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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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City To Hire Firm For 222 Home Inspections

Collection of leaves from Peshtigo city streets will end for this year on Monday, Nov. 11, Public Works Director George Cowell advised City Council at its meeting Tuesday, Nov. 5. Cowell said Sunday, Nov. 10 is the last day for raking leaves into the street for pickup.

That announcement brought some concern from Alderman Debi Sievert, who noted this has been a strange year and many trees are still full of leaves. She wondered if the street pickup schedule could be extended, but Cowell said after that he becomes short handed as workers leave on deer hunting vacations. He said residents can bag leaves and bring them to the city’s brush disposal site at the city garage.

Cowell said his crews will continue picking up branches, etc. from curbside, and that has been going well. People cooperate by piling them in an orderly fashion so it is easy to use the chipper.

A special City Council meeting and budget workshop are set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11. All department heads are required to attend.

Discussion of costs a DNR-mandated “cross connection” inspection will entail for residents was another area of concern. On recommendation of Cowell and the Water and Sewer Committee, Council approved a $15,974 contract with HydroDesigns, Inc. to inspect 222 residential customers in the city for a six month contract from Nov. 1, 2013 through June 1, 2014.

Cowell explained the DNR requires cross connection inspections on a 3-year rotation, and is under DNR orders to get their schedule in order by June of 2014. He said there is no way his department can comply without the boost from an outside contractor. If not completed the city will again get a deficiency notice again next year, which could lead to problems for the water utility.

The 222 households is about one third of the number in the city. He explained the city crew can do the 198 commercial inspections because they can be done during regular business hours, but residents are often gone during the day and special arrangements are needed. HydroDesigns will set up the appointments and do the inspections to get them started on the 3-year schedule.

In response to questions from the council he explained “cross connections” apply to properties with private wells, which may not be connected in any way with plumbing connected to the city water supply, and to all household water lines, inside or outside, through which used water could be drawn back into the fresh water system, for example boilers, hose connections etc. without back flow valves to prevent contamination of the water supply. As an example, a hose left outside might lie in a puddle of water, or a hose in a wash sink could sit in a bucket of scrub water that could be siphoned up by a pressure change in the system.

Alderman Cathi Malke asked who will need to pay for correcting problems, and was told that is the responsibility of property owners. She asked the average cost of an upgrade, but got no definitive answer. Malke was concerned with low income residents, who have already been hit with water and sewer rate hikes this year and now could face plumbing bills they cannot afford.

Cowell said the needed valves are relatively inexpensive, and much of the work needed is simple enough to be a do it yourself project, except the valves on boilers would probably require a plumber. Sometimes a problem can be solved by simply placing a cap on an outside faucet.

Water and Sewer Committee Chair Alderman Tom Gryzwa reiterated that the utility is mandated by the DNR to have the first portion of inspections done by June. Cowell repeated deficiencies, if found, are generally in older homes, and it is the responsibility of home owners to fix the problems.

As to the private wells, they either need to be capped or properly inspected and registered. Private wells can be used for watering lawns, etc. but lines carrying private well water can in no way be connected with the city’s water system. Gryzwa said they need to be tested for bacteria, which can be done by sending a sample to Madison with a fee as low as $27, depending on what the owner wants it tested for.

Behnke and Malke wondered if the city could have an informational meeting to tell people what to look for and how to fix it.

Alderman Brigitte Schmidt, chair of the Judiciary Committee, said she had researched the issue a bit and found the city has for years had back flow prevention and private well ordinances on the books, so “I don’t think there will be any major issues,” although there could be some in older homes.

Behnke said people were aware of the well ordinance, “It’s just gotten forgotten after all these years.”

“It will cost me too,” Schmidt commented, “but I don’t want anybody’s mop water getting into my drinking water.”

Gryzwa said doing advertising was even an alternative offered by the DNR, and if they do it correctly they may not need to inspect kitchens.

There was discussion on putting flyers in envelopes with water bills, and Gryzwa said more information will go out with the January water bills.

Gryzwa said the Water and Sewer Committee will ask HydroDesigns to give them a report on their findings, and Cowell felt that would not be necessary. Everything will be on the HydroDesigns web site because the DNR will be monitoring progress of the cross connection and private well inspections.

“The state should be giving us a little compensation for all the mandates they issue,” commented Mayor Al Krizenesky.

At the start of the meeting Krizenesky reported hopes for a fish viewing platform off the BPM, Inc. walkway below the dam were discussed at a special meeting he had set up a few weeks ago with Wisconsin Public Service and mill representatives and prospects look good for it to become a reality. “The mill is meeting with the WPS on some issues, and if things can be worked out, BPM, Inc. is willing to spend some money on that project,” Krizenesky said, and grant applications are being submitted. However, he noted Council had never formally been notified of the development possibilities there, and he wondered if they should pass some sort of formal expression of support.

Gryzwa, who had attended the meeting Krizenesky spoke of as chair of the Finance Committee, had been authorized to seek grants, with assistance from county Land and Water Conservation people. To make it official, he offered a motion supporting the fish viewing platform and walk project. The motion eventually passed by unanimous vote, but not before a fair amount of discussion and a few sparks.

Malke was upset that the Parks and Recreation Committee, which she chairs, had not been invited to participate in the meeting. She pointed out she and members of her committee had very successfully gotten grants for other park improvements, and would be happy to help with the fish viewing platform and walk project, which is connected with the Peshtigo River Recreational Park along the river south of the bridge.

Krizenesky said he had worked for nearly a month to get all the parties needed together for the meeting - including people from the county, WPS and BPM and felt there were already enough people involved.

“As a courtesy, all Council members should be notified of all meetings,” Gryzwa commented.

Malke said notice of the meeting was in their mail boxes, but, she said to Krizenesky,”I asked you if I could come and you said it was open to the public...I felt shunned to be just a member of the public, since it is a parks and recreation issue!”

“I was just pushing to get it done,” Krizenesky replied.

Behnke advised keeping Open Meetings regulations in mind in future as well. All meetings should be properly noticed, with a notation that a quorum of the Council may be present. Krizenesky said there was only himself and one alderman at the meeting.

“Let me make one thing clear,” Malke said before the vote on Gryzwa’s motion, “I do think the viewing platform will be a wonderful project...an asset to the city and a benefit for residents and visitors alike.”

Vote was then called and everyone was in favor of the project.

In other business:

*On recommendation of Personnel Committee Chair Tim Colburn, no action was taken on the 2014 salary and wage schedule, pending settlement of a labor agreement with WPPA/LEER, the police department employees association.

*Krizenesky reported that department head evaluations were completed in closed session, “and the results are under lock and key in the safe and only the mayor and personnel committee chair have the key.”

*Request of Rita R. Gulbertson to have vacation hours left at the end of the year added to her sick leave account for 2014 was approved.

*Effective Jan. 1, 2014, all salaried personnel will be required to turn in a time sheet every two weeks. Krizenesky commented it will be difficult for people like the police chief, but is a new Federal requirement, so the city must comply.

*Insurance coverage through the city’s policy will be offered to the mayor and city attorney if they choose to accept it and pay 100 percent of the premiums.

*Operator licenses were approved for Melissa Rose Ziegler and Lauera Prestine, both of Peshtigo. Ziegler will work at Krist Oil and Prestine at River Pub.

*A new rent schedule for use of the Henry Drees Community Center was approved. Community organizations will see no rate increase, but use for private events, parties, etc. is going up about $10 for each category of use. It was noted the city has been subsidizing Center expenses by about $2,500 a year, and utility costs have gone up again.

*Requests from Marinette County Elderly Services to waive fee for the Community Center on Thursday, Nov. 7 for a fuel assistance clinic and Peshtigo Woman’s Club to waive the fee for a club meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12 were approved. That led Sievert to ask if that policy would change in view of the operating shortfall, but she was told they will follow the tradition of not charging for community service organizations and events.

*Gryzwa noted the Community Center is in need of additional tables and other equipment, in case anyone is interested in donating. Krizenesky said the city has been busy compiling a “wish list,” that includes hope for acquiring some new Christmas decorations.

*Request from RelyCo., Inc. for a $2,255.48 increase for work on the Industrial Park Storm Water management project was approved, as was a subsequent request from the firm for final payment in the amount of $9,755.48.

*Malke reported on a parks and Recreation Committee meeting with ball field user groups. She said the committee was looking at adding a new field, but the advice they got was to improve those that already exist, so that is what they will be doing.

*Council agreed Parks and Recreation Director Dave Zahn will be allowed to use a city-owned vehicle for transportation between his home and Parks and Recreation activity. Council will be asked to establish a policy covering city vehicle use by employees.

*Zahn was authorized to replace a sweeper with a used Smithco Sweepstar 48 riding sweeper that will vacuum up leaves from Horst Distributing, Inc. for $4,995.

*Schmidt reported the Judiciary Committee has asked City Attorney Dave Spangenberg to draw up an ordinance pertaining to cross connection of water lines, and she expects it to be ready for the December Council meeting. They discussed an ordinance pertaining to well permits and found there is already an ordinance on the books that should be enforced when cross connections are inspected.

*Council unanimously approved renewing the lease of Triangle Park to Peshtigo Chamber of Commerce for $1, and the library space at the Municipal Building to Marinette County Consolidated Public Library for $7,800 ($650 a month) with all terms and conditions to remain the same. Krizenesky suggested to Alderman Behnke the county has not increased rent they pay for library space for years, and meanwhile utility costs keep going up. Behnke is also a County Board Supervisor and chairs the county’s Buildings and Properties Committee.

*Rouse Heating and Cooling, Inc. was hired to replace the pneumatic control valve at city hall for $699.

*A change order from Oudenhoven Construction, Inc. moving the completion date to Oct. 16, at no charge was approved.

*Gryzwa, as chair of the Water and Sewer Committee, reported they are accepting applications for wastewater treatment plant operator, should that position be created, and also are working on RFPs for wastewater treatment plant operation. Both will be discussed further at a committee meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

*Behnke reported there were 15 building permits issued during September.

At the end of regular business the Council entered into closed executive session to discuss “actions discussed in Closed Session at the Revolving Loan Fund/UDAG Committee meeting. Upon returning to open session, Gryzwa moved to direct Atty. Spangenberg to proceed with legal action in connection with the Dumke Forest Products loan, and everyone present voted in favor without further discussion.

That issue was discussed at the Finance Committee meeting on Monday, Oct. 28, in connection with a status report on all loans. Dumke Forest Products was reported in default, and comments were that they may be facing foreclosure. They owe $150,145.55 on loans totaling $150,810 that were taken out in June of 2010 and April of 2013 at 3 percent interest. For a time Dumke had been allowed to make interest only payments without being considered in default.


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