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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Council Okays Three New Firefighters

Issue Date: May 20, 2021

At a brief special meeting on Monday, May 17, Peshtigo City Council confirmed Mayor Cathi Malke's appointment of Alderman Brigitte Schmidt to fill a vacancy on the Finance Committee, authorized Barbara Nelson to install a culvert and fill in a drainage ditch between lots 1 and 2 of the Peshtigo River Estates Plat off South Splake Street, and authorized Fire Chief Chuck Gardon to hire three new firefighters for the Peshtigo Fire Department.

The new firefighters approved on Gardon's recommendation are Crystal Klimek, Timothy Liesch and Zackary Poverski. Before the unanimous vote of approval, Schmidt asked if Gardon had checked the backgrounds of the potential firefighters, and Malke expressed confidence in his recommendations.

In a letter to the Council explaining her request to fill in the drainage ditch, Nelson said she has been a Peshtigo resident for 18 years and sold her home in October and is temporarily living in Green Bay while her hew home is being built on lot 2 in the Peshtigo River Estates, which she bought from Joe Terry, who continues to own lot 1 and has given his approval to put in the culvert and fill in the ditch. She expressed belief that the project will add value to both properties, and in conversation at the meeting said currently the drainage ditch is "pretty much of a mosquito hatchery."

Nelson said she is working with Scott Anderson Construction and Excavation to do the work. She submitted plans Anderson had drawn to explain the project, which includes running 18" culvert 190 feet through the ditch from S. Splake Street to the river, and covering it with 12" of fill and then top soil.

Council members present for the meeting in addition to Malke and Berth were Aldermen Brigitte Schmidt, Debbie Sievert and Keith Klimek. John Berendt was absent and excused, and the sixth position is open due to the resignation of Alderman Archer Leupp.

At the start of the meeting Malke announced her appointment of Schmidt to fill a vacant position on the Finance Committee. Berendt objected to Schmidt being appointed, and asked Malke if she could't consider anyone else. "She came forward and asked," Malke replied. She added he could have asked for the appointment if he wanted it. Berth replied he had thought the spot would be filled by whoever is named the new alderman to replace Leupp. Malke repeated she had extended an invitation at the last Council meeting for aldermen to express interest in filling the vacancy, and explained she tried to make committee appointments so members could have same day, back to back meetings for their committees.

"I have reasons why she shouldn't have that seat," Berth declared. He had objected at a previous meeting to Sievert and/or Schmidt serving on certain committees since their husbands occasionally work as part time police officers for the city.

Berth said he is always on time for meetings, while Schmidt has often been late or absent.

"She has two small children and a job and other reasons why she is sometimes late," Malke said, adding that she makes up for it with other work she does in regard to her job as an alderman.

Berth cast the sole opposing vote to Schmidt's appointment to the Finance Committee. Schmidt also is assigned to serve on the License and Police and Judiciary committees and is chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee. Berth serves on the Streets and Drainage Committee and the Fire, Lighting and Building Committee.

At the start of the discussion on Nelson's request for the culvert to replace the drainage ditch, Public Works Director George Cowell said he had been approached by both parties, and noted Mrs. Nelson has offered to pay for the entire project and will cede the property needed for the culvert and utility line access to the city. He had no issues with the proposed project, and added it would only minimally affect street drainage at the end of the cul de sac. He felt long-term maintenance should be minimal, but should be the responsibility of the city.

He also expressed confidence in Anderson to do the work properly. There will be steel grating on each end of the culvert to be sure nothing gets inside. the ditch is four feet deep and about 20 feet wide at the top.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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