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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Town Tables Action On Property

Issue Date: May 27, 2020

The Town of Peshtigo regular meeting followed the annual meeting on Tuesday, May 19 started with discussion of the procedure for public comment and video taping and/or recording town board meetings.

Supervisor Jon Drees commented, "Anyone that wants to record a meeting should be recording from the back of the meeting room so it is not distracting or intimidating. The recording is not to be used to intimidate any Citizen or Board member. In the public comment portion, resident Chuck Boyle asked the board they consider transcribing the meetings so they have good backup minutes. They have recorders now that easily revert voice to text.

Town Chairman Herman Pottratz asked the board for a $500 raise for Assistant Assessor Ron Walters from a salary of $5,000 increased to $5,500. The board approved the increase to be effective Jan. 1, 2020.

In other matters, Drees advised he received a couple of quotes for purchase and installation of a small generator for the Town hall garage. "A generator is approximately $500 and can be purchased locally by the Town. Two quotes were received for installation, including one from Drees Electric at $1,150 and Olsen Electric for $550". After discussion of the vast price variance between the two bids, it was decided to table any action until the next meeting for further clarification of what each bid includes. Supervisors Kayla Furton and Kristin Edgar will get a breakdown for each bid and will address at the next meeting.

The next item of discussion was cleanup of property located at W19775 Hwy 64, Marinette, formerly A to Z property owned by Leo Krerowicz. Town Attorney Dave Spangenberg said, "An agreement was sent to the owners daughter and they haven't received a response back yet". At a prior meeting in December, the owners were given a time frame to get it cleaned up and no work was done to it up to this point.

Pottratz said, "This has got to be cleaned up, this has been going on for over 15 years. I vote we condemn and give the owner a time frame to have it cleaned up and if not done the Town cleans up and bills the owner for cleanup on their tax bill".

Even after a statement from resident, Jim Wortner stating, "I talked to the owner and they have no intentions of cleaning the property up because there are liens against it", Furton and Edgar still wanted to give them a last chance to clean up the property before it is condemned. With that, the item was voted on but did not pass, but instead was tabled until the next meeting for Furton and Edgar to talk to them one more time.

Spangenberg gave an update on contracts with Tyco, Johnson Control Inc. (JCI) in regards to securing a legal and environmental expertise for the water issues.The Town Board agreed at a closed session meeting on Thursday May 14 to hire the law firm of von Briesen and Roper, S.C. to assist with legal issues related to PFAS contamination in the Town's drinking water. "All parties have legal experts, City of Marinette as well as Tyco have their water quality attorneys and now we do also" he said. Pottratz added, "Tyco has been paying for the legal expenses for Cedar Corp Engineering Firm and the reimbursement agreement with Tyco is now up for renewal. Tyco is still willing to assist the town but the question is how much? They want to reimburse small amounts at at time and the Town would prefer larger installments".

Pottratz also addressed the need for a new well for the fire department at a cost of $7,000. "This would give us a backup for the Town Hall as well". The department uses the water from the well for washing the trucks and laundering of their uniforms. After discussion from Rich Seils, Assistant Fire Chief and Mike Folgert, Fire Chief, agreed with the minimal amount of water they use, it is not necessary to invest in a new well at this time, Folgert said, "We have a lot of other needs before getting a new well, it may just need a new pump".

Furton commented, "If there are no issues with water pressure and the fire department said we don't need a new well, I don't think we should invest in a new one. We have a very pro-active fire department and they feel we don't need one at this time and when we do they will bring it to our attention". Drees added, "We may want to hold off with all the extra expenses we may incur with COVID19, we may be short and added, If it's not broke, don't fix it". Clerk Clarence Coble interjected "I think we should replace the pump versus a whole new well". The board voted against a new well and will be replacing the pump instead.

The town authorized Coble to use election inspectors to process absentee ballots for the next two elections as needed. Coble said, "We processed 937 absentee ballots in a two week period of time. Election inspectors came in to help with no idea what they were walking into. With the August and November elections, we normally process approximately 2,600 ballots. If the same thing happens again with a large increase in absentees, there is no way to get all the ballots out there with that kind of volume, along with ballot requests coming in with no ID and the State system got overburdened and the system crashed". It was then approved for Coble to secure help as needed for the elections.

Several items were approved including authorization for an estimate for an audit of 2019 town finances. Treasurer, Marsha Rettke added, "It is a good idea to have an audit with a new treasurer coming in and also with having several deputy treasurers. It is best practice to have an audit with the turnover that occurred and it is already budgeted for". Also authorized was to secure an estimate for a shelter at the Recycling Center and authorizing of an ad to be put in the local newspapers for a job posting for a Recycling Center worker.

Finally approved was equipment that fits on the arm end of the green tractor that cuts off brush in ditches at a cost of $10,600. Drees said, "I think we need more people to help clean up the ditches instead". Edgar interjected, "We can be proactive and use this in winter and spring before debris gets into the ditches". This was also approved for purchase.

Pottratz then announced the Board Committee members: Kristin Edgar will be in charge of the Recycling Center and Pottratz will work with her. She will also be working with Drees and Attorney Spangenberg on the water issues; Kayla Furton will be on the roads committee with Jon Drees including road signage and replacement, along with post straightening and Dan Staudenmaier will remain on the building and equipment committee.

Rettke spoke in favor of receiving authorization to update the Town Board E-mails. She said, "During the past election, the system froze up and we didn't have enough memory". She would like authorization to remove all un-used email addresses and setup of new email addresses with using Office 365 which allows mobile access to emails remotely. She also said, "Our webpage is outdated and would like to see that updated as well". It was then approved to proceed with clean up of old emails, update of the web page and move forward with Office 365.

The meeting ended with Department reports. Folgert said, "The Fire Department has remained active and are still responding to calls, but are finding a different way of doing things with COVID19". He also stated there were six structural fires and nine vehicle crashes.

Folgert added, "Trucks are equipped with COVID19 emergency response kits and sanitizer and normal procedures are taking more time with different preparation and clean up procedures. We were fortunate to get donations from national and state levels for emergency supplies. COVID19 testing was offered to all firefighters and we are taking care of our folks by doing temperature checks, sanitizing and following social distancing".

At the time of the meeting, per the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), all burning permits were banned for the remainder of the Spring season, including brush, burning barrels, leaves, grass, recreational campfires and cooking fires. Since then, the burning bans have been lifted with no restrictions at this time.

Pottratz then advised he took Edgar on a tour of the town and will be setting up a time with Furton for a tour as well.

Drees reported there are a lot of ditch issues due to the excess amount of water. We will also be looking at Keller Road and will continue to address other road problems as well. It is a continuous cycle.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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