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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Malke is Peshtigo’s First Woman Mayor

After completing old business at the Peshtigo City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 15, outgoing Mayor Al Krizenesky handed over the gavel to Cathi Malke, who then officially became the first woman in City of Peshtigo history to be seated as mayor.

“I wish your mother was still alive,” Krizenesky told Malke as he welcomed her to the seat he was vacating. “She had such a great interest in politics. I know she would have been so proud of you. The city still has many problems, but I’m sure you’ll handle them well.”

With those words, it was a tearful Malke who opened her first meeting as the head of city government in Peshtigo, but she recovered quickly and ascertained from acting Clerk/Treasurer Vicki Koronkiewicz that newly elected aldermen Mary Lock and David Marquardt had been duly sworn in. She then called them to the seats that she and Tim Colburn had just vacated and welcomed them to the Council.

By unanimous ballot, Alderman Mike Behnke was returned to office as Council president.

The meeting had begun at 7 p.m. with Krizenesky and the old council finishing up their last duties.

A letter from Joseph Mans requesting installation of signs stating “Autistic Child in the Area” was referred to the Streets Committee.

Under time for public comment, Joan Alloy thanked Alderman Debbie Sievert for making the motion (at the meeting on Wednesday, April 2) to refund the money she had paid to rent the Henry Drees Community Center for a political forum on Thursday, March 27 in connection with the April 1 elections. However, the motion was not seconded and the $195 she had paid was not refunded.

Alloy’s request for a refund was made in a letter to the Council dated March 25 and stamped received on March 26. Comments by aldermen who did not second the motion were that they had approved waiving fees for some events, but never had approved a refund requested after the rent was paid. The motion died for lack of a second.

“That wasn’t so bad,” Alloy said, “until I read the reports of the meeting and you all agreed to let a group from Marinette use the facility free for six weeks!”

Alloy was referring to an action taken later at the April 2 meeting approving a request from Marinette County Elderly Services to use the facility free of charge for a 6-week course called, “Powerful Tools for Caregivers.” There was a $5 fee to defray expenses, but participants who completed four of the six classes were to receive a refund. Before the unanimous vote in favor of granting the request, Malke commented the class would be of benefit to all Peshtigo citizens.

In accord with Council rules, no response was made to Alloy during the first portion of the meeting, but in her comments as mayor after officially taking office, Malke told Alloy the Council had not wanted to set a precedent by granting an after the fact refund. “We didn’t want to go that route,” she commented.

The outgoing Council approved a UDAG loan of $56,250 for 15 years at 2 percent interest to D&V Properties of Wisconsin, LLC, and a RLF loan to Faucett Forest Products, LLC “or an entity acceptable to the Council” to guarantee debt in the amount of $75,000 at 2 percent interest for 15 years with a second position with the State Bank of Florence. In both cases real estate was used as collateral.

“We’re very fortunate to have two existing businesses in Peshtigo that want to expand here and add jobs,” Alderman Tom Grywa, who chairs the UDAG Committee, declared.

He said D&B will use the current vacant former Barrette Asphalt building as a base for a trucking firm they plan to establish.

Faucett Forest Products, owned by Wade Fronsee, will use the proceeds of the RLF loan to buy the Dumke Forest Products building. Gryzwa said Fronsee is “very aggressive and eager to expand.” The city will have second position on real estate of both the pallet shop and the saw mill properties, which Fronsee now plans to operate as one business.

Gryzwa said several other businesses are interested in either locating or expanding in Peshtigo, so economic development prospects look good.

“Over the past two years we have given some strong loans,” Gryzwa said, adding that none of their loans are currently in default.

Things also look good for the Water and Sewer Utility. Gryzwa, as chair of that committee, said that the report from PSC shows the return on investment was 1.7 percent, while the required percentage was 1.5, “so there is no need for a price increase and water bills will remain as they are, at least for this year.”

Council approved the Water and Sewer Committee’s recommendation to contract with Veolia for sludge hauling at .035 per gallon.

Gryzwa said the new sewer use ordinance will be ready for presentation at the May Council meeting and adoption following a public hearing at the June meeting. There are rules governing handling of grease from restaurants and other places with larger than average grease wastes.

Two building permits were issued, one to Neil Campbell to build a covered porch with a full foundation to connect with a detached garage on the west side of the house at 301 Emery Ave., at an estimated cost of $3,500, and to Fred Meintz to remodel the interior and exterior of the building at 150 S. Ellis Ave. for a total estimated cost of $50,000.

Parks and Recreation Director Dave Zahn reported credit card acceptance of campground reservation fees should be on line by the end of next week. The Easter Hunt on Saturday, April 11, “eggs were found, candy was eaten, bikes were won, and 87 children went home happy,” Zahn said. He added one little girl was not happy at first she had won a bicycle, but it was a boys’ bike and she wanted one for a girl. Zahn said he traded the bike and delivered it to the winner, and then she was happy.

Resolutions honoring Patrick Harper on his retirement after 32 years with the city crew and Mary Ann Wills on her retirement after 26 years as clerk/treasurer were unanimously approved, as were resolutions commending Colburn and Krizenesky for their service to the city. Krizenesky served four years as mayor and several terms as alderman before that. Colburn was an alderman for four and a half years.

As his last official act as mayor, Krizenesky distributed copies of his farewell address. He said it has been a great honor and enjoyment working with the City Council over the past four years, and added, “As this is my final Council meeting I would like to commend this Council, department heads and all city employees for your cooperation, knowledge and actions much has been accomplished for the City of Peshtigo, citizens and taxpayers.

“I believe, we have shown that good government does respond to the needs of its citizens.

“A city grows and flourishes when city government demonstrates a willingness to work with businesses, industry, school and the Towns of Peshtigo and Grover,” he went on. “Yes, Peshtigo has many creative and productive people willing to help make our community a better place in which to live, work, raise families and enjoy what nature has provided for the area.

“I hate to leave unfinished work and I hope the proposed fish viewing pier over the Peshtigo River can be completed affording our citizens another scenic view of nature. Yes, the project is moving forward as we await approval of Wisconsin Public Service Corp. in order to make another giant step towards completion,” Krizenesky continued. “Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than people say is possible. Good services are needed for residents and I hope they never stop. It is a much better city when services are good.”

He extended congratulations “to our new Mayor Cathi Malke and Alderpersons Dave Marquardt and Mary Lock. They are joining a great group of remaining Alderpersons Mike Behnke, Tom Gryzwa, Brigitte Schmidt and Debbie Sievert. I know that together you will accomplish great things for the City of Peshtigo. Even though I have finished many years of public service, I will still be around with my fishing rod.”

With that, Colburn made the motion to adjourn the Council “sine die”. Krizenesky stepped down after welcoming Malke and the new Council began its first meeting after Lock and Marquardt were seated.

Malke had received a letter from Dr. Jeffrey O’Rear announcing his resignation as City Health Officer. Malke said she did have a replacement in mind, but then learned that a paramedic does not meet the requirements of the office.

City Attorney David Spangenberg said the County Health Nurse is looking into it. Peshtigo is one of the few municipalities in the county that still has a public health officer. The others work with the County Health Nurse office. That position was left open when committee appointments were made.

Committee assignments were approved as proposed by Malke. They are:

Finance and Claims: Tom Gryzwa, Chairman, Michael J. Behnke, Debbie Sievert.

Fire, Lighting and Building: Tom Gryzwa, Chairman, Dave Marquardt, Mary E. Lock.

License and Police: Dave Marquardt, Chairman, Debbie Sievert, Mary E. Lock.

Parks and Recreation: Brigitte Schmidt, Chairman, Michael J. Behnke, Debbie Sievert.

Streets and Drainage: Debbie Sievert, Chairman, Michael J. Behnke, Brigitte Schmidt.

Judiciary: Mary E. Lock, Chairman, Brigitte Schmidt, Dave Marquardt.

Personnel: (All Personnel, including Police Department, is under Personnel). Michael J. Behnke, Chairman, Tom Gryzwa, Brigitte Schmidt.

Ethics Committee: James Swiatnicki, Mary Seidl, Anita Morois, Fred Meintz, Barbara Baumann, Gerald Valley.

Plan Commission: Mayor Catherine Malke, Presiding Officer, George Cowell, Director of Public Works, Donald Belonga, Marquita Limberg, Richard Spangenberg, Richard Thill.

Industrial Park Oversight Committee: Mayor Catherine Malke, Chairman, Michael J. Behnke, Ronald Banach, Designated Agent.

Water and Sewer Committee: Tom Gryzwa, Chairman, Fred Meintz, George Cowell (ex-officio), Dan Seymour, Anita Morois, Secretary.

Peshtigo RLF/UDAG Loan Fund Committee: Mayor Catherine Malke (nonvoting member), Vicki L. Koronkiewicz, Secretary, Tom Maxwell, Mark Hannon, Glenn Seyfert, Chairman Tom Gryzwa, Sandra Eklund.

Board of Appeals: Stanley Nogalski replacing Russell Thurow, Vern Rohde, Barb Baumann, Kathleen Joy, Chairman, Mary Seidl, Rita Gulbertson, Lisa Behnke.

Board of Review: Mayor Catherine Malke, Assessor Jerry Pillath (nonvoting member), Interim Clerk-Treasurer Vicki L. Koronkiewicz, Michael J. Behnke, Tom Gryzwa, Debbie Sievert.

Website Committee: Vicki L. Koronkiewicz, Chairman, Tom Gryzwa, Anita Morois.

City Appointments: City Attorney David Spangenberg, Deputy Weed Commissioner George Cowell, Building, Plumbing & Electrical Inspector Ronald J. Banach, Fire Chief Steven R. Anderson, Health Officer (to be determined).

Police Disciplinary Review Committee: Kathleen Selby, Chairman, Ronald Strojny, Sandra Eklund, Gerald Valley, and Tim Duket.

When it came time to approve the membership list for the Peshtigo Volunteer Fire Department, Lock suggested they should refer it to the Personnel Committee for a closed executive session meeting before acting. She noted Fire Chief Steve Anderson was not present to answer questions, and said she was worried that Council approval of the complete list might create problems for whatever it is he is trying to accomplish.

Malke said Anderson had been working with the city attorney on concerns that he has.

Gryzwa wondered if the city would be left without authorized fire protection if the list was not approved, and was assured they will remain intact until further action is taken.

The Board of Review was set for 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 5, and Behnke advised on where Aldermen can obtain training for Board of Review certification.

By unanimous vote the Peshtigo Times was again designated as the city’s official newspaper.

Malke thanked her family and friends for being present for the meeting and declared, “I am looking forward to great things for the City of Peshtigo.”

After all the work was done for both the old and new Council, Alderman Brigitte Schmidt brought out a cake that her mother, Shiela O’Connor-Langlois of Cakes By Shiela, had baked and decorated beautifully for the occasion. Behnke invited everyone to share the treat, and the evening ended on a note of fellowship.


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