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Middle Inlet Offers $1,000 For Road Sign Theft Info

Issue Date: December 22, 2020

Town Chair Richard Wade announced at the Middle Inlet Town Board meeting on Thursday, Dec, 10 that theft of road signs continues to be a problem. He issued a reminder that the town's offer to pay a $1,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to arrest or conviction of the people responsible remains in effect, and repeated assurances that any callers can remain anonymous. Information can be given to any one of the town officials, Marinette County Sheriff's Department, or Crime Stoppers.

Wade said in the past year the town had spent $1,800 of taxpayer dollars replacing signs that were stolen or destroyed. The thefts had stopped briefly but the problem seems to have resumed when a "Town of Middle Inlet" sign was cut down on Forest Road.

He said past efforts to discourage sign theft and destruction they had tried using steel poles, but the thieves had used Saws-Alls to cut them off. They tried putting them high overhead, on telephone poles, but they can no longer do that because state law says the signs must be on break-off posts.

There was a suggestion from the floor to put up cameras here and there, and Supervisor Ron Wenzel agreed that would be a good idea, and they could also use a camera to discourage illegal dumping at the recycling site.

The Wayside Road project was delayed due to lack of limestone; except for that one, all 2020 road projects had been completed, and the  contractor was to contact the town the following day on status of Wayside Road.

Wade extended thanks for a job well done to all of the contractors who worked on jobs for the town this year as well as to Northeast Tree Service and Marinette County Highway Department and its employees for the work they had done.

Wade issued a special thanks and good wishes to Marinette County Highway Department Patrol Superintendent Joe Baranek, who will be retiring at the end of the month. Wade said he had worked with Baranek for 12 years, adding that Baranek had always provided good service for Middle Inlet and he wished him a happy retirement.

Fire Chief Rob Wenzel reported that due to his regular job responsibilities this would be his last meeting as Chief but he will continue to be a member of the fire department. At the November board meeting Wenzel had advised the board that he would be stepping down from the Fire Chief position effective Friday, Jan. 1, but the department would have an excellent replacement, since John Kluskin had agreed to take over that responsibility. Wenzel said Kluskin has served with the Middle Inlet Fire Department only a couple of months, but he served three years with the Town of Stephenson Fire Department and before that had a 30 year career with the Town of Lawrence Fire Department, two of them as assistant chief and six as chief.

The Middle Inlet Fire Department has a new training officer in the person of Aaron Patefield, who was with the Crivitz Fire Department and is a certified fire inspector and NWTC instructor. Wenzel said training has been going very well since Patefield took on the job.

Wenzel said the past month had been a quiet one for the Fire Department. There were no calls, but they had gotten a lot of things done around the fire station.

The Fire Department had received "some very substantial donations" - one for $50 and one for $3,000 - and the money will be used for a variety of items including some heavy rescue gear, hand held flashlights, a Sawzall and a much needed float.

Training has been going very well, Wenzel said. On Saturday, Dec. 19, the department was to be part of a house burn near the Oconto County Line in the Town of Stephenson with the Town of Stephenson and other fire fighting units in the area including those from Crivitz, and town of Peshtigo, City of Peshtigo, Crooked Lake and Riverview. Steve Marvin is in charge of the burn. Wenzel said they

Wenzel said they are excited to have the new Middle Inlet cadet firefighters be part of the exercise, even though they would not be able to actually go into the building.

He also said the Middle Inlet firefighters have been getting more recognition from other fire departments and are now paged out for all calls with Crivitz, which gives both units more manpower and gives firefighters exposure to more calls. They also are involved with more units in the MABAS box card system for 2021.

"I can't say enough about my guys and how good they are," Wenzel declared. He had said at the start that this was also his final report as chief, and commented that the new chief is "way over qualified," and that with Kluskin and Patefield in their new jobs, "We've got a bona fide training and safety officer and a wealth of information at our fingertips!"

Supervisor Ron Wenzel reported the a sexton had been hired for the Pine Hill Cemetery and the funeral homes are now paying a fee for the service of the sexton, which was never done before. There had been quite a few graves sold, and they found that a lot of survey work will need to be done to straighten things out regarding burials because for the past 100 years the cemetery was poorly laid out and grave sites were poorly marked.

Because of the relatively nice weather the cemetery gates had had not been locked for the winter until the afternoon of the meeting. Gates there will now remain closed until May to prevent vehicles from driving in on unplowed driveways there.

Wenzel reported everything was good with garbage and recycling. Recycling Attendant Gary Kuchta said since the report on the November meeting was published in the Peshtigo Times there had been no problems with people dumping debris at the recycling site when it was closed until just the previous day, when he arrived to find deposits of "everything but recyclables." He warned, "If I find out who did that, next summer, when I go fishing I will gut them out and put the remains on their porch!"

Wade reported work remains in progress to get the "problem property" on Willow Road cleaned up. He said he had contacted Building Inspector Jane Meisner and if they need to use the town attorney, that will be done.

Moving on to new business, the board unanimously approved a motion to accept the assessment proposal for 2021-2023 for $12,240 per year as offered by Jerry Pillath of M & O Assessing Service.  Wade noted the price had stayed the same as last year's contract.

During time for Public Comment Dave Turk thanked Wade for his help on cutting down a tree in the town's right-of-way.

All invoices and the financial report were approved as presented. Clerk Treasurer Patricia Schutte noted two CDs were coming due. Wade said they had checked with other banks and the current CDs with Stephenson National Bank, at .77 per cent, have been earning some of the best interest rates around. Wade said other banks in the area are paying about .3 percent. The board unanimously agreed to renew the Town CD for $10,000 and the Cemetery CD for $27,000 with Stephenson National Bank and Trust.

Total assets of the town, fire department and cemetery on Dec. 10 were $263,727.43. Accounts payable totaled $120,516.19, and this included a half year payroll for fire department members.

Before the meeting adjourned, Wade thanked the Board and Clerk for the good job done this year, particularly in the face of all the problems with Covid. He said Schutte had to step in and go through things left by the two previous clerks when she took over the job. Supervisors Wenzel and Don Van also praised Schutte for the work she had done and thanked her for it.


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