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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo City Council Adopts Emergency COVID-19 Rules

Issue Date: April 1, 2020

At a special meeting on Wednesday, April 1, Peshtigo City Council approved a resolution declaring an emergency due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) and making related changes in city operations in view of Gov. Tony Evers "Safer At Home" order issued on Thursday, March 12 in an effort to control local impact of the worldwide pandemic.

The Emergency Declaration orders all city facilities closed until further notice, including the Senior Center, Library, Parks restrooms, and City Hall except that city hall will remain open for employees and voting. Among other things, it also authorizes the mayor to use public funds to respond to this emergency where deemed necessary, approves flexible work schedules for employees, suspends out of city travel for city employees, allows limiting hours of the Municipal Court, authorizes department heads to apply for any applicable federal, state or county aid that becomes available as a result of the pandemic and to implement any federal or state law changes immediately, to be followed up at the next regularly scheduled Council meeting.

On recommendation of the Water and Sewer Committee, which consists of Fred Meintz, Dan Seymour and Chair Tom Gryzwa, council approved resolutions acknowledging Director of Public Works George Cowell as authorized representative for the city's Wastewater Management System improvements and all related activities; declaring official intent to reimburse expenditures for the Clean Water Fund Program Wastewater Collection System improvements by issuing up to $1 million in tax-exempt municipal bonds.

Council also approved purchase of a new fire engine from Custom Fab & Body LLC of Marion for a total price of $463,407 after elimination of the $11,860 Performance Bonds, with delivery expected in about 300 days; purchase of two new lawn mowers for the Parks and Recreation Department from Cozzy's Polaris for a total of $32,999.10, one with a 72" deck and another with a 61" deck, both with appropriate baggers, rear discharge, power vac systems, and diesel motors. Northrop is to sell two old mowers on the Surplus Wisconsin website once the new ones arrive, at a minimum bid price to be set with assistance from Cozzy's or other dealers.

Also approved was purchase of a Craftco crack sealer from the sole bidder, Sherwin Industries, Inc. of Chandler, Az. for a total of $50,987.28 plus possibly a potential option of an additional $1,600 for delivery. Council had budgeted up to $70,000 for the crack sealer, which Cowell said was never used because it lacks necessary safety features.The city has been contracting out crack sealing work that will be done by Public Works employees once the new crack sealer is delivered.

Transfers from the capital outlay fund and sale of the city's 2011 Crown Victoria to pay the $8,000 it will cost to provide sewer hookups for five campsites in Badger Park Campgrounds were approved.

The day started at 7:15 a.m. with a closed meeting of the Council's Personnel Committee to consider and interview candidates for seasonal employees for the Parks and Recreation Department and a full time Public Works Department position, and Council later approved their recommendations as presented, subject to background checks, alcohol assessments, etc.

The 10 a.m. Council meeting was conducted in accord with the coronavirus distancing rules, which call for no more than 10 people in a room and at least six feet of distance between those who are present. A technician from Camera Corner in Green Bay set up and operated a U-Tube video system in the hallway outside the Council chambers so those who could not be in the room were able to see and hear the meeting.

Present in the Council Chambers were Malke, Aldermen Archer Leupp, Jillian Schutte, Mike Behnke, Debbie Sievert, and Brigitte Schmidt, Clerk Tammy Kasal and City Attorney David Spangenberg. Alderman John Berendt was absent. The Camera Corner technician made a total of nine in the room, and department heads were called in as needed.

Among those observing via big screen U-Tube in the hallway in addition to news media representatives were mayoral candidate Tony O'Neil, who had initially been inside the Council Chambers and was asked to leave due to the 10-occupant rule; Fire Chief Chuck Gardon, Custom Fab sales representative Gary Bogenschutz, Cowell, Parks and Recreation Director Shawn Northrop, and Police Lieutenant Jared Phillips.

At the end of the meeting Schmidt thanked Malke and Kasal for putting everything together so they could hold the meeting without violating social distancing rules. Behnke thanked Camera Corner for their work in setting it all up.

Malke commented that some of the agenda items would have had a lot more discussion had they been done at committee meetings, but due to the current situation they had decided instead to hold the special Council meeting and get it all done.

Kasal said the next regular Council meeting would have been on Wednesday, April 8, instead of the regular first Tuesday of the month, due to the elections on April 7, but since this meeting was being held decision was made to eliminate that meeting and take care of other city business at the annual reorganization meeting which will be held on Tuesday, April 21.


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