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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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City, School Officials Share Ideas For Traffic Safety At High School

Issue Date: November 1, 2018

Meetings of the City of Peshtigo's Personnel Committee and Streets and Drainage Committee somewhat overlapped on Thursday, Oct. 25. Major discussion for the afternoon involved ways for the city and the school to work together to improve safety for students, particularly in the afternoon when everyone is hurrying to leave school for the dy.

At a brief open session that began at 1 p.m., the Personnel Committee agreed to allow Police Lieutenant Jared Philips to carry over 40 hours of unpaid vacation time into 2019, and to pay out the remainder of his accrued vacation time for 2018.

Agenda for the meeting called for the committee to then move into closed session to consider a Police Patrolman position, a laborer/truck driver/heavy equipment operator and Wastewater Treatment Plant operator position, and a part time secretary/office assistant for the clerk/treasurer, parks, police and water and sewer departments.

They were to then return to open session to act on any of the closed session items, and also to discuss and possibly act on a full time secretary/office assistant for the five departments currently served by the part time person.

Currently a part-time city employee working less than 29 hours a week performs those duties, and 20 percent of the cost of the position is allocated to each of the five departments.

A proposal to make that position full time had been included in the initial proposed budget, but was removed after much discussion during budget deliberations at a morning-long Finance Committee meeting on Monday, Oct. 22. City Council is slated to adopt the budget at a special meeting following the 2019 budget hearing on Thursday, Nov. 15.

Present for the Personnel Committee meeting were Aldermen Debbie Sievert, Mike Behnke, and Jillian Schutte, all committee members, Alderman Brigitte Schmidt; Mayor Cathi Malke; Clerk/Treasurer Tammy Kasal; Public Works Director George Cowell; Parks and Recreation Director Dave Zahn; Police Chief Rick Badgley; and former Alderman Tom Gryzwa who currently chairs the city's Water and Sewer Committee.

Cowell had objected at the Finance Committee meeting that changing the secretary post from part time to full time would mean adding benefits to the position's pay, which in turn would add considerably to costs of operating the water and sewer departments, which he is responsible for. He noted there was no provision in the budget for those expenses, and the added cost could result in need for another utility rate increase.

As the committee prepared to move into closed session Gryzwa asked if they intended to discuss the secretary/office assistant position itself, or the person holding the position. He noted it would be illegal to discuss the position in closed session, but they could discuss the job performance or other issues involving the individual who currently holds that job.

Kasal said in closed session they would discuss the person, and then in open session they would talk about the job itself.

With that explanation, everyone left the room except those directly involved in the first issue coming up, that of patrolman.

There was a Streets and Drainage Committee meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. That meeting was to include a discussion with school personnel on traffic and pedestrian activity near the high school and parking at the football field. School Administrator Patrick Rau and Maintenance Director Brian Williams were among those waiting when the Personnel Committee returned to open session at 2 p.m.

Malke suggested that since there was no urgency in the decision concerning the part time versus full time secretary, they should simply adjourn the Personnel Committee meeting and get started on the Streets and Drainage meeting for which Rau and Williams had come. Everyone agreed, so the Personnel Committee meeting was adjourned without action taken, and the next meeting was called to order.

Cowell updated the committee on a set of change orders that reduced the cost of the 2018 Emery Ave. road construction project by a total of $36.69.

Schmidt said she had asked to have the school safety discussions on the agenda after receiving a call from a constituent who regularly witnesses traffic departing from the high school. "I share their opinion, I live right across the street from the Fire Cemetery," Schmidt added. She noted that teenagers drive very differently than their parents, they accelerate unnecessarily and do not watch for pedestrians. On the other hand, pedestrians only have the right of way in marked cross walks, and students on foot are crossing everywhere.

Chief Badgley said squad cars do drive through there regularly. Malke said in years past a crossing guard was stationed there.

Rau said the school does have a sign at the elementary school instructing pedestrians to use the cross walks.

Schmidt said there are four cross walks at the elementary school. The crossing to Badger Park has a crossing guard and parents are encouraged to wait there for their students.

Williams mentioned that in June or July he had talked to the committee about parking on Emery Ave. and subsequently, at the direction of this committee, the city posted signs prohibiting parking on the east side of Emery from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. to prevent students from crossing through traffic here. He noted the concerns over traffic at the high school is an entirely separate issue.

"We can try to teach the kids to cross and drive properly, we can talk to them, but it isn't going to be 200 percent," Rau commented

Malke asked how hard it would be to enforce that kids have to stay on the sidewalks and only cross at the crosswalks. Rau felt they could do that, and would buy another crosswalk sign to put on that street. He also would talk to the principals and find people to supervise this.

Kasal noted when her son was in school (in Coleman) students who drove foolishly or squealed tires lost their parking privileges and couldn't bring their cars to school.

Behnke said when he was a student at Peshtigo High School it was hard to get a parking permit unless you had an after school job that required it.

Sievert said when her kids attended Peshtigo High School the school had a camera and kids who smoked in the parking lot got a ticket in the mail. She wondered if that would help the driving situation as well.

"I just want to make it safe, I don't want to make it impossible to enforce," Schmidt said.

Badgley said both he and Lt. Phillips have gotten out of their squad cars and walked in that block when school lets out, and it helps. Sievert wondered if jaywalking is a ticketable offense.

"It's important to get the word out that the city and the school are working together on this," Rau suggested.

"That's why we're here,"Badgley agreed.

Everyone agreed to take no formal action for now, but to work together to make the situation safer.

Rau said the school may ask the city to extend the area where parking is prohibited on the east side of Emery Ave. because parents still drop their kids off there and then the kids cross the street mid block instead of at the cross walks.

"Making it safer for our kids is what we all want. We appreciate your concern in the matter," Williams told the committee.

Moving on, Cowell reported the new state bids will come in on Nov. 9, so he will wait until then to get prices on the new 1-ton dump truck.

Malke had asked the committee to consider taking and storing concrete for disposal and/or reuse. Behnke said they used to take the concrete and grind it into gravel for paving projects, but getting a crusher in is very expensive. He said the last time they had the cement pile crushed everyone thought it was enough gravel to last 15 years, but they were wrong.

There was concern about having unsightly concrete piles, and Sievert wondered if they could put it somewhere else on the city garage property. Cowell said they would have to. After they had the last piles moved he discovered the material had been placed directly over a major water force main and if it had broken they would have had a very major problem.

He said except for the trucking fees it costs the city about as much to have the concrete crushed as it costs to buy the gravel, so they have been directing people to take the material to a private firm that accepts it at a nominal fee.


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