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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town Of Middle Inlet Okays Fire Department Dive Team

Issue Date: March 17, 2021

At its meeting on Thursday, March 11, Middle Inlet Town Board agreed to allow the town fire department to start a Search, Rescue and Recover Dive Team that will be available to respond to water rescue requests anywhere in the area, but particularly for the Town of Stephenson, Crivitz, Amberg, Middle Inlet and Wausaukee areas and points north.

Jonathan Anderson had explained the need for a dive team in a letter to the Middle Inlet Board, and then was present along with Mason Marvin and other prospective volunteer members of the dive team to explain the need in central Marinette County, describe efforts that have been made so far, and hopefully inspire more donations to help the team become a reality.

Responding to a request from the floor during time for public comment, Town Chair Rich Wade tentatively agreed to ask Marinette County to permit ATV travel on County X from Lake Mary Road to the boundary with the Town of Wagner at Right of Way Road. The Town of Wagner is asking the county to designate County X as an ATV route from that point east.

Also during time for public comment the board responded to questions from Rob Wenzel on eligibility of former Town Clerk/Treasurer Charles Stanek to serve as a supervisor on the town board in view of a 2019 injunction limiting his contact with the town hall to making written public record requests by mail, attending public meetings or engaging in legitimate town business, and voting. The court order specifically stated there were no firearm restrictions against Stanek.

Wade said the injunction came in response of harassment of then-Town Clerk/Treasurer Virginia Hines.

According to past news reports, Stanek had made repeated open records requests to Hines for detailed copies of monthly financial records for the town, but never received what he asked for. A restraining order sought by the town, or by Hines, had been denied before the injunction request that led to the hearing at which it was granted.

Stanek is one of four candidates on the ballot for the two town supervisor posts to be filled at the April 6 election. The other three candidates are incumbents Don Van and Rich Wenzel, and former Supervisor Roger Lieck.

In other business of the meeting, the board agreed to borrow $375,000 to cover costs for the Moonshine Hill Road improvement project until grant money arrives and approved a turn-around for Brad Smart at the end of Rector Road, and was informed that Middle Inlet Cemetery gates will be opened on Thursday, April 1.

Present in person for the meeting were Wade, Supervisor Don Van and Clerk/Treasurer Patricia Schutte. Supervisor Ron Wenzel participated via telephone. There were also 18 members of the public on hand, many of them members of the Fire Department.

In his letter explaining the dive team request, Anderson said he is a 10-year volunteer firefighter. He is currently a Middle Inlet Fire Captain, a lieutenant with the Town of Amberg Fire Department, and a volunteer firefighter with the Crooked Lake Fire Department.

"The local fire departments receive several calls each year for accidents in swift water and on ice covered lakes," Anderson had written. "In Marinette County we have more than 250 lakes and over 300 rivers and streams for a total length of 920 miles. the only dive team in Marinette County is the Sheriff's Department, which is over an hour from any water near our neighborhood. As you can imagine, time is crucial in any emergency situation, and even more important in frigid and swift waters."

"After witnessing too many unfortunate situations and being unable to help due to lack of certification, I'm seeking donations to start a search, rescue and recovery dive team on the Middle Inlet Volunteer Fire Department," the letter went on. Anderson said the Middle Inlet team would be closer to local communities and able to assist victims in the area and other territories through MABAS and Mutual Aid systems.

He said any donations will go to pay for scuba classes and gear for dive team members. At this time there are four people who would like to enroll in classes, which cost $2,100 per person. Gear costs up to $5,500 per person. Donations can be sent as checks or cash to Middle Inlet Fire Department, Memo:Dive Team, W7901 County Hwy. X , Crivitz, WIS. 54114.

"Our goal is to rescue victims, and with your help we can have hope to make this happen," the letter concluded.

Responding to questions from the board, Anderson said the Dive Team had started in Amberg, but didn't get too far there, so they are passing it along to Middle Inlet. Dive team supporters have already donated almost $9,300, Anderson said. Thunder Mountain Ranch has been a major donor. Plans at this time are to operate the team at no cost to the town, with support entirely from donations and fund raisers.

The team would respond to requests for help anywhere in Marinette County, and they would coordinate with Marinette County Sheriff's Department and not interfere with any crime scene searches.

Sheriff's Department dive team gear is kept in Marinette. The Middle Inlet team gear will be stored in the cars of team members so they can respond swiftly from wherever they are.

To a question from the audience regarding insurance and liability for the dive team, Clerk Schutte said she has asked the town's insurance agent but had not yet received a response. Wade foresaw no additional liability cost.

To concerns that the volunteer team members are young men with jobs mostly outside the area, Anderson said their employers let them off for fire calls and he assumes they would do the same for dive team rescue work.

He said dive teams have a better chance of saving a life if they can arrive within "the golden hour," and victims can survive longer without breathing in extremely frigid water.

The closest teams now are the Town of Brazeau and the Sheriff's Department team in Marinette, and both are at least an hour away, and both are having problems getting members.

Anderson said it will cost about $30,000 to start the local dive team by providing classes and gear for four members. A fifth member is already certified and has gear. The Middle Inlet Fire Department already has a rescue boat they can get a bigger one through MABAS if necessary. He urged a prompt decision, because NWTC is offering dive rescue training right now. Team members do not expect to be paid for their time either in training or when responding to calls, Anderson said.

"We can always give it a try, and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work," Wade commented.

Motion then was unanimously approved to authorize Middle Inlet Fire Department to operate a dive team on a temporary basis, with the Town Board to look at it again in a year.

In his monthly road report, Wade said due to mild weather, pothole issues on town roads were addressed. Weight limits were going into effect on Friday, March 12, in line with the County load limits.

As requested by town residents, "Children at Play" signs had been ordered and were being installed on Camp 5 Lane and Moonshine Hill Road East.

A plugged culvert issue on McMahon road was addressed by Jim's Pumping due to safety concerns. Other culvert and draining issues are to be addressed with the spring weather.

Advertising for bids for the town's TRID project on Moonshine Hill Road East and Ledvina Road will be published in the Peshtigo Times and bids will be opened at the April Town Board meeting.

Wade announced the good news that Marinette County Highway Department had informed him the town's 2021 Camp 5 Road culvert replacement project will qualify for culvert aid of up to 50 percent of the cost, and Middle Inlet will qualify this year for TRID projects to be done in 2022 and 2023.

Wade said the current town road budget is $448,000, and most of it is designated for the Moonshine Hill Road project, which is expected to cost about $375,000. The town will be getting a $260,000 grant toward the cost of that project, but cannot collect it until the work is done and bills are paid. Wade said Stephenson National Bank is offering an extremely low interest loan, and it will cost only $250 to borrow $375,000 until the grant money comes in and contractors are paid.

Asked if Wayside Road would be done this year, Wade said he's like to, but needs to do one thing at a time and decide what other roads can be done once the grant comes in and the other costs are paid.

Ron Wenzel noted that last month the board had authorized purchase of a generator for the fire department, but right now they are almost impossible to get. He said without a stand-by generator if a disaster wiped out power for any length of time they could get no water for fire fighting, and could not provide water for residents who would be also without power. The board unanimously repeated its authorization to buy a generator as soon as one can be located.

Wade reported owners of the Erickson property on Willow Road have it about 70 percent cleaned up. "It looks good and they are trying,' he commented.

There was a bit of discussion prior to approval of Brad Smart's request for a turnaround at the end of Rector Road. Wade said the road goes out to a town-owned peninsula and Smart had gotten a DNR permit to fill where needed.

"It's a win/win for the Town of Middle Inlet," he commented. "Once they get done we'll have a turnaround at the end of a road where lots of people go to fish," he said and added the town's tax base will increase due to the development of Smart's lakefront property there.

A person in the audience asked if Smart will be required to fix damage to Rector Road caused by his big trucks. Wade said he had filled it in with limestone, but was told the lady sees no improvement on the road, which she said used to be paved, but no longer is. Wade said it is only wide enough for ATVs anyway. Wade said he will talk to Smart, and ultimately a stipulation requiring repairs to Rector Road was added to the motion authorizing the cul de sac.

Schutte reported she had two calls from people whose garbage was missed. She said she has been getting calls on that issue after each of the semi-weekly garbage pickup days. Weekly pickup resumes on May 1 each year.


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