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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Christmas Preparations Underway, Expect Grinch To Visit

Issue Date: November 21, 2019

Parks and Recreation Director Shawn Northrop alerted Peshtigo City Council's Parks and Recreation Committee on Monday, Nov. 18 that the infamous "Grinch," that very same Grinch who stole Christmas, will be sneaking into the city occasionally between now and Christmas. He expects the Grinch to be seen mostly in Badger Park and the area near Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center, but he could show up anywhere, any time.

Northrop is working with Elementary Principal Kelly Collins on the Grinch visits, and is hoping a local makeup artist will volunteer to help prepare Grinch for a personal visit with the students. Anyone interested is urged to contact him at city hall. Grinch sightings will be displayed on Facebook and at the school.

Present for the meeting were Aldermen Mike Behnke and Brigitte Schmidt, who chairs the committee, plus Mayor Cathi Malke. Alderman Jillian Schutte, the third committee member, was absent.

Northrop was authorized by the committee to continue investigating possibilities of designating the city-owned pond property bordered by Hwy. 41 and Schacht Road as a Veterans and First Responders Memorial Park. He also received committee blessings for a contest in which Peshtigo students will compete to design a new logo (or logos) for the Parks and Recreation Department, was authorized to change locks on all parks buildings and to remove dead or dangerous trees from Badger Park, and to set fees for decorating the 37 campsites (including cabins) at Badger Park for Christmas at $25 to $35. There is no camping allowed, only decorating. Mayor Cathi Malke noted Westlund Buss Lines will be having Christmas Light tours starting Wednesday, Dec. 1, so it was decided the decorations at Badger Park will be lighted from then through January 10, but they can be left in the park longer, provided they are removed by April 1. Persons interested in decorating a site in the park should contact Northrop for rules for hanging decorations, and to reserve their site.

Behnke, in moving to approve the fees, noted money paid for the sites will be used to pay for the additional electricity, and to provide more funds for Parks and Recreation Department Activities.

In regard to the logo contest, Northrop said he would like the committee to judge the entries. Schmidt recommended opening entries to all kids of school age living or attending school in Peshtigo. Mayor Malke noted that home schooled youngsters would also be eligible. Deadline for entries will be April 1 in order to get the logos made and put on Parks vehicles before the summer season starts. Cost of new logos is $50 per vehicle, and Northrop said he considered changing every three years.

"This is a big one for me,"Northrop declared at the start of discussion on recognizing the property by the reclamation ponds along U.S. Hwy. 41 and Schacht Road as a Veterans and First Responders Memorial Park. He said eventually he would like to see monuments there to veterans and first responders, plus a flag for each branch of service, including the National Guard.

Malke cautioned to work with veterans' organizations to be sure they're not stepping on any toes. Northrop said he is already working with them, since as non-profit organizations they can apply for grants to help develop the memorial. Malke said the city is also a non-profit and can apply for grants.

Northrop said he wants to keep all the trees in the area, but make it more attractive. Committee members cautioned to get permission from the DNR before doing anything, since the area was created as a wetlands restoration area in connection with the Hwy. 41 by-pass.

Behnke noted people are fishing in the ponds regularly, and are even already ice fishing there. Northrop said the Lions Club wants to do an ice fishing contest there, and has DNR permission.

Schmidt and Behnke approved a motion authorizing Northrop to pursue restoration and ideas to develop the two-pond area into a park or memorial site.

The committee decided to continue the Hometown Hero Banner program at the current price of $150 each, of which $75 is expected to pay for the banner and $75 for maintenance and putting it up and taking it down. Northrop was concerned that Vital Signs of Oconto, the company making the banners, is using a new lighter weight material and may be increasing the price. He will go to their office to talk about it, and Behnke offered to go along.

In response to some evidence of tampering in park buildings, including water left running, hoses stretched out after they had been put away, and windows removed and found on the floor, the committee approved Northrop's recommendation to get quotes for having all locks changed. He said with the present lock system anyone can get a key made, and there may be keys out there that no one is aware of. Schmidt noted if the price falls within his budget Northrop can just go ahead and get the locks changed without coming back to the committee.

Northrop said he will need to remove a number of dead, nearly dead and dangerously leaning trees from Badger Park. Behnke cautioned there are lots of "tree huggers" out there who do not want even dead trees taken down. Northrop said the alternative is the possibility of a lawsuit if a tree they knew was dangerous falls on a camper or causes injury to anyone in the park or on its trail system.

Northrop reported the number of visits to the Parks and Rec Facebook page "has been blowing up", and there are 300 people who follow it regularly.

He said Santa is expected to visit City Hall and the Library from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, and over 200 people have expressed interest in that event.

Malke suggested holding an "Ugly Sweater" day contest for city and library employees, with a prize for the best (or worst) sweater. Date was not set, but apparently will be.

The Parks and Recreation Department is decorating the Peshtigo River Bridge, Riverfront Park Pavilion and the downtown triangle for Christmas, and the Womans Club as usual is in charge of decorations at Triangle Park. Public Works Crews are putting up the traditional street decorations.

With no issues needing committee action in December, the next meeting was tentatively scheduled for 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 6.


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