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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Townsend Resigns As Wausaukee President

Some major changes are underway for the Village of Wausaukee. At the Village Board meeting Wednesday, Dec. 19, Jeff Townsend resigned his position as village president, citing heavy responsibilities connected with his business, Decor Products, Inc. He briefly mentioned the possibility of adding new employment opportunities in the village. Hilbert Radtke then resigned his position as trustee and was named to take over as village president, effective Thursday, Dec. 20, for the remainder of Townsend’s term, which expires on April 6, 2013.

The board has asked for letters of interest from anyone interested in filling Radtke’s term as trustee, which runs until April of 2014. They plan to fill the vacancy at their meeting in January.

Late in the meeting licenses to sell beer and cigarettes were approved for Sal’s Food Center, Inc. of Pulaski. Discussion indicated Sal’s Food Center has purchased Smith’s Food Market and will take over on Monday, Dec. 31.

Townsend said his decision to resign was very difficult. “I have never quit anything in my life,” he declared, “but my business has become so demanding that I cannot spend time on village business.” He said his family and the business that supports them has to come first, and at this time I cannot be derailed during the day.

Some of the trustees jokingly suggested denying the resignation, and Trustee Rosie Figas asked him to consider it , “just a time out.” When Radtke somewhat hesitantly submitted his resignation as trustee and accepted the village president appointment, Figas suggested, “Consider it a time in.”

Votes to accept the two resignations and Radtke’s appointment as president were unanimous.

Clerk Toshia Ranallo said they had on file one letter from an individual interested in being appointed as a trustee, but the board agreed to advertise before making a decision so anyone interested can apply.

A uniformed officer from Marinette County Sheriff’s Department was positioned near the entryway for the duration of the meeting.

The meeting ended with a closed session to discuss employee evaluations and raises to be effective on Jan. 1. Health, Welfare and Personnel Committee Chair Ann Hartnell said during committee reports that all employees except the water/wastewater operator Dave Heritsch had participated in evaluation sessions.

After returning to open session, the board approved a 50 cent per hour for part time plow truck driver Jeff Bonikowski, and 25 cents per hour raises for the treasurer, clerk, public works supervisor and water/wastewater supervisor.

A special board meeting that had been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20 was postponed because the employee in question had been called to the deathbed of a parent. Notice of that meeting stated the board would entertain a motion to go in to closed session “to consider/deliberate and take formal, final action on the dismissal, demotion, or discipline of a village employee.”

The board’s intent, according to the notice, was to go into closed session, “subject tothe employee’s right to demand that the final action be taken in open session.” If the employee demanded the open session, the board would return to open session to take final action.

It appears the special meeting may involve Dave Heritsch, and if so, he intends to have the action taken in open session. In an e-mail to the Peshtigo Times on Thursday, Dec. 20, he referred to “tonight’s special disciplinary meeting...where I am facing termination for my years of standing up against this board and its policies.” He said he would exercise his right to keep the proceedings in open session and expressed hope a reporter would be there.

However, at least two village officials said after the Dec. 19 meeting that the board has not decided what sort of disciplinary action will be taken and that it may or may not stop short of discharge.

That meeting has been tentatively rescheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 9.

At the request of the applicant, action on a zoning variance for Tim Rohloff at 403 1st street was postponed until January.

After a long discussion with sales representative Pete Miller about a mid-size truck they may purchase, the board agreed Radtke and Street Supervisor Darryl Schmidt would look at it on Friday, Dec. 21 with an eye to buying it. This truck does not require a CDL but has a dump box and can be fitted with a plow and sander to be used instead of the heavy duty International for all but the largest storms. Tentative plans would to buy this now, possibly trading in the Kodiak, and to replace the larger truck in three years.

Street Supervisor Darryl Schmidt is back to work for light duty following an injury.

Schmidt and Dave and Pam Heritsch had gone to Plover for a Confined Space seminar put on by the Rural Water Authority. Report by Pam Heritsch was that no one in Wausaukee is doing confined entry work up to code. “No manhole, sewer main, lift station wet well, etc. should ever be opened with just one person in attendance,” Heritsch wrote in her monthly report, adding, “We do not have enough employees to enter a permit required confined space. We are an accident waiting to happen.”

Townsend asked what they could do to make it safe, and Heritsch said they do not have enough people to do it legally. She said they need to get some written procedures in place, and need at least three people to even take a manhole cover off. Equipment is also deficient. She said the last time the gas meter was used was 2005, and when she took it out the batteries were dead. Hartnell, who had separately obtained information from Rural Water on safety procedures, asked about respirator masks. Heritsch said they have none. Hartnell recalled a tragedy some years ago when several members of an area family died from fumes related to sewage/septage.

Radtke suggested until they get the needed safety measures and equipment in place they should call MJB if they need to make a confined space entry. Without taking formal action, the rest of the board agreed.

There had been problems with a lift station and Townsend asked if it had been cleaned up. Heritsch said it was, and now the charts look a lot better. Dave Heritsch had put in some degreaser and MJB was called to vacuum the wet well. She said the pumps also need to be inspected. The board approved purchaser of a degreaser product they feel will prevent similar problems.

Her report noted that while preparing for sludge spreading the circulating system on the sludge tower it froze and burst, spraying the material into the Wastewater Treatment Plant yard, and flowing into an adjacent field. Bruce Oman from the DNR was notified. The sludge, sod and dirt were scraped where saturated and hauled out to a field, and Shade Tree Farms has been called to work up the field.

Trustee Figas questioned Heritsch on reasons the pipes burst, and the explanation was that the material must circulate for several days before being pumped out and it had turned very cold. Heritsch said she realizes now she should have not kept it circulating all night.

Trustee Kyle Stumbris said a pipe could break even in summer, and suggested they should never allow it to circulate unattended. The tower/circulating system holds about 115,000 gallons of waste.

Figas reminded Heritsch that months ago they had given her a check list of things that should be done and asked for a report in December. Heritsch said she did have the report done, but not in a form to be given to the board. Figas asked her to give copies to the board prior to the January meeting so they have time to study it before the meeting.

Townsend reported all applications needed, including the variance application, have been turned in to the state for the new well and plant. “They will put us ahead of everybody else, they’re willing to work with us,” Townsend said.

In her treasurer’s report, Sara Pullen said she had not attempted to present budget adjustments, “We’re too far gone for that.” She said there have been many unusual things happening this year, and she will straighten it all out in the year-end reports.

The village was to receive the $800,000 State Trust Fund loan on Thursday, Dec. 20, she said, adding that money will go at one into CD’s and other accounts for the Water and Sewer utility and will not show up in the village’s general fund.

In what she described as a routine action, only necessary in case the entire board ever gets replaced, Pullen asked for and received approval of an Inter-municipal Cooperation agreement between the village and the utility, making it clear that the village applied for the loan and received it, but the utility is responsible for paying it back.

At their budget meeting the board had made annual audits mandatory for continued allocations toward the budgets for the Wausaukee Fire District budget and Wausaukee Rescue Squad contract. Fire Chief Eric Edlebeck presented Townsend with a financial report up to date through that afternoon, along with a letter from Tammy Schlies stating an annual audit review would cost about $1,500.

Townsend commented there was an awful lot of information in the financial report for the board to digest it and act on the allocation that evening. He wished they had received the information earlier. “I personally trust what’s going on....But in today’s world...” he remarked, without completing the statement.

Radtke agreed studying the report would be too much for that evening, but asked if it would suffice, or should they be required to spend the $1,500 for an audit.

Townsend felt the report would be adequate, provided they receive the next one at least 24 hours in advance.

Trustee Kyle Stumbris wondered what they would do about the audit requirement for other groups if they ease up for the Fire Department.

Trustee Jason Figas said the request at the last meeting had been for all of the outside contract groups to have third party audits prepared for 2013, not for 2012.

Hartnell said the Rescue Squad already had put the audit agreement in their 2013 contract.

Townsend noted the Fire Department’s financial reports are reviewed by the Fire Commission and Wausaukee Town Board as well as the village board, so quarterly financials should be adequate.

Edlebeck said the Fire District Commission will meet every quarter and do the financial reports as they should.

Trustee Figas guessed that would be sufficient, “provided someone is watching.” She then moved to approve the Fire District’s 2013 contract.

There was no Rescue Squad representative present, but Figas said language requiring an audit for 2013 is already in their contract, and she had received a letter assuring her that is being taken care of, and that a contract was also approved.

Edlebeck brought up a problem with someone leaving lights on and sometimes doors open in the garage the fire department rents from the village. It adjoins the village hall and apparently personnel move inside the building from the village portion to the fire department portion. Suggestions included dead bolts to lock doors between portions of the building and motion sensor lights to deal with the light switch problems, which also would benefit general fire department activities. After some discussion it was agreed that Edlebeck should attend the January meeting with a plan to resolve the issues.

Snow plow procedures were listed on the agenda as an item for the board to discuss and consider. Schmidt explained the procedure, which is to completely finish one area of the village before moving on to the next one. Townsend said there had been some concern about not opening main streets sooner to give at least some access sooner to all parts of the village, but all in all, he said to Schmidt, “I think you’ve been doing a great job and the streets have been very well taken care of.

After considerable discussion and calculations assisted by work done prior to the meeting by Clerk Toshia Ranallo, the board agreed to contract again with Waste Management for garbage removal. It was the first time in many years they had put out requests for bids, and the Waste Management bid appeared to be slightly lower than the only other proposal, which came from Great American Disposal. Townsend commented that Waste management has been taking good care of the village for years, and considering the price he saw no reason to change. They accepted the option with possible surcharges should the price of diesel fuel again exceed $4 per gallon. Townsend said it was an $80 per month gamble, but as Jason Figas pointed out, they would be worse off only if the diesel price goes above $5 a gallon in the next three years. With the surcharge option the price can change monthly with the price of fuel.

Operator’s licenses were approved for Rochelle La Rue and Tara Baribeau for Exxon and Janet Derringer for BP, provided she gets a bartender’s class certificate.

The agenda, under new business, called for discussion and possible action on the Independence Day Parade for 2013, and on the possibility of either a 2013 Holiday Light Parade and/or sponsoring trees or decorations in Payant park for next year.

The board had received a letter from the Sheriff’s Department stating they will have officers on patrol for next year’s parade on July 6, 2013, along with as many Auxiliary as are available. Townsend said the village now should apply for a parade permit and find an organization to run it. The American Legion had declined in view of liability and law enforcement issues, but Townsend felt if the village provides the permit and arranges for the Sheriff’s Department to work with them, the Legion might agree to run the parade itself, organize floats, etc. Clerk Ranallo is to write them a letter.

There had been suggestions that Wausaukee should have a Christmas Lights Parade in 2013, or perhaps have trees set up and decorated in Payant part. There was some discussion but no action what could be done, similar to Christmas season activities in Pound and Coleman. The entire issue was tabled to a future meeting.


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