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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town Board Hears Concerns During Public Comment Part

Issue Date: January 23, 2020

Six Town of Peshtigo residents asked for time in the Public Comment portion of the Town meeting to express their concerns or ask for support at the Tuesday, Jan. 21 Board meeting.

Sherry Veriha was first to speak in reference to property located at W1975 Highway 64 in Marinette, known as A to Z. "I am looking to get the property quick deeded to me and asking for time to get it cleaned up. I am doing this for the sake of my father who is 78 years old and this is all he has. If I can clean up and sell the property for him it would give him some money to live the remaining few years he may have left".

Veriha continued, "The Town is asking for cleanup and my father, brother and I worked on it with the roof and three walls being removed. One wall was left standing per a request from a potential interested buyer to leave the remaining sturdy wall to use in rebuilding, but all the rest will be cleaned up. I am asking for time due to some feuding going on with the neighbors in regards to the lot line as well as with the snow, it is buried and impossible to do any cleanup".

This item was on the agenda later in the meeting and Attorney Dave Spangenberg commented, "After last meeting, Sherry Veriha contacted my office asking what she can do. This has been on the Town of Peshtigo docket for a long time, but I don't see an issue with a delay as long as the property can get deeded to her. She promised if it is in her name she will co-operate and get it cleaned up, but is asking for time for the legal process and cleanup. This is a large project and will take some time. It is now up to the Board to direct me appropriately on what you want to do".

Chairperson, Herman Pottratz said, "We have some neighbors that have been waiting a long time for cleanup. Veriha responded, "I am working on getting approval and an assessment but there is drama with the property line and assessment". Spangenberg then said, "If we give her time and she agrees to get it in her name, we could reach an agreement and if not cleaned up in the time frame given, then "lay down the sword" and raze the building if not completed in the time frame allotted". After discussion, the Board agreed to set a timeline of Sept. 1 and in the meantime can work on getting the property deeded to her.

Jane Kopish Sequin, candidate for Marinette County Circuit Court Judge spoke asking for support in the upcoming election. She is a Marinette native, graduated from Marinette Catholic Center High School and a graduate from Saint Norbert College in DePere. She said, "I practiced law with my father, Bill Kopish in his law office. Kopish. I was a Court Commissioner in Green Bay for 21 years and I am now Court Commissioner/ Register of Probate in Marinette. I do a lot of the same things now that a Judge does and have handled many types of criminal cases, contested custody issues, small claims, restraining orders, injunctions, mental health issues and many more different cases and claims. I am asking for your support and vote in the upcoming election".

Town Resident, Cindy Boyle then wanted to be put on record that she emailed a letter to the Town Chairman, Clerk and Board Members addressing the agenda item of 'Permission to destroy financial records 2011 and older'. Boyle requested to accept the open records request she sent to not destroy the records due to the current uncertainty surrounding the PFAS contamination impacting the Town of Peshtigo. "I request that any and all records be stopped until this matter has been wholly resolved, per the oversight of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and the Wisconsin Department of Justice (WDOJ). The destruction of any records that could be relevant in potential litigation could be found to have been done so wrongly and a jury could infer that the records would have been harmful to the Town. If you plan on getting rid of them anyway, I will be happy to take them off your hands". When the agenda item was discussed later in the meeting, the Board voted to not destroy the documents per the open records request from Boyle and they will stay in the vault.

Next up was former Chairperson Denise Wiedemeier stating she had concerns with the transfer of ownership on Lea Road and said she had researched this many times and questioned when will reimbursement come into play. She then expressed her concern with the recycling center saying, "I am disappointed with the recycling center, in the past, we received money in the form of a grant from the state in the amount of approximately $13,000. How much was it in 2019? Where did the money go? Why wasn't there a Spring Clean Up Day in 2019, why was it taken away? Why did you not offer the clean up program to the residents this year?"

Later in the meeting Lea Road was discussed further. Pottratz said, "The land is owned on both sides by the DNR and there is only one parcel on that road. The road at one time got so bad, the Town was asked to do something with it. The cost to fix from the County would have been $13,000 when the actual cost to fix was only $560. There will never be any development on that road. When the DNR bought the property they paid over $300,000 and no one is allowed to touch anything on the land. It is a 30 foot road and it is time to sell. It is something we don't need to plow. There is no money in roads, we don't need that road and if we can get rid of it now, that is all the better. It would be a good thing to let the owner that lives back there, Chuck LaCourt, purchase the road". A motion was made to try to sell the road to LaCourt and if the DNR goes against it they will go to court with a jury trial if need be.

In public comment, audience member, Andy Rich then wanted to go on record that she strongly disagrees with the decision to have Spangenberg as the attorney for the Town of Peshtigo for the water issues, knowing he is the attorney for the City of Peshtigo. "That is a conflict of interest. Also, two meetings ago the Board made a motion to send a letter of support to Representative John Nygren and you did the opposite. Also I was incorrectly stated in the minutes of the Dec. 17 meeting that was stated, "Andi Rich asked to exempt Tyco items from the 3 minute restriction for public comment. That is not what I said and I want you to not approve the minutes as stated with a correction to that statement".

It was decided later in the meeting to strike the comment from the minutes and approve the rest of the meeting minutes as stated. Clerk Clarence Coble stated, "Going forward we will no longer put public comments in the meeting minutes".

Town Resident, Kristen Edgar then spoke, "I want to piggyback what she (Rich) said, "There are Wisconsin laws, and lawyers cannot represent two municipalities unless there is a signed contract of conflict of interest. We want to make sure the Town has proper representation in this water matter".

Jeff LaMont gave an update on the PFAS happenings in the area. He said, "January has been a busy month for PFAS issues. On Jan. 9 there was an invite to view the new treatment plant by the Luther Home. It was surprising to hear that the plant is only treating 25% of the flow in that creek which treats the effluent going out and then the influent coming in after treatment. There were two DNR Public Listening sessions held on Wednesday, Jan. 15 that were both filled to capacity. In a raise of hands, the DNR asked the audience who never attended a listening meeting before, there was approximately 30 to 40% that attended this meeting that never attended before. The word is getting out there".

LaMont continued mentioning the movie Dark Waters was shown in Madison, which is similar to what is happening in Marinette. There will also be a meeting on Jan. 30 in Madison with a chance to talk to legislators. We need to get people down there to voice their concerns. We recommend and urge anyone interested in the water issue to attend this meeting.

LaMont said, "We still have a lot to address. Many of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) local was involved in letter writing and there was a $500 donation that was used to buy fresh water units for two homes that were tested to be over 70 PPT and one of the residents had thyroid cancer. The DNR requested Tyco to do the testing and they denied saying it was not an area of detection that was caused by them. The DNR then provided the units".

LaMont announced, anyone feeling they want to have their wells tested that are outside the plume to contact the CAC or SOH20 (Save Our Water) for information. He commented, "The extent of the contamination is much broader than what was originally thought. Tyco is nine months behind on submissions of work plans along with work on the biosolids, plume areas and the training center. There are two sides, with Tyco saying the DNR is holding them up and the DNR saying Tyco is holding them up. Also, Nygren supported a bill about not using foams for the training center and discharging into the sanitary sewer system, which caused the bio solids contamination. It is a step in the right direction".

After LaMont finished, Supervisor Jon Drees advised, "I did have a meeting with Tyco and they expressed concern of having more wells tested and they are going to try to push that through".

Coble wanted to make residents aware they can purchase a new emergency number address sign for a low cost of $25 including sign, post and bolts. The new signs are larger, much more visible and reflective. The more we get them out in the Town the easier it will be for service agencies such as Rescue Squads and Law Enforcement to respond. These signs are much easier to read with the highly reflective numbers on the sign. A lot of the old signs have no reflective material left on the sign which makes it hard for services to find where they are going to. Residents can purchase signs from now through the election in April.

Coble also announced the Town is getting rid of three desks at the Town Hall that are no longer in use. Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase any of the desks can call the Clerk at 715-582-4332 for more information or stop in at the Hall to look at.

In committee reports, Dan VanBeek talked about raising some of the rates at the recycling center. It was discussed and decided to raise the cost for disposal of refrigerators to $25, large mattresses to $30 and smaller mattresses between $5 to $25 at the discretion of the recycling center depending on size and couches to $30 for large couches and again at the discretion of the recycling center for a price of a smaller couch or loveseat.

Pottratz presented a plaque to Vilas Schroeder and thanked him for his service to the Town of Peshtigo as Treasurer for 19 years from 2001 to 2020. "We appreciate your service, it worked out well, we are lucky to have the people we have to serve the Town", Pottratz said.

Supervisor Tom Holterman commented that all the road projects have been completed. On Dahl Road, approximately 1-1/4 miles of the road was paved and a new culvert was put in; Kuntz Road culverts and bases were replaced and will be doing more work on this road in the coming year; Culverts and patch jobs were done on Madsen Road along with the beds above the culverts were replaced; Keeping an eye on Riverbend Road with the freezing and melting it sometimes floods; Culvert on McFarland Road was replaced; The shoulder on Heath Lane should be all good; Pond Road was regraded and will be graded in summer.

Holterman also said, "I would like to thank MJB for the donation of the Skidsteer. We will be picking up some forks for the front. The Skidsteer an be used on many projects including fallen trees, at the recycling center and various jobs throughout the Town".

Fire Chief Mike Folgert gave his Fire Department report consisting of six fire calls including one structure fire that started as a chimney fire, two vehicle crashes with one extraction and three assists with paramedics. There are two resignations from the department with one returning from the Military and decided to go to college and the other joined another fire department.


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