ask the towns to pay for it. The department has an active auxiliary. Its next big fund raiser is the gun raffle with 10 guns as prizes in the drawing on Saturday, Nov. 30 at the Corner Bar and Grill.

Town Treasurer Wendell Phillips said at the town's pre-budget meeting the board had decided that since the town now has some bigger and better plow trucks they will plow out the fire department's water fill areas rather than pay a fire fighter to do it. He was sure every one will be happy with the results. "You tell us what you want done, and we will do it," he pledged. He said the town had put $50,000 in the tax levy to be added to the fund set aside for purchase of a new fire truck in probably 2023, which brings that fund to $150,000.

Improvements at the cemetery are coming together. They have ordered two benches, planted two pine trees at no cost, and ordered two new maples for spring.

Supervisor Donald Limberg mentioned the horrible flooding along the Green Bay shoreline, especially near Oconto, and a report by Stanley Gruszynski at the Marinette County Wisconsin Towns Association meeting that the M&M Community Foundation has some funding available for flood prevention measures. He said Porterfield has sand bags that can be provided for people if flood waters threaten their properties.

Due to bad weather the County G improvements being done by Northeast Asphalt will not be finished this year. Driveways are being restored and the road is being temporarily marked Mailbox delivery at homes along County G in the construction area is to resume on Thursday, Nov. 14, Limberg said.

Operator licenses were approved for Beth Kleinke, Katie Morois and Mary Edwards to work at the Moose Lodge.

There was a reminder that refrigerators and freezers delivered to the recycling center must be empty, and doors must be removed.

The board approved a recommendation from Bergeson to hire Michael Guseck as a fill in snow plow driver for the winter.


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