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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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“Diggers” TV Show Is Coming To Peshtigo

Mayor Cathi Malke had a happy announcement for Peshtigo City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, May 6. The city, with its Peshtigo Fire history, will be the site for an episode or episodes of the “Diggers “ TV show to be aired nationwide on the National Geographic television channel.

“This is going to make the City of Peshtigo a destination!” she declared.

Malke said the show’s producers had called her on Monday, April 28 to ask her to help make arrangements and identify local people who can identify spots the searchers with metal detectors can seek treasures from the past.

She said there are many good possible sites on public and private property in the city. Because of the difficulties in getting DNR permission for digging on county or state property she feels they will focus on city and privately owned land. Council, by unanimous vote, approved a motion stating the “Digger” searchers are welcome on city property.

Malke said the TV crew of 10 to 12 people, including an archaeologist, will stay in the city for seven to eight days, searching, digging and filming. She asked if they would be willing to participate in some sort of community event, perhaps a picnic, and they are. Plans will be made when dates are known.

The Diggers show airs on the National Geographic Channel on Friday nights, generally at 9 p.m., but occasionally with several episodes on a single evening.

Malke appointed a local committee to help, and they will hold their first meeting on Friday, May 9 at 2 p.m. at the Municipal Building.

Members are local historians Robert “Cubby” Couvillion and Ron Strojny, Historical Society representative Mary Hahn , Chamber of Commerce President Pat Roland, former DNR Warden Stanley Nogalski, and Council President Mike Behnke.

Alderman Mary Lock asked if Malke needed Council approval for the committee, but Malke felt she did not, since they are all volunteers “and nobody is being paid for anything.”

Retirement of Assistant Fire Chief Mike Madden after 50 years on the department was announced by Fire Chief Steve Anderson. Council unanimously accepted Anderson’s recommendation to change the rank of Charles Gardon to 1st Assistant Chief and Fire Prevention Inspector, which leaves the 2nd Assistant Chief post vacant for now. Captains are Mark Brabant and Jim Pariso, and lieutenants are Steve Rohde, Michael Tipler, James Felker and Christopher Rohde.

Madden is to be feted at a gathering of firefighters, family, friends and city officials at Fire Station No. 2 at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 21.

Behnke expressed thanks to Madden for his half century of service. “I don’t think there are too many people in the country that can do that,” Behnke declared.

“I don’t think we’ll see that again,” Malke agreed.

Anderson said during his years on the department, Madden served under four different chiefs, “and one of them was himself.” He explained that for a month in 1988, Madden was interim chief. Madden then talked Anderson into accepting the chief position that he has held since. Madden didn’t want it, Anderson said, adding that Madden was his mentor and his “Iron Fist.” With Madden as second in command Madden said he didn’t have to do any enforcing.

Malke extended congratulations and wished a Happy Birthday to city resident Claryce Finger, who celebrated her 106th birthday on Monday, May 5. She is the mother of prominent Peshtigo resident Jim Finger and Faye Hinnricks of Texas.

The Council had met in closed session from 7:04 to 8:40 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30 . According to the minutes of that meeting, purpose was: ”Conferring with legal counsel for the government body who is rendering oral or written advice concerning strategy to be adopted by the body with respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved for the purpose of: Discussing Dredging Project,” and (in line with another statute) “Considering employment, promotion, compensation or performance evaluation data of any public employee over which the governmental body has jurisdiction or exercise responsibility for the purpose of: Discussing the position of Clerk-Treasurer and support staff.

Present for that meeting were Malke, Aldermen Brigitte Schmidt, David Marquardt, Behnke, Tom Gryzwa, Debbie Sievert and Lock; Attorney David Spangenberg, and Interim Clerk/Treasurer Vicki L. Koronkiewicz.

Minutes of that meeting were approved at Tuesday night’s meeting. They indicate Council returned to open session and adjourned without taking action.

They do not indicate the type of action the Council is considering on the 2012 dredging project of the Peshtigo River done at an estimated cost of $195,000 .

The Department of Workfoce Development (DWD) has already denied the city’s appeal and is seeking $30,000 to $50,000 from the city for alleged violation of the prevailing wage statutes. The city had advertised the project and awarded it to the lowest bidder.

The DWD has admitted it first issued an initial determination that the city had not violated the prevailing wage statutes which resulted in the city proceeding with the project. Then Construction Business Group of Madison appealed and the DWD then reversed the approval given to the city previously and now seeks to fine the city.

The Council was to decide if the issue should be pursued through the courts.

Behnke reported at Tuesday’s regular Council meeting that the Personnel Committee has interviewed some candidates for the part-time secretary’s position in the clerk’s office and will interview more on Thursday. Council approved his request that the committee be authorized to offer the job to the candidate they select.

The city was informed by Marinette County that a property in the city that was sold at a Sheriff’s sale did not bring in enough to cover the back taxes due and the special assessments. Council agreed to write off the $50 owed for grass mowing, and referred the outstanding $3,239.74 water and sewer bill to the Water and Sewer Committee, which will probably also recommend writing off the amount as uncollectable.

Council agreed with a Streets and Drainage Committee recommendation to honor the request of Joseph Mans and post “Autistic Child” warning signs in the area of 260 S. Noquebay Ave.

After a discussion with Chamber of Commerce President Pat Roland, Council agreed to again rent them the tourist owned information booth by the water tower for $1 a year. The agreement will be changed to state that the city will be responsible for grounds maintenance such as mowing and pulling weeds. What other work on the grounds that the city may do will be discussed at a future Fire, Lighting and Building Committee meeting.

As requested by BPM, Inc., Council agreed that Parks and Recreation Director David Zahn should draft a letter to Integrys and the DNR in regard to the proposed fish viewing platform on the old paper mill walkway. The project involves properties owned by the mill and WPS. The letter, which is to be signed by the mayor after approval by Spangenberg, is to state that the city agrees to three conditions: there will be no changes to the current recreational facilities or parking lots, the elevaton of the structure will be as high or higher than the previous pipe tunnel, and there is to be no fishing from the walkway.

Zahn read letters of apology from the two boys who vandalized Badger Park and destroyed two Parks Department trucks last December. Writing the letters had been ordered by the court as part of their punishment. They are also banned from city property except when under direct supervision of their parents or Health and Human Services people to carry out some of the community service work that is part of their punishment.

Both boys said in their letters that they wish they could turn back the clocks so they would not have done what they did. Both said they are ashamed, and one said he is sorry for the extra work he created for Zahn, and for causing the people of Peshtigo to lose their sense of security when using their park. Both also expressed the hope that someday the community will forgive them.

Council approved a permit for the Peshtigo Historical Day Parade on Saturday, Sept. 27. The parade is to follow the same route as last year.

After some discussions with Tracy Berken, Council approved a license for Dustin L. Downs to operate the King of Clubs at 341 Oconto Ave. Berken had to surrender his license for the premises so that it could be issued to Downs, but sought assurance that should Downs not continue to operate the establishment, he will be able to get his license. Spangenberg was not present to provide legal answer to the question. Koronkiewicz said Spangenberg had called her at home to tell her the Council should approve the motion as it appeared on the agenda. She explained the license exchange procedure to Berken. At one point Berken had spent $10,000 to buy an available license so he could reopen the business that had been closed for some time.

Police Chief Kent Kline advised that Berken and Downs need to have a separate agreement stating he will not transfer the license to any other building, and will notify Berken if he plans to surrender it. Berken said they are friends, and Kline suggested the best thing for the license issue would be for them to stay friends.


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